Wednesday, 1 December 2010

War on Christmas: am I missing something?

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Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, along with the conservative Christian group Christian Concern (formerly Christian Concern For Our Nation) has launched a new campaign called "Not Ashamed", with the stated aim of helping "Christians respond to various challenges to the Christian foundation of our society, by being visible and vocal about our confidence in Jesus Christ". And what are those challenges? Allow the Daily Mail to explain:
"Britain has become ashamed of Christmas, former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey declared yesterday.

He said Christmas cards are censored, school nativity plays stripped of Christian content and Christmas decorations banned in the campaign to block the festival out of the calendar."
Censored Christmas cards. Banned Christmas decorations. Nativity plays stripped of content. What is this dystopian society in which we live? I must have dozed off for a while, as I appear to have missed its formation. (But then again, it is the curse of humanity to sleepwalk into our own oppression.)

Of course, the reason that I, along with many of you, I'm sure, have missed the foundation of totalitarian anti-Christian Britain is because nothing of the sort has happened. But try telling that to Lord Carey. He won't be letting this one drop any time soon:
"The attempt to air-brush the Christian faith out of the picture is especially obvious as Christmas approaches. The cards that used to carry Christmas wishes now bear “Season’s greetings”. The local school nativity play is watered down or disappears altogether. The local council switches on 'winter lights' in place of Christmas decorations. Even Christmas has become something of which some are ashamed. Do we really want to consign the Christian faith and the churches to the sidelines when they continue to give so much to our society? And do we really want to rebrand Christmas, empty it of its meaning, and ignore its significance for us today?"
But it isn't happening. When are campaigners like Carey – and members of the government like Eric Pickles – going to take a look around them and finally admit that there is no widespread movement to ban Christmas. Lots of non-religious people (I'd wager the majority) even quite like it. I know I do. Some might even (whisper it...) confess that they quite enjoy hearing the odd carol, and find the local nativity scene (yes they still exist) quite endearing. Sure, there are Season's Greetings cards and the like, but I guarantee that your local card shop will have plenty of religious ones too. It's called catering to a diverse market – Christmas is a Christian festival, yes, but it's also a mid-winter celebration (whose history stretches back to pagan times) that means lots of different things to lots of different people. But one thing we can all agree on is that it's an enjoyable time of year, whether you include the baby Jesus or not. Banning it would be a really bad (and quite frankly bizarre) thing to do.

In fact, can you all please just take a moment to vote in this poll. Would you like to ban the Christian version of Christmas? The result will be about as objective or convincing as any of the evidence Lord Carey, Eric Pickles and Christian Concern like to present for the so-called "War on Christmas", so perhaps once the scores are in we can offer it as definitive evidence that this clamp down on Christmas has no basis in reality.

Now, you'll have to excuse me for a moment. There's a star on top of the tree across the road that I need to go and destroy....

The author of the Angry Mob blog is currently compiling a dossier on the War on Christmas myth - I look forward to seeing that when it's finished.
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