It's that time of year again—the time when the grinches of secularism tie themselves in knots trying to strip Christmas of its Christ-centered content.
One of the sillier stunts this year was pulled by Amazon.com. As Mark Steyn relates on National Review Online, Amazon invited customers to take part in their "Twelve Days of Holiday" sale. When he complained, Amazon changed the campaign back to "Twelve Days of Christmas."
On radio host Michael Graham's website, parents report that their kids' teachers are inviting them to sing "The Twelve Days of Winter," and "We Wish You a Happy Holiday." Graham himself is mocking efforts to banish the "C" word by holding a contest in which people offer their favorite Christmas song butchery. One favorite: "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Thursday."
Meanwhile, city leaders are going all out to yank the Christ child out of any and all Christmas events. Pittsburgh turned its annual Christmas tree lighting celebration into "Light Up Night." And the people of Forks, Washington, held a "Twinkle Light" parade, complete with the fat, jolly guy who, not long ago, was linked to a certain Christian holy day.
In recent years, Christians have begun to push back. For instance, faith groups have made up lists of stores whose employees are forbidden to wish customers a "Merry Christmas"—and suggest that Christians do their shopping somewhere else.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty prefers a lighter touch: It offers its Ebenezer Award "for the individual who most personifies the spirit of . . . Ebenezer Scrooge." This year's winner was Florida Gulf Coast University President Wilson Bradshaw. He won for cancelling the annual holiday card contest and for banning Christmas or other holiday decorations in the school's public areas. But after a flurry of angry letters, Bradshaw relented. So instead of sending him a lump of coal, the Becket Fund sent him a gift basket.
OK, some of these "fighting back" measures can be a little goofy. But there's a serious side to all of this. It's not healthy that schools, businesses, and city leaders rout out every vestige of religious custom—often in the name of "diversity." And it's wrong for anti-Christmas groups to spread misinformation about what's legal and what isn't, and threaten to sue anyone who doesn't toe their own particular line.
Thank heaven for religious freedom groups like the Alliance Defense Fund. Through a campaign called "Merry Christmas. It's okay to say it," the ADF has spread the word that it's fine for kids to sing Christmas carols in public schools and pass out to school classmates candy canes, even with religious messages attached.
We ought to be glad someone is looking out for these rights. But, you know, we've got to also remember to be gracious if we happen to encounter a tired store clerk who wishes us a "happy holiday." What kind of a witness is it if we scream back "MERRY CHRISTMAS" or threaten to call the manager?
As we wrap those last gifts and prepare for the church sing-along, we need to remember the whole point of Christmas is not to win battles, but to celebrate and joyfully share the Good News of the Child who was born to save us all from our sins—Jesus.