It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. To practicing Christians and even some nonbelievers who just like the season's hope and joy, Christmas is the capstone of the year.
To a vocal minority of angry secularists, Christmas is an offensive reminder of the innate religiosity of the American culture that has imbued our public life since the inception of the republic. They have spent decades attempting to drive God from the public square with much success. They have redefined the “separation of Church and State” from the intent of the Founders – no state-mandated and supported religion such as the Church of England at the time – to a ban on any hints of religiosity in the conduct of public business.
To wit, the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington D.C. recently submitted an advertisement to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for placement on metro buses. The ad reads, “Find the Perfect Gift,” and has a simple graphic of three shepherds, two sheep and a starry sky (and the website address for the advent campaign www.FindThePerfectGift.org).
That’s it. The words “Christmas,” “Jesus,” “Christ,” “Catholic,” and “Christian” do not appear on the ad. To learn anything about the Church’s advent campaign, including opportunities for prayer, attending Mass, and charitable giving ideas, one must go to the website.
WMATA rejected the ad under its “controversial topics” guidelines. When the archdiocese appealed to WMATA, they were told that if the ad was about selling tickets to an event, or t-shirts or had some commercial purpose, that would be fine.
As Archdiocese Secretary for Communications Ed McFadden stated, “If Christmas comes from a store…then it seems WMATA approves. But if Christmas means a little bit more, WMATA plays Grinch.”
Unfortunately, a liberal judge denied the archdiocese's request for a temporary injunction on December 5. But counsel for the archdiocese stated that they are in this fight for the long haul and filed an appeal on December 12.
WMATA is concerned that an ad on the bus from the Catholic Archdiocese of D.C. could incite angry phone calls and even violence from offended nonbelievers. It must not have entered their bureaucratic minds that practicing Christians might be offended by the D.C. Circuit's and WMATA’s callous, official distortion of the birth of Jesus Christ (without whom there is no Christmas) into a purely commercial holiday whose religious elements must be suppressed as a matter of public policy.
Which brings me to my solution on how to settle this whole war on Christmas: Just surrender.
Let’s face it, the change in attitude started in earnest in the 1960s when the hyper-commercialization of the holiday overwhelmed the religious significance of Christianity’s second holiest feast day. I won’t bore you by recounting examples of the war between rampant consumerism and the real meaning of Christmas. Just go watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and listen to Charlie Brown yell in utter frustration, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
Let’s give the anti-religion leftists what they want. No more Christmas as a federal, state or municipal holiday. If it is so offensive, then by all means, remove it from the government calendars. It is currently the only religious holiday on the federal calendar, which can only be interpreted as the government endorsing a religious holiday.
Sorry all of you public employees — no day off. Get to work. You’d better show up to the office on time and not leave one minute early. Serve the taxpayers who pay your salary. Seriously, with all of the apocalyptic prophesies of doom over potential government shutdowns, why should public employees get a free day off on a religious holiday?
The House of Representatives should introduce a bill repealing Christmas as a federal holiday to get the ball rolling. State legislators can follow suit. Let’s get every elected official in America on record supporting or opposing the cancellation of Christmas as a paid vacation day for government workers.
Then again, as long as Christmas remains as a holiday on government calendars, then the courts ought to find in favor of the Archdiocese of Washington D.C., so we can see “Find the Perfect Gift,” on the sides of Metro buses as we sit in traffic or stand on street corners.
Win or lose, I’ll continue to risk offending people by wishing them a very Merry Christmas. Our family will go to Mass at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Old Town Alexandria and rejoice in the birth of our Savior.
Like Linus, who answers Charlie Brown’s plea, we have never lost sight of what Christmas is all about:
And there were in the same country Shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘fear not, for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you. Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in the manger.’ And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.’”
Mark Corallo is the owner of Corallo Media Strategies, Inc., in Alexandria, Va.
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