Truce for now, the Christmas Police are Gone

In some ways it’s a relief that the holidays are over. I grew weary of the ceaseless Facebook posts reminding me that when people wished me seasons greeting and happy holidays it was an affront to Jesus. Yet another year of the war on Christmas. For eleven months I don’t have to listen to it.

It seems that any seasonal greeting has to include the name of Christ in it because Christmas is, after all, Christ’s birthday (it’s not, of course, Jesus was born in the spring, but that’s another topic). Anything less was an affront to God. No doubt you’re used to this; many of you probably insist on it. But it seems to me that while the Christian Right is complaining about the PC police, they’re turning into the Christmas police, determined to tell everyone in America—Christian, Jew, Muslim, or plain old freethinking couch potato on Sunday slob—how they have to celebrate their holidays.

And that’s about as unAmerican as it gets.

Now I grew up a Baptist Preacher’s Kid, so I was used to complaints about XMas (which I never understood because I thought that was putting the Cross in Christmas, even if it was a little lopsided). And nitpicking faith was a particular Baptist pasttime. If your sister wore her hair too long she was offending God, if you sneaked a peak at the Revised Standard you were recrucifying Christ, if you held hands with a girl you were committing adultery in your heart, and there wasn’t a well meaning sentence you could utter that couldn’t be challenged by some verse in the Bible.

But at Christmas, even Baptists would let stuff slide. Those feelings started at Thanksgiving, and ran until the last bowl game on New Year’s Day (that’s right, the bowls used to end with the Orange Bowl on New Year’s). That meant there was a whole season of God’s blessings to celebrate. So from my childhood on I remember people not just saying, “Merry Christmas,” but “Happy Holidays,” and “Seasons Greetings.”

And no one got mad. Not even Christians.

Image courtest of gatesfd.org

But then, a few years ago, someone on the Christian Right learned that the song “White Christmas” was written by Irving Berlin to be a purely secular Christmas song. Uh oh. And then the Christian Right learned that stores would post ”Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings” to be inclusive seasonal banners for all of their customers, including those who weren’t Christians.

That’s right, “Happy Holidays” and ”Seasons Greetings” arent intended to piss Christians off, they’re meant to include Christians and non-Christians. It’s called sharing. They’re meant in the spirit of Christmas, which is to share the love and joy of family (Thanksgiving), New Years and Jesus.

For some reason, however, the Christian Right wants to play the Grinch and police how the rest of us celebrate (even when some of the rest of us are Christian). For some reason, when a festive celebrater says to a Christian, “Happy Holidays,” they say, “You’re stealing Christ from Christmas.”

What a way to deflate the joy of the season. You’d think they could at least turn the other cheek.

Here’s the bottom line: There are two Christmas celebrations in America. The Christmas Christians celebrate, and the Federal holiday created by law. Sorry, Christian Right, that holiday has nothing to do with Jesus. That holiday is for all Americans, Christian or not, and it’s theirs to celebrate as they please. It would not just be wrong for you to ruin their Christmas to be a buzzkill by telling them what they can and cannot say to you in their attempts to share the joy of celebration.

It would be unAmerican. And it would be a sin.

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PS. After a years hiatus, I’m back. I took time off because of health problems and to finish my novel Cigerets, Guns & Beer on iBooks, Kindle and Nook. I won’t be posting as regularly because I’m also working on a new novel, Seeing Jesus, and posting a blog on Goodreads.

 

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Damned Democrats. Literally.

Growing up Baptist I heard a lot of crazy things. I didn’t even have to be a Baptist Preacher’s Kid (BPK), even though I was. All I had to do was listen. And I heard some doozies. I heard:

  • “Back in the USSR” was a secret homage to Soviet Communism.
  • The apostle Paul carried the King James Bible on his missionary journals.
  • Jesus turned water into grape juice but they didn’t have a name for it so they called it “wine.”
  • The Bible forbids boys and girls from swimming in the same pool.
  • Everything in the Bible is literal but the bit about communion being Jesus’ body and blood is only symbolic.
  • The Bible forbids negroes from marrying white people. 1

I never heard anything as weird as the one Carol sent me from Dennis Marcellino on conservativebyte.com. Get this: “The BIBLE SAYS if you vote for a democrat and were to die thereafter you would go to hell.” In fact, his message is so important, the entire sentence is the address of the post.

