By Charles C. Haynes
When I read that 52 percent of American adults say they believe in Santa Claus (according to a survey from Public Policy Polling), I wasn’t surprised to learn in the same poll that 42 percent also believe there is a “war on Christmas.”
After all (spoiler alert), both are figments of the imagination.
Belief in Santa, at least, perpetuates a spirit of joy and goodwill. But the “war on Christmas” narrative, by contrast, does little more than stir up anger and ill will.
Like so much else surrounding the commercial Christmas, the “war on Christmas” has become a lucrative franchise guaranteed to boost ratings for talk show hosts and book sales for culture warriors.
Much of the outrage - real or feigned - appears to be provoked by recent trends toward inclusion, such as employers instructing workers to say “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” and re-christening the Christmas tree “holiday.” What store owners or schoolteachers view as inclusive language, culture warriors condemn as part of the vast left-wing conspiracy to drive Christianity from the public square.
Yes, I recognize that there are knuckleheads out there who mandate “holidays” and banish “Christmas” in ways that are unnecessary, silly and offensive to many people of faith. But do bungled efforts at “inclusion” rise to the level of an organized “war” against Christians? I don’t think so.
In reality, the shift from the religious Christmas to a secular holiday is nothing new or planned. Cultural Christmas in America - celebrations that culture warriors insist we call “Christmas” - has had little to do with Christ for a very long time. From the emergence of jolly St. Nick in the 19th Century to the economic engine of today, Christmas-sans-Christ has a life of its own in the popular imagination.