Christmas comeback

"Christmas comeback" Continued...

Issue: "Daniel of the Year," Dec. 17, 2005

"He was nice and smiley and shook my hand," she said. "Then he blew me off." Two weeks ago, though, she spoke to the St. Charles district superintendent. Now, a town billboard advertises the high school's "Christmas Musical" and "Merry Christmas" signs are posted at one elementary school.

Mrs. Moylan said she's found that most people don't know the legal ins and outs of the public observance of Christmas. Meanwhile, the expatriation of the holiday "is something that's being foisted on the public, and the public doesn't want it at all."

Holiday cheer

The Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation see an accelerating attempt to scrub religion from American public life

By Priya Abraham

At first glance, there had to be a punch line to this picture: three Jews, one a rabbi, seated before a poster of a bright green Christmas tree with the words, "It's OK to say Merry Christmas."

So Don Feder, president of Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation (JAACD), went straight to the point. Strange as it seemed, his group had called the Dec. 1 press conference to speak against the banishing of Christmas from schools, shops, and the public square.

"It's a matter of simple courtesy to acknowledge a holiday celebrated by 96 percent of the American people," he said at the National Press Club in Washington. "Would a Christian living in Israel be offended if someone wished him a 'Happy Hanukkah?'"

Retailers such as Lowe's and Macy's are slowly beginning to re-insert the word Christmas in their advertising. But already this year, some have run afoul of Christian consumers.

Lowe's stores nationwide were selling "holiday trees" before complaints prompted them to switch to "Christmas trees" (see main article). And like many retailers, Wal-Mart's policy is to wish customers "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." When one complained, a now former Wal-Mart employee wrote back that Christmas has its roots in "Siberian shamanism": "The colors associated with 'christmas' red and white are actually a representation of the aminita mascera [sic.] mushroom. Santa is also borrowed from the Caucasus, mistletoe from the Celts, yule log from the Goths, the time from the Visigoths and the tree from the worship of Baal. It is a wide wide world."

For Mr. Feder and his fellow panelists, such examples are more than laughable sops to political correctness. At root, they see an accelerating attempt to undermine Christian values and scrub religion from American public life. These values, they say, have secured freedom for Jews and other non-Christians. "Were it not for the rooted Christian decency of this country I'd be a lampshade or a bar of soap," said Michael Horowitz, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

Scholar and Rabbi Daniel Lapin added some historical analysis. In Europe during his great-grandfather's time, he said, the choice was between secularism and Christian theocracy-the first of which naturally appealed more to Jews.

But now, "the choice is actually between a sordid, spreading, secular, sinister society on the one hand, and on the other hand a society of benign Christianity the likes of which the world hasn't seen in any other place for the last 2,000 years."

For all its novelty, JAACD falls into the familiar religious conservative camp fighting against secular liberalism. As such, it butts heads with groups such as the Jewish Anti-Defamation League. Formed in April, its advisory board includes well-known conservatives such as David Horowitz and Mona Charen.

Final speaker and comedian Jackie Mason, who spoke via conference call, even managed a contrast with the Ku Klux Klan: Because "they're not an immediate threat and they didn't directly kill somebody, they're still allowed their freedom of speech and we've preserved their right to do it. But if the Ku Klux Klan was marching with a symbol that said 'Merry Christmas,' they (wouldn't) be allowed."

Even with the sober speeches, the irony of a band of Jews defending Christmas did not escape the septuagenarian Mr. Mason: "Who knew that in my lifetime I'd be fighting for the right of Christians to practice their religion?"

Lynn Vincent
Lynn Vincent

Lynn is a senior writer for WORLD Magazine and the best-selling author of 10 non-fiction books.


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