Christians become defensive as their dominance of the holiday season faces secular challenges
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Thanksgiving is barely behind us, which means it’s time to start thinking about Christmastime festivities. Actually, I suppose I’m a little late to the party if the Starbucks in the Student Union is any indicator. They put up their Christmas decorations about a week before Thanksgiving Day, which seems a bit ridiculous. I do enjoy a good peppermint mocha, though, and I’m guessing a turkey and stuffing mocha wouldn’t really fly, so I’ll forgive them for caving to the ever-expanding holiday creep.
I’m feeling less forgiving of others, though, and so it’s time to see how this year’s war on Christmas is progressing. For those who may be unaware, evil atheists like myself have spent the better part of a decade trying to rid the world of all things Christmas. We go about this using nefarious schemes such as convincing retailers to use the phrase “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” and by putting up secular holiday displays right next to religious displays — on public land, of all places.
All of this is an attempt to turn the celebration of the birth of Christ (which happened sometime in the spring or early summer) into a pagan holiday celebrating some nonsense called the solstice. Oh, us wacky atheists. What crazy nonsense will we come up with next?
It’s not even December yet, but there’s already action on the front lines. Hypocritical action, in fact. My favorite.
The Liberty Counsel, which is a concentrated group of fundamentalist Christian crazies, always releases a “Friend or Foe” list around this time of year. “Friends” are retailers which promote Christmas. Considering that most stores have massive sales and storefronts decorated with badly painted murals and colorful lights around this time of year, you may think that most retailers fit into this category. You would be wrong.
See, the “Foe” portion of the list is any retailers who promote the holiday season instead of Christmas specifically. So, sometimes those murals and lights are really a trap. They’re trying to trick you into believing you’re shopping at a good, wholesome store, when in fact you’re funding the secular agenda of equality and acknowledgement that there are many different belief systems in the world.
While this whole idea is utterly absurd, this particular year it happens to be glazed with hypocritical goodness. Chick-fil-A — I’m sure we all remember them — is on the “Friend” list. But guess who’s advertising campaign wants to “spread cheer and chicken this holiday season”? I guess if you’ve proven yourself a big enough bigot in the past, you get a free pass on the language you use to drum up business in December.
On the legal front, fun and exciting things have been happening in Santa Monica, Calif. Last year, the city held a lottery to determine who would be able to set up holiday displays in the 21 lots in Palisade Park. Atheists won 18 of those spots, sparking a great deal of outrage and cries of Christian persecution. That’s right, allowing every member of the public the chance to use public land is anti-Christian. Somehow.
Understanding that they could not legally allow just Christians to put up displays, but not wanting to have to explain that to a bunch of people with martyr complexes, city officials decided they would not allow any displays at all this year. This has just prompted more outrage, this time in the form of a lawsuit. Christians are suing the city because they aren’t being allowed to put up a Nativity Scene on land owned by the city.
William Becker, the attorney leading the charge, explains the motivation for the lawsuit on his website, “The city surrendered to the angry mob, and in the process sent the world a message that religious freedom and free speech is not worth protecting in Santa Monica. We expect the court to see it for what it is — an unconstitutional act of intolerance toward the Christian faith and a cowardly concession to anti-Christian hatemongers.”
Becker seems to believe that religious freedom and free speech means allowing Christians and no one else to put up displays in the park. He seems to think that unconstitutional acts of intolerance are those that force them to share public space. Anti-Christian hatemongers are people who feel they have just as much of a right to use public land to promote their ideologies as Christians do.
The courts ruled against Becker, but these things cast light on the type of thinking that fuels the war on Christmas delusion. There is no war on Christmas. There’s just a movement away from making December a time solely for the promotion of Christianity. The notion that others may want their beliefs acknowledged alongside everyone else’s sends some people into a frothing rage, and the result is that every action that promotes equality is seen as an assault against their rights.
Christmas is an increasingly secular holiday in our culture. Many people celebrate it without paying any heed to the religious connotations behind Christmas. It has become a time of family and love mixed together with whatever belief system an individual happens to hold dear. It’s the family and love part that’s important, though.
If there’s any war at all happening, then it’s being waged by the retailers. Nothing strikes a blow against Christmas spirit like forcing employees to come to work on Thanksgiving so that a few more dollars can be made. It’s the commercialization, not the secularization, that has drained meaning from the holiday. Jesus would not be pleased to see shoppers trampling over their neighbors so that they can get the latest gadgets at bargain prices, but that’s where our culture is at right now.
It’s early in the season yet, and I’m sure many more volleys will be fired in this “war.” I’m hoping for more of the legal kind, because with every ignorant lawsuit fueled by a martyr complex that get shot down, the more likely it is that someone learns that freedom of speech and freedom of religion are not synonymous with the idea that Christians get to do whatever they want and everyone else has to shut up about it.