After years of flap about the fictional “War on Christmas,” an unexpected source finally spoke out against this phony issue: a Catholic priest who works for the Fox News Channel.

During a recent segment of “Fox and Friends,” the Rev. Jonathan Morris criticized those who put their focus into being offended about the perceived repression of Christmas rather than actually celebrating the holiday.

“If our Christmas is going to be all about getting upset at people trying to take away Christmas, isn’t that silly too?” Morris asked.

Morris, who has been a Fox News contributor since 2005, even took a direct shot at the show hosts, including Gretchen Carlson, who fanned the flames of the culture war recently when she complained about Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s refusal to host an official Christmas tree lighting ceremony this year and his use of the term “holiday tree.”

 “You guys look so angry about this ‘War on Christmas,’” Morris said. “I can tell.” 

Carlson kept a happy face during the interview, but she may have felt like a child who was just told there is no such thing as Santa Claus. Last week, she insisted that she isn’t “nuts” and the “war on Christmas” is real.

“We’re not nuts, are we? There is a war on Christmas!” she exclaimed.

Morris isn’t usually in the habit of deviating from the Fox party line. He has in the past expressed some extreme views about both Islam and the Obama administration’s birth control mandate. But on this issue, at least, he offered a sensible perspective for a change.

“Everybody has an opportunity to make sure their faith does not go away in this Christmas season, to live that faith as a family, as a community,” Morris said.  

For a Fox News commentator to dismiss one of the network’s top conspiracies (it has been a staple over at Fox for about a decade), shows just how little credibility the “war” has left. But that hasn’t stopped Fox star Bill O’Reilly from continuing to fan the flames on this issue. Last week, he said “secular progressives” don’t like that Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, and he criticized retailers that allegedly don’t let employees say the word “Christmas.”

“[Secular progressives] don’t like public displays of Jesus because Christians believe he’s God,” O’Reilly said. “And Christians are the enemy. This has been going on for 10 years now. It really got heated a few years ago when some dopey department store chains actually ordered their employees not to say the word “Christmas.”

Note that O’Reilly didn’t actually name the store chains that supposedly did this. That’s probably because it never happened. Distorting the facts and sometimes even making stuff up is part of the Fox strategy here. In any case, O’Reilly’s attempt to pose as a defender of Christmas is just too much considering that he recently argued, with a straight face, that Christianity isn’t even a religion, it’s merely a philosophy.

Meanwhile, in Jackson County, Fla., the “war on Christmas” is raging – if you agree with Religious Right blowhards. Cottondale Elementary School nixed its usual nativity display this year after an attorney spoke with school administrators about the need to respect church-state separation, the Jackson County Floridian reported.

Former Jackson County School Board member Betty Duffee expressed the standard amount of outrage at the school’s decision.  

“It’s a tragic thing as far as I’m concerned, but the school system is not in any kind of shape to fight a lawsuit they know that they’re going to lose,” Duffee told the Floridian. “I know it’s hard to see this happen, because it feels like we’re losing a freedom, but this is the state of affairs in this nation.”

The reason the “war on Christmas” has never existed outside the minds of certain people is because no one who wants to celebrate Christmas is being prevented from doing so. When a government entity doesn’t have a Christmas display, or a government official substitutes a word like “holiday” instead, absolutely no one is prevented from celebrating whatever religious holiday in the way they wish.

If you want to see a nativity scene, go visit your local church or put one up in your own home. No one should expect the government to provide these things, and no one can rightly claim that Christmas is under attack in this country.

Last year, Americans spent an estimated $3.4 billion on Christmas trees alone. With that kind of demand, there is absolutely no danger that Christmas symbols and traditions will be going away in the United States anytime soon.  

P.S. Jon Stewart had an amusing take on the so-called War on Christmas last night. It’s very funny, but be advised that some of the language is a little coarse.