Coming Soon: The "War on Christmas"

There is no "War on Christmas"

"But it isn't even Thanksgiving yet!" Yeah, I know. But come on, nobody really cares about Thanksgiving, do they? The Christmas decorations have been out since before Halloween. It is time to start gearing up for the "war on Christmas."

Each year, some Christians loudly protest imagined attacks on Christmas. Evidently, they feel that efforts to make sure that public holiday displays promoting their religion are legal and inoffensive to persons of other religions and non-believers constitute a "war on Christmas." If one dares to point out that their behavior is illegal (e.g., violating the separation of church and state by erecting pro-Christian displays on public property), offensive to non-Christians, or otherwise annoying, then one is attacking them, their religion, and/or their holiday. This has to be one of the strangest twists of logic I've encountered.

Each year, it seems that somewhat different businesses are targeted for Christian outrage. In 2005, the first year I was paying attention to such things, it was Wal-Mart. They were selected because they had allegedly been training their greeters to use a greeting that was respectful to shoppers with non-Christian beliefs. Yes, it seems that Wal-Mart recognizes that some Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, etc. are not particularly interested in hearing "Merry Christmas" and decided to replace it with "Seasons Greetings" or "Happy Holidays." You know, because some people celebrate other holidays this time of year and others don't celebrate any.

Here's what I had to say about this back in 2005:

I don't think I've ever had occasion to say this before, but right on Wal-Mart! It is about time that somebody demonstrate some respect for religious minorities in this country. Christian privilege has gone on long enough. The U.S. is not a Christian nation but a religiously pluralistic one. And yes, that includes those of us who do not believe in any gods.
In the years since 2005, we have seen many different targets for this sort of thing. Starbucks seems to be a recurrent favorite. Maybe it has something to do with the association many Christian conservatives make between liberals and overpriced coffee. In any case, I look forward to seeing who will be the focus of this year's outrage.

To the legions of Christians who get upset about this stuff every year, I'd like to point out that nobody is attacking your holiday (I want no part of it, so I'm happy to refer to it as "your holiday"). All we are asking is that you use some sensitivity in how you present it in public (if you cannot refrain from public displays). I don't particularly care how you celebrate it as long as you can refrain from the church-state violations while doing so. And if you can manage not to shove your holiday in my face at every opportunity, you won't have to hear me tell you how I feel about it. If you let this become a divisive issue, then it seems like you are the ones determined to ruin your own holiday.

An early version of this post appeared on Atheist Revolution in 2005. It was revised and expanded in 2018.