A few days ago, I watched Bill O’Reilly assure viewers of his TV show that Christians had won the War on Christmas (TM). “Christians have the right to defend their traditions,” he said triumphantly.
It’s easy to laugh at the excesses of the War on Christmas crusaders (Dan chronicled them well here). But it’s a campaign that’s worth paying attention to. It serves as a sobering reminder of how many of the standard-bearers of the right believe themselves to be spokesmen for a righteous majority besieged by hostile religious, sexual, and racial minorities.
Behind the rhetoric about religious freedom, the demand of the War on Christmas crusaders, as articulated by their most earnest advocates, is that both public and private employees greet people of all religions as if they were Christians. They want schools encouraging teachers to say “Merry Christmas” to their students and department stores encouraging check-out clerks to say it to customers. Having them say the “Happy Holidays” instead, which merely acknowledges the possibility of a multiplicity of religious observances, is to be seen as religious persecution of Christians.
Bill O’Reilly showed a Wal-Mart commercial in which “Merry Christmas” appeared on screen, but declared it only to be a step in the right direction from Wal-Mart because it appeared with the hated “Happy Holidays” and neither was mentioned in the voice-over. This is a few weeks after he showed a (year-old) clip of Samantha Bee on the Daily Show joking about separation of church and state and then sneered “Merry Christmas, Jon Stewart.”
So what we’re facing is self-appointed spokespeople for a majority insisting that everyone, be they members of the majority or not, speak as if that majority encompassed everyone in the country.
As for the real desecration of the values of Christ this holiday season, not a creature on the “religious right” is stirring, not even a mouse.
A generation ago, my Dad got kicked out of his first grade classroom for refusing to write a letter to Santa Claus. Unfortunately, that’s still what some people have in mind when they say “family values.”
Happy holidays to all our readers.