Conflicts at Christmas time:
Conflicts during 2005: Part 2
Canadian municipal declaration
Family Research Council claims victory?
Washington DC activities
Anti-Christmas TV program
Some mega-churches closed on Christmas
This is a continuation from Part 1
Canada: Oxford, NS makes Christ the reason for the season:
In late 2005-NOV, the Oxford, Nova Scotia town council decreed that December
is to be the Christmas season in their town. They also passed a motion that
"Christmas" would be the only name used locally to describe the holiday
season. Their rationale was that the "...holiday originated from the birth of
Jesus Christ." There may be a problem with the educational system in that
province, because the councilpersons appear to be unaware that the holiday
actually originated with Saturnalia, a Pagan Roman feast
associated with the Winter Solstice. Deputy
mayor, Leonard Allen introduced the motion. He said that he hoped that other
towns would follow their example, and that the schools would abandon their
holiday concerts in favor of Christmas concerts.
On DEC-01, Jon Goldberg, executive director of the Atlantic Jewish
Congress, was not impressed. In an interview with the Halifax Chronicle
Herald he said: "I'm somewhat taken aback that the town councilors felt they
had to legislate in this manner...I can't help wondering what is next.
Are they going to legislate that everyone has to go to church on Christmas Eve?"
Noting that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canada's constitution,
guarantees religious freedom, Goldberg expressed concern that these motions "...could
be misconstrued as a diminution of such freedoms." He commented: "As I've
said a number of times, we have no objections to the celebration of Christmas.
I'm shocked that they felt, as Christians, that they had to use the power of
legislation to celebrate such a wonderful holiday." The Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation's website mentioned: "He says that people in the
Jewish community recognize that the majority of the people in the province are
Christian and 'we want to work with them and their families toward peace and
goodwill, which I believe is the true spirit of Christmas'." 1
b>We suspect that most of the Jewish population in
Oxford, NS, will be celebrating Hanukkah on DEC-26
as usual, in spite of the council's decrees. It is the first day of Judaism's Feast
of Lights. It is perhaps ironic that Hanukkah recalls the war fought by the
Maccabees in the cause of religious freedom.
USA: Family Research Council reports victory over "the grinches:"
In Tony Perkins' Washington Update newsletter of 2005-NOV-29, he reported:
"There are signs that the pushback against the ACLU and its cohorts is
gaining ground. In Boston, the Christmas tree is once again a Christmas
tree. The White House yesterday received its Christmas tree carried in a
picturesque horse-drawn wagon. And now, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert
(R-Ill.) has restored the Capitol Christmas Tree. 'The Speaker
believes a Christmas tree is a Christmas tree, and it's as simple as that,'
said Ron Bonjean, his spokesman. I thank the Speaker for his forthrightness.
FRC has received word that the U.S. Supreme Court will continue the late
Chief Justice Rehnquist's practice and erect a Christmas tree in its
rotunda. All of these are good indicators that popular resistance to the
grinches is having an impact. But many corporations are still knuckling
under to the politically correct crowd." 2
Perkins refers to people who want to include recognition of all
faiths at this time of year as "grinches." This is presumably a reference
to the movie: "The Grinch that Stole Christmas."
However, according to Bob Dart of Cox News Service, there is no constitutional
problem with Christmas trees being installed in government buildings, on
government land, in public schools, on public school land, etc. He writes:
"Christmas trees -- such as the ones displayed on the U.S. Capitol
grounds and behind the White House each year -- have been found by courts to
be secular holiday symbols permitted on public property."
If the Family Research Council is correct, then a concerted drive by
conservative Christians has defeated the organizations which promote
separation of church
and state. If Bob Dart is correct, then no problem exists; Christmas trees
are secular symbols that can
be set up anywhere. 3
USA: White House sends out "Happy Holiday" cards:
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State noted that:
"The White House’s 2005 holiday card is just out, and it doesn’t mention
the word 'Christmas' once.
The card, mailed under the auspices of the Republican National Committee
and signed by the president and his wife, reads, 'With best wishes for a
holiday season of hope and happiness 2005.' It also includes a passage
from the Old Testament Book of Psalms."
"The front cover is an artist’s rendition of the White House and grounds
covered with snow while the presidential pets, two dogs and a cat, frolic on
the lawn. It contains no religious symbolism."
" 'Have President Bush and the first lady joined the so-called war on
Christmas?' asked the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans
United. 'Where are the howls of protest from Jerry Falwell? When will he
stand up and save Christmas from this mean-spirited, anti-God attack?' "
"Lynn noted that Laura Bush piled on Monday during a White House ceremony
unveiling a Christmas tree remarking, 'Well, "all things bright and
beautiful" is the theme this year. I think it will be really bright and
beautiful with this fabulous tree. But thank you all very much. Happy
A spokesperson for Laura Bush said that the first
couple wanted to be inclusive and respectful of other traditions. 5
Christianity Today magazine held a poll, noting that "Some Christian
groups are upset that this year's White House Christmas card says 'holiday' but
not 'Christmas.' Does this bother you, too?
