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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

The War on Christmas: Sound Off!

Chris Carpenter - Director of Internet Programming

In years past, Christians have spoken out about the use of words that do not contain “Christ” to describe Christmas. Stores have been on the receiving end of boycotts over their refusal to use the language, and the culture battle has become the subject of endless talking points.

This week, we’ve decided to feature a point/counter-point with two CBN.com editors on opposite sides of the “War on Christmas” issue. We also want to know what you think.

“The Great Christmas Gag Order”
by Chris Carpenter

I don’t consider myself a crusader nor do I actively seek out confrontation. But when it comes to debating the issues of the day you will find me at the front of the line.

I suppose it is a character trait I developed as a young child. I delighted in questioning my parents’ decision making process in relation to my personal development and comportment.

If the answer was “no” I wanted to know why. A simple discussion on how they arrived at the N-word would suffice. There was nothing more frustrating to me than being told I could not do something without a valid explanation.

For example, when told I needed to be in at 9pm on a school night my first response was always, “Why?”

The answer never changed.

“Because.”

“Because what?”

“Because I said so.”

What kind of an answer is that? “Because I said so.” To a child and especially to a teenager, this four word sentence is more like a four letter word. It is offensive. To a pimply faced 15-year-old, it is a decision made without consideration of all factors.

Once again this Christmas season, I feel like that 15-year-old all over again sans pimples. This time, I am being told by the slightest sliver of the population that my friendly pharmacist, florist, or frozen food manager at a host of big box stores cannot wish me a “Merry Christmas”. When I ask why, the answer my ears keep hearing is an all too familiar … “Because we said so!”

Sure the politically correct secularists will tell me that as Americans we must respect our neighboring atheists, agnostics, and any other religious belief scattered in between by not saying the dreaded C-word. Instead, we should greet these folks with something a little more paradoxically pleasing. Something like, “I hope you have a happy cold season and supporting holiday.”

To that I say bah humbug! You are offending me and the other 84.99999 percent of people in this country who claim some form of Christianity as their religion of choice.

Here are the facts on Christmas. President Ulysses S. Grant signed a law making Christmas a holiday for all American citizens. This is why no businesses are open, why no mail is delivered, and why an overwhelming majority of people will be sleeping in on Saturday morning, December 25th, this year. I don’t hear anyone complaining about time off to celebrate this late December silver bell soiree. This “Christmas” law has worked splendidly for the last 140 years. Why should it stop now?

Despite the examples I have cited, a host of corporate executives still believe they must cater to an overwhelming minority of holiday shoppers rather than the huge, teeming mass of Christmas shoppers.

For instance:

Starbucks wants us to "Ring in Holiday Favorites".

J.C. Penney demands "Who's Your Santa?" in green and red accents. How festive!

Banana Republic suggests we "A Gifted Holiday". Are we talking about an object or a state of being?

With an alluring and sexy couple staring back at us, The Gap tells us to "Join the Party". I guess they have skipped Christmas and moved on to New Year's Eve.

My favorite store with the big yellow tag, Best Buy, actually used the word Christmas in their marketing scheme but only to let customers know that a delivery by Christmas is guaranteed.

L.L. Bean’s “masterful” marketing plan features a cute pair of puppies with the tagline, "Get It Under the Tree on Time". And, oh yeah, they encourage customers to take part in their "Winter Sport Weekend ". It seems to be all about the season and not the holiday. I guess the cold blue colors around the text is supposed to give us a hint. But as people say, 'tis the Season!"

For the record, I am not seeking exclusive territorial Christmas greeting rights.I have absolutely no problem with my Jewish friends wishing each other Happy Hanukkah in my presence. If you want to say Happy Kwanzaa in front of me have at it. But do not hide behind the banner of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and tell me I can’t say Merry Christmas. It is my religion and my right as an American.

A popular plea during recent Christmas seasons has been for people to embrace and accept the religions of others. What a wonderful idea. Let’s start with Christianity. After all, it is the religious orientation of more than 200 million people who call the United States home.

Merry Christmas to all!

“Happy Holidays: Calling a Truce in the War on Christmas”
By Jesse Carey

During last year’s topsy-turvy economy, retailers were afraid of how small “Black Friday” sales might be. The American economy was experiencing the one of the worst drops in history. Would consumers tighten their spending in light of the recent financial gloom, or would they spend like usual? The aptly-named unofficial holiday (the Friday after Thanksgiving that is known as the first big shopping day of the Christmas season), didn’t disappoint retailers, with spending actually increasing from years past.

But then the other stories came out.

Last year, a Wal-Mart worker in Long Island was trampled to death by shoppers frenzied over getting deals on flat-screen TVs and the latest toys, and a pregnant woman was taken to a local hospital after being injured by a mob of wild bargain-hunting shoppers.

The tragedy of a man losing his life by a spending-crazed mass of Christmas shoppers is more than just freak accident; it should serve as a sad (if not somewhat extreme) reminder of what really should be a cause for a “War on Christmas.”

Instead of outreaches to the world’s poorest, quiet observances of Christ’s humble entrance into the world or campaigns focused on pressing social justice issues, Christmas has become a marketing blitz aimed at shopping and buying stuff. And in the middle of it all are Christians, who seem more interested in fighting political correctness than taking back the true meaning of Christmas.

There is a verse in Matthew where Jesus tells a group of Pharisees, “You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel” (Matthew 23:24, NIV). The teachers and preachers of their day focused on a tiny detail, while neglecting issues that really mattered (in this case, they “neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.”)

Christmas is the perfect time to show and exercise what Christ taught. Too often though, it seems as though many Christians are more interested in fighting over syntax than combating issues like mass overconsumption, super spending, material greed and disparaging levels of wealth between the rich and poor.

By declaring “War!” with people we don’t agree with, we only further isolate them from God’s true message—love. By saying “Happy Holidays” to someone who doesn’t believe in God in the first place, we aren’t taking “Christ” out of Christmas. We are called to be the Christ in Christmas. We are called to love our neighbors and show them God’s love. The only way we can take the Christ out of Christmas is if we become so obsessed with our way of doing things that we neglect the things that really matter.

In John 21, Jesus asked Peter the same question three times, “Do you love me?” After Peter answered “yes” all three times (and Jesus said he would be persecuted for his commitment), Peter noticed John walking along the beach, and asked Jesus, “"Lord, what about him?" Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me" (emphasis mine).

Christ was more concerned with Peter’s own heart, and did not want him looking and pointing the finger at others. “YOU, must follow me.”

How should we celebrate the birth of our savior? Let’s represent what He talked about.

This year especially in the tough economic times, there will be families that are cold, hungry, and lonely. While many Americans work themselves into crazed shopping sprees, some Christians will focus more on words and where nativity scenes are displayed than they will about the backwards priorities of our culture.

Though there are many Christians in our country, there are many who don’t believe. Maybe they were hurt by the church, maybe they were raised in another faith, or maybe, they simply don’t believe. I have no problem wishing them “Happy Holidays” if that is what they prefer; but I do have a problem not showing them the love of Christ—because actions speak much louder than words.

What side would the Prince of Peace be on in the “War on Christmas.” According to Matthew, Jesus would be on the side of justice, mercy, and faithfulness. Justice to those that who are victims, mercy even to those who do not believe like we do, and faithfulness to God’s commandments of love.


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