Christianizing Christmas

Increasingly, Christmas displays have been removed from government owned buildings. For instance the Fox News channel reported a few years ago that the City Manager of Eugene Oregon, Jim Johnson, banned all Christmas trees and other “religious-themed” holiday displays from almost all city-owned property, including fire stations. Many Christians were outraged over this, and he eventually relented a little and allowed fire fighters to set up Christmas trees for themselves on Christmas Eve and Christmas day.

I don’t believe that Christians should be outraged over the increasing tendency of bureaucratic officials to remove Christmas lights and trees and tinsel from government owned buildings. Why should Christians be bothered when a public school forces parents to remove the Christmas lights they had strung about the building? After all, the first amendment is pretty clear: the government is not allowed to give special treatment to any religion.

For years Christians have worried about the excessive commercialization of the December 25th holiday, its tendency to disappear into a time of gift giving and getting, tinsel and trees, and a jolly red-suited obese guy. Jesus is the reason for the season, Christians have chanted. When Christmas was safely neutered and simply about red and green decorations, it could be safely placed inside government structures. As soon as Christmas became what it actually is, a celebration of Jesus’ birth, it became out of place for governmental endorsement.

Christians should rejoice in this removal of Christmas ornamentation from government centers and ask for it to happen more often. As Christmas disappears from government buildings, it means that Christians have won the argument. The government, at least, is finally recognizing the true significance of Christmas. Linus’ words from the Charlie Brown Christmas TV special have finally reached the hearts and minds of the American public: the true meaning of Christmas is that Jesus came to the world to die for its sins.

Why would Christians want to argue that Christmas is cultural and should be permitted in the government’s house? Why would Christians ever want to de-Christianize Christmas? It is not a secular holiday. It is not about gift giving. It is about Jesus. Period. The ACLU has been listening and they believe what Christians have been saying all these years. So this is a good thing. Rejoice.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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