This is the time of year when Americans United would normally be fending off Christian nationalist claims of a “war on Christmas.” It has been quieter on the yuletide front this year because the theocrats among us have decided to spend their time backing President Donald Trump’s ridiculous claims that he actually won the election. It seems they don’t have enough energy left over to go ballistic because a clerk at a Target somewhere wished a customer “Happy Holidays.”
But be assured that the Religious Right’s Christmas bullies still walk among us. As long as there is Christmas, there will be people who are absolutely certain that they know how you ought to celebrate it – and darned if it isn’t always their way.
Here’s what they fail to understand: Religious freedom, bolstered by the separation of church and state, gives us the right to decide these things for ourselves. We can celebrate a full-on Christmas with all the religious trappings. We can do a wholly secular version. We mix it up and incorporate elements of the secular and the sacred. We can mark another holiday. We can also do nothing at all.
How wonderful it is to have the choice – and we have it because in our country, unlike some other nations, the government does not presume to tell us how, where, when or if we ought to worship. That means what we do on Dec. 25 is left to individual conscience, which is exactly where it belongs.
At Americans United, our approach of respecting tolerance and embracing diversity may not please the Christian nationalists’ Christmas bullies who want everyone to do things their way, but we think it’s the kind and decent thing to do. After all, it’s hard to preach peace at the same time you’re attacking someone for daring to do things differently than you.
In fact, some might say that runs counter to the very spirit of this time of year.