The American Gazette

Commonsense political and social commentary from "Flyover Country"

Location: Rural Michigan, United States

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Taking Christ out of Christmas

The clue phone is ringing, but too many are not picking up.

I realize it is very difficult for some to grasp in today's world, so I think it bears saying, CHRISTMAS IS A CHRISTIAN HOLIDAY. It is my firm opinion that is one does not like that than one should not celebrate it.

Over the years retailers have been very savvy at selling the gift giving of Christmas, it is after the time of year when many retailers are able to make the profit necessary to be in business in the first place. What seems to have been lost in the rush for profits however, is the rememberance that gift giving at Christmas is in imitation of the Magi bringing gifts to the infant Jesus. Over time then, Christmas has become an orgy of gift giving, secularizing a religious holiday in the name of profits.

Please do not misunderstand me one this point, I have nothing against a retailer making money, that is why they are in business. The businesses that make the items make money, and thus jobs are created and/or kept, all of which is a good thing. What is not a good thing is when retailers hunger for profits to the extent that they insist their people use "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" so shoppers who are not Christians don't become "offended".

The reality is this, as plain on your nose on your face. Christmas is a holiday created by Christians, over time it has evolved as do all things in society and culture, however the underlying message of Christmas is not secular good times, good food and family. The underlying message is the birth of Jesus Christ, who the majority of Americans profess to believe in, and for a majority of Americans is the Savior. God from God, light from light, true God from true God, Begotten not made.

It is not a pagan holiday, though so many will attempt to persuade you it is, by virtue of the history of the date, and some of the rituals surrounding the celebration of Christmas. It is not a Jewish holiday, it is not a Islamic holiday, it has nothing to do with Buddha, the Hindu's or the Sikhs. There is no connection to Shinto, Tao or Confucius. So may I be so bold as to say, that if any one of these are your religion and you find Christmas or the saying Merry Christmas somehow offensive, then you not participate in the holiday?

Not participating will harm you how? Will someone make fun of you in the office if you don't celebrate Christmas? Will your kids feel left out? Really, what horrid event will take place if you opt to not celebrate an essentially Christian holiday?

The reality of the situation is this. America is primarily a Christian country by virtue of who immigrated here first. That is not a racist statement, it is simply the truth. The founding fathers were primarily of English origin, many were Anglican and by far the majority were practicing Christians. Even those who had doubts about organized Christian religion, were men of faith. So if the reality is that the majority of Americans express that they are of the Christian faith, as demonstrated in a recent Newsweek article, than why is it wrong to celebrate one of the basic holidays of that faith, with the true reason for the holiday in place? If one applies the logic that some use to take Christ out of Christmas, then it is entirely appropriate for those same people to request that countries with primarily Islamic adherents to not publicly celebrate Ramadan, and for Israel to not celebrate Passover or Hanukkah. Perhaps we could ask Tibet to quit making a big deal about the Dali Lama. Doing those things make about as much sense as asking Christian Americans, again the majority, to go ahead and allow human secularists to take Christ out of our holiday for fear it will offend a minority in this country.

Christmas celebrations in America have as much historical context and as much right to continue in the form they have existed for years, as do the major celebrations of any religion in the countries in which other religions dominate. So let me take up the cross, so to speak, about America as a Christian country.

One will find a great deal of back and forth from one side and then the other as to whether America is a Chrisitan country. I would put forth that each side misses a fundamental point.

The Declaration of Independence states " We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. " Please note that Thomas Jefferson did not make that statement in terms of a purely Christian God. The term "creator" can be the God, and hence the religion you practice or it can be mine. The fundamental issue here is that rights flow from a creator not a government. Something that many a Protestant reformer would have been very at home with, particularly John Knox, founder of Scots Presbyterianism. Many of his sermons made very pointed references to this. However, this phrase does not make America a Christian country, it makes it a country that at it's inception recognized that it all humanity have basic rights, given to them not by a caprious government, but by a creator.

Let us now go on to the First Amendment. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." This amendment also makes it clear that America was not founded as a Christian country. It does so by making it clear in the very first amendment that the government may not establish any state religion. Had the founders opted otherwise, there can be little doubt that any state established religion would have been Christian, as the founders themselves were of Christian backgrounds, though of different sects. One only has to have the barest of understandings of the religious wars that had racked Europe to understand why the founders believed so deeply that not founding a state religion was so utterly important to the fledging country, that they put it clearly into law.

