Invoking yet another "eventually we'll tire them out" strategy, the religious right and their pandering mouthpieces (Fox News, et al) have now managed to turn the Constitutional right for religious freedom into an assault on Christmas. This is really pretty simple: Courthouses and Capitol buildings represent the citizens of the state and nation in which they reside. The dollars to construct, maintain, and staff these institutions come from all taxpayers, regardless of their religion. We do, last I checked, live in a nation that contains citizens of numerous religions, including followers of the "no religion at all" denomination.
Christmas, contrary to popular belief, remains a Christian holiday. The fact that it has more in common with Wall Street than Bethlahem does not change this fact. Neither an annual holiday, a national Christmas tree, nor a "Christmas shopping season" changes this fact. The actual holiday itself, on religious grounds, has as much meaning to a non-Christian as Rosh Hoshana does to a non-Jew, or Ramadan does to a non-Muslim. A National Christmas Tree makes a statement, this simply cannot be denied, and that statement overtly confers secondary status upon all non-Christians.
Concerns regarding this inappropriate activity do not represent an attack on Christmas, they rather signify an attack on Christmas being celebrated as though it had national (meaning "functioning of the nation") significance. And the trappings of one religion simply cannot carry significance in a nation that was formed with an essential guarantee that no religion shall be forced upon its people.
But, as in all things, there is another side to the story. I do not celebrate Christmas in any meaningful, religious way. This is because I am not a Christian. Therefore, when someone wishes me a "Merry Christmas," I must admit that there is a part of me that cringes, just a bit. I'd prefer, "happy holidays." But an onlooker would never know. The reason is because the person wishing the sentiment upon me is, as far as I can tell, trying to be civil and kind. And kindness is a good thing. Therefore, it is really no problem at all for me to smile and say, "Thank you, you too." So, while our national celebration of Christmas is definitely inappropriate, this much is also true: if you get offended when someone wishes you a Merry Christmas, you need to check your priorities. Life is too short to get offended when someone says something nice. So, if you are wasting time filing lawsuits to prevent someone from saying "Merry Christmas," you have entirely too much time on your hands.
The sad thing for Christians (and, I'd argue, for America) is that Christmas is not really a Christian holiday anymore. Yet another reason non-Christians should cease to be offended (on religious grounds, anyway). Christmas is now a cultural phenomenon tied more closely to our rampant consumerism than anything else. I hate to point out the obvious, but Christmas is more about a pretty tree, lights on houses, a few days off work, a shopping season that stretches longer each year, presents, and new movies at the theater than anything else. Look me in the eye and tell me I'm wrong. It is nothing more than another junked car, that once drove really well, at the salvage yard that is our consumerism. The Capitalism monster is so big that I'm not sure Christmas ever had a chance. I think the real reason I'm off-put when someone says Merry Christmas to me is because it reminds me that I have yet to spend $500 on meaningless junk in order to meet my "good person" quotient for the season. Everyone, except maybe Wall Street, should be offended by Christmas.
My neighbors have a sign in their yard that reads, "Keep Christ in Christmas." A friend asked if that bothered me. Bothered by a holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus? Celebrating someone who, in Matthew 25:31-46, the Parable of the Sheep and Goats, makes absolutely clear that drink must be given to the thirsty, food to the hungry, and companionship to the ill and imprisoned? Someone who, in Mark 12:28-31, speaks of loving God and then says, “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' " Someone who, in John 13:34-35, says “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Keeping Christ in Christmas sure sounds better than keeping Wal-Mart in Christmas. Spend the day volunteering. Take some of the $8 billion we spend on Christmas decorations every year and use it to help someone in need. "Give drink to the thirsty, food to the hungry, and companionship to the ill." Take the month of December, and instead of rushing around like fools trying to get your shopping done, "love one another." Translate the celebration of Jesus' birth into something of which he'd be proud. And then sign me up; I will be honored to make it my holiday too.