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The War On Christmas Debate

Updated on October 10, 2016
jackclee lm profile image

Jack is currently a volunteer at the Westchester County Archives. Jack has worked at IBM for over 28 years on museums and libraries.

Introduction

This hub was inspired by a question started by another hubber Austinstar. Her topic was Merry Christmas is for Christians only while Happy Holidays is for everyone else? I wanted to expand on this debate to encompass the "war on Christmas" that seems to come up in recent years.

-October 2015

Background

The question Austinstar posed is simple enough but the answer is not as simple. How did we get here? For some 200 years, our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian philosophy and our Constitution included a Bill of Rights that has, as part of the First Amendment, a Freedom of Religion clause. In 1947, the Supreme Court in the Everson vs. Board of Education case, in a 5-4 decision ruled for the "separation of church and state" to include banning state funding of transportation to parochial schools. This landmark decision led to numerous subsequent decisions by the court to remove any presence of religion in the public square. This was a mistaken interpretation of the original intent of the Constitution especially the "establishment clause" in my opinion and the cause of numerous debates on this topic ever since.

In an indirect way, the root of all problems related to this topic originated at the Supreme Court. It is the unintended consequence of a bad interpretation of the Constitution.

Separation Of Church And State

This wall of separation which has been used by many to justify all kinds of actions is not in the best interest of our republic. The Constitution as written is quite clear. The establishment clause was put in to prevent a government from imposing a specific religion on the people. Knowing the history of Europe and the British Crown, many people escaped to the New World seeking religious liberty. They did not want for example a Church of England as they have in the United Kingdom or a State Church as exists in Germany.

The genius and generosity of the founding father is to prevent the State from any influence over the religious practices of the various colonies. Even though the majority of the population at the time was Protestant, they did not want it to be forced on all the States. This is the key to understanding our history and our success as a nation.

The perversion of this "separation" is interpreted by some to be that no religious related subjects can be part of our government. The ACLU and other humanist groups has pushed this idea on the public. This has not always been the case and now it is front and center. Why?

Difference Between Popularity And Discrimination

Some use the term equality to justify their opposition to Christians. They think it is discriminatory to celebrate one religious holiday and not another. I think they are misguided. The reason Christmas and Thanksgiving and Easter are celebrated in public schools is due to their popularity with the community they serve.

Let me explain with an analogy. During the Christmas season, almost every radio station you tune to plays Christmas Music continuously. Why is that? Are they being discriminatory against non-Christians? or are they just filling the wants and needs of their audience? If people stop listening, guess what, they will change their playlist or they will go out of business. That is the free market at work.

The school system fulfills the same needs of their community. It is a matter of common sense and logistics that certain holidays are designated because of their popularity among the students and the teachers. In NYC, a large population of teachers are Jewish. That is why the schools close on certain high Holy days of Judaism, not because of favoritism but because it makes common sense.

If for example, a local school district has a large population of Muslims or Buddhists or whatever other religious affiliation, and the school board decides to modify their school calendar to celebrate one of their holidays, I have no problem with that. Popularity, not discrimination is the key.

A Simple Analogy

Another analogy to drive this point even though it may not be a perfect fit. Suppose you are invited to a Thanksgiving dinner at someone's house and 90% of the people there are meat eaters and 10% are Vegetarian. The tradition of Thanksgiving is having Turkey as the main course. Would you want the host to change the menu to Tofurky to accommodate the 10%? Of course not. The host may make accommodations by providing extra vegetarian dishes so that they can all enjoy the celebration. By the way, by serving turkey, they in no way can convert the vegetarians to start eating meat.

It is the same idea with Christian celebration of Christmas. It is not discriminatory against other religion or faith.

Christianity and Islam - Not All Religion Are Equal

In various comments on HubPages, I've come across certain people making the equivalence argument between Christianity and Islam as both containing extremists that causes war and violence. That is a false narrative. I challenge anyone to come up with a Muslim country that offer the same religious freedom that we have here in the United States. You can't. We, as a Christian Nation, are the most tolerant of all faiths. We welcome immigrants on the order of over one million legal immigrants per year. We go to extreme to protect the innocent and the minority. We are the most generous of all nations.

