The Truth, Mainly - 12/19/2005

Re-Christianizing Christmas?
by Leon Satterfield

It's that time of year again—the time we celebrate the birthday of Christ by giving each other presents and maybe getting a little tipsy. I suppose you already knew that.

But there seems to be a new problem this year. Leonard Pitts told us about it in his column on this page a week ago. He said that "conservative and evangelical observers have been loudly complaining about what they call a campaign to de-Christianize Christmas."

The crux of the problem, Pitts says, is that not everyone is a Christian and that upsets some who are—especially when they go into a store and the clerk tells them "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."

What that means, see, is that some of us are celebrating Christ's birthday without even mentioning Christ. And lots of people see that as an outrage.

Especially since we're living under the administration of a man who's made more of his own Christian faith than any other U.S. president in my time. He must be even more upset than most of us at the way the dirty rotten secular humanists have coerced store clerks into saying "Happy Holidays"—as if America might be large enough and diverse enough to contain many religions.

Part of the problem, of course, is the First Amendment to the Constitution. You know, the one that prevents Congress from making any law "respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…."

But I've got a great idea.

Let us, with no uncertainty, repeal the First Amendment and celebrate Christmas by decking all the Washington federal buildings, inside and out, with real Christian banners. No Santa Claus stuff, but banners that quote directly some of those Bible passages uttered by the first Christian, Jesus Christ.

For example, over the door to Vice-President Cheneys office, we could hang one of the beatitudes from Christ's Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5).

And over the door to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's office, another of the beatitudes: "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy (Matthew 5:7).

Over the door of the Oval Office of the president himself, yet another beatitude: "Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God" (Matthew 5:9).

You get the idea.

And I'm about to give some other spiffy direct quotations from Christ that should be on display in Washington—at least during the Christmas season if not the year round. (Caution: the following quotations may upset some readers.)

—"Resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek,turn to him the other also" (Matthew 5:39).

—"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44).

—"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are; for they love to pray standing…in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen…" (Matthew 6:5).

—"Judge not that ye be not judged" (Matthew 7:1).

—"Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam… of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote… of thy brother's eye (Matthew 7:5).

—"Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven" (Matthew 19:21).

—"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24).

—"Ye also outwardly appear righteous unto man, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity" (Matthew 23:28).

—"When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou maketh a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind" (Luke 14:12-13).

—"Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Luke 16:13).

And so on.

Remember, all those are Jesus' words so nobody who calls himself a Christian—even if they're government officials—should be offended by them, or hesitate to obey them.

What's that you say? That most of Christ's words run counter to most of what this administration is trying to accomplish? That ideas like those can get you carried off to Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib?

Don't be silly.

I have to stop now—there are some people at my door. They're carrying little American flags and Bibles and pitchforks. Whatever could they want?


Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail address is:

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