So apparently there is a War On Christmas happening. Have you heard? The poor, beleaguered Christians are being subjected to such violent acts as - drumroll, please - having store clerks wish them "Happy Holidays." Children in school may be forced to endure generalized seasonal festivities instead of being taught about the birth of Jesus by public school teachers who may or may not know or believe anything about that event. How very appalling.
'Tis the season to be cranky and demanding, it seems. I can't turn around or log onto Facebook without someone complaining about "taking the Christ out of Christmas." Since I'm a minister, a professional Christian if you will, I wonder to myself, "Is this something I should be upset about?"
So, I go to the Rite-Aid, where the woman at the register cheerfully wishes me happy holidays, and this feels to me like a pleasantry, not an attack on my faith. At the same Rite-Aid, I can buy a button that says, "Jesus is the Reason for the Season," a nativity scene, and ornaments with angels, Jesus, and Mary on them. "Joy to the World" and "O Come, All Ye Faithful" are piped over the speakers. If I were a celebrator of Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, I'd be out of luck in the music and product departments. My visit to the store doesn't make me feel persecuted for my faith; if anything, it makes me feel unnecessarily privileged.
The kids in my youth group have holiday parties instead of Christmas parties at school, it's true. They also have their major school breaks structured around their religious holidays, so they never have to worry about how to manipulate their schedules to allow for both school and religious observances. And they learn about their faith from their parents and the church people who have taken baptismal vows to them, people who know and care about Christian faith, not from teachers whose training and jobs are to instruct kids in academic subject matter. In return, I don't have to teach them about math, for which everyone is grateful.
This country that is supposedly waging a war on Christmas is also a country where a presidential campaign is peppered with discussion of whether a Mormon is Christian enough to be electable. The last election involved accusations that Obama was a secret Muslim. We've had some Unitarian, deist, and non-affiliated presidents, but it's been quite some time (80 years or so, if my brief Google search is correct). Now the assumption is that only a Christian would be electable as president, even though the we have no law regulating the religious beliefs of any elected official.
All of this is to say, we're not exactly being persecuted. Despite separation of church and state, despite declining church attendance, Christianity is still the cultural norm.
Which leads me to the thing that really bugs me about all this "war on Christmas" business. Christians complaining about being persecuted. Not because they're being imprisoned or killed for their beliefs, but because a store dares to ask its employees to be sensitive to the fact that not everyone passing through their lines will be Christian. Because the government protects kids from having religion - any religion - forced upon them in what is supposed to be an environment where all kids are welcome. Methinks the definition of persecution may be a bit skewed here. And really, you're going to whine about corporations and government agencies persecuting you because of your Christian faith? Have you ever read the gospels? Remember that Jesus guy? It seems to me that we shouldn't be surprised not to have everyone go merrily along with our beliefs, since we follow someone who was killed for his. Just a thought.