Was Christ Even ‘in Christmas’ to Begin With?


(Photo: 3bellsembroidery.com)
Is there an organized effort to take the “Christ” out of Christmas and, really, would Jesus care even if there were?

It’s that time of the year again when arch-conservatives — giving in to their urge to feel persecuted so they can rally their base — rant on and on about this peculiarly American modern myth, the supposed War on Christmas. I tend not to watch the Fox News Channel unless my friends and I are playing drinking games, so I thought I could avoid this year’s tired debate about the alleged attack on the holiday.

Then I got a nice little stocking stuffer in the mail from our friends at Citizens for Community Values (CCV), the Sharonville-based group best known for trying to take pornography out of convenience stores and hotel rooms. The mailer included a letter from CCV rallying support to defend Christmas, along with two separate inserts seeking donations, all wrapped around by a rubber bracelet inscribed with the saying, “Just say Merry Christmas.”

(The bracelets are available for sale at $2 each, or less if bought in bulk, while CCV solicits donations in the amounts of $25, $50, $100 or $250. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are all accepted.)

CCV’s letter begins with “Dear Friend of the Family,” and states that, by having some schools using the term “winter break” instead of “Christmas vacation” and some retailers preferring “happy holidays” over “Merry Christmas,” somehow the constitutional right of Christians to freely exercise their religion is being abused. Although not specifically mentioned in the letter, presumably CCV is actually miffed about the smattering of lawsuits nationwide filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) seeking to ban purely religious displays such as Nativity scenes from public property, such as Cranston City Hall in Rhode Island.

This viewpoint ignores the inconvenient facts that there is no proof that Jesus of Nazareth was born in December and that the tradition of Christmas actually stems from efforts by early Christians to have Europeans accept their religion by transforming the popular feast of Saturnalia, a pagan observance usually celebrated from Dec. 17-23, into a holiday commemorating Jesus’ birth. Also, one wonders if these same groups would rush to protect a City Hall display of, say, Ganesha, the elephant-headed god in the Hindu tradition, or a smiling Buddha.

“But last year the politically correct grinches had their way,” the letter admonishes. “Outside our homes, our churches and a few courageous retail establishments, they made it a bah, humbug Christmas. This year will be different! Let’s make a concerted, united effort to make this a very Christ-centered Christmas — in our homes and churches, yes, but also in the public square, including our schools.”

Alas, whatever happened to the values of moderation and humility?

The mailer also included a glossy brochure from a group called the Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based organization whose motto is, “Protecting what we have, reclaiming what we’ve lost, shaping who we become.” It lists court decisions affirming the right to celebrate Christmas and also solicits donations in the amount of $29 or more. In return, the contributor will receive “an ADF Christmas package” consisting of two lapel pins and another copy of the brochure.

CCV’s rubber bracelets are the brainchild of Jennifer Giroux, a new CCV staffer who co-owns The Catholic Shop in Madeira. Giroux is a leader of “Women Influencing the Nation” and frequently appears on conservative TV talk shows like Scarborough Country to support the Catholic Church’s Opus Dei sect and defend anti-Semitic remarks by actor Mel Gibson by saying, “We cannot go back and make it that the Hawaiians killed Christ.”

Giroux’s older brother is Jim Condit, an unsuccessful Congressional candidate in 2004 and 2006. Condit ran a radio ad that blamed Jews for the War on Christmas. The ad stated, “The thought of killing a person for celebrating Christmas is downright un-American. That’s why our U.S. military must not fight wars for the Jewish state, Israel. And if you ever wondered why the Jewish-led ACLU is always trying to tear the Ten Commandments down from our public buildings — now you know. They’re preparing the way for with the artificial Noahide Laws.”

As we ponder the origins of the alleged War on Christmas, we’re forced to wonder, “What would Jesus do?” Frankly, based on the historical record and his writings, Jesus — who, let’s not forget, was a Jew — doesn’t strike me as the type of guy who gets into name-dropping or digs seeing his likeness in all of its illuminated plastic splendor at various displays across the nation.

— Kevin Osborne

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4 Comments on “Was Christ Even ‘in Christmas’ to Begin With?”

  1. Neal Watzman Says:

    Good post! I don’t get it either about this so called “war on Christmas.” In fact, this is the first year I’ve heard about it. But the reality is that Christmas is a Christian holiday, it’s about the birth of Jesus, prophet of Christianity. Many of us are not Christian, although it’s a holiday to us, Christmas is certainly not a religious holiday.

    I’m Jewish, my wife is not, and we celebrate Christmas. I like the holiday, although the long, long build-up and promotion is quite tiring. It has very little religious meaning for me, though, as one might expect.

    Bottom line. Religion is personal. People may celebrate in all kinds of ways. I don’t think we need people to tell us what to believe, and I certainly don’t need groups like CCV to tell me about values.

    Give me a break!

  2. David Gallaher Says:

    This post gave me something for which to be deeply grateful, namely that I’m not on the CCV mailing list.
    For Christmas, my father-in-law renewed my subscription to the large-print Reader’s Digest. (He started the subscription in the first place.) Getting that is burden enough. The only thing good about it is the back cover illustration by local artist, C. F. Payne, which is better on the large-print version.

    My vision is fine, thank you. I don’t even wear glasses.

  3. John Fox Says:

    Kevin, excellent post — the absurd thing about all of this is that the folks at CCV and every other self-described Christian in the United States are free to say “Merry Christmas” all they want — no one has ever attempted to stop someone from saying “Merry Christmas” or from celebrating the holiday/holy day — what these arch conservatives are upset about is that everyone else doesn’t celebrate Christmas as they do, which somehow ruins it all for them.

    Remember that the Founding Fathers came up with the First Amendment as much to protect freedom FROM religion as freedom OF religion.

  4. mc Says:

    “Moderation and humility”? I remember those. They were charming and expected of human beings at one time. How quaint they seem now.

    Those qualities passed away when common sense and literacy became unfashionable. They were handily replaced with what we have now, i.e., a belief in ignorance and illiteracy, complete lack of any consideration for other living creatures and a worship of pseudo-macho fantasies. Now America is consumed with acting like a 10 year old with severe behavioral issues. You must have seen this already and it is not charming. It is repulsive to those who can read, write and sometimes, add.

    The groups of professionally oppressed Christians who want to sell the gullible a War on Christmas will also sell them prayer rugs and customized Bibles. It is the same crowd. They can be entertaining sometimes but are never to be paid any attention by adults. It just encourages more of the same behavior. If they wish to continue acting up and making silly noises, they will eventually be sent to their rooms by those wiser then they.

    Happy New Year To All in the most acceptable way possible and under the circumstances.


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