Daddy, what did you do in the War on Christmas?

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

I have written before that certain Christians have taken Christ out of Xmas and then blamed the rest of us for taking Christ out of Christmas, and I have also written about the insanity of certain Christians focusing on what Wal-Mart clerks say during the holiday season, rather than on the decidedly non-Christian way that Wal-Mart conducts business.

Now we are told that liberals are waging a War on Christmas, but none of the liberals I know has enlisted or taken up arms. I am all for inclusion, and believe that Muslims and Jews should have their holidays respected, that Kwaanza should be acknowledged, and that Buddhist, Hindu, athiest, agnostic, Unitarian, and other festivus-for-the-rest-of-us citizens do not need for others to assume that they are Christian.

The argument that these particular Christians make is that since 76% of Americans claim to be Christian, the other 24% need to go along with “Merry Christmas,” manger scenes in public places, and public school Christmas pageants. It is an interesting issue because most secular people (for lack of a better term) observe Christmas. They decorate Christmas trees, exchange Christmas gifts, and send Christmas cards. Like it or not, Christmas has become a holiday for Christians and non-Christians alike.

There is a difference, however, between decorating a tree and doing a play about a Bible story. Though I personally wish to fight no war against Christmas, I will fight one to preserve the separation of church and state. Christmas pageants are for Christian churches, as are manger scenes. I figure the rest of us have a right to celebrate a more secular Christmas. After all, historians are sure that Jesus was not born on December 25. And people from all parts of the world were celebrating right after the winter solstice–complete with yule log, evergreen tree, holly, and mistletoe–for centuries before Jesus was born. The early Christians simply took a holiday that already existed and tacked Christmas onto it. One would be justified, in fact, in saying that Christians have appropriated a traditional holiday, made it their own, and forced it on everyone else.

Bill O’Reilly, a general in the fight against the War on Christmas, tells us that a lot is at stake–that the War on Christmas is part of a “secular aggressive agenda” that includes “legalization of narcotics, euthanasia, abortion at will, gay marriage.” All that from “Happy Holidays.” Fox news anchor John Gibson has even written a book called The War On Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday is Worse Than You Thought. O’Reilly has listed on his website a variety of retail outlets and how they are using, or not using, the word “Christmas,” so that his disciples will know where to shop. Jerry Falwell has threatened to file suit against any organization that spreads false information about how schools and public organizations can say about Christmas.

This is, of course, the new way of fighting in America. Declare war on some entity and then swear that that entity has delared war on you. The idea that American Christians–who own the White House, Congress, the FCC, and the so-called War on Terror–are a persecuted group is enough to make me wade into a tub of eggnog.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend