HAGELIN: We need Christmas now more than ever

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Culture challenge of the week: The Christmas cover-up

Christmas - it’s a time of traditions. In Loudoun County, Va., as in many parts of the country, the Christmas tradition now includes annual skirmishes over Christmas displays on public property. In times past, county atheists and secularists complained about Nativity displays, even when set up on county property by private citizens. So Loudoun County began a permit process letting citizens apply for county permission to display a variety of Christmas messages.

That didn’t solve the problem. This year, parents were shocked to see a display that featured a skeleton wearing a Santa suit, nailed to a crucifix. Some parents described it as “obscene.” An unknown citizen took matters into his or her own hands and dismantled the display, and both sides cried foul. Atheists reiterated their position that no displays should be allowed.

This year’s Christmas battle ended in a truce as the County Board of Supervisors voted to continue the permit process, in spite of the controversial displays. More than likely, atheists and others will return with their offensive “Christmas” displays that mock or belittle our beliefs. And Christians will have some consolation in their own opportunity to display a message about the real meaning of Christmas.

Other towns and cities face similar controversies, often alienating Christians who simply insist that the government not rewrite history - Christmas means Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Christ. It’s not acceptable to remake “Christmas” as a generic holiday with only commercial meaning.

In Rhode Island, for example, Gov. Lincoln Chaffee declared that the official Christmas tree - a grand, 17-foot spruce tree that fills the Statehouse lobby - was nothing more than a “holiday tree.” To call it a “Christmas tree,” he asserted, would offend people of other faiths. Even non-Christians found his stubborn revisionism to be silly. In response, Christians held an alternative tree-lighting ceremony with a real Christmas tree.

What troubles me most about these controversies is the consistent attempt by secularists to tell the big lie: They pretend that most Americans think explicitly Christian celebrations are offensive and that the spirit of tolerance requires us, as a country, to embrace a selective cultural amnesia. In their view, Christian origins and meanings have got to go.

Atheists are quick to rewrite that script for us, too. In the Loudoun County controversy, one atheist interpreted the controversial display as an accurate reflection of reality - that “Christmas, which is about faith and family, is dead and has been replaced by commercialism.”

How to save your family: Celebrate Christmas, not “holidays”

The vast majority of Americans love Christmas - and they know what it means. When you’re in public, celebrate the reason for our joy and wish others a “Merry Christmas.”

Don’t feign forgetfulness or public agnosticism. The fact is, according to a December 2010 Gallup poll, 95 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas and only a few boisterous lost souls (some bigots, some simply misguided) seek to destroy the meaning.

So teach your children two things this Christmas.

First, the meaning of Christmas: “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, New Living Translation)

Second, to be a light to the world, teach them to speak the truth of Christ’s love and give humble witness to our need for salvation through Him. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16, King James Version)

Consider supporting organizations that work to preserve religious freedom. If the secularists and progressives have it their way, Christmas, Easter and even religious worship may one day be confined to secret celebrations locked behind closed doors. A few stellar organizations that deserve your support are the Alliance Defense Fund (www.alliancedefensefund.org), the American Center for Law and Justice (www.aclj.org) and the Liberty Counsel (www.lc.org).

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