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The So Called War on Christmas
A Report From the Front Lines of the War on America's Favorite Holiday

You've probably heard of the book a couple of years ago by Fox News host, John Gibson, that reveals to the whole world, a little known secret. There is a vast, left wing conspiracy to eliminate Christmas. That's right. You've got it. Not satisfied with trying to eliminate war or poverty, liberals have taken on an even tougher target: the world's most popular holiday. The book, and the notion that there is such a "war" have been promoted aggressively not only by Fox, but by a range of conservative publications and organizations. On a special edition of The O'Reilly Factor late last year, host Bill O'Reilly discussed it with Gibson, a fellow Fox News host and author of "The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought" (Sentinel, October 2005). (I'll have to hand it to Gibson for coming up with a title so long it conveys the entire contents of the book. Of course, there's a problem with that. Having read the dust cover, you won't actually have to buy or read the book.)

O'Reilly sought to focus the Fox offensive narrowly. "I think you made a mistake by saying [the war on Christmas] is a liberal plot," he told Gibson. "And I'll tell you why. I believe -- and I could be wrong -- that most liberals are as angry about this as conservatives. It's the far left. It's the loony left, the Kool-Aid secular progressive ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] America-haters. That's who's doing this."

To be sure, it's probably true that some "liberals" have said or done some things that offend some Christians, including attempts to limit public display of religious icons, such as graven images of the baby Jesus, otherwise know as God Incarnate. (There is a long, fascinating and complicated history concerning the problems associated with trying to represent God in public ... or private settings, for that matter. And it all begins with the Ten Commandments. Ironically, a favorite of conservatives.)

But liberals have no monoply on saying or doing stupid things. Perhaps the most obvious example being the notion that there is a war on Christmas. I have to tell you that I'm writing this from New York City which by every estimation should be the central front of the war on Christmas. There are probably more members of the "loony left" right here in New York than anywhere. This is the world's capital of secular. The ACLU has its headquarters here.

But I can tell you that Christmas is alive and well in this city. And I find no evidence whatsoever of a war being fought against it. In fact, it is omnipresent. I spent the better part of yesterday morning in the waiting room of a doctor's office in a public hospital in the very heart of this city. There was Christmas music playing incessantly and loudly from the sound system for all to hear. The volume was so high I was tempted to request that the amplifier be turned down a bit to give the patients some peace and quiet. There was a huge Christmas tree in the lobby. Another giant, monster Christmas tree, as usual, in Rockefeller Center, not far away. A new fangled, more spectacular Christmas star hanging in mid air over the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57the Street, the heart of the shopping district. Salvation Army Santas were collecting money for the needy on many street corners. Christmas trees were selling briskly all along Broadway. Entire forests of trees. Here in the capital of Secular America Christmas is inescapable. It is vibrant. It is victorious. The churches are packed. The concerts of sacred music abound. The energy of Christmas is everywhere. In fact, I am told that a couple of hundred thousand cary carrying members of the "loony left" actually retreat from New York to Florida each year for their "winter holiday," so thorough is the triumph of Christmas here in the city.

Further, there is a part of me that sympathizes with those who are offended by the public display of piety and commerce that are both so much a part of this holiday. The hype and the hoopla of the season often seem far way from the spirit of the Christmas story. A child born in a stable, among the animals and the straw. The promise of peace in the midst of a world at war, then as now. Christmas, the holiday is doing quite well on its own, it's clear. What we desperately need, not only this season, but throughout the year, are those willing to enter the real fight against human suffering that Jesus led. Let's continue his battle against ignorance and greed. I'd invite John Gibson to join in these struggles. The human family desperately needs to focus its energy on the fight for justice and peace, not on mindless fantasy games like the so-called "war on Chritmas."

For further reading:

There once was a real war on Christmas, declared and fought, not by liberals, but rather by the Puritan Christians of New England.

For more Christmas related content on this site.

To comment on this article.

Charles Henderson

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The Rev. Charles P. Henderson is a Presbyterian minister and author of Faith, Science and the Future, published in 1994 by CrossCurrents Press. He is also the author of God and Science (John Knox / Westminster, 1986) which he is now rewriting to incorporate more recent developments in the conversation taking place between scientists and theologians. He has also written widely for such publications as The New York Times, The Nation, Commonweal, The Christian Century and others.

For further information about Charles P. Henderson.