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Russ Jones

Christmas Held Hostage
By Russ Jones
Jan 26, 2005 - 11:27:00 AM

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I never thought it was really possible the Grinch could actually “steal” Christmas. But, debates this past December stirred all across the country over everything from Christmas carols in schools, to nativity scenes on public property and even what kinds of floats could enter annual “holiday” parades.

Macys, the department store giant, led the revolt. At one time this retail wonderland held dear to many of the claims of Christmas. The 1947 movie classic Miracle on 34th Street was about Macy's department store and people who wanted to “steal” Christmas. In the end an adwomen’s lawyer boyfriend proves Macys Santa Clause was real. “We want to be the store with the heart,” said Mr. Macy in a line from the movie.

Yet it seems Federated Department Stores, which operates more than 450 stores in 34 states, heart grew two sizes to small when officially banning Christmas from its stores. Rather ironic considering a large percentage of annual revenues are received due to the Christmas holiday enabling this company, and so many others, to thrive or simply exist.

According to Federated, "phrases like 'Season's Greetings' and 'Happy Holidays' are much better to them because they say they embrace all religious and ethnic celebrations that take place in November and December and are more appropriate for the many diverse cultures in America today."

This sentiment is a huge stretch from when Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street said, “Christmas is not just a day. It’s a frame of mind.”

Maybe it’s this very “frame of mind” which has some American’s worried. The commotion over Christmas is part of a larger battle of religious expression. 

The message of Christ not only talks of restoration, redemption and grace, but also of turning one’s life from sin. The zealots of our time wish not to recognize wrongful actions or challenge liberal public policy. We live in a culture, which goes out of its way to justify and even legalize behaviors (at least from a biblical perspective) that would be considered “sinful”.

I've never known anyone who told a Jew to take down their Menorah or a Muslim not to pray. Only Christians are hassled for doing what was once so normal, rejoicing that the redeemer of mankind came to this earth as a gift of God. In great part this may be due to Jesus being the only religious figure claiming to be God incarnate. The very nature of Christianity is to evangelize of his “living presence” and reach a lost and hurting world with the love of Christ.

Can you imagine the outrage from liberal activists if some tried to remove Muhammad from Ramadan or the Maccabees from Hanukkah?  Christmas is the time of year when billions of Christians celebrate the birth of Christ. To separate Christ from Christmas not only insults many that believe, it also removes all faith and hope from the season.

Yet groups like the ACLU continue to use phrases like “separation of church and state” (which is not in the U.S. Constitution) to inject fear, intimidation, and misinformation in our communities and attempt to silence Christian religious expression.

Just look at the evidence concerning religious expression on public property:

  • The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled that public schools must ban the singing of religious Christmas carols or prohibit the distribution of candy canes or Christmas carols.
  • School officials may refer to a school break in December as “Christmas Vacation” or as a holiday without offending the Constitution.
  • School officials do not violate the Constitution by closing on religious holidays such as Christmas and Good Friday.
  • No court has ever held that celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas as religious holidays requires recognition of all other religious holidays.
  • The “Three Reindeer Rule” used by the courts requires a municipality to place a sufficient number of secular objects in close enough proximity to the Christmas item (such as a creche) to render the overall display sufficiently secular. Although the overall display must not convey a message endorsing a particular religion’s view. Christmas displays are not banned, as some people believe. Simply put, the courts ask, “Is the municipality celebrating the holiday or promoting religion?”

December 24, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke to the nation, saying, “Here, at home, we will celebrate this Christmas Day in our traditional American way because of its deep spiritual meaning to us; because the teachings of Christ are fundamental in our lives; and because we want our youngest generation to grow up knowing the significance to this tradition and the story of the coming of the immortal Prince of Peace and Good Will.”

Ways of “reclaiming” Christmas might be as clear as how President George W. Bush was re-elected. Evangelical Christian’s voted in record numbers and play a major role in giving a Bush a second term. Unfortunately, many only listen when it affects their pocket books. Given the “real reason for the season” has been lost to commercialization, can you imagine the reaction to retailers as well as many others if there was a “mass” exodus from shopping next “Holiday Season”? It might not only send a message, but also be the impetus for a new “reformation”.

But for the most part, the radical left has chosen to fight Christmas until it disappears from the calendar, shopping malls and schools. It should come as no surprise that in a nation, who has forgotten God, there is no room for Him in the public square.

Remember: more than 2,000 years ago there was no room for Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the Inn. Calling it “separation of church and state” is the easy answer and a “copout”.

The-fact-of-the-matter is Jesus came to help us “slay” the dragons and demons whose primary desire is to destroy and who have not our best interest in mind. This is not only so today, but was true on the day of His birth.

Fear of God’s judgement often hides behind political correctness, hate and hostile organizations. Scripture says (which only has meaning when one considers it authoritative and I personally don’t care to spend my life challenging My Creator) truth has it’s consequences: “Then he said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.’” Luke 9:23-24

May the Spirit of Christmas continue throughout your 2005 and may each and every one of us give our Lord room in our hearts and room to love His world.

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