I recently read this article: “The Heresy of ‘Keeping Christ in Christmas'” (http://www.organicstudentministry.com/?p=61156), and I found it very troubling. How can keeping the true meaning of Christmas in tact be a heresy?
I admit that I couldn’t argue with his point about the United States being a place of religious freedom. And yes, religious freedom means that we can’t force anyone to believe what we believe or follow our religious traditions. So in a way, I feel kind of stumped about his argument that they’re right in eliminating prayer before football games in favor of a moment of silence and that towns shouldn’t be able to use the theme “Keep Christ in Christmas” for their holiday parade. I can’t argue with the logic: the United States is a place of religious freedom- not a country with an official religion.
But I can’t believe that it’s a “heresy” if I want to put a sign in my yard reminding people to “Keep Christ in Christmas.” Because, unfortunately, less and less people are remembering that the whole reason for this wonderful season is the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our country has turned to “Happy Holidays!” instead of “Merry Christmas!” because God forbid we show our faith and offend somebody else’s! And honestly- it seems to me, at least, that the people who get offended when they hear “Merry Christmas” aren’t those of a different faith, but those who have none at all.
For a country that is for religious freedom, the way that we as a society are currently choosing to handle Christmas is moving as away from religious freedom as we are moving toward it. Yes, on the one hand you are not “forcing” the Christian beliefs on anyone. But at the same time, by trying to get Christians to change their tune from “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays,” you are taking away their religious freedom. Their religious freedom to celebrate Christmas as the birth of the Son of God instead of the generic “holidays” that people celebrate around the time of Christmas to be able to celebrate something too- as much as Christmas and “the holidays” are a time to be with family and appreciate the blessings you have in life (all good things!), they come in secondary to the birth of Jesus. (Special note: I want to clarify that with this final statement I am referring specifically to the celebration of Christmas without the religious tradition NOT the other faith celebrations that other faith traditions have during the Christian season of Christmas.)
I really don’t think putting a sign in my yard that says “Keep Christ in Christmas” or saying “Merry Christmas” is hurting anyone. But unfortunately, expressing my religious beliefs is threatening to other people. Not because I’m actually pushing them on them, but because they automatically perceive them as a threat- as a threat to their religious liberty. Which is ironic considering they’re threatening my religious liberty by trying to outlaw stuff like an employee’s ability to say “Merry Christmas” in stores. You can close the store down and give people off for Christmas, but individual employees shouldn’t express their own personal faith by saying “Merry Christmas” to patrons. I shouldn’t have to feel weird or ashamed of my faith because some people can’t accept different faith traditions (or the lack thereof) as coexisting and not threatening one another.
Stephen Ingram, the author of that article, does have a fair point though: Christ is in Christmas whether we try to remind people of that fact or not. But I still cannot believe that it’s a “heresy” to try. Because I am not trying to force my beliefs on other people. I’m just keeping Christ at the center of my Christmas. Because that’s what Christmas is about. And I don’t know how to keep Christ in Christmas if I don’t keep in mind that he’s the very reason for the holiday in the first place. Yeah, he’ll always be the center of Christmas whether we remember that or not, but I believe that it’s our duty as people of faith to hold that in our hearts. To make him the center of our Christmases.
The final thoughts I have on the issue are these: The public at large should think about whether Christians are really forcing their beliefs on others, or are just expressing their faith, which is then being perceived as pushing their faith on others? And finally, is Christmas not a Christian holiday? Those who are not religious or are of different faiths are more than welcome to not celebrate Christmas if they don’t want to. But if Christmas hadn’t been turned into a commercial holiday for the sake of those who don’t believe in Jesus, maybe we wouldn’t have this religious struggle at Christmastime. You can’t fault the Christians for following the intended tradition of their own holiday.
I believe in keeping Christ in Christmas. He is the reason for the season.