‘The War on Christmas’ whine

This so–called War on Christmas reminds me that in fact, there used to be a real War against Christmas

Yme Woensdregt

Have you heard them whining about the so called “War on Christmas”? It comes across my radar mostly through chain emails or the commentators (mostly on Fox News) who complain that Christians are being persecuted because other people are wishing them “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” These conservative political and religious commentators complain that this is harassment and persecution.

Persecution? Really? Do they even know what that word means? I doubt it. If they did, they wouldn’t throw it around so loosely. If you want to learn about what it feels like to be persecuted, talk to Malala, or to Christians in Muslim countries, or to women in those lands. They can tell you something about what it feels like to be persecuted.

For rich white men (and they are mostly men) to complain that they are being persecuted is Orwellian doublespeak of the worst kind. Wikipedia defines doublespeak as “language that deliberately disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words.” Like calling torture “enhanced interrogation.” Or layoffs “downsizing.” Or the killing of civilians by bombs “collateral damage.” That’s doublespeak. These commentators are consciously misusing language in an attempt to impose their beliefs on others with the intention of going back to a pure, white past.

These are also the ones who complain ad nauseam about placing nativity scenes in public places. If anyone should dare to disagree with this tedious whine, they are immediately labelled a ‘godless atheist’. After all, they say, America and Canada are ‘Christian countries’, and we should be proud to display our Christian heritage publicly.

The trouble with this is that it’s a lie. Neither Canada not the USA were founded on Christian principles. Furthermore, we now live in a multi–cultural and multi–faith era, and we must find ways of living together peacefully with people of other cultures, other faiths and those of no faith at all. By no stretch of the imagination are we a Christian nation.

As far as I’m concerned, these tedious complaints are nothing more than the whining of a group of misogynists and xenophobes who long for “the good old days when we were in charge.”

Persecution? It just ain’t so!

It’s time for Christians to reclaim Christmas by declaring war on the whole “War on Christmas” whine. I obviously don’t endorse any official ban on Christmas. But I get tired of the shrillness of some of these people. They claim to speak the truth. In reality, they simply exhibit signs of a false sense of being victimized.

So let me ask: Why does Jesus Christ need to be proclaimed on department store facades and in other public places? Do we really need to depend on commercial and government enterprises to do our work of proclaiming the faith we hold? Is it really up to Target and Walmart to proclaim the holiness of Christmas? Is it really the government’s role to protect a particular religion?

In fact, as a Christian, I’m offended by the notion that stores and greeting card companies and government agencies should be charged with this responsibility. Truthfully, it’s not up to them. It’s up to us. And not just at Christmas time. It’s up to us, throughout the year, to make sure our lives proclaim what we hold to be true.

I’m not offended if someone wishes me happy holidays. They could do worse. And I, in turn, will wish them a Merry Christmas … or Happy Hanukkah … or Happy Kwanzaa … or even (gasp) Happy Holidays.

This so–called War on Christmas (a convenient, if untruthful, slogan for these poor victims) reminds me that in fact, there used to be a War against Christmas — it was waged by Calvinists and Puritans — who are the spiritual forebears of today’s Christian Right. They thought that Christians had the right and the duty to legislate public life.

In Geneva, Calvinists banned Christmas in the early 16th century. When Calvinism spread to Scotland in the mid 16th century, Amy McNeese reminds us in an article in the Church of Scotland magazine, Life & Work, the result was that Christmas was banned in 1583. “There was nothing half–hearted about this gesture. Reinforced by the hard arm of the law, this was a ban that had bite. Over the centuries that followed, many a casual offender was called to account for Christmas transgressions, and no seasonal leniency was shown.” The ban remained in force for almost 400 years, and was only officially lifted in the 1950s.

God save us from such self–righteous people. Those who claim to speak for God often have done more damage when they assume public power, and especially again those who disagree with them.

So I say to you all Merry Christmas … or Happy Holidays … or Happy Kwanzaa … or Happy Hanukkah … and a peaceful, yes truly peaceful, New Year.

Yme Woensdregt is Pastor at Christ Church Anglican in Cranbrook

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health-care worker prepares to swab a man at a walk-in COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal North, Sunday, May 10, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)
Interior Health records 21 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

Thirty-six cases remain active; two people are in the hospital, one of whom is in intensive care

Leather Apron Revival will live stream on October 24, 2020 through Studio 64 concert series. FaceBook image
Live-streamed concerts at Studio 64 continue

Blues Rock with a Molten Metal Motif

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry to the U.S., still placed in Canadian quarantine

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Nicole Cherlet for the BC NDP, Samson Boyer for the BC Greens and Doug Clovechok for the BC Liberals will be your choices on the ballot in the upcoming provincial election. (Submitted/Revelstoke Review)
Columbia River – Revelstoke candidates adapt to pandemic

COVID-19 protocols make for unique campaign

Kimberley Minor Hockey players scrimmage with the Dynamiters last year. KMH file
Kimberley and Cranbrook Minor Hockey relationship grows the game for local players

Players can now play to their skill level regardless of city of origin

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Fort St. John councillor Trevor Bolin (B.C. Conservative Party)
BC Conservatives leader fights back after BC Liberals leak 2018 workplace harassment case

Sexual harassment case was connected to employee being terminated, WorkSafeBC found

Most Read