During the Christmas season our family loves to watch the wonderful 1947 film, Miracle on 34th Street. In the story, the actual Kris Kringle (a.k.a. Santa Claus) comes to New York City to rescue Christmas from rampant commercialism and a depressing loss of faith. Famous Welsh actor Edmund Gwenn plays Kris Kringle, opposite beautiful Maureen O’Hara – the jaded, realism-only Macy’s department-store executive, Doris Walker, who “hasn’t believed in anything for years.” With the help of Doris’s suitor Fred Gailey (actor John Payne) and daughter Susan Walker (nine-year-old Natalie Wood), Kris restores the Christmas Spirit of Mrs. Walker and the entire city.
Today we need Kris Kringle more than ever. Sometime between 1947 and now, Christmas became a 4-letter word in America. I don’t mean the abbreviation, Xmas, but the actual name of the day commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. It has become unwelcome in public discourse.
What we used to call the Christmas Season is now The Holidays, causing the greeting Merry Christmas – once spoken by every clerk, doorman, or neighbor during December – to be replaced by Happy Holidays. Donald Trump’s presidency arrested the trend, but now it’s returned. I wonder if public mention of Christmas will eventually vanish entirely.
Courts have banned Christmas symbols from government-controlled spaces, including libraries and “government” schools. (Weren’t they once our schools?) A rich cultural heritage of Christmas celebration and meaning – passed down over centuries to communities and families – is on its way to being officially dis-remembered in the nation that once wrote the book on religious freedom.
How did we lose Christmas? Can we get it back? And do we want to? These questions are worth examining. Christian symbols and values are being purged, wholesale, from the public life of the Republic, and the de-Christianization of America is nearly complete. The jury is still out on whether we’re too far gone to recover. Is Christmas down for the count?
Remember that period just after the 9/11 attacks, when the President, his cabinet, the Congress, Justices of the Supreme Court, and others gathered to worship in the Washington Cathedral. Do we remember how they sought God’s mercy and guidance? “O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come…” sang the mighty of our land in a stirring chorus of faith and unity.
Did they mean the God of the Bible? The same God whose Commandments are now verboten in the lobby of an Alabama courthouse? The God whose son’s birth established Christmas, but whose name is now considered offensive if spoken in any way other than profanely?
Yes, it was that God. We usually remember Him when the bad guys are coming down the chimney. God imprinted Himself on our nation. He made us what we are. We seek Him – not Buddha, Allah or Vishnu – in crisis because, deep down, we know He is the Real Deal.
How – notwithstanding all this – has the name and public celebration of Christmas slipped away from us? As with many things, we lost it by neglect – by not being vigilant, by not caring, by not contending for it. We lost it by not wanting to “make a scene.”
Should similar attempts be made to suppress any aspect of Judaism, I can assure my readers (being part-Jewish myself) that we should never hear the end of it. Polite civility would be discarded, as outraged Jews unite against this tyranny. (Through bitter experience the Children of Abraham have learned not to keep silent in the face of oppression.)
But Christians tend to be meek and polite. They don’t want to offend anyone. (Such nice people.) So they remained mute while the great traditions, symbols and names of their faith were being surgically extracted by unaccountable courts. Our elected representatives sat idle, claiming that these matters were “out of their hands.”
The courts have been a sore point with Christians. Before Mr. Trump’s appointment of three conservative justices, the U. S. Supreme Court waged a 50-year jihad against both the Constitution and Christianity. Liberals praised the rulings as “boldly progressive.” But politicians and pundits avoided mentioning that state legislatures and the Congress can restrict the purview of state and Federal courts, but have not done so. Matters are not, in fact, out of their hands. Only the political will to deflect the mailed fist of the courts was lacking.
That will must come from us. It’s what government of the people, by the people, and for the people means. And it answers the question of how we can regain free exercise of our faith – including reinstatement of both Christianity and Christmas – to its place of honor. At the end of the day, the proverbial Buck stops with us.
No Deliverer will regain Christmas for us. We don’t have Deliverer-government. We have republican government (note the small “r”), where laws are passed by elected representatives, and approved by the executive. It is an ungainly system. Enactment of controversial law is very difficult to achieve.
The Founders knew, however, that the Wild Card in the governmental “deck” was the people. Only We the People can exert enough pressure to make the Congress (or state legislatures) pass protective legislation that restricts the purview of the courts. Only the people can give legislative bodies the backbone needed to defeat the courts’ unopposed deconstruction of our society’s religious traditions.
This is the “polite” solution to the Christmas problem. It’s how the “nice people” set right the things that they believe are wrong in our society. But folks on the political left don’t do this. When they’re upset about something, they hit the streets. They knock things over. They burn cars and buildings, get arrested and have to be carried away. And they keep on until they get results.
