December 2011 – This Christmas, families across the nation will make room in their yards for a Nativity. Some will be ornate, with life-size characters and a large star shining above. Others will have inflatable scenery with snow floating down on the characters.
Families will redecorate and reorganize their homes to fit their trees, gifts and stockings. They will spend hours untangling Christmas lights and finding the perfect place for the Christmas countdown calendar. But how much space and time does culture as a whole dedicate to the reason for the season?
Celebrating the holy-day without the holy?
According to a recent study done by Media Research Center’s Culture and Media Institute, the answer is: not much. CMI spent two years watching Christmas coverage on ABC’s World News, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News. The institute recorded 527 stories about Christmas, and in a subsequent report, said, “98.7% of the Christmas references highlighted the holiday’s impact on the economy, weather, travel, retail sales, the passage of the Senate health care bill and its other, less religious, connotations.”
Further analysis revealed just seven of 527 stories, or 1.3%, referenced Jesus or God. In fact, only 312 words were given to the miraculous happenings of 2,000 years ago. By contrast, 320 words were given by CBS to the possibility of table tennis becoming an Olympic sport in 2012.
Sadly, the media is not the only part of our culture that seems to want to push the birth of Christ back into the stable. Public education has treated Christ in Christmas like kids treat the wrapping paper on their gifts. Yes it is there, but it would be so much better if everyone could look right through it as if it weren’t.
Some schools and school districts seek to completely remove any mention of Jesus from the mouths of their teachers, students and parents; and from all “Holiday Carols” and any cards or candy passed out during December. Others do not attempt to completely remove Jesus. They just try to minimize His role.
Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit litigation organization that seeks to advance religious freedom across the nation, is involved with scores of Christmas-related cases according to www.lc.org. LC lists 44 cases that deal directly with schools and school districts. These include:
▶ In Plano, Texas, students and teachers were told not to wear red or green because those are Christmas colors.
▶ In a Wisconsin school, the winter program contained songs such as “Silent Night” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” However, “Silent Night” was changed to “Cold in the Night,” and contained phrases such as “There is no one in sight, the winter winds are blowing, I wish I were happy and warm, safe with my family out of the storm.” Other lyrics were also changed.
▶ A parent in Hudson, Florida, noted his child’s school marked a “Winter Holiday” on its calendar. He found it discriminatory that the school can tell his child about homosexuality, but God is taboo.
▶ In Houston, Texas, a school changed the lyrics of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” to “We Wish You a Swinging Holiday.”
▶ In Birmingham, Alabama, elementary students were to make “Holiday bags” for their classmates with the following rules: nothing religious, as in angels, “Noel,” crosses, etc; no candy canes because of the obvious religious connotations; no red and green colors; but Hanukkah dreidels, four-sided spinning tops played with during Hanukkah, were acceptable.
While some attempt to eradicate Christmas altogether, some fall into the trap of political correctness. Randy Sharp, AFA special projects director, noticed many companies began totally ignoring Christmas in their advertising years ago. He said, “In an effort not to offend people, advertisers sometimes go too far. So they attempt to market Christmas to the masses by not marketing Christmas at all but rather using ‘Holiday Sales’ or ‘Season’s Greetings.’”
Five years ago, Sharp began leading a campaign with AFA to look at several major retailers and see how they marketed Christmas during the season. The result was the “Naughty and Nice List.” If a company chose to ignore Christmas, it was placed on the “Naughty” list. If a company chose to embrace the reason customers were entering its stores and spending their money by wishing shoppers a “Merry Christmas,” it was placed on the “Nice” list.
Sharp said, “We realize companies have shoppers who do not celebrate Christmas. If they want to advertise Menorahs at 25% off in a local paper and at the bottom of the page wish everyone a ‘Happy Hanukkah,’ go right ahead. But, if you are advertising Christmas trees, Christmas gift-wrapping paper, Nativity scenes and the like, you are asking people to spend what they have allocated as Christmas money, so acknowledge Christmas.”
Seeing political correctness as practically useless
While many companies, schools and organizations are busy trying to be politically correct, others have seen the Christmas lights. Sharp said, “Several companies last year began recognizing why their customers spent so much money between November and December. After seeing this, they decided to celebrate Christmas with customers and their sales went up immediately. (See below for four stores who went above and beyond last year.)
Last year, Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter found out just how much the people of his city preferred “Christmas” over “Holiday.” For two years, many citizens spent time, money and energy making a park into a German Christmas Market where Santa’s elves, Nativities, trees, crafts and other Christmas-related items were sold. On November 30, mayor Nutter announced his decision to change the name to “German Holiday Village.” On December 2, mayor Nutter announced he had changed his mind and Christmas would once again be welcome in Philadelphia.
Even the courts are beginning to recognize the foolishness of reaching for a politically correct holiday. In what has been called the “Candy Cane Case,” eight-year-old Jonathan Morgan was forbidden from handing out candy canes at a winter party to his classmates because a poem about Jesus was attached to the candy. Lawyers with the Liberty Institute saw this as discrimination and represented Morgan against the Plano, Texas, school district.
Eight years and several court dates later, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed down the decision that the school district did indeed violate Morgan’s Constitutional rights. The court recognized that every person, no matter how young, has First Amendment protected speech rights. If children in a class are passing out cards wishing classmates “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Winter,” they have the right to pass out cards that say “Merry Christmas” and explain the reason we celebrate it.
Why is it that the world so despises the reason we celebrate Christmas? Why does culture try to replace the word “Christmas” with “Holiday,” which means “holy day?” Perhaps they are like the Grinch. Dr. Suess said of him, “The Grinch hated Christmas! /The whole Christmas season! / Now, please don’t ask why. / No one quite knows the reason. / It could be that his head wasn’t screwed on just right. / It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight. / But I think that the most likely reason of all may have been that his heart was two sizes too small.”
So this Christmas, make sure you aren’t silent about the reason we celebrate. While it is great to give and receive gifts, remember where the inspiration for gifts comes from: Jesus Christ. Jesus gave up all of His glory and became like one of us, a tiny, helpless babe. He came because all of our hearts were too small. He knew that without Him, there would be no hope for any of us. He gave Himself so we might live. So, whether your friends hear it on the news, at school, in the office or at the supermarket or not, make sure they hear “Merry Christmas” from you. And never be ashamed to tell them the reason for the season.
Four companies that celebrate Christmas
▶ In 1997, Hobby Lobby began taking out a full-page Easter ad in every newspaper where it has a store. It now also purchases the pages for Christmas and Independence Day. In all of these ads, the name Hobby Lobby appears only in small print at the bottom.
▶ Walmart experienced a backlash after making a store policy banning references to Christmas. Spokeswoman Linda Blakely said, “We, quite frankly, have learned a lesson. ‘Merry Christmas’ will be said early and often.” The company has been true to its word.
▶ Most Sears stores have a “Merry Christmas” banner across the front door of the store. Newspaper ads always mention Christmas by name.
▶ Every Christmas and Easter, the front page of Super D’s newspaper inserts includes an explanation of either the Christmas or Resurrection story.