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Meditation 419
There's No Christ in Christmas

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Not to be outdone by his pal, Pat Robertson's foolishness, Jerry Falwell is now behind the Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign. This new group has promised to file suit against anyone who spreads what it considers misinformation about how Christmas can be celebrated in schools and public places.

That's right. If this group does not agree with what you have to say about Christmas, they'll threaten to sue you. So much for free speech.

This initially looked like an idle threat. But some hapless Boston bureaucrat in a spirit of political correctness referred in writing to the city's "holiday tree." (As an aside, Boston receives a gift of a large evergreen every year from the Province of Nova Scotia in thanks for Boston's assistance in relief efforts for the 1917 Halifax explosion when an ammunition ship blew up in the harbour.)

And immediately on hearing of the "holiday tree" faux pas, Falwell's group sprang into action, threatening to sue Boston to force the city to call the tree a Christmas tree.

I don't know what real legal justification this group has. I cannot imagine there is any law in the USA that mandates a decorated tree must be called a Christmas tree. But even if there is, is this the way to put the Christ back in Christmas?

Let's face it, a Christmas tree is a secular object. Regardless of the symbolism Christians might try to lay upon the tree, it has no biblical justification. It was adopted from non-Christian traditions. To insist the tree be called a Christmas tree emphasizes not religion, but the secular nature of the holiday.

I do Christmas shopping. I exchange Christmas gifts. I send out Christmas cards, carefully selected for a non-religious message. And so do millions of other people with no interest in Christ. Christmas is just a word for a day in the calendar. It has lost what was always a tenuous connection with Christ's mythical birth which every legitimate Christian scholar knows occurred nowhere near the 25th of December.

So, Falwell's group, by demanding the gift Nova Scotia gives to Boston every year be called a Christmas tree is not putting the Christ in Christmas. Rather, it is emphasizing that Christmas is a secular holiday celebrated by everyone, regardless of religion.