Fighting the War on Christmas
The rhetoric is definitely less here in Canada than in the U.S., but I did see my first “Keep Christ in Christmas” bus stop ad on Sunday and then my first Facebook post lamenting the use if Xmas on Monday. The first one I can agree with the principle of (for Christians), although not how it is usually used (enforce Christian doctrines and practices on others). The latter is downright hilarious and also really depressing because the X in Xmas is actually the Greek letter Chi, the first letter of Christ, and it was Christians who started using that short form centuries ago. I can only assume that at some point saw it and wondered why, but instead of investigating just deciding it must have been those atheists out to get us. I seriously hope it was not intentionally made up. While I am glad it took this long to see these markers, my usual frustration kicked in realizing the War on Christmas is underway.
My completely serious question: is anybody fighting back against the Christians waging a war in Christmas?Source: cuttlefish on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/41894159995@N01/326138964/in/photolist-uPxKA-v2kiK-vhRr6-vqjcy-BftM4-3o4QEX-4bFUzB-4gGPCK-5GvcUv-5J4mEZ-5KyaJc-5M1bVQ-5M3PwQ-ia1ecp-dyfzj2-aU96AX-8Yr4XZ-ieQEJZ-93vTAH-93gBmo-dxjz4X-aVDRM6-dxjz34-dxjz6F-dxjz1c-dxjyYB-dqW7Vf-96Urtv-8Yr5v6-dDN5WU-dTipmD
I say this because I have never met an atheist, an agnostic, a Hindu, a Jew, a Muslim, or subscriber to any other worldview who said “we must cross out Christ with a big X to make Christmas secular!” Aside from reading some of the New Atheists, I’ve never heard anybody suggest that religious freedom is a bad thing or that Christians shouldn’t celebrate Christmas as the Christ mass. The other 99.9% of the time I’ve heard this kind of rhetoric were from Christians putting words in the mouths of generic atheists. It’s never an actual quote, just a general “they think this so we better fight back!”
In other words, I’m not convinced there’s anybody on the other side of this supposed War on Christmas. But if some Christians are waging a war against a non-existent opponent, why? This is a genuine question; I’m not trying to be condescending. Let me posit a pair of things I’ve thought about to this question.
One motivation potential for such a War is that it offers unification potential of having an enemy. Arguably it is better than a real enemy because nobody is actually getting hurt on the other side, although that goes away if Christians start to take out their War on those atheists who really don’t care about our War. It is well-documented, though, that one of the most powerful tools for bringing a group together is having a common enemy. For most of Protestant history, that was Catholicism, but atheism/secularism has taken over that role in most of the Western world now. By being able to put down a “them,” we give much higher self-esteem to the “us”. There also is a lot less potential for challenging the control of the “us” because we do not want to hurt our War efforts, or worse, end up defecting to the other side. In a War you are either with us or with them and there should not be any attempt at understanding each other.
A second motivation is that it offers a persecution complex, something rampant in some parts of Western Christianity. We know that we really are not persecuted in any meaningful way the vast majority of the time. But we also see Jesus’ words about picking up our cross and promises that we will be persecuted if we follow him. Instead of doing the things which he had promised would get us persecuted – loving enemies, extending radical grace, welcoming the outcast, etc – we declare that we’re persecuted simply by wanting to write out Christmas instead of shortening it to Xmas. This is the easiest way to solve the cognitive dissonance of Jesus’ words within our context without actually having to follow Jesus.