The “War on Christmas”.
**I’m specifically talking about the US for this post because things are different in different parts of the world.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Starbucks holiday cups and how some saw the lack of design to be an attack on Christmas and a further ploy in the war on Christmas. And the creeping sensation with Christmas means that the discussion and related controversies of the war on Christmas happens earlier each year.
The more modern idea of a war happening against Christmas (and thus, Christians) has been perpetuated for just over 11 years now. As far as I can tell, the most modern idea that there was a war on Christmas started with Fox News (shockingly) in December 2004, where Bill O’Reilly began a recurring segment on The O’Reilly Factor called “Christmas Under Siege”. And things snowballed from that to say the least. There are several books about this, including one from John Gibson and another from Sarah Palin. There are videos and comments and just general outrage from people who see the cultural shift away from Christmas as oppression.
Jarret Ruminski wrote about the history of the war on Christmas, also tying it back to the commercialization of Christmas. Ruminski highlighted that at least in the context of the US, Christmas has been a decidedly commercial holiday and so having department stores and other capitalistic ventures move away from Christmas to a more inclusive holiday lens could be seen as drastic change.
Daniel Denvir also wrote a short history on the War on Christmas, saying that the modern War on Christmas began with the O’Reilly segment but even as far back as 1959, there were people crying out against what they saw as an assault on Christmas. Denvir aslo quotes O’Reilly, who had described the war on Christmas as:
All over the country, Christmas is taking flak…. In Denver this past weekend, no religious floats were permitted in the holiday parade there. In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg unveiled the ‘holiday tree,’ and no Christian Christmas symbols are allowed in the public schools. Federated Department Stores—that’s Macy’s—have done away with the Christmas greeting ‘Merry Christmas.’
But the thing about this entire thing is that there is no war on Christmas. Or at least, not in the US. There are other places around the world where being Christian and celebrating Christmas has lead to persecution or attacks, like persecution in North Korea and attacks on churches in countries like Egypt and India. (And it says a lot about your priorities and privileges if you’re worried about coffee cup designs rather than constantly being worried about your life.)
But in the sense that political correctness and inclusive nature of many things? Christmas is doing just fine in the face of that, especially in the face that at its heart, Christmas is a secular (and rather capitalistic) holiday. There are Christians distancing themselves from those concerned with the war on Christmas, including Rachel Held Evans who also created a handy flowchart to know if you are being persecuted. Having red cups for your coffee rather than ones that are decorated with the very religious imagery of snowflakes and ice skates isn’t religious persecution or Starbucks waging war on Christmas.