Well, it’s begun my people: the annual bleating about the supposed “war on Christmas.” I can’t wait before they start fulminating about it over on Fox News.
Fox News, the channel that is here to enrage, not to inform.
News flash for Christians: you’re not an oppressed minority.
So, the question may be asked, why is it that we have educators and town administrators making the preference for the more inclusive “Happy Holidays” instead of the more specific “Merry Christmas.” I mean, first of all, let’s acknowledge that the United States of America is a Christian nation. It is. It’s not Christian in the sense that Israel is Jewish state or that Saudi Arabia is a Muslim state, but culturally, we’re still a Christian nation. So when we have the 25th of December off, or there are incessant and never-ending jingles playing in the stores, it’s not like none of us know why that’s happening. It’s Christmas. It’s a celebration of Jesus Christ.
And me, I’m an atheist, and I still celebrate Christmas. Why? It’s a family holiday. It’s part of the cultural tradition. I’m not opposed to it in any way. It’s just that I don’t believe that Jesus is my savior, or that he’s the son of God. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like Christmas trees or exchanging gifts or wishing people “Merry Christmas.”
Of course, there is that small matter of the 1st Amendment. The amendment which states, in pertinent part, that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The first part of this sentence is known as the “establishment” clause, and the second part is know as the “free exercise” clause. So, although we are culturally a Christian nation, the establishment clause prevents our government from becoming a Christian government. That’s why the courts have ruled, for example, that we should not have prayer in schools. It is also because of the establishment clause, and the legitimate governmental interest in the promotion of inclusion, that governments, whether federal, state or local, shy away from having manger scenes on public property or promote the “holidays” instead of the more specific recognition of Christmas.
Again, it’s not like people don’t know what’s going on. If you don’t believe me, ask a Jew. I mean, Hannukah happens to coincide on the calendar with Christmas but it’s not one of the Jewish High Holidays. Those are Passover and Yom Kippur, and those happen closer to Easter.
Now I realize that unless you reside in the Northeast, or parts of the West Coast, or in big cities or at least the suburbs, you may not be that acquainted with Jewish culture. There are many parts of the Bible Belt where Jews are as alien as Muslims, even though both are part of the same Abrahamic tradition in which Christianity resides. To some of these people, the notion that we should somehow take consideration of Jews or there holidays seems alien indeed. But in the end, there are indeed Jews, and Muslims, and even Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists, or more exotically, Wiccans and Neo-Pagans, not to mention those of use who don’t believe in any God, the Agnostics and Atheists and the occasional non-denominational Pantheist, and our needs should be taken into consideration as well.