When our country was started one of the driving forces that brought people across the vast ocean from Europe was religious freedom. From the pilgrims to the signing of the Constitution, religion played an important role in the development of the country but not just one religion. Freedom to express faith in one’s own way was so important to the founders they made it the first codified right in the Constitution. The reason was easy to see, religious and civil authority was the same in much of Europe and civil crime was seen as a sin. While some of that was exported to the new world in states and communities, there was a real effort when we became our own country to make sure that those who found God or even a different God or Gods than the majority were safe from government. While many of the founders were not only Christians, they believe that Christianity was the best way to live one’s life and that they hoped non-Christians would find their way to Jesus in their personal life. But for government and public discourse they found that it was better for the country to allow other faiths to find a home and be able to express their own vision of God.
So when I read the other day that a person was upset because he had to tolerate stores that do not say “Merry Christmas” and chose other less specific greetings. I was stunned. It was part of the fake war on Christmas that seems to suggest that Christmas is being pushed out of the public view. Seriously, here is a challenge. Leave your house and set a timer and see how long it takes you before you see a public expression of Christmas. For me it is less than 2 seconds as a neighbor has turned her house into the Vegas strip. But even if I had to wait for a less personal expression, you can see Christmas products from the Kosher food section in Marsh. Christmas is not under attack; in fact it is on the offensive. Last year I said that Thanksgiving was a carbload for shopping on Friday, however Christmas started on Thanksgiving day, people leaving the dishes, football and family behind to be in line when the stores opened on the evening of Thanksgiving to begin the long march to December 25th, a march made longer by an early date of Thanksgiving this year.
But what strikes me is the sense of real entitlement by the Christmas warrior crowd who look for reasons to attack someone over this issue. Governments who open up public space to other thoughts have been called evil by some. What the person who is struggling with having to tolerate stores that do not celebrate Christmas to the exclusion of other celebrations this time of year doesn’t understand is that his position does not have the right to control the public voice for a month each year. If he doesn’t like the diversity that makes this country great he is certainly entitled to avoid those stores, but to call me intolerant for supporting them is just backward. You see I don’t avoid stores that say Merry Christmas, I don’t look down on someone who celebrates their faith, I don’t see government making room for all thoughts as an attack on me. I am good. I don’t need government to legitimize my holidays. I do however do not want government standing in the way of my practicing my faith or anyone else’s. But that is not what is happening. When a city like Santa Monica decides that they don’t want sectarian displays on public land any longer I don’t take them to court claiming my rights are being taken away. Because they aren't yet that is exactly what happened in that seaside town. A tradition of a Nativity display was ended by a city council that didn't want to have a fight over who could display what in the park, so no one can display anything on the public land. But no one is stopping the displays on private land where they will be this year.
There is no war on Christmas, Christians are not victims of a vast atheistic conspiracy and we are not on a slippery slope to hell because the Governor of Connecticut or Target stores uses the world Holiday over Christmas. Those are insane positions. But tell you what, if a government agency truly tries to stop you from celebrating your faith, if your decorations are illegally taken down by the police, or if you are led away because of greeting someone with a Merry Christmas call me. I will stand with you to fight the man. Until then stop complaining that people are embracing diversity, and oh don’t be the jerk who once told a teenage cashier at a grocery store “In my house we say Merry Christmas” when she wished him a “Happy Holidays”. Hey jerk, perhaps you should avoid trying to puff up your chest to a 16 year old and go back and read about the guy whose birth you are celebrating. You might be surprised what he would have said.