The “War on Christmas” Real or Imagined?

December 1, 2016

Is there a war on Christmas? Are hordes of people upset because some store clerk says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”? What about “Merry Xmas” signs that start dotting the retail landscape long before Halloween masks are put on, much less pulled off?

According to Pew Research:

Ninety-six percent of Americans celebrate Christmas. That includes 81 percent of non-Christians and 87 percent of folks who claim no religion.

Almost half of all Americans — 46 percent — say they don’t care whether you say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” Fewer — 42 percent — pick “Merry Christmas” over “Happy Holidays.”

So where did this attack on Christmas come from. Some blame Fox News. Others blame isolated incidents of people trying to be more accommodating than they have to be of people of other faiths and beliefs.

But there is an interesting take on the entire Christmas controversy by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry writing for “The Week.” Gobry says:

“Christmas — the commemoration of the event when the Lord of all that is became a helpless child to save us — is a declaration of war against all falsity, all violence, all hatred, all dominion, all empires, all shallowness. All of which is to say — we’re talking about red Starbucks cups? Really?

“Saying there’s a “War on Christmas” is like saying that there’s a “War on D-Day.” The expression is either redundant or nonsensical. Of course there’s a war on; Christmas is an act of war.

“But — and this is where my fellow Christians go wrong — the battlefield isn’t in Starbucks, or in holiday greetings, or in whatever else. Today, at least in the West, the means of warfare against the Church are no longer lions and crosses. Today, the means are appropriation and condescension.

“Yes, Christmas is being secularized into a fake festival of consumerism and, maybe, goody-goody warm fuzzy feelings, as society itself is becoming secularized….

“Of course, when Christians object to greeters saying “Happy Holidays,” what they are objecting to is not an attack on Christmas itself, they are objecting to an attack on the social standing of Christmas. “Merry Christmas” in stores instead of “Happy Holidays” and manger scenes instead of Santa and reindeer are social cues meant to reinforce the social standing of the Christian message. These may be good insofar as they bring people’s attention to the meaning of Christmas itself, but they may also be bad insofar as they turn Christianity into a peaceful, bourgeois religion, equating it with something everyone does for social standing, rather than the sword of the Gospel that cuts through all our pretensions.

“One thing is certain: Nowhere in the New Testament do we find the idea that Christians are entitled to social standing. Quite the opposite, in fact. ‘The truth shall set you free,’ Jesus said; ‘the truth shall make you odd,’ Flannery O’Connor added.”

The war on Christmas has nothing to do with the external but the internal. No one should be able to dampen our appreciation for our Lord and Savior because they didn’t say “Merry Christmas.” A greeting or what type of depiction is on the side of a Starbucks cup of overpriced java can’t measure our love for Jesus and his sacrifice. And our love of Christ is 365/24/7, not reduced to a single season or day. No Christmas tree can hold the ornaments in our heart. There are no gifts we can put under our trees valuable enough to repay his gift of redemption.

So the next time you hear of a war on Christmas, smile, and say the war was won early one Sunday morning over 2,000 years ago, when He rose from the grave that couldn’t hold Him with all power in His hands.

Written by Charles E. Richardson