Now onto the next point of the First Amendment. Not only may the government not establish a state religion, they may also not prevent the free exercise thereof. That small simple phrase. Contrary to what so many believe, this phrase does not mandate a separation of church and state. That phrase can be traced back to a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote in response to a letter to him from the Danbury Baptists of Danbury CT. They were concerned about their minority status and persecution of themselves, the letter Jefferson wrote back was meant to reassure them that the government would not do anything that would harm their free expression and practice of their religion. Read it for yourself and it becomes quite clear. I am as sure as I am sitting here that Jefferson never intended his phrase to be utilitzed by groups such as the ACLU that attempts at every turn to remove religious expression out of the public arena.

Why am I so sure of this? Because despite those groups who are pushing back the ability of Christians in particular, to express their faith publicly, I know my history. History is what it is. Revisionist history for any true student of history is aborrant, therefore attempting to put Jefferson on the side of the ACLU is aborrant. Case in point.

In 1774, while serving in the Virginia Assembly, Jefferson personally introduced a resolution calling for a Day of Fasting and Prayer.

In 1779, as Governor of Virginia, Jefferson decreed a day of “Public and solemn thanksgiving and prayer to Almighty God.”

As President, Jefferson signed bills that appropriated financial support for chaplains in Congress and the armed services.
On March 4, 1805, President Jefferson offered “A National Prayer for Peace,” which petitioned:
“Almighty God, Who has given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honorable ministry, sound learning, and pure manners.
Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitude brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues.
Endow with Thy spirit of wisdom those to whom in Thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth.
In time of prosperity fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”

And there is this.

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
Thomas Jefferson

Some point to the Treaty of Tripoli as evidence that America is not a Christian country. Let me put that in it's complete context.
As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion as it has in itself no character of enmity [hatred] against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] and as the said States [America] have never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
This was a treaty between America and Tripoli in 1797. This particular statement is from George Washington. Read in it's context, it should be clear that Washington was attempting to explain to the pirates who were preying on American ships in the region, that the United States was not a country like the European powers that had state religions that considered themselves at war with Muslim countries. Yet those whose aim is to take any expression of Christian religion in this country out of the public arena refuse to read historical documents in it's context for no other reason than to convince the American public that for over 200 years we have had the meaning of our founders all wrong. As an aside, this treaty was broken by Tripoli, who declared war on America in 1801, the first war against America after Independence. The taking of goods and sailors as slaves would continue until James Madison was President. Just an interesting look at a slice of American history that has some reverbation into today's world, but that is another post.

So, America is not a Christian nation in that there is no state imposed Christian religion. A clear reading of the writing of various founding fathers make that point quite easily. However that said it is also quite clear from various writings of the founders that they were by and large, religious men and they were Christian's, as were and are the majority of Americans. By virtue of the majority of Americans being of the Christian faith, however one can call this country a Christian country. What cannot be said it that the citizens of this country are forced by the state to at least make a hat tip or nod to being nominal Christians. Yet, America is overwhelmingly a Christian country by the fact that the majority of her citizens CHOOSE to practice as Christians.

So if the majority of Americans choose to identify themselves as Christian, those who attend church regularly and those who do not, by what right does the ACLU and other groups who identify themselves as atheists or agnostics have to demand that the majority not be allowed to publicly express their religious convictions? These groups make their demands with language of victimhood for one. They use guilt, they use browbeating tactics, and they wrongly use the idea that we are not a Christian country but a free country to bolster their tactics. By utilizing the language of victimhood, they attempt to make Christian Americans feel that any public expression of their religion will offend the minority. Offend mind you, not threaten their lives, not threaten their livelihoods or even threaten their ability to practice their religion or lack of in their own manner. Does a nativity scene in front of a local county counthouse threaten anyone with physical harm? Will Chrisitans who gaze upon that nativity scene and think of the wonder of Jesus, then go out and murder Americans who are not Christians? Do you even know if your neighbors are Christians or not?

A Nativity scene in front of a county courthouse is not a government imposing a state religion on anyone. It is little more than an expression of the majority view of this country. A school play meant to celebrate Christmas, not a generic holiday, whose children though are not allowed to sing any Christian songs celebrating Christmas does what exactly? Spare the feelings of a minority, and make no mistake they are a minority, in favor of telling the children who are in that play who are from Christian homes that the free expression of their religion is not allowed. If I were a non Christian parent of that school is it truly too much to ask of me that my child simply not participate in a celebration that my family did not believe in? Apparently so. It is obviously simply too much to ask a parent to be a parent and to explain to their children why they believe in what they believe and do not believe in Christianity. It is entirely ok for a school in California to force seventh graders to partake in the celebrations of Ramadan as part of learning about diversity, despite the many students who are not Muslim, but it is not appropriate to expect the same consideration to be given to Christians.

