Happy Holy Days!

I am a bit surprised by Christian groups who engage in the “War on Christmas” campaign. Perhaps if someone presented a clear case for why only “Merry Christmas!” is a valid greeting, I could be convinced otherwise.

Five reasons why “Happy Holidays!” works great as a Christmas greeting

1) Holidays = holy days. Look at the etymology, there’s nothing secular about this greeting. In addition to the celebration of Jesus’ birth, many consider Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve to be “holy days” – days set apart to share in thankfulness to God with close friends and family.

2) “Happy Holidays” respects Hanukkah. Because I respect that Jews observe their religious festivals, and I use the phrase “Judeo-Christian values” in discussing America’s heritage of faith, it seems appropriate to honor their celebration of eight consecutive days of gift-giving in December. Note that the observance of Hanukkah predates when the world began celebrating Christmas.

3) Followers of Jesus should not reinforce stereotypes of being pushy and overly vocal about non-issues. Christians already have a long track record of taking inappropriate actions in the public square: money-for-healing schemes on Christian TV, racial discrimination in churches, Pat Robertson’s remarks about assassinating the leader of Venezuela… the list goes on.

I do not equate the “War on Christmas” with those various scandals/offenses. What I’m saying is those actions came from not thinking through the consequences of speaking for God in mainstream culture. All those offenders perhaps had good intentions, but they harmed Christianity long-term. Surely being salt and light as Jesus exemplified doesn’t look like a pushy PR campaign insisting that the fallen world take certain actions to mollify believers. That seems and sounds wrong on so many levels.

4) The campaign to force the use of “Merry Christmas” over “Happy Holidays” is actually a crass commercial itself. After Bill O’Reilly began achieving huge ratings in November and December whenever his cable TV show covered the “War on Christmas,” the marketplace began to take notice. The religious marketplace, that is.

As WORLD Magazine stated recently in an editorial, and I can confirm having worked for a ministry that sold these “Wish Me a Merry Christmas” trinkets – promoting this campaign to Christians leads to hefty sales of low-cost, high-priced promotional items. So rather than spending your limited giving budget on meaningful gifts or charity that could make a difference, it goes toward a self-perpetuating, largely pointless campaign.

5) Tax-deductible resources that Christian donors give for charity and public advocacy would be better used elsewhere. In DC, there is a great awareness of political capital and its limits: an organization or office can only devote time, effort, energy, public reputation, and funds to a select few causes. Otherwise, your message gets very muddy and confusing – very fast. True stewardship calls for using these valuable assets on significant causes like preserving human life or strengthening traditional marriage.

With his research staff and vast audience to provide story tips, Bill O’Reilly will certainly find a few examples of blatant religious liberties abuses in searching nationwide for juicy stories. All the best to O’Reilly in righting these perceived injustices.

Since Fox News is “looking out for the folks” on this issue, the question becomes: should religious non-profits be in the business of fleecing the flock by drumming up more outrage? Or is the message of Christmas something completely different, without a fundraising component to it?

Of course, it’s a free country and organizations will do as they please. But if I see this “War on Christmas” as nonsense, maybe other 30-something-and-younger Christians do too. And we’re tuning out the self-appointed judges of retail and media.

Your thoughts? Always interested in hearing facts or perspective I’m missing…

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