Nel's New Day

December 24, 2012

The First ‘War on Christmas’

The conservative claim of War on Christmas will end tomorrow—for another nine or ten months when Fox “News” gears up for holidays in 2013. Here are some notable skirmishes from the past couple of weeks, frequently led by Bill O’Reilly.

A few weeks ago, O’Reilly questioned Pastor Robert Jeffress last week about the lack of outrage at this mythical war on the holiday representing the birth of Christ—the same holiday that many people have described as secular. Jeffress blames the religious leaders: “Wimpy pastors produce wimpy Christians, and that is why we are losing this culture war and I believe it’s time for pastors to say, you know, ‘I don’t care about controversy, I don’t care whether I’m going to lose church members, I don’t care about building a big church, I’m going to stand for truth regardless of what happens.’”

The truth, according to Jeffress, is that Jesus was a fighting man. If he were here, he would pick up his cudgel and force radio stations to play Christmas music. Everyone would be required to say “Merry Christmas,” and every government building would have a Christmas tree.

O’Reilly might want to turn to conservative Christian radio host Matt Barber for help. Barber is ready to go to war. After the Freedom from Religion Foundation filed a complaint to stop a Michigan man from putting a nativity scene on public land, Barber said they should be punched “in the mouth.” The 6th Circuit Court ruled in favor of the nativity scene, but Barber is still angry. He told his listeners that they should contact Liberty Counsel’s toll-free number if they find any “religious cleansing.”

“You know, what do you do with a bully?” Barber explained. “If a bully keeps getting his way and intimidating kids on the playground and nobody stands up for themselves then the bully is encouraged and emboldened and continues to bully more and more people. But when a little kid is being bullied and he turns around and punches the bully in the mouth–metaphorically speaking, of course–then the bully is oftentimes proven to be a paper tiger.”

Atheists aren’t the only cause of the war on Christmas. LGBT and pro-choice people are also instigators—according to O’Reilly and his associates. In a discussion with O’Reilly, Bernard McGuirk, producer of Imus in the Morning, said, “The war on Christmas is very, very real, and if you ask me, in addition to some grouchy misanthropic heathen atheists it has to do — at the root of it — with two things — abortion and the gay rights agenda, because Christianity is against those things.”

O’Reilly’s response was emphatic. “Hundred percent agree. I absolutely agree 100 percent that the diminishment of Christianity is the target, and Christmas is the vehicle because the secularists know the opposition to their agenda, legalized drugs is in that as well, comes primarily from the Judeo-Christian traditionalist people.”

Perhaps O’Reilly should call out his own station for rejecting the word “Christmas” when referring to office parties. In a four-minute segment about how to deal with the upcoming festivities, the hosts referred to “holiday party” experiences twice as many times as to “Christmas party.” Maybe that makes it just a skirmish instead of a war.

bit of information about the holiday. Although the New Testament gives no date for the birth of Jesus Christ, historians and theologians have determined he was born either in the fall or the spring, about the time of Passover. December 25th was chosen to coincide with pagan celebrations in the Roman Empire which went from Europe through Asia Minor to the Middle East and Africa. Other cultures—Egyptians, the Norse, Greeks, etc.—celebrated their gods during late December.

Pragmatic Catholics connected December 25th, known by Romans as the birth of the “Sun” to the birth of the “Son.” Then the Catholics appropriated March 25, a pagan feast-day on the Spring Equinox (aka “the birth of Spring”), into the day that Mary conceived Jesus.

The three Wise Men didn’t appear at his birth. They traveled from their own country and arrived a couple of years later when Jesus and his parents were living in a house.

The word “Christmas” derives from fourth-century Roman Catholicism with the “mas” part coming from the Mass, or blasphemous Eucharistic service of western Catholicism. The actual word, Christmas, comes from 1050 AD.

People who choose to follow a literal translation of the Bible should know that its writings are opposed to using trees. Jeremiah 10 states: “Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them, for the customs of the peoples are vanity. A tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move. Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk.”

The tradition of gifts comes from the requirement of nobility that subjects give presents to them during the Winter Solstice. Saint Nicholas, a Catholic bishop born in 270 AD, promoted the gift-giving ritual when he threw gold into the homes of poor people so that they wouldn’t have to sell their daughters into prostitution.

Druids followed the ritual of kissing under the mistletoe, a medicinal herb, to increase fertility. The white berries represented drops of the Sun God’s semen. Red holly was a symbol of the menstrual blood of Diana, the queen of heaven, and witches used holly wood to make wands.

Maybe these are the reasons that the Puritans didn’t celebrate Christmas. The first War on Christmas came from the original settlers of New England who objected in the excess of revelry and contended that there is no Scriptural warrant for the celebration of Jesus’s birth. They understood that the holiday was superstitious at best, heretical at worst. The Puritans forbid merriment and ordered shops to stay open, churches to be closed, and ministers arrested for preaching on December 25.

Between 1659 to 1681, all people who celebrated Christmas in the American colonies were fined five schillings. The War on Christmas lasted until 1870 when the day was declared a federal holiday as a sop to the Southerners who lost the Civil War. Thus following our Founding Fathers, as many conservatives wish, we should not celebrate Christmas. Back to “Happy Holidays.”

Other December celebrations—which is why it’s a good idea to say “Happy Holidays”!

  • Jewish Chanukah
  • Secular Winter Solstice
  • Pagan Yule
  • Buddhist Rohatsu5
  • Baha’i Masa’il and Sharaf
  • Jain Maunajiyara
  • Sikh Gur-purab
  • Zorastrian Ghambar Maidyarem
  • African-American Kwanzaa
  • Kenetic Orthodox The Establishment of the Celestial Cow
  • And sometimes Muslim Ramadan, depending on their calendar.

For now, happy holidays!

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