Skip to comments.How the secular humanist grinch didn't steal Christmas ; There is NO WAR ON CHRISTMAS (Barf Alert)
Posted on 12/24/2008 11:14:50 AM PST by SeekAndFind
The right-wing crusade against the liberal "war on Christmas" is great for rallying the troops. Too bad the war doesn't exist.
In 1959, the recently formed John Birch Society issued an urgent alert: Christmas was under attack. In a JBS pamphlet titled "There Goes Christmas?!" a writer named Hubert Kregeloh warned, "One of the techniques now being applied by the Reds to weaken the pillar of religion in our country is the drive to take Christ out of Christmas -- to denude the event of its religious meaning." The central front in this perfidious assault was American department stores, where the "Godless UN" was scheming to replace religious decorations with internationalist celebrations of universal brotherhood.
"The UN fanatics launched their assault on Christmas in 1958, but too late to get very far before the holy day was at hand," the pamphlet explained. "They are already busy, however, at this very moment, on efforts to poison the 1959 Christmas season with their high-pressure propaganda. What they now want to put over on the American people is simply this: Department stores throughout the country are to utilize UN symbols and emblems as Christmas decorations."
According to the JBS, this assault on yuletide iconography was "part of a much broader plan, not only to promote the UN, but to destroy all religious beliefs and customs." The pamphlet called on all Americans to fight back by informing department stores that those with improper ornamentation wouldn't be getting their business.
At the time, the campaign to save Christmas was not widely treated as a matter of great national import. The John Birch Society was generally regarded as a crank, far-right outfit whose paranoid conspiracy theories (it believed fluoridated water was part of an evil communist plot to poison America's brains) put it outside the pale of reasonable discourse. Staffers on the ultra-right 1964 Barry Goldwater campaign tried to prevent Birchers from volunteering because they carried the taint of extremism. The John Birch Society didn't have access to a major television network. But a lot has changed since then.
Last December, warnings about a war on Christmas -- a war whose central front was the nation's department stores -- once against emanated from the right, but this time, they were on national TV and talk radio. Fox News' Bill O'Reilly began running a regular segment called "Christmas Under Siege." "All over the country, Christmas is taking flak," O'Reilly declared on Dec. 7. "In Denver this past weekend, no religious floats were permitted in the holiday parade there. In New York City, Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg unveiled the 'holiday tree,' and no Christian Christmas symbols are allowed in the public schools. Federated Department Stores -- that's Macy's -- have done away with the Christmas greeting 'Merry Christmas.'" Instead, Macy's was using the malign phrase "Happy Holidays." Noting this, Pat Buchanan wrote, "What we are witnessing here are hate crimes against Christianity."
This year the war on Christmas canard has come early, and with it the latest opportunity for religious conservatives to cast themselves as the oppressed victims of secular tyrants. In October, Fox News anchor John Gibson published a book titled "The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought," which envisions a vast conspiracy with tentacles reaching into many aspects of American life. "The plot to ban Christmas itself is anything but secret," writes Gibson. "It is embedded in the secular 'Humanist Manifesto' (in its three iterations from the American Humanist Association), in the philosophy of teaching of John Dewey, in the legal opinions of Laurence Tribe, in the rulings of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on which sits the most liberal jurist in the land, Stephen Reinhardt, who is married to Ramona Ripston, the southern California ACLU executive director and the national group's most liberal and effective leader."
As the holidays approach, the right is making ever more fevered preparations to thwart this ostensible conspiracy. Last week, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights launched a short-lived boycott of Wal-Mart, charging the megastore with "insulting Christians by effectively banning Christmas." The American Family Association called for a Thanksgiving-weekend boycott of Target because of the chain's purported refusal to use the phrase "Merry Christmas" in its advertising. (Target denies having such a policy.) A few days later, Jerry Falwell announced he was joining with the Christian right legal group Liberty Counsel's "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign," which intends to sue officials who try to curb religious Christmas celebrations in schools or other public places. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "The 8,000 members of the Christian Educators Association International will be the campaign's 'eyes and ears' in the nation's public schools. They'll be reporting to 750 Liberty Counsel lawyers who are ready to pounce if, for example, a teacher is muzzled from leading the third-graders in 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.'" Meanwhile, the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian right legal outfit co-founded by James Dobson, has ramped up its three-year-old "Christmas project," organizing over 800 lawyers to defend the sacred holiday. "It's a sad day in America when you have to retain a lawyer to wish someone a merry Christmas," says Mike Johnson, senior legal counsel for ADF.
Despite Johnson's lamentations, one can in fact offer Christmas greetings without legal counsel. Christmas trees are permitted in public schools. (They're considered secular symbols.) Nativity scenes are allowed on public property, although if the government erects one, it has to be part of a larger display that also includes other, secular signs of the holiday season, or displays referring to other religions. (The operative Supreme Court precedent is 1984's Lynch v. Donnelly, where the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that a city-sponsored Christmas display including a crèche, reindeer, a Christmas tree, candy-striped poles and a banner that read "Seasons Greetings" was permissible. "The display is sponsored by the city to celebrate the Holiday and to depict the origins of that Holiday," the majority wrote. "These are legitimate secular purposes.") Students are allowed to distribute religious holiday cards and literature in school. If the administration tries to stop them, the ACLU will step in to defend the students' free-speech rights, as they did in 2003 when teenagers in Massachusetts were suspended for passing out candy canes with Christian messages.
In fact, there is no war on Christmas. What there is, rather, is a burgeoning myth of a war on Christmas, assembled out of old reactionary tropes, urban legends, exaggerated anecdotes and increasingly organized hostility to the American Civil Liberties Union. It's a myth that can be self-fulfilling, as school board members and local politicians believe the false conservative claim that they can't celebrate Christmas without getting sued by the ACLU and thus jettison beloved traditions, enraging citizens and perpetuating a potent culture-war meme. This in turn furthers the myth of an anti-Christmas conspiracy.
"You have a dynamic here, where you have the Christian right hysterically overrepresenting the problem, and then anecdotally you have some towns where lawyers restrict any kind of display or representation of religion, which is equally absurd," says Chip Berlet, a senior analyst at Political Research Associates and one of the foremost experts on the religious right. "It's a closed loop. In that dynamic, neither the secular humanists or the ACLU are playing a role."
So if there is no war on Christmas, why do we call it Xmas or happy holidays? Why does the ACLU try to tear down holiday displays like nativities and menorahs?
Xmas is not originally an attempt to exclude Christ from Christmas, but uses an abbreviation of the Greek spelling of the word Christ with the X representing the Greek letter chi. However, so few people know this that it is probably better not to use this popular abbreviation in religious contexts.
Pinkham: Is this what the holidays have come to?
“Too bad the [liberal] war doesn’t exist.
Yeah,yeah, yeah, and once again, I weigh what’s printed on my driving license.
denial ain’t a river.
The Birch example is a perfect portrait of how the Left can take what some extremist says and use it to cover their efforts. Yes, the Birch stuff was kooky, but that shouldn’t excuse the fact that too often stores or people try too hard to not offend and end up offending even more.
It is perfectly fine to wish someone a Merry Christmas if that is the holiday they are celebrating. If you see someone wearing a yarmulke, it is perfectly fine to wish him a Happy Hannukah. The generic “Happy Holidays” takes the meaning out of the occasion if used inappropriately.
I’d like to further add that phrases like “Holiday Tree” are in and of themselves offensive because they’re nothing but uber-PC garbage gone amok.
It’s all explained in this article.
I'm curious to know how Jerry Falwell made this announcement from his grave.
It seems the author wishes to relieve himself on our legs and then tell us is is raining.
“View Replies: No replies.”
Fine work SeeknFind! I love it when facts are presented. Merry Xmas!
Abbreviations used as Christian symbols have a long history in the church. The letters of the word “Christ” in Greek, the language in which the New Testament was written, or various titles for Jesus early became symbols of Christ and Christianity. For example, the first two letters of the word Christ ... are the Greek letters chi (c or C) and rho (r or R). These letters were used in the early church to create the chi-rho monogram, a symbol that by the fourth century became part of the official battle standard of the emperor Constantine.
Another example is the symbol of the fish, one of the earliest symbols of Christians that has been found scratched on the walls of the catacombs of Rome. It likely originated from using the first letter of several titles of Jesus (Jesus Christ Son of God Savior). When combined these initial letters together spelled the Greek word for fish (ichthus).
The exact origin of the single letter X for Christ cannot be pinpointed with certainty. Some claim that it began in the first century AD along with the other symbols, but evidence is lacking. Others think that it came into widespread use by the thirteenth century along with many other abbreviations and symbols for Christianity and various Christian ideas that were popular in the Middle Ages. However, again, the evidence is sparse.
In any case, by the fifteenth century Xmas emerged as a widely used symbol for Christmas. In 1436 Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press with moveable type. In the early days of printing typesetting was done by hand and was very tedious and expensive. As a result, abbreviations were common. In religious publications, the church began to use the abbreviation C for the word “Christ” to cut down on the cost of the books and pamphlets. From there, the abbreviation moved into general use in newspapers and other publications, and “Xmas” became an accepted way of printing “Christmas” (along with the abbreviations Xian and Xianity). Even Websters dictionary acknowledges that the abbreviation Xmas was in common use by the middle of the sixteenth century.
So there is no grand scheme to dilute Christianity by promoting the use of Xmas instead of Christmas. It is not a modern invention to try to convert Christmas into a secular day, nor is it a device to promote the commercialism of the holiday season. Its origin is thoroughly rooted in the heritage of the Church. It is simply another way to say Christmas, drawing on a long history of symbolic abbreviations used in the church. In fact, as with other abbreviations used in common speech or writing (such as Mr. or etc.), the abbreviation “Xmas” should be pronounced “Christmas” just as if the word were written out in full, rather than saying “exmas.” Understanding this use of Christian symbolism might help us modern day Xians focus on more important issues of the Faith during Advent, and bring a little more Peace to the Xmas Season.
I'm curious to know how Jerry Falwell made this announcement from his grave.
Ah, never mind. The story is from 2005.
Heard a rumor that Special Forces volunteer Tillman was killed by “friendly fire” because he was an atheist. Any info on that rumor?
The amusing irony is that the downturn in the economy has stripped many of the secular trappings from Christmas, and made it a much more honest, thoughtful, and special holiday this year.
Instead of buying each other expensive and disposable baubles, families are enjoying a good meal in each others’ company. Instead of making gaudy displays, they are sharing a sense of peace and making memories of togetherness.
Which isn’t that bad an idea, after all.
Tillman wasn’t in Special Forces. He was a Ranger.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.