Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The "Christmas Wars"

Well it has officially started. Its that festive time of year when some Christians decide that they must demand that businesses say "Merry Christmas" and not (the horror!) "Happy Holidays". As the Christian Post is reporting, Liberty Counsel, a Christian legal group, has released a “Naughty or Nice” list that advises Christians where to shop for Christmas. Businesses and retailers are placed on the “Nice” list if they recognize Christmas and on the “Naughty” list if they censor such references. The list is part of the fifth annual Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign, in which the legal group is pledging to be a "Friend" to those entities which do not censor Christmas and a "Foe" to those that do.

This is crazy, and downright un-Christian. Here is my take:

First, we live in a country that is dominated by Christians. We are, by far, the majority faith. Can you name one other religious holiday that is recognized as both a state and federal holiday in every state? It seems to me that the least we can do is to show some respect for the non-Christian minority, and this respect means not assuming that every one who shops is celebrating Christmas. To put it another way, "What would Jesus do." Well, I doubt that he would be boycotting stores that don't wish him a happy birthday. I think that he would remind us that the Jews, Muslims, Agnostics and Atheists among us our our neighbors, and demanding that Walmart scream Merry Christmas to everyone is, well, not being a good neighbor.

Second, as Christians we should do everything in our power to separate the religious holiday of Christmas from the secular and materialistic holiday that pervades our culture. Don't get me wrong--I love this secular holiday: the tree, lights, food, parties, Santa Claus and gifts. But it is not what we celebrate in our religious holiday. It is hard enough as a parent to get my child to understand the difference. Why would I want the two holidays to be confused further by demanding that the secular marketplace say "Merry Christmas"? (For an interesting take on how difficult it is to reconcile "Two Christmases — the one where Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, and the other one about iPhones and Xboxes and Hannah Montana singing dolls", read this article).

Third, look at the liturgical calendar, people. It is not Christmas yet. If we are going to demand that Walmart recognize our religious holiday, should we be demanding that Walmart greet us with "Happy Advent" (or perhaps we should demand "Glorious Pentecost" until next Sunday.

The bottom line--it seems to me that being a Christian demands that we do the opposite of the Liberty Counsel--keep our faith away from the crass (but fun!) commercialism of the "Holidays", and show respect for our non-Christian brothers and sisters.


James F. McGrath said...

I'm not sure whether this blank post is an invitation to general comment, but a blog I read recently had a post that relates to this subject.

Chuck Blanchard said...

Sorry--I got distracted and somehow published the post too soon. I now have the full post. I do recommend, however, that everyone read

James F. McGrath said...

No problem. I wish I had the artistic ability to draw a cartoon I've imagined. It has Santa Claus standing next to the Magi in the manger, saying "I got him a Playstation Wii. What did you guys get him?"