What is the War on Christmas?

The “War on Christmas” has become a popular term of contention this past decade.

It started off with a few simple complaints about the commercialization of the season. It intensified with the worry that the holiday’s emergence would start earlier and earlier every year.  Now, the debate has shifted toward a discussion between the religious and the secular.

We live in turbulent times. Christmas music starting a little bit earlier does help make things a little cheerier, just as long as it does not follow Halloween too closely. Tim Burton already warned us against that.

In recent years, it seems we are greeted by more and more horror stories of people and organizations going out of their way to censor and censure the holiday. Last week, I read about a man named Damon Vix, who went out of his way to disrupt a Christmas tradition to make a political point.

Every year, local churches rent and set up a nativity scene in the park in Santa Monica, Calif. Vix rented all of the spaces, leaving most of them blank and setting up his own displays mocking Christmas, upending 60 years of tradition.

Back in the day, it was easy to dismiss the naysayers of Christmas as having hearts that couldn’t appreciate the holiday’s joys and festivities, but the issue goes deeper. People like Vix genuinely feel that their secular liberties are threatened by the open celebration of the holiday.

Gallup polls indicate 93 percent of all Americans celebrate Christmas, despite the fact that about only 78 percent of Americans identifying as Christian.  That interesting 15 point spread made me ponder the possibilities. What is keeping Vix and other atheists from joining or even expanding that 15 percent that celebrates Christmas?  I talk to atheists every year who feel they are betraying their personal journey by joining the celebration. For a group of people saying that they were leaving religion behind, they sure seemed preoccupied with guilt.

I won’t deny it. I have embraced all aspects of Christmas both religiously and secularly. I have reconciled my scientific queries with my religious convictions. I do not see any real harm in celebrating Christmas openly. We are a country of majority rule, one that doesn’t allow tyranny of the majority.

Open Christmas celebration should not be coercive and should not be falsely labeled.

Let those like Vix have their mocking displays.  But let those who celebrate Christmas have their peaceful displays in a season that celebrates charity, giving and sacrifice. It is mockery and hate versus peace and love.  Let the public decide which message is more appealing.

             

Reach the columnist at colton.gavin@asu.edu or  follow him at @coltongavin.

 

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