Commentary: Why the ‘attack’ on Christmas is an American fallacy


“If one more person says ‘Happy Holidays’ to me, I just might slap them. Either tell me ‘Merry Christmas’ or just don’t say anything.” So went a festive holiday message Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller made on Facebook a couple of years ago.

Non-Christians can stop reading here, as this message is not aimed at you. Instead, I would like my Christian brothers and sisters to consider how trivial this complaint is. We live in a nation founded in large part on principles of religious freedom — by people who braved dangerous journeys in search of freedom from government imposition of specific religious beliefs.

We enjoy absolute freedom to practice Christianity in this country. I can go to church as often or as infrequently as I choose. I can write this piece for my hometown newspaper without fear of retribution.

Unlike Christians in China, I can join a gathering in someone’s home and call it “Bible study” instead of disguising it as something else. I enjoy the choice of attending church at any number of my denomination’s churches within a mere 10 miles of my home. Unlike Muslims in Myanmar, I am not being driven from my home and murdered because of my faith. And, unlike friends who are Baha’i, I do not live in fear of persecution and imprisonment in the Middle East.

We American Christians are unbelievably spoiled and arrogant when we use words such as “attack” or “persecution” simply because someone objects to government-sponsored religious celebrations or using public funds to pay for them — or, like Mr. Miller, when the absence of a “Merry Christmas” from a store clerk translates as an attack.

To begin with, Miller should’ve cut that clerk a break. He had probably been on his feet for eight straight hours, listening to jolly shoppers complaining because the store was out of a particular sale item or the checkout line was too long.

As a Christian who loves Christmas, I do agree with my more conservative Christian friends that there is a threat to Christmas. Unlike Miller, I do not see the “attack” as coming from non-Christians or from the government; instead, I see the gross commercialization of Christmas as being the real threat to its joy and meaning.

SEASON FOR CARING: How to get involved with the Statesman’s annual charity drive.

The things that take meaning out of Christmas for me are:

• Commercials touting luxury cars with big bows on them.

• Streaming radio services devoting two channels solely to Christmas music, starting Nov. 1. (If I hear “Santa Baby” one more time, and with apologies to Miller, I, too, may want to slap someone.)

• Black Friday starting on Thanksgiving afternoon (on a day when I give thanks that I don’t work in retail).

• People who practically come to blows at the mall over someone “stealing” their parking places.

• People — particularly elected officials — who claim there is an attack on Christmas.

If you truly are in search of Christmas, journey through Advent, so that you actually understand the joy of Christmas once it arrives. Any Christian church in our area would welcome you to its Advent and Christmas celebrations. A beautiful Christmas is alive and well in those places. As Christians, we are entrusted with the gift of sharing the light and joy of Christmas, not to turn people away from it. Miller’s words made me unbearably sad — and I have thought about them again and again for almost two years.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: Viewpoints delivers the latest perspectives on current events.

Mr. Miller, the next time you feel like slapping someone during the holidays, please watch “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” — the original with Boris Karloff, not the Jim Carrey movie — and, taking the words of Dr. Seuss to heart, remember that “Christmas doesn’t come from a store.” Or, better yet, read the Gospel of Luke and reflect upon the good news it brings.

Young is a retired paralegal in Austin.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Facebook comments: Feb. 20, 2018
Facebook comments: Feb. 20, 2018

As reported by the American-Statesman’s Philip Jankowski, Austin became the first city in Texas to regulate sick leave. The Austin City Council voted early Friday to make paid sick leave a mandatory requirement for all nongovernment employers. It passed 9-2, with Council Members Ora Houston and Ellen Troxclair voting against it. The ordinance...
TWO VIEWS: Let’s use better tools to decide which inmates get bail
TWO VIEWS: Let’s use better tools to decide which inmates get bail

Criminal justice reform is a prominent issue in the public square, capturing the interest of both ends of the ideological spectrum, as well as celebrities, think tanks and even the White House. Propelling this issue forward, both nationally and in the Lone Star State, is a recognition that change is needed. Especially when it comes to jails. One of...
TWO VIEWS: Return to real criminal justice reform, like it’s 1989
TWO VIEWS: Return to real criminal justice reform, like it’s 1989

It will surprise many to learn that once upon a time — and not so very long ago — a bipartisan coalition of Texas legislators approved an innovative plan aimed at reducing crime through progressive health and education strategies. The year was 1989, and the proposals were put together by Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby, a Democrat, with the cooperation...
Letters to the editor: Feb. 19, 2018
Letters to the editor: Feb. 19, 2018

On infrastructure funding, Trump has it right by proposing that states and corporations pay the bulk of maintenance and construction. In our early national history, entrepreneurs cut pikes through forests and built ferries to cross rivers. Users probably complained but paid the tolls nonetheless. It wasn’t until the highway system was established...
Opinion: Mass killers should be denied notoriety they crave

An orgy of mutual disgust now greets every mass shooting in America. Liberals despise conservatives who, they predict, will offer only insipid “thoughts and prayers” in the face of what they conceive to be preventable massacres. Conservatives scorn liberals who, they believe, will propose “feel-good” gun measures that would...
More Stories