One of the stranger events of this holiday season has been the furor stirred up in some circles by folks from the FOX network, notably Bill O”Reilly and John Gibson (who actually wrote a book with the title The War on Christmas). In their version, efforts to acknowledge that Christmas is not the only holiday celebrated toward the end of the year, and that not everyone in our neighborhoods is Christian are, in fact, a thinly-veiled effort by “liberals,” secularists and atheists to drive God out of the public arena.
In the effort to “defend Christmas” (stop for just a moment and think about that concept!), the House of Representatives actually took time out from less important issues like health care, education, and that pesky little war in Iraq to pass House Resolution 579, “expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected,” and suggesting that the House, quote, “One, recognizes the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas; two, strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas; and three, expresses support for the use of these symbols and traditions.”
The Resolution passed by a vote of 401-22 (5 voting “present”) It has been impossible to ascertain the accuracy of reports that additional resolutions on defending motherhood and apple pie may also be needed.
The key sponsor of the resolution, congresswoman Jo Ann Davis (R, VA) declared that “There has been an ongoing effort by retailers and many media outlets to slowly eradicate references to Christmas and the symbols and traditions that come along with it from public dialogue.” “Common sense has been hijacked by political correctness, and the Christmas Season has become a vague, generic “holiday season” spanning from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, representing nothing and celebrating anything. December 25th is the federally recognized day known as Christmas, but retail chains across the country have banned their employees from wishing people a Merry Christmas. As if it could not get more ridiculous, the Christmas tree has now become a holiday tree. This is political correctness run amok. No one should feel like they have done something wrong for wishing someone a Merry Christmas,” added Davis.
When other members of Congress asked if Hanukkah and other religious observations could be included, they were flatly rejected.
Frankly, as a Christian, I don”t look to Bill O”Reilly or the FOX network as a resource for theological reflection. Nor do I measure the meaning of Christmas by whether Target and K-Mart use the word “Christmas” in their frenzied efforts to capitalize on this key selling time. Rather, I”d agree with Congressman John Dingell of Michigan, who, in opposing the House Resolution said, “. . . I don”t think we need to defend [Christmas]. What I think we need to do is to practice it.”
In the name of “saving Christmas,” these folks have claimed the right to the delusion that they are the only ones in the neighborhood– at least, the only ones who matter– and that all the tinsel, sales, trees and paraphrenalia of the season are the exclusive property of Christmas and Christians. I recommend that they look around, learn some history, and focus on something of substance instead.
Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Glad Yule. Joyous Tohji-taisai. Happy Kwanzaa. Blessed Maunajiyaras.Or, as John Dingell put it in his comments on the House floor: “So, to my friends and my colleagues, I say with delight, a ”Merry Christmas” to all, and to Bill O”Reilly, ”Happy Holidays.””
- Jo Ann Davis on HR 579
- John Dingell”s Holiday Poem
- American Jewish Congress Statement on HR 579
- War on Christmas is really a war on goodwill and tolerance (Duluth, MN)
- What ”War on Christmas”? (Column by Ruth Marcus in Washington Post)