The war on
Christmas is right here in
The Puritan Parliament banned Christmas from
1659 until 1681.
of Motor Vehicles (RMV) in Braintree,
to take down their
Christmas ornaments when an irate customer complained. The customer
was insensitive of RMV, who services people of all religious faiths, to
highlight only Christmas.
of Rhode Island,
Lincoln Chafee, tried to avoid the controversy he generated last year
the state house Christmas tree a ‘holiday tree’) by having a
surprise holiday tree lighting. His office gave just 30 minutes’
the Daily Mail reported, “The governor defended his decision
that it is in keeping with the state’s founding in 1636 by religious
Roger Williams, as a haven for tolerance - where government and
really a war on Christmas, some ask?
depends not only on whom you ask, but which type of Conservative
Some see the
war on Christmas as an assault on Christianity. They see the
even the mere utterance of the word as gradually being expunged from
holiday public lexicon. It feels to these Christian holiday revelers as
country, in its effort to be politically correct, is moving toward
intolerance. For many Christians, this is one of their high holy
it’s their religious bedrock that not only anchors them in their faith
shapes and governs them in their view of the world.
and Christian apologist, C.S. Lewis, eloquently captured this essence
wrote in his 1945 essay Is Theology Poetry?, “I believe in
as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but
it I see everything else.”
correctness concerning how, in public, to
inclusively greet and speak about this holiday season borders on
fanatical. What will this
war of words lead to?
In an email
exchange about this war of words, a friend from North Carolina wrote, “It’s a Xmas
me and holiday tree doesn’t cut it. This PCness
like it’s over the top. Next will be the word ‘Easter’... And what
‘Saint’ as in St Patrick Day...a big deal in Boston.”
political and economic clout to cripple stores for not showing
deference solely to Christmas, desecrates the character of our
holiday season. In the 1970s, Evangelical Christians were so outraged
secularization and commercialism of Christmas that they were protesting
Christ back into Christmas.” But now they want more commercialism for
thus extolling materialism as piety as we see these churches’ radical
from the pew to the marketplace.
In 2009, the
American Family Association boycotted Target for using “Happy Holidays”
advertising. The Catholic League that year boycotted Walmart, and Bill O’Reilly
promoted his “Christmas Under Siege” campaign that polices stores using
phrase “Happy Holidays.” William Donahue of the Catholic League told
Joe Scarborough that the problem is “secular Jews who hate Christianity
general and Catholicism in particular.” Pat Robertson said on his 700
television show that the problem is Muslims.
progressives are driving this movement,” Bill O’Reilly said. “They
it as a federal holiday, they don’t want any message of spirituality or
Judeo-Christian tradition because that stands in the way of gay
legalized drugs, euthanasia, all of the greatest hits on the secular
progressive play card. If they can succeed in getting religion out of
will this war of words lead to?
told, Muslims, secular progressives and Jews have never been the folks
to abolish Christmas. Instead, it was once an extreme group of
yes, the Puritans. With the date of Dec. 25 deriving from the
Roman heathen’s wintertime celebration, and with the date found nowhere
bible stating it as the birthday of Jesus, the Puritan Parliament
from 1659 until 1681.
intolerance of a multicultural theme for this holiday has little to do
heightened renewal of the birth of Christ by the Christian Right.
has much to do with a backlash spearheaded by Christian conservatives
country continues to grow more religiously pluralistic. It’s a
threatens the centrality of the centuries-long stronghold evangelical
Christianity has had on this particularly holiday.
Christian, I know that the central message of the birth of Christ is
embrace and celebration of human differences and diversity. And it is
message that I know all people - religious and non-religious, straight
queer, black and white - can be included to enjoy and to celebrate and
acknowledge this season with one simple greeting.
Board member and Columnist, the Rev. Irene Monroe, is a religion
theologian, and public speaker. She is the Coordinator of the
African-American Roundtable of the Center
and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry (CLGS) at the Pacific School
Religion. A native of Brooklyn, Rev.
Monroe is a
graduate from Wellesley College and Union Theological Seminary at
University, and served as a pastor at an African-American church before
to Harvard Divinity School for her doctorate as a Ford Fellow. She was
named to MSNBC’s list of 10
Black Women You Should Know. Reverend Monroe is the author of Let Your Light Shine Like a Rainbow Always:
Bible Prayers for Not’So’Everyday Moments. As an
feminist theologian, she speaks for a sector of society that is
invisible. Her website is irenemonroe.com. Click here to contact