Religion and Politics in the US

Welcome to RelPol, a student peer reviewed online magazine. This magazine is part of the assessment for the module "In God We Trust" @ the University of Hull.

How convincing is ‘The war on Christmas’ in the modern day America?

(Video taken from The O’Reilly Factor 5/12/2013)

 The global corporation Fox News is the largest conservative producer of journalism in the U.S. As such it argues almost every month that citizens, or at least the patriots among them, should take up arms against a seemingly endless stream of internal attacks on their ‘inalienable rights’ as Americans. These preconceived and manufactured ‘wars’ range from varying issues such as women rights, homosexuality, and even Muslims. Now however Fox has spent the last ten years broadcasting the war on Christmas, which means Fox has finally found a war which hits every American right in the baubles.

This fictitious war seemed to start on 7th Dec 2004, during the incessant ramblings of one of Fox’s most influential scaremongers Bill O’Reilly. The rant came as part of the infamous O’Reilly Factor segment and what may have seemed to most like a one off segment to fill some time on the news, appears to have snowballed out of control into something the average American is genuinely scared of.

The video above can provide some insight. It shows Palin and O’Reilly stating the reasons they believe founded this war, mainly the fact that people are opposed to religious figures being displayed on public property. Although this as an argument by itself couldn’t possibly have blown the issue into a decade long war. However the very fact that O’Reilly himself contradicts his original argument does. It shows that he’s willing to bend and change his argument to perpetuate it out of control. Fundamentally the original argument comprises of the fact that major corporations made the decision to scrap the term ‘Merry Christmas’ for the politically correct ‘happy holidays’. However what the two failed to recognise throughout this interview, is the very fact that America should have no defining religion! They should also be more accepting of the fact that there are many, many religions in their great nation. Instead of Palin stating that there will be a “war on religious freedom” which seems very far-fetched. She should be arguing that all faiths should be free to celebrate in the way they like on their federal holiday. Plains claim is almost as extravagant as O’Reilly stating that atheists are “mean-spirited” for a display that simply states Christmas isn’t all about God. Which for some people it isn’t. It is just a time of year filled with presents and family. These two esteemed American professionals seem to some degree to reject the idea that every American should have the right to free religious practice.

Although it would seem fitting that this war was only started by the sheer fact that rhetoric has changed in the U.S.A in the last 10 years or so. People stopped saying “Merry Christmas” and started using the phrase “Happy Holidays”. It is inevitable that even in the most accepting countries this would spark some controversy, maybe not to the same degree as in America, but then again America always have found a way of appearing under attack. Senators have even been to court over the fact that they want their decorative tree to be named a “Christmas tree” these seem like trivial matters in a very commercialised version of Christmas. Nevertheless they matter over the pond, where it seems to have created a fear of the unknown. No one is getting rid of Christmas it’s just other religions also have the right to be celebrated when in a multicultural society like America. Even Atheism has the right to its place in the land of the free. It’s not for one second the fault of the everyday American for these misunderstandings. However it does seem largely the fault of the media and some government officials for turning this once small battle into a large scale war.

Sarah Palin for example only last Christmas brought out a book titled: Good tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas. Now in this book she obviously defends the right to have Christmas as a national holiday, as of course it is a national federal holiday in the U.S of A. However stating that founding fathers Jefferson and Adams would have agreed with the ridiculous concept that there is a war on Christmas is almost ludicrous. For Jefferson himself didn’t even believe in aspects of Christianity such as the virgin birth, he believed in the kind nature and morals Jesus represented.

This farcical book states that Americans are losing their right to Christmas, same as being argued in the video above. However what is America’s right to Christmas? As far as I can tell the amendment to the constitution expressively declares that American’s cannot have a national religion, but you can see how it would have been overlooked as it is very far down on the list. This was originally created to protect the people of the New World. But has it not led to their demise as a Christmas celebrating Christian country? Not as far as I can tell Americans still have nativity scenes, Christmas trees and decorations and even their yearly presents with eggnog. Christmas is still a national federal holiday and has been since 1790s. Something that no other religious day has the privilege to. No Jewish holiday holds the same prominence as Christmas does. So surely its clear to see that modern day Americans aren’t losing this right, there isn’t a war on Christmas. If you still believe that there is however then clearly you must also believe there has been a war on every other religious day not granted the same treatment as Christmas, since Americas founding. The only effect this war on Christmas has had is it has led to a demise in the celebration of the festival itself, and the reason this has happened… a constant abuse of evidence from two of the most trusted texts in America (the Bible and the constitution).


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This entry was posted on December 2, 2014 by in Uncategorized, Vol 2, 2014/15.
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