A parade in Denver is not allowed to have any religious floats etc... despite it being a Christmas parade, now made into a holiday parade because it just might offend someone. First of all their would be no "holiday parade" if there was not Christmas to begin with, and secondly if a parade celebrating the birth of the saviour is that offense to you, can I make the big leap and expect that you not go to the parade to begin with? Who is out there demanding that the citizens of Denver go to the parade and get offended to begin with? NO ONE. However, the threat of a lawsuit by the ACLU or any of it's twins is enough to make people run for cover. A lawsuit will threaten the financial stability of whoever is it's target, and it has become an undercover sly way of pushing forth an agenda the MAJORITY OF AMERICANS DO NOT WANT. Yet Americans have been more or less silent about these inroads made into our traditional culture.

We have been silent because we want to be tolerant, we do not wish to be bigoted, we wish to remain true to our constitution and our founders. But by our silence we have become complacent in the fabric of our society being torn asunder under the guise of diversity and multiculturalism. If I or others like me dare complain, we are scorned as stupid, ignorant, bigoted, racist, homophobic, sexist, insensitive and intolerant. One only has to listen to the mouthings of these so called progressives to keenly understand they have no compunction in labeling you as a freak, as they rent their clothes and tear their hair and mumble incoherent phrases about Jesusland. You can hear the thought process as they think, fine believe in God and Jesus, but we will make sure that you are allowed no public expression of your religious beliefs because it OFFENDS ME.

This is not a controversy that anyone should expect to end any time soon. It is bound to get worse before it gets better. However, I know that there are many people out there just like me that would consider themselves reformed democrats. Through the nineties I was lulled into believing the democratic party was going back more to the traditions of it's greatest politicitians, however that blind was torn off my eyes shortly after the attacks on 9/11 and I saw the Democratic party for what it really is. A party that jeers at all of my traditional beliefs, not conservatives beliefs, but traditional beliefs. They not only jeer at my beliefs they have members and affliate organizations which are actively attempting to jettison nearly everything I hold dear to my heart, including how I believe my children should be raised.

It's not just Christmas. It's scorn because I found it offensive that Janet Jackson had the audacity to bear her breast in front of millions. How very stupid of me. It is after all, just a boob. Why should I be upset by an ad on Monday night football that has a women dropping a towel in front of a man, after all we could only see her back and how many of us have never seen that? As if the entire message of the ad was not there. Why should I ban hip hop music from my home, it is after all only a legitamite expression of well, something that I can't comprehend since I have real issues with women being sung about as bitches and ho's. Somehow or another I am supposed to accept not allowing religious symbols in a public parade that only the citizens of that town are going to see, but I am supposed to accept some guy grabbing his dick in front of millions. And when I don't want to accept that I am simply an ignorant, intolerant redneck. I'm supposed to accept a man lecturing me about racism and the poverty that creates, when the same man has multiple children out of wedlock when statistics show that a single woman with children are more prone to poverty than nearly any other demographic. I'm supposed to lap up the words of a feminist regarding the evils of men, even when I can see with my own eyes what happens when men are made a margin part of family life. I am supposed to accept gay lifestyles, even when I can read the increasing statistics of HIV infection among gay men, particularly young gay men and KNOW as a nurse, the issue is not one of education. And I am to accept the scorn heaped on President Bush because he is a man of faith and refuses to hide that. One cannot help but wonder what these groups would have said of nearly every President who was in office at a time of National Crisis. Read their words and realize that President Bush is behaving no differently than any of the majority of our Presidents, his public expressions of his faith would not have drawn any issues even 50 years ago. It is only since the naval gazing part of the baby boomers of the 60's and 70's got ahold of this country have things gone so awry.

As an American who believes fervently in tolerance, and in each person living their lives as between themselves and God, I simply wish for the other side to give me the same courtesy. No Christmas parades? Well, then no Gay pride parades. My public expressions of belief offend you? Well gay men dressing up like nuns and publicly simulating sex offends me. A public school singing Christmas carols offend you? Forcing seventh graders to celebrate Ramadan in order to pass offends me. Country music makes you cringe? Hip hop makes me cringe.

As the radicals on "progressive" side keep pushing, they are doing little more than forcing people like me to push back. Even two years ago I would not have felt like I had to dig my heels in like I do now. I cannot help but feel a confrontation is being forced, and I will no longer simply turn the channel, shut off the radio and turn my head to public behaviour I find nausating. By continuing to attempt to force me and those like me to swallow values (that horrid bad word) that are not mine and that which I refuse to teach my children, I have instead been forced to defend everything that I believe in.

And defend it I will.



Blogger Melanie Ensley said...

Thank you, thank you,thank you. You took the words right out of my mouth. I am so heartbroken about the way we are taking Christ out of Christmas. I wish people would wake up and boycott all of the stores that are taking part in this and also any other activities that are involved.I am not ashamed to say I am a Christian, I am not ashamed of the gospel. I will defend it until my last breath.

12:49 AM  

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