Personally, I have nothing against Muslims or people of other faiths. I prescribe to a "live and let live" attitude with regard to others. However, I do have common sense and I acknowledge differences in beliefs and practices that may or may not benefit society as a whole. There is a reason why we are the most successful country in all of history. I believe it is our unique Constitution and our faith in a Higher Power and our Judeo-Christian Heritage that led us to this point. Why is the Middle East in constant turmoil despite the rich resources of oil? Why are Russia and Cuba and Venezuela and Greece in such poor economic state?

Two Types of Atheists

From my perspectives, I've come across two general groups of Atheists. Group one are the one's who either lost faith or have no faith and believe that what you see is what you get. They rely on Science as the final deciding factor in all things. They have no room for the supernatural. They do hold the same "live and let live" philosophy as I and they will go along to keep peace. They may disagree with people of faith but they will not go out of their way to attack or hurt people of faith. This group I have no problem with and I generally get along with them. Some of my own family members are such and I believe majority of Atheists are also such.

The second group are the Activists such as the ACLU and the American Humanists and other groups that promote a secular agenda. They will go out of their way to bring lawsuits and challenge the status quo. They will find contention where there were none before and cause chaos. This is the group I challenge. Their numbers may be small but they carry a bigger voice. They will use the court to get their way.

If there is a third group, I apologize. I have not seen them in my interactions so far. Please append to the comment section at the bottom.


What Is the Truth Behind This Assault On Christianity

The main driver behind this attack is the ACLU. They are the one that threaten local school boards with lawsuits if they don't remove any reference to God or Christianity in the public square. Why are they doing it? The agenda of the ACLU is to change America. They are insidious in using the ruse of defending civil liberties to attack Christians via the Courts. They have been successful by their tactics and they are emboldened to do more. The organization have done some good in certain areas and do hold some credibility. Make no mistake, they are anti religion at its core and anti-christian in specific because Christians are the majority.

You can do a google search on the ACLU and find numerous cases of lawsuits...

Some School Calendar (Notice the Missing Christmas)

Federal Holidays 2015

Religious Faith Is Personal

Let me address the issue of Religion and Faith. To me, the faith in a Higher Power, regardless of a particular religion, is a personal decision. It cannot be coerced or forced upon. By the same token, it cannot be legislated out of existence. Look at the former Soviet Union, where for 60 years, they lived under Communism. Yet, the faith of many Orthodox Christians remained true. The same goes with Communist China today.

Let me also address Atheism. It is a believe system or "lack of belief" as some Atheists proclaim. I have no issues with them even though I don't understand their basis. The problem is when they become activists and want to push their believe on others. When they post billboards mocking people of faith, they cross the line.

Some Items To Consider...

This "separation of church and state" has brought about the following:

  • No prayer in schools (even silent prayer before sports competition)
  • Removing the Ten Commandments from the public square (even though it is part of the Supreme Court Building)
  • No mention of God allowed in Valedictorian speeches at public school graduations.
  • No cross display on public land
  • No Christmas tree or Nativity scenes on any public facilities (unless other religion is represented)
  • Attempt at removing the word "Christmas" from school calendars (Even though it is a National Holiday)
  • Renaming of Christmas tree to Holiday tree.
  • Trying to Remove "In God We Trust" from our currency.
  • No reading/studying of the Bible in history class. (most popular printed book of all times)
  • No Christmas show at local schools (no Christmas songs)

Be honest, does any of the above items "establish a religion" directly or indirectly?

War On Christmas?

It's funny how every year around Christmas time, the topic of "war on Christmas" appear in the press. Most will report, it is a made up war by the extremist religious right...

The fact is it is an on going battle. It has little to do with saying "Merry Christmas" or not. It reminds me of some kids on a school playground. One will poke the other while the teacher is not looking. After a few times, the other kid got annoyed and deck the first kid. Right away, the first kid will claim being bullied... That is exactly what the ACLU types have been doing behind the scene. They create the conflict and then claim they are the victim. They will sue to get damages and repeat it year after year.