Leftists don’t mind disobeying the law. If they disagree with a law or a court ruling, they simply ignore it. California Initiative #209, prohibiting racial bias in state hiring and university admissions, is ignored by liberals who believe the ruling was wrong-headed and “immoral.” A UC Berkeley prof said 209 preserved “…long-standing advantages of the white population.”
Similarly, California educators who favor bilingual education have resisted Initiative #227, which Californians voted into law to put stringent limits on bilingual programs in schools. Studies showing that students learn better in an English-immersion environment have been called “racist.” For educators this committed, a contrary legislative or judicial result is not the end. It’s only the beginning of a long campaign of resistance, disobedience and subversion, leading to ultimate triumph. Even the result of a presidential election can be resisted, as we have seen in recent years.
When the nice people step out of character to become activists, the establishment is shocked and outraged. An incident during the 2000 Presidential election Florida Recount demonstrated this, when a crowd of white-collar demonstrators thronged into a county office building where a controversial recount was underway. There was no violence, but the crowd made enough noise to intimidate officials into halting the recount.
One political commentator said 100 Florida people evidently decided at breakfast that morning that they had to do something to stop the election from being stolen. A handful of people willing to raise hell – actually a religious term – probably saved Florida (and the presidency) for George Bush. Reporters were alarmed by well-dressed demonstrators – they called them “rioters” – shouting and waving signs. How dare those Republicans use tactics that belong to the left? How dare they care enough to make a scene?
This brings us to the third (and key) question: do we really want to reclaim free exercise of Christianity – symbolized by Christmas – in America? It recalls something my old coach said: “Saying you want to win is easy. It’s also meaningless. The real question is: what are you willing to do?”
In AD 2022, being nice and working politely through the system might not be enough to set things right. If Christians don’t like society’s treatment of their faith – and they shouldn’t – they’ll have to calculate how much they care and let that dictate what they’re willing to do.
They can take a lesson from civil rights activists, too. During the last 60 years, blacks worked hard to change a biased social system. They didn’t care how many nasty names people called them; they weren’t nice; and they didn’t give up.
To reverse the elimination of Christianity from public life, Christians will have to do more than leave the fight to “others” and hope for the best. We are the others. If we do nothing, things will slide inexorably downward. And if we’re worried about losing our “niceness” rep, we should consider that had Christians relied on the “nice guy” approach in the 1860s, blacks might still be chopping cotton down south. There is a time to contend for great issues.
If things continue unchanged, public school students in 2070 will have no clue that America was founded on Christian principles and had a strong Christian framework for 170 years. Any mention of this will be missing from history texts. Many students will not know what Christianity is about, but will know all about Islam, Wickam, Kwanza, etc. December will be a charming season of lighted trees, red-suited elves, sleighs, and gifts. The name, Jesus Christ, will be used profanely, but few will know who He was (and is).
Indifferent secular Americans – busily tracking their investments, driving SUVs, and watching their giant-screen TVs – might think that dismantling the nation’s Christian framework is no big deal. But they are mistaken.
Removing prayer from the schools was our first wake-up call. Then came abortion on demand – rabidly defended by fanatics who see infanticide as a “woman’s choice.” It destroyed 60 million American children in 49 years, until the Supreme Court finally reversed its own 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling. Court-legalized sodomy was the next move usurping communities’ right to establish moral standards.
Now we have:
- Court-ordered normalization of “gay marriage;”
- Men, pretending to be women, competing in female athletic contests;
- Public library “drag queen” events, where men “groom” minor children with bizarre simulated sexual displays; and
- Minor children subjected to irreversible surgical mutilation of their sexual organs.
Over the horizon: possibly polygamy. Then perhaps legalized sex between adults and children – the goal of organizations like The North American Man-boy Love Association (NAMBLA).
After that, who knows:
- Christian broadcasting banned from the airwaves?
- The Bible labeled hate literature?
- Workers fired for religious speech?
- Bakers prosecuted for not baking a gay wedding-cake? (Actually, that’s already happened.)
Hopefully, no Christians are still saying, ‘that’s ridiculous.’ It’s here. It’s happening. It’s a nightmare we can’t wake up from. No objective standards remain to stem the tidal wave of degeneracy. The Bible is an “outdated old book.” The Constitution is just a “scrap of paper.” Top government officials, including the president, feel free to ignore or remake laws.
Christmas is more than a nostalgic link with our past. It’s not about a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer. National celebrations of Christmas have signaled that we are a “nation whose God is the Lord.” Our faith in the Babe of Bethlehem produced care for the needy, protection for the helpless, defense of the oppressed. It inspired civility, decency, generosity, strong families, the nurture of children, order and safety. It was the Breastplate of Righteousness, the terrible, swift sword of justice. It was the Breath of the Lord that melted all the hosts of the wicked.
Who (or what) will replace God, Christmas and the Faith of our Fathers? Christian apologist G. K. Chesterton warned of a dangerous future. He said when people stopped believing in God they wouldn’t believe in nothing; they would believe in anything. That time is here.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)