Well, with just three hours to go on the west coast it looks like Christmas has survived the war against it. Which, of course, pretty much existed only in the addled outlook of Fox News and Bill O’Reilly.
Speaking from the agnostic Taoist perspective, I look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus by enjoying a vegetarian buffet at Salem's Marco Polo restaurant and opening a few presents that I bought for myself that are being wrapped by my wife at this very moment.
As I did earlier today for a few gifts that she bought for herself. This year we decided to downplay Christmas even more than we usually do. Before New Year’s we’ll sit down with our checkbook and VISA card to make donations to some favorite charities. It’s nice, I guess, to have an extra reason to give.
Otherwise, for me the Christmas season has more negatives than pluses. I’ve had to expend some extra calories each time I turned my head to studiously ignore a Salvation Army bell ringer. Trying to tune out annoying holiday music in the stores required an extra expenditure of psychic energy.
Since the War on Christmas inciters make a big deal out of saying “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays,” I’ve had to pay special attention to how I respond to well-wishers. I didn’t want to seem on the side of O’Reilly, so usually replied “you too” to whatever greeting a store employee gave me. (My wife went with “Happy Holidays.”)
It’ll be good to get back to “have a nice day.”
My main message this evening is to say Amen to the column by Charles Haynes that appeared in newspapers today. He says:
Religious life in America has never been more robust, visible and free than it is today…If you want to see what a real war on Christians looks like, just look around the globe.
Imagine being a Christian in Saudi Arabia. Imagine being part of a minute minority in a nation where another set of beliefs is actively supported and promulgated by the government. Imagine being marginalized, ridiculed, and put down when you express your own faith.
Imagine that, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of why both Christians and non-Christians should be concerned about where our country has been heading. I read in a recent Newsweek issue that “46% of Americans believe that the U.S. government ‘should advocate Christian values.’”
It should be close to zero percent. I’m a non-Christian. My daughter is a non-Christian. And I’m willing to bet that with such sterling grandfatherly and motherly influences, my soon to be born granddaughter will choose to be a non-Christian.
Still, I don’t want her brainwashed by a Christianist government, just as Christians living in Saudi Arabia would resent having Islam pressed upon their children. Remember: Do unto others…
So let’s all heed Haynes’ Christmas Eve message:
What really bothers some Christian evangelicals is not the lack of freedom—it’s the loss of monopoly. Many of the conflicts in the so-called “war on Christians” appear to be about restoring the “good old days” when Protestant Christianity was semi-established as the national religion.
But pushing for a Christian Nation will not advance Christianity, it will kill it. From China to Turkey to Europe, state involvement in religion is the root of persecution, dissention, and division.
How ironic. At a time when some Christian leaders in America are decrying “separation of church and state,” millions of Christians around the world are praying for it.