Opinion | The Mythical ‘War on Christmas’ Drives Us Apart; Washington Post

By Mel Harkrader Pine

I understand that many of my conservative and libertarian friends believe that the war on Christmas is real, but like much in today’s polarized world, I don’t get it.

Jewish Buddhist Unitarian Universalist Contrarian, I grew up in a Christmas-loving culture. I often wish others a merry Christmas and am not offended when others wish me the same. Perhaps more important, I’ve never seen anyone else offended by those words.

Easter? Resurrection? Those are a different part of the story and may offend some.

Truly religious (as opposed to seasonal) use of public land? Also a different matter and open to debate.

The Three Wise Men? Count me among those who think they just might have been Buddhist monks from the East.

Followers of the world’s two largest religions are taught that Jesus was a Prophet, the Messiah and/or the Son of God. Many others believe him to have been an exceptionally holy man — arguably the most influential person in history.

I have yet to meet anyone who objects to celebrating his birth and agree with the opinion article below. This most American celebration still brings us together if we’ll let it.

The Washington Post article: Opinion | The mythical ‘war on Christmas’ drives us apart

Copyright 2017 © Mel Harkrader Pine

12 comments

  1. Thanks for this post, I’ve often considered the three wise men, seems to me there would have been a lot of wandering spiritual men (women too) in that region – from the Mediterranean through to North India and further to the Old Silk Road to China and the Pacific. They could have been Buddhist monks yes, because the Buddha’s time in the world was 500 years before Jesus. They could have been Jains, or Advaita Vedantists and other spiritual figures practising what we call the non-dual way.

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  2. I work for a large corporation whose HQ is in Southern California. We have a corporate policy that forbids holiday decorations with any depictions of persons. So they tossed Santa out in order to enact a policy that forbids wise men, shepherds, angels, Joseph, Mary, and especially Baby Jesus. No Baby Jesus, no joy, no celebration. It looks like a war on Christmas to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the company your work for; not a governmental body. And I guess the rule also applies to depictions of Buddha, Moses, Abraham. Mohammed, Lao Tsu, Confucius, Quan Yin, Judah Macbabee, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, etc. It may be a campaign to eliminate religious figures from the workplace, overdone if it includes Santa. But it’s not a war on Christmas.

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  3. Well, maybe. But depictions of Mohammad meet with a slightly more vigorous NGO response. Just ask the Danish cartoonists, or the people at Charlie Hebdo.
    Meanwhile, a topless feminist from the group Femen (?) with “God is a Woman” written on her torso, attempted to steal baby Jesus from a creche scene in Rome, even as activists from the same group regularly demonstrate in Vatican square by miming anal rape with crucifixes. (Anyone up for taking that little show on the road to, say, the Grand Mosque in Mecca?)

    Meanwhile, recently the British government refused to say whether telling people about Christianity could be a hate crime. Lord Pearson of Rannoch said that when he raised a question on the issue in the House of Lords, the government failed to state clearly whether Christians can be prosecuted just for stating their beliefs. Secularizing European countries have been dropping Christianity, as if it’s tenets were peculiarly embarassing, while honoring the far more enthusiastic (and no more rational, or scientifically-plausible) piety of their rapidly increasing population of Muslims.Scotland’s International Development Minister, Alasdair Allan, pledged nearly £400,000 ($535,000) to fund 23 events for ethnic minorities during the winter months. He described them as “key dates in our national calendar” and said the “exciting and diverse” program would help Scots “celebrate everything great about our wonderful country during the winter months.” None of the events, however, had any connection to Christmas.

    Now—that’s Europe. But these are countries that share with the US what was once known as “Christendom.” And I know many parents who are earnestly committed to the notion that their children will be less oppressed and more moral if their Christmas comes Christ-free…and I mean, they don’t want to tell their kids about Jesus at all. They natter on about the solstice, and (weirdly) embrace Santa Claus, that enabler of pure, consumerist greed. I found myself explaining to a five year old why so many of his Floridian neighbors had this weird Mom-Dad-Kid scene displayed in inflatable effigy under the Tampa palms. He had no idea.

    Christian churches are routinely derided in popular culture, and in our UU churches. Christian people are hypocrites and prudes, not to mention stupid and anti-science. Recently, a service leader started a service by explaining that she’d grown up in the Methodist Church. The Methodists, she said, were very nice. “Well…as nice as Christians can be,” she amended, gave a little snort of laughter, and went on with the show.

