Robert Hayden, DC, PhD, FICC
I cannot quite understand how Christmas became controversial. In the land of freedom, where the First Amendment codified free speech and freedom of religion as gifts from our Creator that no mere man or government may infringe, how can anyone justify impinging on the right to enjoy Christmas?
The first week of December was not over before the Chancellor of the University of Tennessee issued "Best Practices for Inclusive Holiday Celebrations in the Workplace.” This memorandum was an admonition against having Christmas parties. It stated: “Holiday parties and celebrations should celebrate and build upon workplace relationships and team morale with no emphasis on religion or culture.” His edict continues, “Ensure your holiday party is not a Christmas party in disguise,” lest anyone attempt to have an incognito Christmas.
The University of Tennessee website posted this document like the King’s latest proclamation. I was not surprised to find an unforgivable dangling participle in the first paragraph. After all, such deep concentration and emphasis on diversity is bound to distract from good grammar.
Last week one of my alma maters did something similar. The University of Mississippi Student Association decided that the “Grand Ole Christmas” celebration, which historically has included the lighting of the Christmas tree, was “too Christian.” The name was changed to the “Hottie Toddy Holiday” to be inclusive of non-Christians. Colors were to be changed from traditional red and green to red, blue, and silver to incorporate the school colors. One student who did attend was bitterly disappointed at the irony of excluding Christian references to a holiday that is entirely Christian, and which was the central reason they were not having classes that day.
At James Madison University, an a cappella singing group called “Into Hymn” was forbidden to sing anything Christian at their non-Christmas celebration. They would only be allowed to sing a secular song for the lighting of the “Unity Tree.” After having prepared the popular Christmas song, “Mary, Did You Know,” the singing group simply declined the invitation, since the event was made pointless.
In a recent radio broadcast, president Barack Hussein Obama praised the Charlie Brown Christmas program for entertaining people and focusing them on the true meaning of Christmas for a half century. “They teach us that tiny trees just need a little love and that on this holiday we celebrate peace on Earth and good will toward all,” President Obama said, with Michelle Obama promptly adding, “Because — as Linus knows — that’s what Christmas is all about.”
Is Christmas about tiny trees that need love? We celebrate peace on earth and goodwill to all, but is this the true meaning of Christmas? Christians will not make that mistake. Linus later read from the second chapter of Luke’s gospel, proclaiming, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
Might we stipulate that Miriam Webster’s definition might be neutral? It says that Christmas is “A Christian feast on December 25 or among some Eastern Orthodox Christians on January 7 that commemorates the birth of Christ and is usually observed as a legal holiday.”
So, returning to my original question, given that Christmas has a central, focused, broadly recognized meaning, how can a Christian’s right to celebrate Christmas be infringed in the United States? Why is it being banned and replaced with meaningless dribble?
I will take a little stab at answering this question with another question: Are there people, or groups of people, or political parties who are threatened by the community of evangelical Christians?
To evangelicals, and to me, Christmas is a recognition of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. As I read the Bible, it occurs to me that what you think of that little baby makes all the difference in this world and the next. Either he is who he says he is, or he is not. Every person must decide individually what they really believe. The Bible promises abundant life to those who choose to believe.
After reflecting on the “War on Christmas,” I am reminded, and perhaps comforted, by a quote from Jesus himself. In the Gospel of John (15:18) Jesus tells us in words that have greater meaning than ever after 2000 years, “Remember that if the world hates you, they hated Me first.”
Now it is clearer.
The war on Christmas may rage more furiously as the years march on, and I think we who are believers can expect that. The politically correct voices of secularism would get louder and louder. The First Amendment may not always protect Christians from assault as demographics in America change.
We who are believers will continue to celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. We will celebrate the difference He makes in this world and the next. We will celebrate the relationships we have because that baby was born, as “they will know us by our love.”
We know that Christmas is not about tiny trees that need love, or campus unity, or holiday parties, or commercialism, or political correctness of any kind. It is all about a baby who changed everything.
Merry Christmas to all.