Merry Christmas vs. happy holidays

The annual debate over Christmas' place in the public sphere

Merry Christmas, said Timothy R. Butler in Open for Business, and welcome to the culture war. A Christian group tried to rally its members against Costco for briefly favoring "holiday" over "Christmas," but this was only the "latest salvo" in an annual debate over whether it's unfair to inundate non-Christians with Christmas. Using "holiday" instead of Christmas is indeed silly, but it's sillier to punish Costco—a company that really cares about its workers—for drawing a line between the gift-buying frenzy and the religious "er, holiday."

You have to admit, said Barbara Curtis in The Christian Science Monitor, the push to remove Christmas from the public sphere has gone a bit overboard. In public schools across the country, teachers present "winter programs" with songs about reindeer, Kwanzaa, and Hannukah, but "nary a note about Jesus." Christianity will survive, but "why bend over backward to acknowledge religious minorities while singling out Christianity for exclusion?"

And spare me the malarkey about how the anti-Christian backlash is about preserving the Constitution, said Michael Medved in The framers of that document "accepted and endorsed the deeply religious nature of the people they represented," and many of them, Thomas Jefferson included, "openly expressed their conviction that the survival of liberty depended on Christian faith." Americans were perfectly comfortable with religious, specifically Christian, expression in the public sphere until secular militants started preaching "ignorant political correctness."

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

"Bah, humbug," said Mary Sanchez in The Kansas City Star. Nobody's asking for the "extermination of Christmas," as the defenders of a controversial plan to put a Nativity scene at the Washington state Capitol claim. If anybody's downgrading the meaning of Christmas, it's the mean-spirited culture warriors who refuse to lighten up and "let Christmas be Christian," instead of insisting that people of other faith get in the spirit, too.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.