Sunday, December 03, 2006

How to respond to the "War on Christmas"

I am starting to see blog entries and letters to the editor again this year talking about a so-called "War on Christmas." The evidence that a war is being conducted is that businesses are telling their employees to say "Happy Hollidays" rather than "Merry Christmas" when talking to customers and groups like the ACLU are mounting legal challenges to government holiday displays which contain specifically Christian symbols.

Of course, there are no objections to Christmas displays in individual homes or houses of worship, nor would any business object to their employees saying "Merry Christmas" to people they personally know well enough to be sure they would not be offended. Yet some Christians feel that home and church Christmas displays are not enough.

What sort of Christmas spirit is this? Why would a Christian, during what should be a joyous time of year, be indulging such negative thoughts. In such an overwhelmingly majority Christian society and culture why are some Christians feeling so persecuted?

I have a suggestion. As part of their Christmas spirit why don’t Christians show solidarity with religions that really are persecuted? When the Aryan Nation invaded Montana and Idaho in the 1990s this is how the people of Billings, Montana reacted as told by Jo Clare Hartsig and Walter Wink:
On December 2, 1993, a brick was thrown through 5-year-old Isaac Schnitzer’s bedroom window. The brick and shards of glass were strewn all over the child’s bed. The reason? A menorah and other symbols of Jewish faith were stenciled on the glass as part of the family’s Hanukkah celebration. The account of the incident in the Billings Gazette the next day reported that Isaac’s mother, Tammie Schnitzer, was troubled by the advice she got from the investigating officer. He suggested that she remove the symbols. How would she explain this to her son?

Another mother in Billings was deeply touched by that question. She tried to imagine explaining to her children that they couldn’t have a Christmas tree in the window or a wreath on the door because it wasn’t safe. She remembered what happened when Hitler ordered the king of Denmark to force Danish Jews to wear the Star of David. The order was never carried out because the king himself and many other Danes chose to wear the yellow stars. The Nazis lost the ability to find their enemies.

There are several dozen Jewish families in Billings. This kind of tactic could effectively deter violence if enough people got involved. So Margaret McDonald phoned her pastor, the Rev. Keith Torney at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, and asked what he thought of having Sunday school children make paper cut-out menorahs for their own windows. He got on the phone with his clergy colleagues around town, and the following week menorahs appeared in the windows of hundreds of Christian homes. Asked about the danger of this action, police chief Wayne Inman told callers, "There’s greater risk in not doing it."

Five days after the brick was thrown at the Schnitzer home, the Gazette published a full-page drawing of a menorah, along with a general invitation to put it up. By the end of the week at least six thousand homes (some accounts estimate up to ten thousand) were decorated with menorahs.
Wouldn’t it be great if when some hate monger tried to stir up a "War on Christmas" the whole nation responded by putting symbols of groups currently being persecuted in their windows? It could become a Christmas tradition to each year pick the symbol of a religion or group that was currently facing hardship to put in the window. That would be my idea of the true Christmas spirit.


Anonymous said...

This was a really nice post, David.

Dave Barrett said...

Thanks, anonymous. The only other response I have gotten to this blog entry was in the blog where a certain Thom wrote a comment in response to one of mine referred to this post and characterizing it as "you bitch and moan because Christians are unhappy and expressing their displeasure over the current assault and treatment by the anti-Christian movements on Christmas and Christians." I guess he did not post a comment here because he was afraid that it would only encourage me.

Anyway, thanks for the positive comments.

Robbie C. said...

dave i also liked your post. i try to make it around to the qc area blogs on a regular basis. i have my own blog that i invite you to read at