When retailer such as Target tell their employees to not say Merry Christmas, that is a freedom of speech issue. I feel bad for the employees of Target.

What Is The Way Forward?

The way forward is to follow the Constitution. To all my fellow citizens, if you want to change our nation, you have a perfect right to do so. If you can sway the public to your side, elect representatives that agree with your position, enact laws that are fair, I have no problem with that. That is the way it was intended. Not by judicial fiat as the ACLU and others have tried to achieve.

Another pet peeve of my is that some on HubPages have put forth the notion that we are not a Christian Nation and never was. That is false and an attempt to re-write history. Even our current President Obama has made the statement "we are no longer just a Christian Nation..." In order for that statement to be true, we would have to be at least a Christian nation in the past. Don't you think? I fully realize that our nation's demographics is changing. We are a diverse nation of immigrants. However, we have a common identity and a common heritage. Those who come here as my self have assimilated to our way of living and embraced our Constitution.

Summary

In this hub, I try to explore all the issues relating to this controversy. As a Christian, I presented my point of view. I identified two groups of people, who are Atheists and who may be offended by our Christian heritage. It is their right as Americans to change what they don't agree with. That is fine by me. I just want them to understand the process whereby change can occur within our Constitution.

The answer to the original question posed by Austinstar in my opinion is this. Either one wishes Merry Christmas and call it a Christmas tree or they should say nothing. The Happy Holidays is just political correctness gone amok. By the same token, I have no problem wishing my Jewish friends Happy Hanukkah! or Muslims a Happy Ramadan!

The question for Atheists is which of the two group do you want to be associated with? Thanks for checking in and reading my hub. I welcome civil debate and comments.


Normandy Cemetery

© 2015 Jack Lee

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    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 12 months ago

      Judeo-Christian philosophy is an interesting choice of words, considering how little respect the founding fathers had for Judaism. And it was Christian values they seemed to be trying to escape, or at least downplay-- which is why there is no mention of Christianity in the Constitution at all.

      Separation of Church and state laws have been, IMO, one of the greatest things this country has done since the founding fathers, and more in line with their vision than about anything else.

      Radio stations, private schools, businesses, etc. should certainly be able to celebrate whatever they want.

      Considering of how the population is more and more quickly growing diverse in faith and practices, it seems to me that the common sense you speak of is to not impose any single religion into the schools.

      Celebrating Christmas in the public square is certainly not discrimination; nor is it discrimination to keep celebrations mroe inclusive to reflect the changing of the spiritual landscape of the coutnry.

      Challenging the status quo is exactly what the founding fathers stood for. And all is as it should be... rock on founding fathers, rock on.

    • jackclee lm profile image
      Author

      Jack Lee 22 months ago from Yorktown NY

      M.T. Dremer, I want to thank you for having read my hub. You ask an important question though theoretical. I am a Constitutionist. I believe in the Constitution. If a Satanist group or any other group were to gain the majority, and they were able to elect representatives with the same belief and were able to pass laws within the confine of our Constitution, I have to abide by that as much as I disagree with their philosophy. That's the only way our Constitution can survive.

      In fact, it is built into our Constitution the Amendment process. If our country has changed enough in it's demographics, it is possible to totally rewrite parts of the Constitution with a 2/3 majority.

      I do hope that will not happen and I truly believe it will change our country as we know it-for the worst. Our success is tied to our Judeo-Christian philosophy and the Adam Smith free enterprise Capitalism economy and the strength our the family as the basic unit of society. Any weakening of one will weaken the whole. I hope this is clear.

    • jackclee lm profile image
      Author

      Jack Lee 22 months ago from Yorktown NY

      DzyMsLizzy, It is a little off topic but I will respond. It is not me saying this regarding gay marriage. It is a member of the LGBT in a 2012 speech -

      Marsha Gessen shared her views on the subject and very specifically stated;

      “Gay marriage is a lie.”

      “Fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we’re going to do with marriage when we get there.”

      “It’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist.” (This statement is met with very loud applause.)...

      BTW, where do you see equal treatment go? where are the boundaries and who gets to decide? You need to think this through. It has long lasting implications whether you know it or not.

