This is the time of year for Santa Claus, evergreen trees,
flying reindeer and flying sleds. This is also the time of year for Christians
to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. What do Santa, evergreen trees, flying
reindeer and flying sleds have to do with the birth of Jesus? These things have
about as much business being part of Christmas as an evergreen tree has being
in the Holy Land.
Tim Wildmon, president of the radical,
extremist American Family Association, in an article for Agape
Press complaining about the secularization of Christmas states:
when was the last time you heard about kids running downstairs into the den on
New Year's Day to see what gifts the New Year's Elf brought them during the
The point is that our children do run downstairs into the
den on Christmas Day to see what Santa Claus or some Elf has left for them. The
birth of Jesus Christ is the furthest thing from their minds. The birth of
Jesus Christ is just as far from the minds of most Americans, including
Christians, as they push and shove their way through the malls eager to spend
their money on toys for their children and any other item that they think their
loved ones want. The birth of Jesus Christ is far to the back of the minds of
most Americans as they run from party to party, pouring bourbon or rum into
Christmas has become a secular holiday during which people
feel obligated to satisfy their loved one's desire for material goods.
Retailers, of course, are tickled pink by this turn of events. What do you want
for Christmas? What did you get for Christmas? What did you get your wife or
girl friend for Christmas? This is what we hear during this Holiday Season. As
Bill O'Reilly correctly points out and which is quoted in the Wildmon article:
. . . every retailer in America should get down on their knees everyday and
thank God that there is a holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.
Otherwise these companies would have to find some other way to make up for 20
percent of their annual sales."
The birth of Jesus Christ is the furthest thing from these
retailer's minds. Money is what it's all about for retailers and, "What am
I getting for Christmas?" is what it's all about for our nation's youth as
well as most of our nation's adults. Whose fault is this? I would say that it's
the fault of Christians.
Recently in Georgia, then Governor Roy Barnes removed the
old confederate flag, the 'stars and bars', from the state flag. The reason for
this was that the 'stars and bars' was found to be offensive by many people as
pointed out by Wikipedia:
"African-Americans in particular found it
offensive, as the emblem was originally adopted not during the American Civil
War period but in 1956 during the height of the fight for desegregation."
There was an outcry from many people claiming to be
historians that removing the confederate emblem from the state flag was
removing part of Georgia's past which should be remembered. They complained
that this was denigrating Georgia's history. Also from Wikipedia:
"Adherents of the 1956 flag claimed that the
flag was designed to commemorate the upcoming Civil War Centennial five years
away, while critics speculate it was only adopted as a symbol of racist
The problem is that the 'stars and bars' was added to the
Georgia flag by a bigoted legislature who did this to thumb their noses at the
federal government that had ordered busing blacks and whites to different
schools as a way to desegregate the pubic school systems. This only worked, of
course, because the 'stars and bars' had already become a symbol of racial
hated. These 'historians' who opposed removing the 'stars and bars' from the
Georgia state flag should have spoken up the first time it was used as a symbol
of racial hatred. Having failed to do so, they cannot then claim that this
symbol should remain on the state flag for historical reasons.
There is a similarity with the Christian outrage over the
fact that Christmas has become a secular holiday. The first time a Christian
put up an evergreen tree for Christmas, the first time a Christian told their
children of the existence of Santa Claus and the first time Christians filled
up the space beneath the evergreen tree with gifts for their children, they
began the removal of Jesus Christ from Christmas. Every time they do this they
undermine their effort to keep Jesus Christ in Christmas. If Christians really
want to return Christmas to a holy day in observance of the birth of Jesus
Christ, they would do well to forget about trees, reindeer, Santa Claus and
gifts for their children. They would do well to gather their children for a
trip to the local church and to bring a gift for Jesus instead of leaving their
children to selfishly wonder what the day had in store for them. That is if
they can find a Christian church that's open. Some Christian churches are
actually going to be closed on December 25 that falls on a Sunday this year.
Why? Because they figure too many people won't want to go to church. Why? Well,
because it's Christmas!
Christmas the holiday and Christmas the holy day have become
two separate issues. Christians would do well to promote this divide.
Christians should let everyone celebrate Christmas the holiday and encourage
Christians to celebrate Christmas the holy day. Some may say, "Then we
shouldn't call it Christmas". Ok, let's call it the 'Holiday Season'. This
would include New Years Day as well as people who are not of the Christian
faith. Let's call Christmas trees, which have nothing to do with Jesus Christ,
'holiday trees'. This will leave Christmas, the holy day, as a celebration of
the birth of Jesus.
The extreme element of Christianity won't do this, of
course, because these celebrations would take place in the privacy of their
homes, their churches and their Christian schools. They won't do this because
their goal is to publicize and publicly display their views just as the 'historians'
in Georgia were actually racial bigots intent on publicizing and publicly
displaying their point of view.
XVI had this to say in his traditional Sunday blessing on Sunday, Dec. 11,
today's consumer society, this time (of the year) is unfortunately subjected to
a sort of commercial 'pollution' that is in danger of altering its true spirit,
which is characterized by meditation, sobriety and by a joy that is not exterior but intimate (italics
the Nativity scene in the home
(italics mine) can turn out to be a simple but effective way of presenting the faith to pass it on to one's
is worth clarifying for the overzealous Christian fundamentalist extremists
like Don Wildmon and the American Family Association, Lou Sheldon and the
Traditional Values Coalition, Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council,
Gary Bauer and his American Values group as well as the flagrantly biased and
unbalanced Bill O'Reilly and the whole Fox 'News' group. The leader of the
Catholic Church and unofficial leader of all Christians is saying that one's
relationship with God and Jesus Christ is an intensely personal matter. Pope
Benedict is saying that Christians should celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ
in the privacy of their homes with their families, in their churches with
fellow Christians and at private gatherings. The Christian faith, or any faith,
is not something that should be foisted on the public at large. The fact that
only a small percentage of American citizens are non-Christian carries no
weight. First, 'only' ten percent of a population of almost 300 million people
is 30 million! Second, it doesn't matter if it's only one person. Everyone's
rights and religious beliefs or lack of religious beliefs should be respected.