War on Christmas? Never Happened!

January-February 2015

In his guest column “Enjoy Christmas — While It Lasts” (Dec.), John F. Gaski asked an important question: Why is the public representation of Jesus Christ more objectionable than public representations of other figures who are honored with federal holidays, such as George Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.? Gaski wonders why the public display of any religious aspect of Christmas is “anxiously construed as an official endorsement of a specific religion.”

Ten years ago we lamented that even President George W. Bush, supposedly the most religious U.S. president ever, refused to say “Merry Christmas” publicly, opting instead for the politically correct “Happy Holidays” — even though he was head of state of a nation that publicly celebrates Christmas as a federal holiday. Silly, yes. “So Happy Holidays has basically replaced Merry Christmas, which appears to be some kind of obscenity for many people,” we wrote (“Christmas Is Gone — In More Ways Than One,” New Oxford Note, March 2005).

Notwithstanding the numerous legal challenges to public nativity scenes by atheists and a few remaining ideological enemy combatants, Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly said recently on Late Night with Seth Meyers, “I won the ‘War on Christmas.’ I’ve been doing this for about ten years and this is the only year we have not had a store that commanded its employees not to say, ‘Merry Christmas.’ It’s over. We won.”

O’Reilly may have a good point. Public commentators even in the most liberal of venues — National Public Radio, for example — are once again using the word Christmas, even in its religious context. Walmart and Walgreens and other retailers have allowed their employees to make explicit references to Christmas. Even the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, citing a Pew Research Center survey, trumpeted in a headline: “The War on Christmas Is Over. Jesus Won” (Dec. 15).


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New Oxford Notes: January-February 2015

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