Oh, my. Here it is already the first third of December gone and I haven’t even begun my part of the annual War on Christmas!
Bill O’Reilly of FoxNews, who has bravely protected Christmas from marauding atheists for a number of years, reminded me (OK, along with millions of others) that the war is officially on. But the more proximate reminder greeted me when I opened my Facebook account. A Christian Friend had posted a dazzlingly colorful message complete with glaring use of upper case fonts (“As For Me And My House We Will Keep Christ In CHRISTmas And We Will Proudly Say MERRY CHRISTMAS”). The implied defiance, I suppose, only underscores the magnitude of encroaching suppression.
The happy result of these reminders is that I now know there’s a war on, though in my defense, it was easy to miss the clarion call, carelessly overlooking that a precious right is under attack.
It was easy to miss because, try as I might, I can’t find any warring against Christmas going on. My bad, perhaps, since O’Reilly and others similarly inclined surely wouldn’t say there is if there isn’t. Yet I know I don’t want to take anybody’s Christmas away from them and I don’t know any fellow atheists who do. But O’Reilly and Facebook postings wouldn’t lie, so maybe I should look a little closer . . . .
- Let’s see. There has been a concerted effort by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, American Atheists, the Center for Secular Humanism, and others to convince government to stop taking sides on religious matters, including December holidays. Asking nice hasn’t worked well, so their tactics have stepped up, a bit more in-your-face in order to bring to government officials’ attention that the Constitution prevents any religion from using the power of government to do its missionary work. No war on Christmas there.
- And I’ve heard of businesses that instruct employees to say “Happy Holidays” so as not to offend Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and anyone else who might think twice before buying Little Sally’s dollhouse from an obviously Christian store. For decades retailers have done just the opposite: trying to out-Christmas the store next door, kind of like politicians trying to out-Christian other candidates on a ballot. So there has been a swing of retailers’ pendulums (pendula?) that’s hard to miss. Yet it doesn’t take Christians’ rights away to celebrate Christmas all they wish. In other words, while there is some pandering to get our favor, it isn’t a reduction of rights. No war on Christmas there either.
- Individual government employees, even those low on the career ladder, represent the government to the rest of us. So if a school teacher favors Christianity in the classroom or a license clerk disfavors gays because of her religion, to the student and to the license applicant it is the government choosing up sides. Getting the teacher and clerk to claim their religious freedom proudly for themselves but not for the government is hardly a war on either. The Constitution grants freedom of religion to all individuals, but it grants no such freedom to units of government or persons fulfilling the role of government. There is still no war on Christmas to be found.
So for the life of me, I’ve not been able to find one instance of threat to the right of individuals to believe, celebrate, and express whatever they choose unless they’ve chosen to wear the mantle of the state.
Happily go ahead and put a Christmas symbol in your home—an angel on the tree if you wish!—but not in the public school class you teach, the county patrol car you drive, or the city council room. Placing a manger scene on the church lawn or in a Christian’s front yard is a precious freedom. That same crèche placed on the courthouse lawn or in a public school is an attack on fair play as well as on a precious freedom.
You see, while I don’t agree with my Friend’s Facebook phrase, I can shout from the rooftops my strong support for the right to proclaim it.
The War on Christmas is not just nonexistent, it is just silly.
And, oh, Merry Christmas!