Friday, December 20, 2013

The War On Christmas Myth

No Virginia, there is no war on Christmas.

Yet, each December there are relentless cries of a war on Christmas. These cries of victimhood are a silly attempt to further inflame the culture wars and a blatant example of reverse political correctness.

Fox News talk show host, Bill O’Reilly has his “Christmas Under Siege” campaign. His web site has listed businesses whose advertising uses the phrase, “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” and urges his viewers to issue complaints. The American Family Association has boycotted Target in past years for not saying “Merry Christmas” in its ads and The Catholic League once boycotted Wal-Mart for the way the word Christmas is handled by the company’s web site.

In this week’s USA Today, conservative columnist Cal Thomas even wondered, “if non-religious songs like Frosty The Snowman and It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year might be threatened next?” Are you kidding me? I can’t get away from Christmas music no matter where I go this time of year. In fact most of the places being accused of participating in a war on Christmas play Christian Christmas carols over their loud speakers all day long and sell nativity scenes. But because they tell their employees to say, “Happy Holidays” they’re somehow Christian-haters?

On Fox News this week they’ve been regularly reporting stories of homeowners with bright, garish Christmas light displays getting complaints from neighbors. Individual disputes between neighbors add up to a national cultural attack on Christians?

If there’s doubt about a war on Christmas, at least we know the culture of victimhood is alive and well. There’s apparently plenty of people walking around with a chip on their shoulders looking to take offense.

Making up roughly 80% of the American population, Christians are in control of almost everything in this country from the leadership of nearly all of America’s major corporations to every political body that makes our laws. I’d be willing to bet that Christians overwhelmingly dominate the boards of directors of both Target and Wal-Mart.

Christmas is not in danger. The ACLU has mounted no campaign against it. Liberals are not meeting in dark cellars, twisting their mustaches, plotting its demise. Yet, some would have you think otherwise.

Our beliefs about the history of Christmas are at best selective amnesia. Few of us acknowledge that the Pagans celebrated the season with gift giving in Europe long before the birth of Christ. It was Constantine who added Christmas to the Roman calendar in the fourth century in an attempt to bring Pagans and Christians together. The Prophet Jeremiah condemned as Pagan (which it was – and so what?), the practice of cutting down trees, bringing them into the home and decorating them. Few know that the Puritans who founded our country detested the idea of Christmas. From their point of view, there was nothing about December 25th in the Bible. For a period in the mid-1600s in colonial Massachusetts, celebrating Christmas was illegal. There were various Christian movements opposing the celebration of Christmas right up until the Civil War.

But while those facts provide perspective, none render Christmas illegitimate. Two thousand years of secular traditions bound around a much deeper religious meaning are a completely legitimate foundation for Christians to celebrate Christmas. It’s Christmas, so titled to celebrate and exalt the birth of Christ.

Yet, an obvious reason to say, “Happy Holidays,” is that the season starts with Thanksgiving and ends with New Years Day, two secular holidays. On December 22nd Jews will begin celebrating Chanukah and before Thanksgiving Muslims began celebrating Ramadan. “Happy Holidays,” indeed. So if I say, “Happy Holidays,” I’m not saying, “Screw Christmas,” I’m saying, “Hope your Thanksgiving rocked, your Christmas is enlightening, and your New Year is healthy and prosperous . . . and oh yeah, if you’re Jewish or Muslim, I hope that all goes great for you, too!”

But there are apparently political correctness police who don’t want me to say, “Happy Holidays.” In general I prefer to say, “Merry Christmas.” That’s my thing. But if somebody else doesn’t, why would I want to force them?

Businesses who instruct their employees to say, “Happy Hoidays” are not trying to stamp out Christianity. They’re trying to be respectful of all their customers, not just the majority. During the holiday season Jewish customers are celebrating Chanukah, not Christmas, and some people aren’t celebrating anything beyond the joy of generosity felt from gift giving. Why, even though Christians are the overwhelming majority, would businesses want to alienate non-Christians?

There are pundits, politicians, and demagogues whose fame and fortune rely on our outrage. They’ve got books to sell, ad revenues to gather for their evening news channel talk shows, and votes to gather at election time. If you’re comfortable and calm, it’s of little use to them. So they use the oldest trick in the political book – cry persecution when it doesn’t really exist to rally their forces – point at an enemy, accuse them of wrong, and urge your brethren to take up arms, “before it’s too late!”

There is no war on Christmas. The entire notion is a carefully manufactured myth. Christians control nearly everything in this country by massive, indisputable majorities.

But at a time when there are Christians and others of all faiths in this world who are truly persecuted for their beliefs, it is at best embarrassing to claim victimhood because someone says, “Happy Holidays,” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

My new book, The Salvage Man began going online for e-readers 3 weeks ago, currently available at iTunes,, Fastpencil and I'll be doing a public launch to tell the world in the weeks ahead when it's finally available in all formats, but for now, here's an early look:

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