    • M. T. Dremer profile image

      M. T. Dremer 22 months ago from United States

      First I want to thank you for this line:

      "They may disagree with people of faith but they will not go out of their way to attack or hurt people of faith. This group I have no problem with and I generally get along with them. Some of my own family members are such and I believe majority of Atheists are also such."

      It's very easy to generalize the other side when discussing hot button topics. So, as an atheist, I appreciate you taking the time out to address that not all atheists are hostile.

      I also want to address the following line:

      "The problem is when they become activists and want to push their believe on others."

      Could the same not be said of Christian billboards and solicitors? You might say that Christian advertising isn't as openly hostile, though I recall driving by a small town church, just after the supreme court's ruling on gay marriage that said "Legal does not mean moral", which implies that anyone who supported the decision was amoral or in support of amoral values. So there can be, and is, hostility in the opposite direction. In other words, it takes two sides to start a war. And both are at fault when blood is spilled.

      Having said that, I've gone on record saying that I don't think the war on Christmas is real. And it's because my first introduction to it, and subsequent reminders, have been mostly surrounding the phrase Happy Holidays. Totally sensible people were suddenly angry when they heard the phrase Happy Holidays. I've never heard someone get mad at the phrase "Merry Christmas" but Happy Holidays has been reduced to a slap to the face. So confusing was this about-face, that it took quite a bit of explaining for me to realize it was 'Merry Christmas' that was supposedly under attack.

      Since then, I've learned that certain businesses are the source for a lot of these restrictions. However, a business trying to be politically correct has nothing to do with the separation of church and state. Businesses can be as religious as they want (just visit your local Hobby Lobby). So any rules about what its employees can and can't say is purely profit driven and can't be attributed to atheists or the ACLU.

      But you do make a good point about popularity. I mentioned this in a comment on a different hub, but in a democracy, majority rules. At least, it's supposed to. So that would definitely explain why 'In God We Trust' is on our money and 'under god' is in our pledge of allegiance. But I have to ask, will you be as happy with this popularity scale if Christianity ceases to be the majority? Already, Satanists have been putting up shrines in government buildings that are open to Christian displays. So, what if Satanism became the most popular religion in the U.S.? Would you be okay with Satanist displays on government property? I understand that it's a bit of an extreme example, but if popularity is the deciding factor, then there is nothing wrong with Satanism occupying the same space.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 22 months ago from Oakley, CA

      We can agree to disagree. But, IMO, so what if gays marry? How does anyone figure that "destroys" marriage for anyone else? It is not preventing them from marrying as well. It is simply granting the same rights as everyone else has to gays. There is no way that "destroys" marriage. That is just anti-gay propaganda. And no, I'm not gay, I'm just in favor of equal treatment for all.

    • jackclee lm profile image
      Author

      Jack Lee 22 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Austinstar - You do know that our nation is still evenly divided politically. The country is still over 70% Christian and 40% Conservative by most polls. I try to lay out logically the history and from a Christian perspective. If you want a real honest debate, I'm willing to engage. I noticed you did not answer my questions. It's OK, but I hope it will help you anyway. Sometimes, we can learn from the questions as well as the answers.

    • jackclee lm profile image
      Author

      Jack Lee 22 months ago from Yorktown NY

      DzyMsLizzy, I have nothing against gays. It is not a choice and I get that. However, changing the definition of marriage is not the answer IMHO. In fact, even some gays agree with me. It is the activist in the gay community that is pushing this agenda. There ultimate goal is to destroy marriage as we know it and the church. Check this story -

      http://townhall.com/columnists/benshapiro/2015/07/...

      I can't convince you. Only you can seek out the truth for yourself.

      There will be more incidents like the bakery story...

      Here is story on gay activist own admission -

      http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/04/29/lesbian...

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 22 months ago from Oakley, CA

      I actually had 2 more points, but shockwave flash kept crashing, and was giving me problems, so my other points did not go through.

      I did not refer to you as a Republican; I was referring to the current congressional majority.

