Bah, humbug on “Holiday trees.” Americans love Christmas

Rhode Island caroler flash mob ~ AP photo
Rhode Island caroler flash mob ~ AP photo

You know it’s a dark day when Charlie Brown is under attack. The same crowd that breaks into a cold sweat by the mere sight of Santa is trekking out their annual tradition of filing lawsuits and lamenting how public displays of baby Jesus and Christmas trees, Irving Berlin sing-a-longs, and now a voluntary class trip to see “A Charlie Brown Christmas” hurts their delicate sensibilities.

As the aforementioned Peanut would say—good grief.

Unlike Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, I’m not suggesting there’s a “War on Christmas;” war is an ugly business involving mass death and destruction, with anything less strictly hyperbole. Rather, the secular obsession with Christianity is a contrived outrage designed to manipulate public behavior to suit their own, dare we say, sacred convictions.

Not that the grievance brigade hasn’t had its share of successes; it has. Most school districts in this country no longer allow Christmas carols, or in some cases, songs with any mention of the holiday. Starting in the 1990’s retailers began replacing “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings.” Pushback by Christian groups is winning the day, however, with Target, Wal-Mart and other stores re-incorporating the dreaded C-word in seasonal advertising alongside the holidays of other faiths.

Similarly, when I worked at a large Catholic social service agency, the executive management excised the words “Christmas” and even “holiday” from our December newsletter and renamed the children’s Christmas party the “Jack Frost celebration.” We had no Christmas tree or manger greeting guests in our lobby, not even a plastic Santa. (Mind you, this is a Diocesan-led organization). After years of complaints, the tree went back up.

This season’s poster child for inane political correctness is Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee. Such an enlightened chap, he dare not call the towering spruce standing in the state house by a name that might, God-less forbid, offend someone. So a holiday tree it is. In protest, last year a flash mob of his constituents showed up at the lighting ceremony singing “O Christmas Tree.” Not wanting to deal with these crusading carolers again in 2012, the hapless Governor quietly announced the tree lighting ceremony 30 minutes ahead of the event.

Citing religious and legal scholars, Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn says the Governor’s actions are ill-conceived and arguably unconstitutional. “The tolerant and diverse society Mr. Chafee claims to champion is ill-served by a government that reads ‘no establishment of religion’ as mandating official hostility toward even innocuous religious expressions of its citizenry,” he writes. “…Look at it this way. In an age when the White House quite rightly holds Diwali and Iftar celebrations, how are tolerance and diversity served by a governor who forbids acknowledging that a lighted evergreen in his state capitol is a Christmas tree?”

Indeed, the claim that the secular movement is in deference to other faiths is hogwash. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, three quarters of Asians and Hindus and 76 percent of Buddhists in the U.S. celebrate Christmas with holiday celebrations that “entail religious, secular or a mix of both practices.” Likewise, the Christian research organization LifeWay found that 62% non-Christians (including Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists) celebrate Christmas, along with more than half of self-identified atheists and 89% of agnostics.

But don’t you dare confuse the progressive left with the facts. Mainstream media, including MSNBC’s Martin Bashir, “The Huffington Post,” and the increasingly tedious Jon Stewart continue to find Christmas-bashing irresistible. Jon, please—enough with the raised eyebrows and fulsome smarminess. Do us a favor. Find a fresh target.
Grinch[1]
Happily the news about Christmas in America is mostly good. The Grinch’s won’t win this one: Devout Christians joyously celebrate the birth of Jesus and his message of peace and good will. Many more of us—Christians, Jews, non-believers, and members of other faiths—either don’t mind or actually enjoy the traditions of decorating Christmas trees, humming “Deck the Halls,” and sharing holiday cookies.

The naysayers can call it what they want, but it’s Christmas just the same.

“…And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?” ~ The Grinch who Stole Christmas

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