Christian funnyman Brad Stine has tossed out quips, one-liners and jests for over two decades. There's one thing he doesn't joke about, however, and that's taking the "Christ" out of "Christmas."
Once called "God's Comic" by The New Yorker, Stine says he can't imagine a world where laughter and God don't coexist. He's now defending his savior as the co-star of "Christmas with a Capital C," a holiday film recently released on DVD. In it, the small town of Trapper Falls, Alaska, is assaulted by secular interests looking to remove Christianity from Christmas. The resulting conflict, Stine says, is a fictional example of the culture clash present in America today.
In interview with The Christian Post, Stine reveals his belief that it 'tis the season to take a stand for God. Without our help, he argues, holiness will depart the holidays and that's no laughing matter.
CP: You've performed comedy for over 20 years. What do you consider funny?
Stine: Everything's funny. That's the beauty of laughter. God allows us to have a sense of humor that frankly nothing else does.
Animals don't laugh. That's why we eat them. Humans have joy – it comes outside of molecules and outside of Darwinism. It's anything outside of the norm. It's a creative process God has given us. No subject is off limits. If you can find humor in bad or hard things, you redeem them. That's what I think is great about the craft of comedy.
CP: A lot of your material deals with your Christian faith and conservative politics. Is it hard being a comedian with those public values?
Stine: It's very hard and that's what makes it wonderful. It's harder to write clean joke than dirty ones. You have to be clever and smart by using ideas rather than foul words. Finding something funny is like putting a spoonful of sugar in the medicine.
Speaking openly about my Christianity has helped me stand out. Not many comedians talk about it. That's the challenge and the joy of it. I want to find funny where there is seemingly none.
CP: You play a major role in "Christmas with a Capital C," a movie where two sides argue about the definition of Christmas in a small town. Why did that story appeal to you?
Stine: This is a topical film. A lot of faith films are very simple battles between good and evil. Christianity and life aren't really like that. It doesn't come up roses all the time.
The whole point of "Christmas with a Capital C" is that though we have a right to stand up for our First Amendment rights, even our rights and traditions should be trumped by love and truth. Christmas is about acts of kindness in spite of us. That's a great story to me. After all, God came during Christmas time to redeem the world.
CP: "Christmas with a Capital C" centers on the battle between Christianity and secularism over the meaning of Christmas. Do you believe there's a "War on Christmas" in America?
Stine: It's all about perspective. If you grew up Christian you saw nativity scenes and angels and didn't think anything of it. It was American tradition for hundreds of years.
Now people are saying we should make that disappear. That's not freedom but tyranny. People who hate God and Christianity have manipulated the First Amendment to achieve this. They hate Jesus and they hate God because he's truth and life. This movie's story talks about how respond to that. Ultimately demanding our symbols doesn't make our community a better place. What does is loving each other and improving the lives of those around us.
CP: A recurring argument around Christmas is how much separation there is between church and state. What do you think about that?
Stine: Religious people have been removed from the public sphere. That's a violation in my opinion. When religious people can't have access to a room for prayer after school and secular people can use it for something else, that's bigotry. The Founding Fathers expected Christianity to be part of the fabric of our society. Postmodernism has stripped that away and made God the self. That's the sin of pride that brought Satan down. Is the war real? I say yes. Is God and Jesus more real? You bet.
CP: The Portland Mercury called "Christmas with a Capital C," "anti-atheist." Does that bother you?
Stine: It doesn't bother me at all. If you want to talk to me about who's disparaged more in this country it isn't even a question. It's religion that's being kicked out of school and accused of bigotry. I'm not anti-atheist, but who is removing Nativity scenes from our schools? It's not rhetoric or right wing propaganda. It's true and there is an agenda.
There's some bad atheists out there and we're going to talk about them in movies. When secular movies show bad religious people, they stay bad. In a movie like this, the bad guy is shown love and kindness and changes for the better. You can't have your cake and eat it too. It's a beautiful story of people loving each other no matter what.
CP: Why is it important that we reflect on Christ during Christmas?
Stine: The easiest answer is that if there was no Christianity there would be no Christmas. That day is about the one day when the all-powerful creator of the universe created a part of himself in three-dimensional form.
This is really why the story is so miraculous. God became one of us. He humbled himself and became like one of his creations and let those creations destroy him. It's not a myth. Jesus really existed and he was really born. We have historical evidence for everything that happened in the Bible. We talk about Christmas as Christians as it's a gift to the world. That's the Christmas story and there's no other story like it on Earth.
CP: How has Christianity impacted your life?
Stine: Christianity impacted my life because it taught me how to understand that life. I think it's important to recognize that Christianity doesn't claim to be a philosophy or a belief. It's an explanation of life. It's important that we tell this story. God put things in order so that we can have science, seasons, ethics and morals.
I want other fellow pilgrims to know that they don't need to join my club. I'm doing what someone did for me. Christianity is a story I needed to hear. It gives us the balance in life that we need right now. Without it, we can't fully live. It's a beautiful gift and Christmas time is the perfect time to share it.