    “War on…” anything other than, you know, enemy armies always sounds melodramatic and slightly silly. But I think it is entirely reasonable, in the current climate, for devout Christians to feel that theirs are the only beliefs considered undeserving of respect, let alone honor.

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  4. “…I know many parents who are earnestly committed to the notion that their children will be less oppressed and more moral if their Christmas comes Christ-free…and I mean, they don’t want to tell their kids about Jesus at all. They natter on about the solstice, and (weirdly) embrace Santa Claus, that enabler of pure, consumerist greed. I found myself explaining to a five year old why so many of his Floridian neighbors had this weird Mom-Dad-Kid scene displayed in inflatable effigy under the Tampa palms. He had no idea.

    “Christian churches are routinely derided in popular culture, and in our UU churches. Christian people are hypocrites and prudes, not to mention stupid and anti-science. Recently, a service leader started a service by explaining that she’d grown up in the Methodist Church. The Methodists, she said, were very nice. “Well…as nice as Christians can be,” she amended, gave a little snort of laughter, and went on with the show.”

    Kate, are you really talking about regular Americans, or just about out ultra-liberal UU-type friends?

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  5. How many school districts have re-named their Christmas concert as a “Winter concert” or “Holiday concert”?
    How many schools deleted the name “Christmas break” from the calendar and substituted “Winter break” or “Holiday break?”
    How many retail chains banished the Christmas season Salvation Army kettles and bellringers from their front steps?
    Have you seen “holiday trees” instead of “Christmas trees”?
    Christians notice these trends. We notice that the radio holiday playlists have reduced the number of Christmas hymns so that what we hear is an endless repetition of secular holiday songs. We see poor school districts roll over in the face of threatening letters from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, even for legal, constitutional, traditional practices.
    “War on Christmas” may overstate the situation, but there is a definite trend going on in America, and it is not good.

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  6. “The Three Wise Men? Count me among those who think they just might have been Buddhist monks from the East.”

    Please disabuse yourself of this goofy notion. The origin of this myth is a book by Nicolas Notovich. Since I consider Wikipedia to be a hostile witness regarding Christianity, I will let their entry suffice:

    “Notovitch is known for his 1894 book claiming that during his unknown years, Jesus left Galilee for India and studied with Buddhists and Hindusthere before returning to Judea.[4][5][6]  Notovitch’s claim was based on a document he said he had seen at the Hemis Monastery while he stayed there, but he later confessed to having fabricated his evidence.[7][8]
    Some modern scholars view Notovitch’s accounts of the travels of Jesus to India as a hoax which includes major inconsistencies.[8][9][10][11]
    … Bart D. Ehrman, a Bible scholar and historian famous for his best sellers, says that “Today there is not a single recognized scholar on the planet who has any doubts about the matter. The entire story was invented by Notovitch, who earned a good deal of money and a substantial amount of notoriety for his hoax.”[9]

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    1. One tweet from the Washington Post may have been ill-advised, but it’s hardly a war on Christmas. The author of the article wanders all over, from baking cakes to abortion to belief in an anthropomorphic God, to find evidence of Christianity being deprived of equal protection under the law. But those are each individual issues with Christians on both sides of the questions. By “Christians” here I mean people who attend a Protestant or Catholic church and Identify themselves as Christians.

      I don’t attend a Christian church, but I agree that the baker should be able to decline to bake and decorate a cake specifically for a wedding he has moral or religious objections to. I don’t believe in an anthropomorphic God and know quite a few Christians who don’t either. I believe in a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body, but I don’t believe in an unrestricted right to abortion. There are some Christians on each side of that issue, also.

      There is change going on. When I went to elementary school, we read the Bible every day. The children volunteered to read and chose what portions of the Bible to read. The Jewish kids usually read from the Old Testament, the Christian kids from the New Testament. Growing up Jewish, that sometimes felt a little uncomfortable for me, but it was no big deal. I’d see nothing wrong with something like that continuing, with each student free to choose to read from some book he or she considers sacred. But the nation went in a different way, keeping all readings sacred to one religion out of schools. I’d prefer that some sacred readings remain in schools as long as it’s clear that what’s sacred to one child may not be sacred to another, but the way the schools are now is hardly an assault on Christianity.

      The author of the piece seems to believe that because “only” 53% of Americans say they believe in a anthropomorphic God, and because atheism is growing, that”s evidence of a way on Christianity and Christmas. I prefer to live in a country that doesn’t specify how people answer questions in a poll.

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