December 2010 Church & State | Editorial

‘Tis the season to be cranky!

That seems to be how the Religious Right plans to spend this holiday season. Once again, several groups are carping about the alleged “war on Christmas” and complaining about store clerks who dare to utter anything other than “Merry Christmas” at the cash register.

Even before Halloween, the American Family Association was blitzing supporters with e-mails urging them to buy buttons reading “Merry Christmas. God with us” and reminding them that they could soon start harassing frazzled clerks at their favorite stores.

It’s bad enough that the Religious Right has turned what is supposed to be a season of peace into another front in the “culture wars.” What’s worse is the sleazy fund-raising operations they’ve launched.

A few years ago, the AFA and other groups found they could make a tidy sum hawking “save Christmas” gewgaws to their gullible followers. They’ve been raking in the bucks ever since. Even if there were a war on Christmas, these organizations would have no interest in ending it. Carping about it has become too lucrative. There has to be a “war on Christmas” – even though the American people don’t want to fight it.

This year, the AFA even branched into the cinematic arts, flogging a direct-to-DVD movie called “Christmas with a Capital C” featuring a bevy of B-list celebrities. It’s about residents of a small Alaska town who fend off a grumpy, big-city atheist’s attempts to secularize Christmas.

Yes, there’s nothing like fostering sectarian division and community disharmony in time for the holidays!

Sure, plenty of Americans celebrate Christmas – but some don’t. And some who do celebrate it do so as a secular holiday, which never fails to drive the Religious Right bonkers.

The point is, we get to choose. That’s what America is all about. When it comes to religion, you have freedom of choice – thanks to the First Amendment and its separation of church and state.

Yes, Virginia, you can celebrate Christmas in a wholly religious manner. You can celebrate in a secular fashion. You can mix a little of both. You can refrain from celebrating it at all.

The Religious Right’s “Christmas police” believe there is only one way to celebrate the holiday – theirs.

The Religious Right’s constant promotion of this mythical war, and its dogged insistence that the highest and best ways to celebrate the birth of Jesus are by brow-beating department store staffers or arrogantly belittling other faiths boggles the mind.

It is tiresome. It is immature. It is unnecessary.

This year, the best holiday present we could all hope for would be for the Religious Right to grow up and finally end this phony “war.”