Fox News’ War on Christmas.
Like the ability of a fat dead ancient
slave elf-holding saint to squeeze down my chimney unnoticed in the night, the “War on Christmas” is
A) mostly make believe and
B) a crass, gift-wrapped excuse to turn a profit.
In this case, Fox’s.
As Gail Collins writes in the NY Times:
Some social conservatives embrace a seasonal victimhood this time of year, complaining that Christians are continually being mugged by anti-Christmas atheists bearing court orders.
In its ongoing effort to protect the American public from the War on Christmas, Fox News has a special online map highlighting current reported atrocities. I am looking at it now, and the message is clear: as problems go, this one is imaginary.
Or as Sarah Palin (I wish she’d poke her eye out moose hunting) puts it in her new-straight-to-the-discount-bin book, Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas:
[The War on Christmas is] “the tip of the spear in a larger battle to secularize our culture and make true religious freedom a thing of America’s past.”
Let me be clear, this isn’t cheap Fox News or Sarah Palin bashing.
Like Palin- if one can suspend disbelief and judge her alarm-sounding to be motivated by sincerity instead of sales- I believe secularism is rapidly advancing threat to orthodox Christian belief.
I believe secularism will prove to be the greatest and perhaps gravest challenge the Christian Church has faced in her 2 millennia of Jesus-following.
But the hyperbole and sloganeering around a “War on Christmas” obscures the fact that secularism is not a new phenomenon.
Cultural shifts and rival world views do not appear overnight or even in a generation.
Fox’s obsession with the “War on Christmas” (and the liberals waging it) misleads its (conservative) audience into believing that they too are not happy warriors for the advancing secularist front.
In fact, the secularization decried by Palin et al is at least 300 years old. It began not with the election of Bill Clinton but with the Enlightenment.
How old is America again?
And therein lies the bitter irony about Fox News’ obsession with the “War on Christmas” because the Enlightenment’s vaunting of the individual, personal liberty and the supremacy of reason, its consignment of religion to the private interior of the believer and its resultant eviction of God from the public square not only gave birth to secular modernity but to America as well.
More to the point, America would not have been possible without the very same paradigm-shift that made secularism possible.
The worldview otherwise promoted wholeheartedly by Fox News had as its inevitable outcome the secularism seasonally scorned by Fox News.
Taking Christ out of Xmas began when the Founders put him in believers’ individual hearts where he couldn’t mess anything too important in the real world.
The “religious freedom” Palin rhapsodizes is in fact the first-born love baby of the secular Enlightenment.
What the “War on Christmas” provocateurs seem not to understand is that secularism is a much bigger enemy to Christianity than Fox News imagines.
And its one both (political) conservatives and liberals are fighting for.
Liberals fight for it when they insist that Christians remain in the closet.
Conservatives fight for it when they insist on the primacy of laissez faire- even if they use the veneer of religiosity to do it.
If you think I’m wrong, look no further than the way in which American (political) conservatives have reacted to a non-American conservative:
When conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin are given to calling Pope Francis a ‘Marxist’ you can be sure the “Christmas” they wish to defend has little to do with Christ and more to do with their version of ‘America.’
Of course, when liberals assume a (conservative) Christian like Pope Francis is actually one of them- simply because he cares about the poor and critiques callous capitalism- you can be sure they’re every bit as secular as their conservative counterparts.