Christmas 2012: War on Christmas is Heating Up Again
As we make the steadfast approach towards Christmas morning, the inevitable "War on Christmas" is echoing from coast to coast. Between nativity flash mobs, atheist billboards and Jon Stewart's explicit outburst versus Bill O'Reilly's compelling monologue, the "War on Christmas" feud shows no signs of slowing down.
Although the proponent argument on the subject is close to my heart, I tend to refrain from the idea that such a specific war exists. It's not a war on Christmas; it's a seasonal sub-division of the war on Christianity. Of which, tends to be magnified tenfold during the holiday season.
For years, Christians and atheists have battled over a multitude of issues, Christmas being the central focus of the argument every year. Critics of Christmas claim that they only desire to make the holiday more inclusive, by secularizing the holiday's central theme. An argument, that once the facts are examined, fails to hold water.
First off, Christmas, in many aspects, has been a fairly secular holiday for quite some time. I don't believe that one Bible verse talks about decorating trees, Black Friday shopping, Santa Claus or reindeers that just ran over your grandma. Furthermore, people of all faiths celebrate many of the aforementioned traditions and central themes — including togetherness and giving — Although millions of Americans intertwine the Christian aspect into the holiday, it can be just as easily separated — and it has been.
Secondly, if the only goal was to make the holiday season more inclusive, then why isn't there a big push to secularize Kwanza and Hanukkah? Both of which possess similar religious and traditional connotations as Christmas, and are also celebrated around the same time. Yet, unlike the nativity scene, it's hard to come by an instance where a Menorah or a Mishumaa Saba were forced to be removed.
So, why is Christmas singled out? In essence, because Christianity is being singled out.
Not to say that other faiths, specifically Judaism, don't have to fight against religious prejudices; however lambasting Christianity has become a social norm in American culture. People, who would have once been revered for a strong commitment to their faith, are now treated as second-class citizens. Take Tim Tebow or the Jonas Brothers for example, both of whom have been publicly ridiculed for openly practicing their Christian beliefs.
In addition to personal attacks, Christianity has also come under fire from schools and the government. Like the six year-old girl from Marion, North Carolina who was forced by school administrators to remove the word "God" from a Veterans Day poem. Or the restaurant in Pennsylvania that was mandated by government officials to offer its "10% church pamphlet discount" to customers of all faiths — including atheists. Both of which sparked mass controversy, and opened a discussion concerning the freedoms of speech and religion.
Cities and individuals have also been forced to remove Christian symbols that were seen as offensive. For instance, Buhler, Kansas and Steubenville, Ohio both removed the depiction of the cross within their city logos, after being threatened by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) with a lawsuit. Or Patrick Racaniello, who was forced to remove the cross he posted in his front yard, because local officials claimed that it violated a city ordinance concerning the attraction of public attention.
Not to mention the Obamacare mandate that forces Catholic employers to provide contraceptives to their employees — a mandate strongly opposed by the Catholic faith.
Although revving-up around Christmas, religious freedom continues to be a year round struggle — with the preceding examples only being a small snippet of the full realm. Whether in the spirit of inclusion or in the sentiment of "separation of church and state" — a notion that cannot be found within the Constitution — the war on Christianity does not appear to be receding anytime soon.
Furthermore, the main point missed by opponents of Christianity is that it's because of our Judeo-Christian founding that America has remained so diverse, not despite it. With Christmas being a yearly reminder of the occasion and the opportunity to celebrate faith, family and life, no matter your religious beliefs — because it's freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.