Rather than proclaiming “peace on Earth” this holiday season, self-proclaimed spokesperson for God Jerry Falwell, is launching a holy war.

The Rev. Falwell writes at www.falwell.com, “I am calling on pastors, churches and individuals to join Liberty Counsel’s ‘Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign.’ We need to draw a line in the sand and resist bullying tactics by the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, the American Atheists and other leftist organizations that intimidate school and government officials by spreading misinformation about Christmas. Celebrating Christmas is constitutional!”

The TV evangelist is urging his listeners to “pledge to be a ‘Friend’ to those entities which do not discriminate against Christmas and a ‘Foe’ to those that do.” One of the “foes” in the bulls eye is Target that allegedly doesn’t allow its employees to wish customers “Merry Christmas.”

I agree that the above groups do tend to “bully” believers and that “celebrating Christmas is constitutional.” And I do agree with many of Falwell’s conservative convictions, but I disagree with many of his means and methods. In this case, he seems to be missing the whole Christmas message about “peace on Earth, goodwill to all.” Even the Americans and Germans called a truce on Christmas Eve during World War I. This is not the time to wage another campaign in the culture war!

Some perspective:

First, “Christmas” is short for “Christ’s Mass.” While early Christians observed Christ’s resurrection rather than birth, Dec. 25 has been celebrated as the birth of Christ since A.D. 354. So “Christmas” is a distinctively Christian holiday.

Second, as Falwell rightly points out, celebrating Christmas in the public square and public school is a constitutional right. But we live in a pluralistic society where one is free to worship God, nature, or the Mall of America. Christians cannot be guaranteed their right to worship as they please, unless all are guaranteed their right to worship as they please.

And third, let’s try to look at the situation from a non-Christian’s perspective. I doubt that Falwell and his “Friends” would be happy if the Jewish Wal-Mart greeter wished shoppers a “Happy Hanukkah.” How ’bout the Wiccan clerk at Target wishing customers a “Happy Yule”? Or the Islamic clerk at 7-Eleven greeting customers with “Happy Ramadan”?

Continuing this line of thinking, how ’bout making a federal holiday of Buddha’s birthday? Celebrating the Islamic fast of Ramadan in public schools? (Sorry, kids, the cafeteria is closed this month. Infidels will need to “brown bag” it.) Or giving everyone Dec. 21 off so Wiccans can celebrate the pagan sabbat of Yule?

Falwell and his “Friends” would be filing lawsuits, sponsoring “Justice Sunday” rallies, organizing boycotts, and marching in the streets.

Currently, schools are free to sing “Hark, the Herald Angels Sings” as long as they include secular holiday songs as well. Courthouse lawns can display a nativity scene as long as there is also a menorah or Santa Claus. (Santa may not be the best example since he originated as a charitable Catholic priest.)

It seems to this writer (a conservative Christian who refuses to compromise his convictions) that the cause of Christ and His message of “peace on Earth, goodwill to ALL” is not well served with a “Friend or Foe” mentality during Christmas — or any other time.

Keep in mind that Christianity thrived under a Roman government with an official religion of emperor worship that celebrated its gods births on Dec. 25. And, if I remember correctly, the baby in the manger grew up to be the “Prince of Peace” who told His disciples to “Love your foes.”

So, wishing peace and goodwill to ALL during Yule, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and — for Seinfeld fans — Festivus.

©2005 JAMES N. WATKINS. Visit Jim’s Web site at www.jameswatkins.com.
News-Sun, Evening Star & Herald-Republican

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