Christmas is a secular holiday, whose fault is that?
By Eavan Callaghan
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Dec 14, 2005, 01:12

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:

"And 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 night?"

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 their eggnog.

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 protest."

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.

Pope Benedict XVI had this to say in his traditional Sunday blessing on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2005:

"In 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 mine)."

"Assembling 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 children."

This 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.

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