Communities across the U.S. are striking back against a so-called “War on Christmas” – efforts by local governments and advocacy groups to remove the term “Christmas” on all holiday-related items in the public square.
In the wake of a decision by a Tulsa, Okla., parade committee to change the name of the city's event to the “Holiday Parade of Lights,” at least one Christian group is offering an alternative.
Tulsa Christmas Parade LLC will hold a parade at the same time of the town’s event, but in a different neighborhood. Mark Croucher, president of the initiative, told The Associated Press that his group’s efforts are intended to honor Christianity and the Christmas tradition.
“You look at Christmas cards now, and how many say, ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Season's Greetings?’ ” Croucher said. “I'm just asking for let's have Christ in the parade. He stood up for us and died for us 2,000 years ago, and now it's time we stand up and honor him.”
Tulsa lawmakers are split on the issue. The 2009 decision to change the parade’s name was born from mounting pressure from advocacy groups and has been a hotly contested issue each of the last three seasons.
Tulsa is not the only community struggling with the issue.
Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chaffee has come under fire from Christian groups for inviting guests to a “Tree Lighting Ceremony.” The non-denominational title drew the ire of Rhode Island clergy members and local Christians, as well as debate from media outlets – including Fox News’s Bill O’ Reilly and Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show.”
Stewart offered clips of major media outlets – mostly Fox News – demonizing efforts by advocacy groups trying to remove “Christmas” from holiday celebrations.
He pointed out that early American settlers punished gift giving and celebratory displays on Christmas Day, and that U.S. founding lawmakers worked on and through Christmas for about the first 60 years of the country.
O’Reilly countered by reminding viewers that although some groups do go overboard during the holidays – particularly retailers – “Christmas” is indeed in danger of becoming an extinct part of, well, Christmas.
O’Reilly urged Americans to call Christmas decorations what they are, and to avoid trying to be politically corrrect.
A Texas community commissioner is rejecting pleas from a Wisconsin-based rights group who sent a letter asking for a nativity scene to be removed in the area. Commissioner Derek Flood told local media outlet News 8 that he will not remove the scene and resents groups from other states telling the town how to run its business.
“We’ll remove it when hell freezes over,” Flood said. “I ain’t gonna back down. I haven’t, and I won’t.”
Town pastors are reportedly planning to rally for the nativity scene. It is not the only fight for Christian celebration in Texas.
Texas Governor and GOP presidential hopeful Rick Perry released an ad this week that questioned if the name change is the sign of a deeper, sinister cultural change.
“You don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school,” Perry said in the ad.
Perry vowed to fight against the “war on religion” in the U.S.