Blogs > HNN > Christmas and the Culture War

Dec 18, 2005 4:38 pm

Christmas and the Culture War

In recent years, the secular Left, especially from its high positions in the ranks of the media, the teaching profession, and the judiciary, has done its best to coerce the Christian majority into accepting the traditional birthday celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ as a non-religious winter event. What has been called for many centuries Christmass is now to be just another holiday. The move, of course, is part of the Culture War: the assault against orthodox Christianity, the traditional family, and a code of high moral conduct that in general has reigned throughout the West for centuries. The celebration of Christmas must be transformed because it embodies the spirit of everything the secular Left detests. Let’s have Santa, but not a Savior. Let’s be tolerant and diverse—by denying the 85% Christian majority its right to rejoice and be glad.

So from clerks, waiters, hospital employees, teachers, and public servants of all descriptions we hear only “Happy Holiday,” rather than “Merry Christmas.” Christmas trees are being called “holiday trees,” “giving trees,” “union trees,” and ”friendship trees” by the politically correct throughout the nation. (The United States Supreme Court, ironically, has declared the Christmas tree a secular symbol, and rightly so, for Christians do not worship it.) Many schools have banned Christmas celebrations and symbols. (I was invited to a university celebration of the “winter spirit.”) Retailers, including Target, Office Max, Kmart, Home Depot, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Radio Shack, Office Depot, Applebee’s, Dell, Gillette, Lexus, Pier 1, Milton-Bradley, and Costco, announced that Christmas is not to be mentioned, ostensibly on the ground that it might offend someone. The catalogue for Lands’ End speaks only of the Holiday Gift Shop (although shipping can be had “by Christmas”). L.L. Bean’s “Christmas, 2005” catalogue is wholly secular and offers only “holiday gifts.”

The left-learning Common Council of the City of Milwaukee recently defeated an attempt to redesignate the city’s “holiday tree” a Christmas tree. Under the story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, there is a photograph of five lovely, smiling young women celebrating diversity at a local high school. Muslim, Jewish, and Christian students, “bridge distance among cultures” declares the headline. The highly partisan newspaper has never been known for its subtlety.

Watch any classic Christmas film on TCM and discover how far this nation has moved to the Left over the past few decades. Or perhaps we should more accurately say, pushed Left. John Gibson’s Book The War On Christmas, available from the Catholic League, contains much documentation on the current assault.

Many Christians have been fighting back. The American Family Association circulated a petition threatening a boycott of Target stores, and 700,000 people signed it. The corporate moguls capitulated. The AFA also persuaded Sears to change its ban on Christmas and persuaded Lowe’s to sell “Christmas” trees. Macy’s has now brought back mention of Christmas in stores and ads. The Catholic League got giant Wal-Mart to acknowledge the existence of Christmas officially.

Another way to deal with the secular extremists is to laugh at the absurdity of their attack. The Catholic League recently devised politically correct adaptations of songs for Holidaytime, including “I’m Dreaming of a White Holiday,” “I’ll Be Home For The Holiday,” It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like The Holiday,” “Twas the night Before The Holiday,” and “All I Want for The Holiday Is My Two Front Teeth.” Conservative columnist John Leo suggests singing “O Little Town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania” and a ditty hoping for snow on the Panama Canal called “I’m Dreaming Of A White Isthmus.”

Robert Knight, director of the Concerned Women for America’s Culture and Family Institute, notes that “more and more retailers are realizing, too late, that Christian consumers now understand that the constant use of ‘happy holidays’ and ‘holiday’ is grating and insulting.” He continues, “when something is clearly about Christmas itself, it is dishonest to ban the very mention of Christmas on the grounds that it might offend a handful of people. This is a nation where surveys show 96 percent of the population celebrates Christmas. There is no survey showing that people of other faiths are insulted when the majority celebrate Christmas or wish anyone a “Merry Christmas.’ The tyranny of a tiny minority of grinches to veto any mention of Christmas must stop.”

See; and For an opposite view, see Syndicated columnist Pitts claims that only 76% of Americans call themselves Christians. See also Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation organized “because we recognize that Christians are the last remaining obstacle to the moral deconstruction of America, because attacks on Christians are motivated by hatred for the values they espouse.”