The “die thereafter” part is superfluous since it’s pretty much a given that anyone who votes Democratic or Republican or doesn’t vote at all will die thereafter. But it sure makes the warning even more dire. And he doesn’t warn about a lifetime of voting Democratic, we’re damned if we vote just once. Their is no scale for more acceptable Democratic candidates and the really evil Moslem Democrats who lied about their birth certificates. All Democrats are 11 on a scale of 10.

Marcellino is fairly apologetic about delivering the news. He says, “This is not meant to be emotional or inflammatory, it is simply stating a fact and to warn.” Too late for me, mind you. I was damned when I voted for McGovern in 1972 and have sealed my fate in every election since.

Even worse, I served as Democratic Precinct Chairman and was elected delegate to the state convention in 2000. To throw more fuel on the fire, I voted with La Raza Unida whenever they ran a candidate, volunteered for the Rainbow Coalition both times Jackson ran and I worked with ACORN for several years. I joined the Wobblies and if Eugene Debbs were still around, he would get my vote.

But Marcellino is simply stating facts and who am I to argue with facts, especially knowing that my fate is forever sealed? It’s too late for me, but perhaps I can help Marcellino reach my readers before they cast that fatal vote.

If only I had known in time to warn you for the primaries. But since the primaries don’t actually elect anyone, maybe there’s hope if you vote right in the fall.

You see, Marcellino qualifies his warning little. You can repent (and presumably vote the Tea Party line from here on). But here’s a little more to chew on:

  • “The Bible does say that if a person votes for a democrat (the promoters and supporters of sin) and were to die without repenting of that, he or she is going to hell.”
  • “I think this is an important message for blacks and hispanics who think they are Christians and who don’t want to offend God but who vote lock step for democrats.”
  • “2Thess. 2:12, says that if a pro-gay marriage person were to die today with that stance, they would not go to Heaven. ‘Then everyone who did not believe the truth, but was delighted with what God disapproves of, will be condemned.’ And one way that a person expresses that delight is: how they vote … especially if it’s for a candidate who supports gay marriage or any other sin.”

Or, perhaps, Marcellino misread the scriptures. The key phrase in this verse, at least so far as the English translation, is “delighted.” I don’t think “delight” describes the feeling Christians, or even liberals, feel when we take a political stance that the Constitution was intended to protect the rights of the disenfranchised. We don’t delight in homosexuality any more than we delight when an unborn child is terminated. We don’t dance in the street and shout giddily: “Hooray, another baby died and two more deviants tied the knot.” We don’t put on party music and silly hats or celebrate in any way

Unless, perhaps, we’re invited to the wedding. But the celebration would be for the happy couple, not the fact that we participated in an institution offensive to God.

In fact, I don’t know any woman who had an abortion who took delight in it. Women are usually emotionally devastated by the act. And the gays I know only delight in being gay as a challenge to those who hate them. It’s there way of saying, “If you’re going to get in my face, then I’m going to rub my gayness in yours.” I don’t know a single person who said, “I’m going to be gay and put up with crap from my co-workers, family and gay bashing Christians because it’s so delightful.”

Okay, maybe we take a little delight when certain folks write ignorant comments like, “The BIBLE SAYS if you vote for a democrat and were to die thereafter you would go to hell.” In fact, it’s really hard not to laugh out loud. But that delight quickly fades when we remember how crazy some Christians can be when they start torching abortion clinics and beating gays to death.

Let’s see what else Marcellino wrote. “Romans 1:32, ‘Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things* deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.’ And one way we approve is by how we vote. (* “such things” are in the rest of Romans 1:18-31 – e.g. homosexuality, lesbianism, strife, deceit, slander [political sound bites], gossips, idol worshippers, God-haters, atheists – all primarily attributes of liberals.)”

His conclusion? “Many who think they are Christian aren’t going to Heaven.”

How nice of him to let us know who made it into God’s Book of Life before it’s official.

