‘Tis the season for Christmas Trees, presents, and roasted chestnuts (yes, I still roast chestnuts in the oven, not over an open fire), and speaking of chestnuts, ‘tis also the season when certain loudmouth personalities from the conservative entertainment complex drag out their worn out old chestnut they like to call, the “War on Christmas.”
I don’t actually know who the combatants are in this fake culture war. I don’t feel like I’m under siege, since I am and always have been Catholic, and nothing has ever prohibited me from exercising my constitutional right to religious freedom, except for my own laziness on Sunday mornings, but I guess this is supposed to be a battle between one side that celebrates Christmas, (good guys) versus those who hate or want to do away with Christmas, (bad guys). And thank God for FOX, because without their culture warriors, we’d have a tough time distinguishing the good guys from the bad guys.
I wonder if they departmentalize those who neither hate Christmas nor like it, but don’t celebrate it because they are non-Christian, as collateral damage? Strange thing though, I don’t know anyone who despises Christmas and would like to do away with it, (except for maybe Ebeneezer Scrooge). So, what evidence do these intrepid culture warriors have that gets their mistletoe in such misalignment?
Well, the local elementary school now celebrates the “Winter Festival” instead of Christmas, and decorates a “Holiday Tree” instead of the Christmas Tree. Department stores now advertise sales for the “Holiday Season”, and of course, the worse offence of all, town hall has kicked the nativity scene (and the baby Jesus) off the town green. The horror, the shear horror of it all!
This war on Christmas is, we are told, an extension of a larger more sinister war on religion. This war was begun when the bad guys removed “under God” from our Pledge of Allegiance, stopped school prayer, and removed the Ten Commandments from our courthouse walls. America’s ills and immorality, the breakdown of the family, can all be simply explained by this lack of God in the lives of our citizens, according to our neoconservative Bible thumpers.
Neoconservatives tell us that America is a Christian nation, and that there is no separation between church and state. They lament about antagonizers attempting to take Christ out of Christmas, yet it seems to me that some Christians don’t even get what Christmas is about, when I see two guys in the news punching each other out for a spot in line to buy Christmas presents.
Neoconservatives tell us that our country’s founders created a Christian nation, and while it is true that many were religious, important facts are overlooked. George Washington was heavily influenced by Stoicism (virtue is its own reward), so much so, that he even arranged for the play “Cato” to be performed for the Revolutionary troops at Valley Forge. And of course it’s well known that Thomas Jefferson was a deist who took a scalpel to his Bible and coined the expression “Separation between church and state”, when explaining in a letter to the Danbury Connecticut Baptists that unlike Britain, the executive of the US was not the legal representative of his church. As former British subjects, our founders were very wary of the long years of civil strife and bloodshed caused by the tyranny of state sanctioned religion.
Anyway, I checked the U.S. Constitution: America was never established as a Christian nation, but we are a nation of mostly Christians. In fact, Pew Research Center polls tell us that 78 percent of Americans associate themselves with some type of Christian church. The cold hard fact that somehow eludes our brave culture warriors is that when it comes to freedom of religion, the U.S.A. is the freest country on earth.
Think about the places where you can and do pray. You can pray in your house, in your car, on your front lawn, on the sidewalk, on a bus, and, of course, in your church. I’ll bet you can take your Bible and a soap box and preach out loud at Railroad Square in Nashua and the police wouldn’t give you a second look. I read once in a newspaper article a few years back that there was a “pray in” on the grounds of the New Hampshire State Capital in Concord.
What one cannot do is use the public schools or public grounds to proselytize. Why would neoconservatives want a government solution to their problem, which is to bring God into the lives of people, when they tell us ad nauseum that the government is inept, untrustworthy, and not the solution to our problems? Think about it, do you really want to drag government into the business of delivering religion to our citizens?
So why all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over this so-called war on religion? I think it’s because neoconservatives are actually very insecure about their own faith. They see a younger generation seemingly disinterested in religion. They see the gross over-commercialization of Christmas that emphasizes the need for material goods to achieve satisfaction in what is intended to be a holy day. They are angry and tired due to the stress and expense of keeping up with the imaginary commercial expectations they see on their T.V.
So how do we combat the lack of Christian fellowship? Sitting on the couch grumbling excuses that this is somehow all the government’s fault will get you nowhere, because this just isn‘t the job of our government anyway. Instead, get up and do something about it. Take your family to church, enroll your kids in Sunday School, ask your Pastor how you can become involved in your church, and give what you can of your time and resources to make your community a better place. There are lots of small battles to be fought and won for the cause of Christian fellowship.
And go ahead and bombard your fellow Christians with your “Merry Christmases” because, remember, a probable 8 out of 10 Americans celebrate Christmas. We’ve got the enemy surrounded and outnumbered. We’re winning the war and we probably didn’t even know it.