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omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr. Reeves opines that:
"The move, of course, is part of the Culture War: the assault against orthodox Christianity, the traditional family, and "
which is said to introduce the phrase that truly baffles me:
" a code of high moral conduct that "

and here comes the punch line:

"in general has reigned throughout the West for centuries."

I fail to see that "high moral conduct" reigning in most, if any, of what the WEST has been, and in many ways still is, doing "for centuries"!
The real difficulty is WHERE, WHEN, to start looking for that "moral conduct"!

-With the methods used to introduce Christianity into Australia, North and, especially, South America?
-With the racist system established in South Africa?
-With the colonization and virtual enslavement of black Africa?
-With the SLAVE trade to the Americas?
-With the systematic despoiling of, inter alia, the Indian subcontinent, Indonesia , South America and North Africa by...?
-With the OPIUM war in China?
-With the Balfour declaration and the deliberate, conscious denial of the Palestinian people their Right to Self Determination which led to their dislocation, dispossession and disfranchisement in their homeland?
-With Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
-With the abominable Holocaust?
-With the empowerment of a racist Israel and the destruction of Iraq?

Except for his :
"high moral conduct "(which )
"...has reigned throughout the West for centuries."
I would have thought that Mr. Reeves refers to an "ideal" Christianity and not the one to which non Christians were subjected to in the last, more than few, centuries!
Or is it, to Mr. Reeves that non Christians do not deserve to be treated with the "high moral conduct" of his “orthodox Christianity”?
However the conduct of "Christian" nations of the WEST had nothing to do with Christianity and every thing to do with their imperialistic designs, ambitions and exploitative nature which is the antonym of the Christianity that I, a non Christian, know!

Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Stop whining, for Christ's sake. Nobody's "denying" you anything. If you want a Christmas tree, go out and buy one with your own dime and call it whatever you want. If you want to say "Merry Christmas," go out and say it to someone who bloody well cares about the difference between that greeting and "Happy Holidays". But the country doesn't belong to Christians, and if you don't like that, you can buy a one-way ticket to Vatican City (or Bethleham, if they let you in) and not come back.

For a guy who supposedly reveres a crucified martyr to the Roman authorities, you sure know how to cry up a friggin river at the most trivial things, don't you? Somehow, I can't quite see Saints Mark or Luke or John or Origen or Augustine worrying about whether Applebee's was really celebrating Christmas in the Christian fashion. Nor do I remember St. Paul's having gone to Damascus in (on?) a Lexus. The idea of Christians sitting around worrying about the insufficiently Christian nature of the LL Bean catalogue ought to inspire laughter. Only in America.

So not everybody believes in the transubstantiation and the Crucifixion and the Resurrection and all the rest of that nonsense, and you feel "coerced" by their failure to kowtow to your beloved doctrines. Get over it!

Stuff like this makes me want to declare a fatwa or go on a jihad or something.

Irfan Khawaja - 8/4/2006

Sorry, I just realized that the subject line of my post conflated Ebenezer Scrooge (no "the") with the Grinch. Whatever. You get the point.

Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 12/24/2005


By the way, I´ve been reading mr Thomas blog and I do not see anything remote to a conservative critic to corporations or capitalism (rather the contrary, the usually apologetic tactics of the right wingers)...So it seems to me that he is just another hyporcite...

Ed Schmitt - 12/22/2005


James Spence - 12/22/2005

If he wants to avoid criticism, then shouldn't Reeves himself refrain from lumping the "Secular Left" together?

Both Left and the Right are ignorant about the issues.

Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 12/21/2005


Remarks well taken. Thanks for the clarifications. Is just that this "war on christmas" has to much the smell of O´Reilly zeal on it for my taste.

Ed Schmitt - 12/21/2005

Mr. Alejandro - It is strange for me to be in the position of defending Professor Reeves, but in recent posts he too has been critical of both Wal-Mart and of corporate generated consumerism. So to lump him together with a vast right-wing conspiracy is to neglect to see some of the nuances among conservatives. Professor Reeves's conservatism seems to be characterized by a traditionalist (and elitist) perspective on the role of academe, and an emphasis on his reading of Catholic values. So he is neither a social conservative of the Ralph Reed stripe, nor of the Wall Street Journal business/libertarian driven variety. It would be nice if Professor Reeves answered your critique himself but he doesn't "do" the interactive portion of blogging.

Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 12/21/2005

I mean, I guess Walmart policies of saying "happy holidays" is part of the evil secular leftist conspiracy. And the same goes for the rest of buisness owners who see it as a way to get non christian customers to buy stuff on this time of the year.

Actually I will say that if christmas has been secularized is by teh capitalistic impulse, that have transformed it into just an excuse for compulsive consuemrism. But I am sure people like Thomas C Reeves and the members of the religious right, ardent defenders of capitalism, had little to say about it. Good way to go

Oh, BTW, here is what I essentially think about this "war on christmas" nonsense:

John Chapman - 12/20/2005

How ridiculous and small-minded to assume that all "leftists" are secular, and meaning, I suppose, not spiritual either or possessing values or decency. Is this a purposeful display of ignorance or just the essence of one typical American Christian Fundamentalist speaking? Mr. Reeves seems to hint or imply with great moral authority that Christianity is the only "true" religion in America and probably on this planet and that without it the planet is going to hell. He is also using HNN as a platform to perpetuate religious and secular myths. How annoying to have to listen to so-called insidious plots dreamed up by those devilish lefties. The only thing more annoying than Reeves is listening to Bill O'Reilly’s rants of leftwinger’s plots. Reeve’s blog here complements the Right’s vertically integrated media apparatus who pounce on any topic to heat them into irrational hot-button issues. No group, believers and non-believers, should be forced by another group of people to subsidize another's religious celebration, especially where it implies government endorsement of Christianity, which is what is happening in this country.

Mr. Reeves can pray to Jesus in public anytime he feels the need to and I won’t blink an eye, and he can publicly celebrate Christmas anyway he wants, but if he is implying that American society must be rigged so that those who are not praying will be branded as anti-Christ and therefore degenerates unworthy to live in this society, then he’s asking for a fight and will become a victim of the rules he lives by.

Paul Noonan - 12/19/2005

Here's a fun fact for all of you who lament the "secularization" of Christmas over the past few decades. Did you know that the Post Office (as it then was) did not release stamps with specific Christmas imagery for the mailing of Christmas cards until 1962. That's right, in the 1950s, which you presumably revere, Christmas cards went thru the mails with images of the Statute of Liberty, Abraham Lincoln etc. on the stamps. It was considered to be inappropriate mixing of church and state to issue Christmas stamps. Even when the first Christmas stamps were issued beginning in 1962 only secular holiday imagery was used (wreaths, decorated trees etc.). In 1965 the first somewhat religious image was used, a 19th Century weathervane depicting an angel (presumably Gabriel) blowing a horn. In 1966 the Post Office went "all the way" and a Madonna and Child image was used for the first time.

I was a child in the 1960s and I seem to recall that the terms "Christmas" and "holiday" were used by retailers much as they are today. In fact, in print advertisements "Christmas" was often abbreviated as "Xmas", something you rarely see today. I suppose since most retail businesses were locally owned they were not subject to national campaigns to get them to use "Christmas" in place of "holiday". Also, the retailers are faceless corporations today so its easier to complain about them, few people in the 1960s would have been brazen enough to go to the proprietor of a local store and tell him he needed to use the word "Christmas" instead of some other word in his advertising.

So fess up, social conservatives, admit you are not trying to recreate any status quo ante, at least not any that has existed in living memory, but to push things to a place they've nver been before.

And you must live a terribly spiritually impovrished life if you need to see religious symbols at City Hall to feel fulfilled.

Merry Xmas to all.

Seth Cable Tubman - 12/18/2005

Just a couple minor pts. I've read that 97% of Americans celebrate Christmas in some form, not 96%. So I will speak for the supermajority when I say that most people are tired of this "happy holidays" rubbish. Additionally, we should RESPECT the minority, but not allow them to try to dictate what the masses want to do. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!!!