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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

November 28, 2005

the so-called “war on christmas” — and chicken little, too

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 1:40 pm

There they go again: the most powerful religious group in America is feeling persecuted, exiled and offended, because some local governmental units are displaying “Holiday Trees” and some retail stores are wishing customers a “Happy Holiday Season.” See “Boston ‘holiday tree’ stirs controversy,” Reuters/USNews (Nov.25, 2005); The article “Is there a ‘war on Christmas?“, Austin American Journal, Nov. 27, 2005), begins:

Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly believes the greeting

“Happy Holidays” offends Christians celebrating the Christmas season.




“It absolutely does. And I know that for a fact,” he declared on his cable television program, “The O’Reilly Factor.”

This alleged secularist conspiracy has even left Prof. Bainbridge unable to exercise his customary analytical faculties, as he wonders why a city might have a “Holiday Tree” (some of his Commentors do a good job of helping Steve understand the issue). Prof. B. is even raising the issue three weeks earlier than last year (see good for Arnold, Dec. 20, 2004) At the time, f/k/a‘s Editor opined (Dec. 21, 2004):



I won’t let all those who are irked by Generic Holiday Greetings [e.g., Ken Lammers, Prof. B.] keep me from wanting all Americans to celebrate this Season without feeling religiously incorrect, compromised or left out. . . . .

This weblog has never been reluctant to poke fun at extremes of politically correct language. But, attempts to make this Holiday Season — clearly the most important celebration for our nation — all-inclusive do not seem silly to me, regardless of the Constitutional dimensions of the debate. Indeed, shopping sprees and Santa suits have done far more to “take the Christ out of Christmas” than a slew of First Amendment law suits could ever do.

WarOnXmasN Instead of chilling out and wishing good will to all humans, evangelical and conservative “Christians” have mounted a war of their own. Besides Bill O’Reilly telling folks they should be offended, Fox News anchor John Gibson came out with the book The War on Christmas in October. And,

The Conservative Voice says you should “Read, consider and act upon it!” (Its columnist, Michael J. Gaynor, complains that the front windows at Sax 5th Avenue “focused on concepts like unity, harmony and beauty.

Nothing about Christmas.”)


Meanwhile, Rev. Jerry Falwell is threatening lawsuits over arboreal nomenclature, and The Liberty Counsel has mounted the rather non-inclusive “Friend or FoeChristmas Campaign. In his column “Friend or Foe of Christmas,” Rick Holmes says in reply (MetroWestDaily News, Nov. 27, 2005):

Pity the poor person at the cash register. A friendly greeting has become a step onto the thin ice of political correctness: What should she say at the end of every transaction: “Merry Christmas,” or “Happy Holidays”? . . . .

Falwell’s agenda isn’t about protecting the traditional place of religion in American culture, it’s about expanding it and claiming it for themselves.

They don’t want to educate people about the First Amendment, they want to intimidate people into acknowledging Christianity as America’s only legitimate religion.

They want that store cashier to say “Merry Christmas” or feel guilty about not saying it. What’s next, mandatory prayer at the checkout?

KCAg Naturally, in any American War, there are bumper stickers and magnets — such as the “Keep Christmas Alive” Campaign. Their proganda machine is busy with broadsides like Why all the Christophobia at Christmas? I have no illusions about changing anyone’s mind. Here are a few not-so-random


tiny check Despite the protestation of Phillip D. Powell, a member of the Harvard-Radcliffe Christian Fellowship — who says, “This is the Christmas season, and Dec. 25 is Christmas, not some general feel-good day of celebration” — there actually is a very lengthy holiday season in the United States. It starts at least as early as Thanksgiving and continues at least through New Year’s Day, with related “shopping seasons” extended on either end of the period. (e.g., Dong Zhi, Kwanza, Hanukkah, and Diwali) Some of these feasts are clearly non-religious, many are surely non-Christian, and some of the Christian ones are not Christmas. Just why in the name of America and God should a municipality, much less a department store, have to lump them all together under the rubric of “Christmas”?


WarOnXmas nope


tiny check Although Mr. Gaynor at the Conservative Voice believes it’s relevant that “America’s greatest chief justice, John Marshall, proclaimed in 1833: ‘The American population is entirely Christian, and with us Christianity and Religion are identified,” I believe it is more relevant that there are now many non-Christians, ex-Christians and secularists in 2005 America. The government is not required to do everything it can, short of breaking the First Amendment, on behalf of Christianity.


tiny check Those who know the Bible better than I will have to tell me why the Jesus who “entered into the temple of God, and drove out all of those who sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the money changers’ tables and the seats of those who sold the doves,” and who protected the Gentile pilgrims (Matthew 21-12), would want “His” people wasting their time on the naming of decorations and the wording of good wishes, rather than working to reverse the universal connection in America of His birth with the most crass commercialism and greed. (see, e.g., CBS3 [Philadelphia.], Local Shoppers Back At It,” Nov. 26, 2005; Bloomberg, “Weekend Sales Jump 22% to $27.8 Billion,” Nov. 27, 2005)


JesusMoney orig.


tiny check Likewise, the Right and the self-proclaimed Saved correctly fault the Left (for example, feminists) for too-often looking for reasons to be offended. Why, then, do the same thing and turn the season of Good Will Toward All into a nasty part of the culture wars? If you want to pre-empt a clerk saying “Happy Holidays,” why not wear a “Merry Christmas” button on your lapel rather than a “you talkin’ to me?!” chip on your shoulder?


ChickenLittle2005 Finally, if the religious Right wants to aim its paranoia at a more appropriate target, I suggest Chicken Little. Just why is Hollywood trying to turn an obviously false prophet into a hero? And, why are they using such a stinky flick? As if we’re going to believe there are celestial beings with super-human powers that would come to earth and take dominion over mankind.



lips and tongues

traditional Christmas




tsunami on tv — ChickenLittleN

our children awash

in christmas gifts


from second thoughts (2005)

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