According to the Republican National Congressional Committee (RNCC), the United States is again at war. In addition to the conflicts that have killed millions around the globe, the RNCC reports that America is at war within its own boundaries. This “war,” however, has no soldiers on the ground and involves no drone strikes or heated moments in the situation room. Instead, according to the RNCC, the United States government is waging a war against Christmas.
Conservative groups believe that Congress is not doing enough to show off its Christian spirit and has gone so far as to actually acknowledge the existence of other religions. It is ridiculous that in 2013 some still view multiculturalism and religious tolerance as a negative. In reality, no such “War on Christmas” exists. In fact, the very notion that anything less than complete ignorance of other religions should be condemned is the real attack on religious freedom.
While a “War on Christmas” sounds like the premise for an animated movie in which little elves with pointy green hats thwart the evil government’s plan to take away Christmas, the RNCC appears to be completely serious. According to ‘Fox News,’ “once again this holiday season, the right to celebrate Christmas is under attack.”
The main cause of dissatisfaction is an increase in the number of people using the more religiously neutral saying “Happy Holidays,” as opposed to “Merry Christmas.” Sarah Palin has even written a book about it, and the American Family Association (AFA) now publishes a yearly report on Christmas friendly businesses. Realistically, however, there is simply no reason to stop using a reasonable and popular religiously neutral term: “Merry Christmas” is exclusionary, but “Happy Holidays” offends no one.
> There is nothing wrong with “Merry Christmas” in and of itself, but there is something deeply wrong with intolerance of other faiths and beliefs.
One reason “Happy Holidays” has become so popular is that many businesses have found it to be a more progressive greeting and, when using it, do not have to worry about excluding any portion of their potential consumer base. If businesses and organizations choose to be inclusive, even if their motive is an increased consumer base, they should be lauded, not berated for their attempts. In any case, use of the phrase “Happy Holidays” and acknowledgement of other religions does not undermine Christmas or Christianity.
But the debate over Christmas goes beyond a simple quarrel over a seasonal greeting. The AFA, classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a civil rights organization, as a hate group, is the main instigator for the Christmas controversy. The AFA is infamous for its propaganda against LGBTQ individuals and rights, according the SPLC. The organization, along with many members of the RNCC, has argued in favor of a greater role for Christianity in government. There are two important arguments against this idea.
> America must prepare for an increasingly diverse future: there is a downward trend in the percentage of Americans identifying as Christian.
First, in the spirit of inclusivity, the government should embrace religious neutrality. It cannot purposely ignore and neglect other religions simply because Christians are currently the majority in America. Besides this, America must prepare for an increasingly diverse future: there is a downward trend in the percentage of Americans identifying as Christian today, and in 2012, Hawaii elected the nation’s first Hindu and Buddhist members of congress.
Second, crucial to the foundation of our nation is the separation of church and state. It is ludicrous that some government officials actively support a hate group that defies these very ideals. The United States does not have a national religion, nor should it ever, though groups like the RNCC and AFA continue to advocate for Christianity in Congress, where it does not belong.
There sentiments point to the increasingly large, yet still unnecessary role for religion in American politics. Ideally, all government matters should be approached with religious neutrality. After all, the United States is not a theocracy; isn’t freedom of religion a fundamental value of our Constitution?
> The notion of Christian principles as a core aspect of American heritage is debatable, but the need for separation of church and state is undeniable.
The AFA argues that America was “built on Christian principles,” but, in fact, even early Puritans were against Christmas. The notion of Christian principles as a core aspect of American heritage is debatable, but the need for separation of church and state is undeniable.
We are now heading backwards in the pursuit of religious equality, and to continue pressing forward, we must first acknowledge the existence of all religions. There is nothing wrong with “Merry Christmas” in and of itself, but there is something deeply wrong with intolerance of other faiths and beliefs.