War on Christmas myth of Christian right

I love Christmas. I love Christmas with every ounce of my being. My love for Christmas, if I may quote “The Fairly OddParents,” burns with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns. I’d like for there to be a more refined reference than Nickelodeon cartoons to describe my feelings for the holiday season, but doesn’t Christmas make all those who celebrate it feel a little younger, and rightly so? Just the thought of that indescribable feeling of transcendent, almost surreal, happiness one gets in their heart when waking up on Christmas Morning gets me all chirpy and saccharine.

I could go on, drawling on about how the Misc doesn’t have enough room in its pages to do justice to my holiday cheer, but I’ll save the ink. I think I’ve made my point. So then for what purpose do I continue? What could possibly ruin the merriness and joy that I, like millions of other people, feel when December rolls around?

The “War on Christmas” people, that’s what. I can count on two things inevitably happening when December rolls around. I can be certain that I’ll be belting out some Christmas tunes, much to my family’s chagrin, while setting up decorations my sisters and I made as kids. But without fail, every year I overhear my parents’ television across the hall playing “The O’Reilly Factor” in the background while my father irons, and every year I hear everyone’s favorite Fox News host complaining about the clear and present danger of all these rabid heathen buzzkills out smashing nativity scenes and suing Christmas carolers.

Allow me to be the first atheist to come forward to dispel this unfathomably ignorant illogic on the part of Fox News and other like-minded conservatives out there. There is no war on Christmas. I’ve seen the secular groups come out, and rightly so, against the obvious disregard for the First Amendment when Christian symbols and displays are allowed to be displayed in public areas when no other religious group, let alone a secular group, would ever be able to do so. I’ve seen David Silverman, President of American Atheists, get invited onto show after show only to be mocked and yelled at by self-righteous crusaders in defense of old Xmas.

I’ve seen excerpts from Kirk Cameron’s new movie, “Saving Christmas,” and all the movies that act as though Christians in America are some endangered and oppressed chosen people.

I’d like to be able to articulate my response in a polished, sophisticated manner, but all I can really say is just come on. Give us a break. Don’t insult the American intelligence than it already has in recent years. Over 70% of Americans are Christians, hardly a number that makes me think how awful the apparent tyranny of the minority. Is it really too much to ask that the people who thump their Bibles and swear by the Second Amendment that they have at least a little respect for the First?

I must also say that I am becoming increasingly shocked and rather appalled by (and in saying so I am speaking specifically to the Fox News folks, who seem happy to do the job of making themselves into walking, talking generalizations for me) the hypocrisy of the people that have, and will continue to have, grumble and grouse about how marginalized they, as Christians, have come to feel in today’s society, citing examples of “Christians can’t pray in schools anymore” or the horribly offensive billboards and advertisements taken out by “those damned atheist groups” all along the way, yet seem blithely ignorant, if not openly resentful, of the reality that those same people weirdly seem to be the pioneers of the unspeakable intolerance that people of Middle Eastern religions in the United States.

Quite frankly, such people should be ashamed of themselves, for their parochialism contributes to atrocities far worse than asking someone to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

I don’t mean to attack conservatives in writing with this vitriol. I probably share more conservative views than a good number of people at Vassar, and I’m not ashamed to admit that. I find myself arguing the conservative side at the dinner table more often than I realize, and I don’t think there’s any shame in that.

But this is the point at which I have to draw the line. This is the point at which I have to stop and look around and wonder: Why so many Republicans have just become Jerry Falwell? One never sees left-leaning people complaining about how endangered Christianity in America is.

So why then, in this post-Reagan era, post-1980s-evangelical revival, nation must some of these Republicans on Fox News and on the Internet stand by these ridiculous claims that have absolutely no credibility to them? In what plane of reality do these people live in that they claim America to be a Christian nation yet act as though they’re being martyred for being part of a pretty sizeable majority that gets what it wants without ever having to ask?

Is it even worth rattling off the vast instances of Christian privilege in America? Just look at the number of polled Americans that would be hypothetically willing to vote for a non-Christian presidential candidate, or how laughable it would have been if someone were complaining about where it would be appropriate to build a church, or the baffling fact that it is literally illegal for an atheist to run for public office in seven states, and you’ll see what I’m talking about, in case you didn’t already.

So please Christian right, please stop overzealously defending Christmas. The holiday season is awesome no matter what religion you are, and having to think about how repugnantly thankless the people at Fox News and those that agree with them on this issue can be ruins my Christmas cheer more than anything non-Christian. Happy holidays, though.

—Rhys Johnson ’18 is currently undeclared.

One Comment

  1. Point well taken, and a worthy topic that deserves at least one response.
    There is no “war” on Christmas. But I recall a few years ago being amused that the silly Brits had begun calling Christmas “the winter holiday” or some such, and within 3-4 years schools across the US had generally followed suit. Authorities in various cities banned Christmas trees displays, fairly innocuous holiday symbols and originally pagan, but intolerable as an “establishment.” Really? No, no one actually feared that the trees were the thin entering wedge of theocracy. Rather, someone was “making a point” by deliberately suppressing a thoroughly benign tradition. And the same with a myriad of other traditions – the manger scenes and Christmas plays, of course, but also the carol singing, “Merry Christmas” and decorations around one’s work desk- got axed. Not a war, exactly, but certainly the non-random actions of sentient beings.
    The First Amendment is the excuse, but it had been around for 200 years before it required these “protections.” In fact, a tiny cadre of ideologues took it upon themselves to require everyone else to surrender their cultural traditions, using the courts as their bludgeon. People feel bullied and wronged. If they didn’t the O’Reilly’s wouldn’t have an audience.
    When large numbers of people begin to regard their government as inimical to their beliefs and a tool of oppression, unhappy consequences follow. Ideologues (Progressives as much as religious folk) made government the enemy of the masses with Prohibition, and civil society suffered. The war on Christmas is a misnomer, but something important is going on that deserves to be named.

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