December 16, 2004
by Andrew Silow-Carroll
Here's an incredibly mischievous article from the Seattle Times on the "put Christ back into Christmas" flap. It features reporting by the A.P. AND The Crhistian Science Monitor. Most of the shoddiest paragraphs do not appear in the A.P. original, so I can only assume the CSM is responsible. CLick below to read my drash.
Groups push for Christmas to get religion
By The Associated Press and The Christian Science Monitor
Emboldened by Election Day successes, some Christian conservatives around the country are trying to put more Christ into Christmas this season.
It starts well enough, but the only example of the de-Christianization of Christmas is a mention of the attempted boycott of Federated Department Stores, which incidentally denies that it is a corporate-wide policy to ban "Merry Christmas." Then the article gets worse:
But after years of lawsuits that caused schools and local governments to pull back from such celebration, critics say the result has been a commercialization of the holiday season that overshadows faith and culture."
Sure, blame the lawyers. It's not as if Christians themselves have any control over how they choose to celebrate the holiday. And the cause and effect seems specious: If schools and governments are hesitant to over-emphasize Christmas over other religious holidays, how does that prevent major retailers and entertainment companies from being as Christian as they want to be? If you are a good conservative who believes in Smith's "invisible hand of the marketplace," then you'd have to accept that the commercializaation of Christmas is the fault -- or glory -- of capitalism, not secularism.
"Many agree Christmas has become synonymous with the cash register instead of the crèche. In 2000, the last time the question was posed by the Gallup Organization, 75 percent of Americans polled said there is not enough emphasis on the religious basis of Christmas. Eight-five percent said the holiday was too commercialized.
The "keep the Christ in Christmas" contingent is particularly agitated this year over what its members see as a troubling trend on Main Street: Target stores banning Salvation Army bell ringers; UPS drivers complaining to a free-speech group that they have been told not to wish people a "Merry Christmas" (an accusation UPS denies as "silly on its face and just not true"); and major corporations barring religious music from cubicles and renaming the office Christmas bash the "end of the year" party."
Again, is this truly a "trend," or two major corporations (three if you count Federated) making isolated decisions (or maybe not -- see below)?
"I think it is part of a growing movement of people with more traditional values, which make up the majority of people in this country, saying enough is enough," says Greg Scott, a spokesman for the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund.
Aha -- THAT'S the trend -- not that Christmas is growing less visible, but that groups like his are growing more emboldened in seeking more Christianity in popular culture and the public square.]
Amid stories of schools banning the singing of carols on buses, Scott's group has distributed to more than 5,000 schools a seven-point legal primer citing 40 years of case law that says it is OK to mention Christmas in public places. And the group has about 800 lawyers waiting in the wings in case that notion needs to be reinforced.
I'd be curious to find out after Dec. 25 if a single lawyer had been dispatched to argue a case.
To that same end, the Virginia-based Rutherford Institute, which says it received the UPS driver complaints, has reissued its "12 Rules of Christmas," guidelines for allowing the religious significance of Christmas to be celebrated and taught.Did the reporters think to ask UPS if this is actual company policy, or is the second-hand word of the Rutherford Institute good enough for them? Actually the AP did contact UPS, who denied the story uneqivocally.] TrackBack