      The point about gay marriage is that it is NOT a "lifestyle choice." It has been scientifically proven that they ARE born that way. It even shows a difference in brain scans. Their brains look like the gender with which they internally identify, rather than the brain of a person with their external appearance. THAT is what ALL peoples, regardless of religion, need to be convinced of, and cease the useless and barbaric persecutions. I go into more detail on my own hub about LGBT people.

      Nevermind, though; we can simply agree to disagree. I am not into starting flame wars.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 22 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

      " Our courts use the Bible to swear people in to tell the truth…" No, they don't. You do not have to swear on a bible anymore.

      The rest of your diatribe is also out of date and full of right wing accusations that just aren't true.

    • jackclee lm profile image
      Author

      Jack Lee 22 months ago from Yorktown NY

      DzyMsLizzy, just for the record, I am not a Republican but a Conservative.

      It is not the Republicans that started the so called war on Christmas, I think I explained it well in my hub. The gay marriage issue is just the opposite. The Supreme Court chose to re-define marriage which has been around since the beginning of history. It is not just a Christian thing. Try to convince Muslims of gay marriage...

      I thought civil unions was the right way to go but time will tell...

      Thanks for checking in.

    • jackclee lm profile image
      Author

      Jack Lee 22 months ago from Yorktown NY

      Austinstar – I thank you for the detailed response acknowledging that this is an important issue to you and the fact that you are engaged and open to a discussion. Let me say first that we have at least a common ground in number 12-The Constitution.

      I will address each point by number.

      1. You may want to go back and read the founding fathers in their own words. There are plenty of resources online. I will just cite Washington for example in his farewell address -

      “And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

      2. You are avoiding the premise of my question. I used that as an example but as a people, we must interact with others on a daily basis. Will you just keep to yourselves to avoid contact with people you disagree?

      3. Yes, in the past, people and Christians have owned slaves. But it took people of faith in time to correct the injustice. If you have a chance, please read the story behind the person who wrote “Amazing Grace”. It is also on Broadway.

      4. I reached that conclusion based on my observations. I have people in my family who are the first type and I have no issues with them. My problem is with the Activists. By the way, there are numerous types of Christians.

      a. born into faith and grew up attending church…

      b. occasional Christians – who only attend services on Christmas and Easter.

      c. The converted Christians – people who studied the various religions and came to the conclusion that it is the best fit (I consider my self to be of this group)

      d. the laity – people who heard the calling and devotes their life to God.

      e. the extreme Christians such as the Army of God who uses violence to get their way. (I disagree with those minority groups and reject their violence)

      5. The ACLU defines themselves by their own actions. Look at the majority of their court cases and read their mission as defined by their founder Roger Baldwin.

      6. The sample calendar is to show how in recent years, some local schools succumb to the pressure to remove “Christmas” from their calendar. I challenge you to go back to the 1960’s and find one school calendar that does not have Christmas. Remember this holiday, Christmas, beside being a religious holiday is also a National Holiday created by Congress.

      7. You misread what I wrote, please go back and check. What I am saying is that the ACLU groups are using the court to remove Christmas and religion from the public square. You don’t deny that do you?

      8. Are you saying there are no occasions where a display of faith is appropriate outside of home and churches? What about on planes and in hospitals and a million other places where a prayer help people cope. You would deny your own children that? How restrictive is that? You need to question your own feelings regarding this.

      9. Really, God is a generic term. It was mentioned in the Declaration of Independence as “the Creator”, how is this offensive to anyone in anyway except atheists? Our courts use the Bible to swear people in to tell the truth…

      10. The Bible and other religious text are historical documents in addition to being a spiritual guide. There are history and many good lessons to be learned even if you don’t buy into the religious aspect. What other text would you ban from school and library?

      11. Target has no business telling their employee what to say in this case. It should be a personal decision to say or not say…Freedom of Speech – First Amendment…

      12. We totally agree here. Make sure you read it and understand it.

      13. That’s your opinion as an atheists and I disagree. If we are not able to acknowledge the name of a holiday or a tree, there is no point having the holiday. If atheist’s have a special day, I would be happy to wish you the same. I have nothing to gain or loose.

