The “War on Christmas” Cries Overshadow The Daily War On Christ—By Christians NOVEMBER 9, 2015 / JOHNDPAV
‘Tis the season to claim persecution…
Our yearly Christian obsession with the supposed “War on Christmas” began early this season, with the viral video of the Starbucks red cup rant by self-proclaimed car seat prophet Joshua Feuerstein and the ensuing social media sideshow that followed.
This certainly won’t be the last of such claims, and though a mystifying multitude of the faithful rushed to amen Feuerstein’s rather meritless accusations, one of the most refreshing developments was the number of good-hearted people who refused to be fooled and drafted into a phantom battle.
They know that there isn’t a war on Christmas waged by non-Christians, as much as there is a war on Christ by Christians—and it’s been that way for a long time now.
To those who’ve been paying attention for the past few decades, American Christianity has become more politicized and commercialized than Jesus would ever have desired. It’s been married off to the religious Right, packaged for easy megachurch franchising, and used as a selling tool by Country Music artists and NFL players and Presidential candidates. It’s often as reflective of the consumer corporate culture as any other entity despite our claims otherwise.
And Christmas has largely become this jacked-up faith’s glitzy, sexy, bloated high holy day, marked by the kind of consuming and spending and barn-building that bears very little resemblance to a Jesus who was born in anonymous poverty, ministered while homeless, and altered the planet without a budget, church building, tax exemption or media empire.
Yes there is of course the kernel of beauty and truth and joy still there, but it’s usually buried deep beneath thick, cumbersome layers of wish lists and feasting and materialism and gluttony and all-night retail parades. So for any high-horsed Christian to defend this holiday, as if it purely represents Jesus is a bit disingenuous to say the least, especially when our churches often mirror its hallmarks.
In truth, the War on Christmas cries are really a gift we Christians give ourselves.
These manufactured seasonal offenses offer a convenient distraction for we who have become complacent and comfortable in our affluent, cozy religion. They generate the kind of cheap urgency we need to take a yearly self-righteous stand, filling us with the easy high of temporary pious outrage. After a brief crusade against the tyranny of some imaginary heathen horde, we can then return to the regularly scheduled yuletide fray with an inflated sense of moral fortitude, confident that we have defended the faith.
In reality we’ve just made a brief moral pit stop on the way to the mall.
Of course there is persecution of people of faith, but we who live in America as Christians probably will never see or experience it in any meaningful way, at least not enough to invoke a battle posture. In fact when it comes to Christmas, the season more often puts us in the role of intolerant, overbearing zealots demanding that everyone else conform to our religious preferences and publicly reflect our inner convictions.
We are not the underdogs in whatever conflict there is during this season.
Frankly, I’m tired of annual demands to “keep Christ in Christmas” by Christians who don’t seem particularly interested in keeping Christ in their Christianity the rest of the year (you know: caring for the poor, protecting the marginalized, alleviating suffering, shunning greed, championing equality). I think lots of people are. I think they’re looking for a faith that finds the real evils of this world worth railing against, one that doesn’t need a self-made, trivial diversion in order to feel valid.
There are millions of people currently breathing our air who are starving and suffering and aching for the smallest scrap of hope today, and honestly they couldn’t give a damn about coffee cups or santa displays or sales clerk salutations. They just want what Christians are supposed to provide by virtue of their title and job description: tangible, irrefutable evidence that God is and that God loves. Unless we’re willing to expend our energies to do that above all else, we’ll be fighting on the wrong side every time.
We who claim Christ should spend less time this season building convenient enemies to stroke our fragile egos, and more time having our hearts freshly broken for the daily heavy burdens of those walking alongside us—and moved to help carry them without delay.