In some parts of the United States, snow is falling and the weather is colder. Stores have already started hoping that customers will flood their aisles and purchase enough merchandise to help them have a good year of sales. Department store Santas are listening to children tell them their wishes for presents as parents listen in to determine if they can help to make their child’s material dreams come true. Churches are finalizing their Christmas pageants and some schools are having their concerts.
While all of this is happening, there are certain groups and media outlets who are decrying that there is a war against Christmas because some stores insist on their personnel saying the phrase, “Happy Holidays,” rather than “Merry Christmas.” These same people and media outlets are demanding that this is a liberal conspiracy to take Christmas out of our season. After all, these same people ride around with bumper stickers stating, “Keep Christ in Christmas” and that we should “Remember the Reason for the Season.” They are quick to point out that there are places within the United States where traditional Christmas songs are banned from school concerts and even places where there are no Nativity scenes on government property and say these too are signs of the de-Christianizing of our society. Oh, the shame of it all.
I am a Christian. It is where I feel the Creator of the Universe has led me to be in my faith journey. However, I do not feel that the mere mention of the phrase “Happy Holidays” is impeding on the existence of my faith. I am well aware of others who are of different faiths than I who also celebrate holy days around this time of the year whether it is Yuletide, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or some other holiday of which I am not presently aware. As such, I believe that it is the right thing when the faith of another person is unknown to say the phrase “Happy Holidays” out of respect for him or her. If I happen to know his or her faith, I wish that person a Happy whatever their following may be. It is polite and respectful.
Yet, I do agree that there is a war against Christmas. However, the people waging that war are not the ones people expect. In addition, the war against Christmas is not just this time of year either. It extends to a war against Easter as well. To be honest, it is simply a war against the ideals of Christianity altogether. The guilty in this war are those who are screaming the loudest about the war existing in the first place.
Yes, I said it. The ones waging the war against Christmas and even Christianity are the ones saying there even is one in the first place. They are the modern day Pharisees. They are the ones who believe that Christianity is so narrow-minded that there is only one particular way to get to salvation and the way happens to be only that which they espouse as being the correct way. They have lost sight of the true nature of what being a Christian truly asks of its followers. The essence of what it means to be Christian boils down to only two commandments taught by Christ—only two. Yet, these two are so hard for anyone to fathom and live that they are almost impossible to believe. For the sake of clarity, I will quote the New Testament in order to be clear for those who need to see the exact quote from the Christian Bible.
When asked what the greatest commandment is from God, Jesus replied:
The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31 NRSV).
This seems simple to understand, does it not? Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself. Yet, how many of those who decry the war against Christmas also fail to live out these two commandments each day? There is nothing here about believing only one way. There is nothing here about race. There is nothing here about how one should or should not worship. There is nothing here about which religion is right and which is wrong. This should be an obvious fact, as there was no such thing as Christianity while Christ was alive. The entire religion of Christianity is based upon the divine personhood of Christ who uttered these words and He was, at least in part, Jewish. Christ did not follow Himself. Even as Jesus was crucified, he did not do so for any certain group of people, but for all humankind. According to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NRSV).
Some people who are saying there is a war against Christmas and even Christianity are the real perpetrators as many of them support agendas that are against the poor, against children, against the suffering, and against the weak. They want an end to poverty, but support businesses that do not pay their workers a living wage. They do not see the starving except during the holiday season when the commercials air to ask them to donate. They look down on people who are forced to collect welfare. They believe in stronger penal responses to crimes, rather than programs that could practically eliminate crimes in the first place by helping others with the problems they face. Many of them support sending troops into war, but not for the care of those troops when they return with scars that are unseen.
Many of these people, who believe they are caring and Christian individuals, do not see beyond their own circumstances. They like to make a show out of their giving to others, rather than remain anonymous. They give when asked, but not without some reluctance. After all, they earn a living are not deadbeats like those to whom they are giving their hard earned money. They say there are programs out there to help people, yet fail to realize that those programs are being cut because those who are the wealthiest do not want to have to pay the taxes to keep those programs running. Again, many believe that they worked hard for what they have and everyone should be able to do that if they did it. Yet, they fail to see the ravages of the cycle of poverty that consumes so many people in the world.
The REAL war on Christmas is not the semantics of saying either “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas,” but the not living out of the ideals and tenets of what Christ taught in the first place.