They offered three choices:
|63% selected "Yes; our culture should stop taking Christ out of
|23% selected "No; it's okay because the White House card goes to people
of all faiths."|
|14% selected "Christians should lighten up; it's the spirit behind the
card that's important."|
Christianity Today is the leading Evangelical magazine in the U.S. So, this
poll would probably reflect mainly the views of conservative Protestants.
USA: Capitol tree renamed:
Each year since the 1990s, a "Capital Holiday Tree" has been installed
on the Capitol's West Lawn in early December. In 2005-NOV,
House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) wrote to Architect of the Capitol
Alan Hantman urging that the holiday tree be renamed the "Capitol Christmas
Tree" -- its original title. Hasert wrote: "I fully
understand your desire to make all holiday displays as inclusive as possible.
There are many ways to accomplish this." 5
USA: Denis Leary's holiday TV program:
Comedian Denis Leary hosted what he called an "Anti-Christmas Christmas
special" on Comedy Central, DEC-17. It allegedly contained material denying the
virgin birth, and has a skit showing a group of
lesbian nuns. The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and
Property (TFP) is mounting a pressure campaign to have the show cancelled.
"...the TFP web site is activating its 35,000 email subscriber network in a
massive e-protest, aimed at convincing Comedy Central president Doug Herzog to
refuse to air the show on December 17."
USA: Some megachurches closing for Christmas:
An Associated Press article by Rachel Zoll stated that several megachurches
-- including Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL,
Southland Christian Church in Nicholasville, KY, Fellowship Church in
Grapevine, TX, and North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA -- will
be closed on Christmas day, even though it falls on a Sunday this year. Some of
these churches require hundreds of volunteers per service. By shutting down on
Christmas, their volunteers will be able to spend the full day with their
families. Ms. Zoll writes:
"Critics within the evangelical community, more accustomed to doing
battle with department stores and public schools over keeping religion
in Christmas, are stunned by the shutdown."
"It is almost unheard of for a Christian church to cancel services on
a Sunday, and opponents of the closures are accusing these congregations
of bowing to secular culture."
" 'This is a consumer mentality at work: "Let's not impose the
church on people. Let's not make church in any way inconvenient',"
said David Wells, professor of history and systematic theology at
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a leading evangelical school in
Hamilton, MA. 'I think what this does is feed into the individualism
that is found throughout American culture, where everyone does their own
However, they will have additional services on the days leading up to
Cally Parkinson, a spokesperson for the Willow Creek Community Church
in South Barrington, IL noted that few people came to church in Christmas in
1994 -- the most recent year when Christmas fell on a Sunday. She said:
"If our target and our mission is to reach the unchurched, basically the
people who don't go to church, how likely is it that they'll be going to
church on Christmas morning?" 6
Hector Sabido, a spokesperson for the Mighty Wind
Worship Center in Waco TX said:
"We thought it'd be best for our members and our
visitors to spend that quality time with their families...We also did that
in recognition that we are going to have church services on Saturday evening
so we thought that would be plenty for our members to still come and worship
the Lord right before Christmas and yet on Christmas Day still spend time
with their family." 7
Environmental considerations of December holidays:
"This is True™"
operates a neat service. They send a weekly article via Email which describes
some of the wackier events in the news. The 2005-DEC-24 edition examined the
effect on the environment that various religious celebrations cause at this time
Christmas: Kristi Chester Vance of San
Francisco, CA, decided to decorate a Christmas tree in her home. said: "I'm
a forest activist, and there's a dead tree in the middle of my house. Geez,
if I have a tree, why not nail the last snow leopard to the wall, too?"
But, on second thought, she realized that most Christmas Trees are grown in
tree lots, "kind of like corn."
Judaism: Another environmentalist, Eric
Antebi of the Sierra Club, said: "Allow me to put in a plug for
Hanukkah, which celebrates the miracle of a little bit of oil lasting eight
days. You've got to love a holiday that's all about energy efficiency."
And then there is:
Wicca and some other Neopagan religions:
Neopagans typically celebrate Yule at the time of the
Winter Solstice. In the Northern
Hemisphere, it is often too cold to hold rituals out of doors. Many cast a
circle in their home. Their rituals typically involve some consumables: they
burn candles; they scatter droplets of salt and water. Compensating for the
burning of candle wax, they often turn out the room lights during rituals
and save electricity. The water and salt eventually are recycled to the
environment. All said, Neopagan celebrations have little impact on the
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Christmas proclamation under fire from Jewish group," CBC News,
- "Tony Perkins, "Christmas Spirited," Washington Update, Family
Research Council, 2005-NOV-29.
- Bob Dart, "Right charges war on Christmas," Cox News Service,
- "Have President Bush, First Lady, and Republican National Committee
joined 'War on Christmas'?" Newsletter, Americans United, 2005-NOV-30.
- Elizabeth White, "Capitol tree gets Christmas moniker back,"
Associated Press, 2005-DEC-08, at:
- Rachel Zoll, "Some Megachurches
Closing for Christmas," Associated Press, 2005-DEC-06, at:
- Chris Severy, "Some churches call off Christmas Day services," KCEN-TV,
Waco TX, undated, at:
- Randy Cassingham at "This is True" distributes a free and a premium
paid version of their weekly message. See:
Copyright © 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally posted: 2005-NOV-22
Latest update: 2005-DEC-24
Author: B.A. Robinson