      I welcome this discussion. I hope you have a better understanding of Christians. We don't have to agree but just Coexist in peace.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 22 months ago from Oakley, CA

      Interesting thoughts you have presented. However, I must challenge some of them.

      1) I you look a bit further into the issue, I believe you will find that the so-called "war" on Christians/Christmas took root with the election which resulted in the current extreme right-wing Republicans becoming a majority in Congress. They are the ones fighting such things as gay marriage, and THAT, my friend, is a belief coming straight out of their own personal religious beliefs. Ergo, any attempt to write such opinions into law IS a violation of the "establishment clause," because it is a religious belief. Little by little, they are trying to do an end-run around the establishment clause by sneaking in things like this here and there. They WANT TO MAKE US INTO A CHRISTIAN NATION, and that is exactly what the founding fathers attempted to prevent by writing in the 'non-establishment' clause.

      2) As far as your comparison about atheists, it's rather a straw man argument. As both an atheist and a vegetarian, I have faced this Thanksgiving day dilemma head on for years in my own family. For me, it is a losing battle. I and my elder daughter (married and with a family of her own) are the lone vegetarians in the family. To the rest, it simply "isn't Thanksgiving without turkey." It's not as if there are not plenty of other things to eat that day. I learned years ago to "eat around" the main course, and let the others enjoy their turkey. Hell, we even cook it here when it's our turn to host the holiday. I just make my own veggie stuffing and gravy.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 22 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

      1. "For some 200 years, our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian philosophy" - This nation was founded on the notion of Freedom of Religion, NOT on the notion of Judeo-Christianity.

      2."Suppose you are invited to a Thanksgiving dinner at someone's house" - You should not accept the invitation if you know your beliefs and practices are different from theirs. Simply thank them for the invite and then celebrate at your own home with your own traditions.

      3. "I do have common sense and I acknowledge differences in beliefs and practices that may or may not benefit society as a whole." - This is the issue with ALL religion. Each religion has its own beliefs and practices and they do not benefit society as a whole. Remember when Christians owned slaves?

      4. "Two types of atheists" - Wrong. There is only ONE type of atheist, look up the definition of atheist - we find no evidence that a god or gods exist. As to personality types, how many personalities are found in EVERY religion?

      5. The ACLU has an agenda of protecting our civil rights in the courts. They are not "out to get" Christians.

      6. The Newton School calendar doesn't mention "Christmas Day" because it occurs over the "Winter Holiday" break which INCLUDES other holidays other than Christmas! If they listed Christmas Day, they would also be required to list all of the holidays occurring over the Winter Holiday. Why would they want to mention one day out of all of the days that the school is closed?

      7. Nobody is trying to legislate religion "out of existence". This is impossible and stupid. Like you said, it is personal and we have Freedom of Religion here in the USA. You are trying to suggest that the government wants to eliminate religion and it clearly does not! The government strives to include ALL religions, races, creeds, beliefs and civil rights, it is not supposed to cater to Christianity above all others.

      8. "No prayer in schools (even silent prayer before sports competition)" I do NOT want my children exposed to Christian prayers (or other prayers). Your prayers and "worship" do not belong in public schools, they belong in your own homes and your own churches.

      9. "Trying to Remove "In God We Trust" from our currency." - Which god? Which god do you have trust in? Why do you need this phrase on our money? You are free to trust in any god you want to trust in. You do not NEED to have this phrase on our money and other government property.

      10. "No reading/studying of the Bible in history class." "does any of the above items "establish a religion" directly or indirectly?" YES, reading the bible in history class DOES "establish a religion". Read your bible in your own home or in your own churches - NOT in a secular setting! Why is this so hard to understand?

      11. "When retailer such as Target tell their employees to not say Merry Christmas, that is a freedom of speech issue." - NO, Target is telling their employees to say Happy Holidays to be POLITE to non-christians!

      12. "The way forward is to follow the Constitution." - On this we agree.

      13. The fact still remains that to be POLITE to non-christians, the phrase "Happy Holidays" is more acceptable than saying "Merry Christmas" to NON-christians! It covers ALL of the religious holidays, not just the "Christian" holidays. Get it?