There’s a problem with using that passage in Romans, however, because the Christian right gets caught in their own blowback. For instance, strife. Who causes the most strife in today’s Church? The Christian right, who is willing to accept homicide as a solution to abortion (not all of them, but some of the most outspoken). Liberal Christians tend to prefer pacifism, which is the opposite of strife. We don’t provoke or encourage others to decide as they do, we accept them regardless. As did Jesus, who thought hookers and drunks were a lot more fun to hang with than stuffy old rabbis and self-righteous.

Tea Party members have even been known to physically assault opponents and the Christian right has made it clear that they will not compromise otherness, nor will they accept them as believers. They even make provocative statements such as “unrepentant Democrats will go to hell.” Which would be unrepentant Democratic voters like me. 2

This is the opposite of the apostle Paul who made a practice of honoring the practice of the local churches he visited, even if he didn’t accept them himself. In the Jerusalem church he kept Kosher. He did not deride Peter and James for advocating circumcision even though he didn’t see it as God’s command (and even though he was under constant fire from the Jerusalem Church). Many Christians felt is was impossible for Christians who ate meat sacrificed to idols to be saved (including the author of Revelations). Even though Paul disagreed, he refused to eat sacrificed meat in the company of kosher believers.

How about gossip and slander, which includes (at least according to Marcellino) political sound bytes. I went to the web site that featured his column (which is ironically called conservativebyte.com) and found:

  • No mistake! Obama backs Muslim Brotherhood again
  • Obama Politicizes Memorial Day: No More Wars Unless ‘Absolutely Necessary’
  • Planned Parenthood Encourages Woman to Get Sex-Selection Abortion
  • Obama’s Secret ‘Kill List’
  • Obama Twice in 2 Days Mentions ‘My Sons’ — even with Teleprompter (!!! Now that’s a byte worthy scandal)
  • Obama Expanding His Enemies List
  • What Unemployment?: Obama To Attend 6 Fundraisers Today (next to a picture of Obama playing golf and ignoring the fact that Romney held a number of fundraisers too)
  • Muslim Brotherhood infiltrates U.S. public schools?
  • Obama Flies Special Barber To WH Every Two Weeks
  • It’s the Little Things: Obama Insults Poland, Awards Medal of Freedom to Socialist Icons
  • Reprehensible Holder Scares Black Voters
  • Businessman Faces Backlash After Appearing on Obama’s Enemies List
  • Obama Insults Poland with Crass and Ignorant ‘Polish Death Camp’ Remark
  • Somebody (Obama) Watched Too Many Episodes of ‘The West Wing’

Not only do all of these headlines qualify as political sound bytes, they sound like gossip and border on slander. I especially like the headline about Obama mentioning his sons. I heard gossip like this constantly as a BPK. “Did you hear what Jennifer said? She said there’s nothing better than drinking on a hot summer day.”

The real message of the passage in Romans is that God finds gossip as heinous as he finds adultery and gay cruising. No one gets to claim the high ground because no sin is worse than another. You can’t grade sin, it’s all 11 on a scale of 10.

So I would like to remind Marcellino of a couple of other scriptures:

  • Don’t judge lest you be judged.
  • Don’t resist evil people. In fact, help them on their way.
  • Don’t point out the speck in other’s eyes when you have a beam in yours.

In other words, worry about your own sins and not the sins of others. In the New Testament depictions of judgment, no one is called to answer for what other people did.

I think we can safely say that most Democrats, and Christians who support the party’s candidates aren’t pro-abortion, or promoting homosexuality. We simply think government should keep out of people’s lives the way Republicans want to keep government out of their gun cabinets.

I’ve generally found that Christians have one of two views of God’s realm. Some want it to be bigger and others want to keep it tiny and exclusive. Too often we say that’s God’s decision but we project our own desires onto the realm we envision. Jesus preached generosity of spirit above most other virtues. And part of that generosity is to stop volunteering to help with God’s plan for others. We have enough time following that plan ourselves.


1Sound familiar? Too bad they didn’t think of a defense of marriage act in the sixties.back
2Technically I’m independent because I will vote for third parties and even candidates I know will piss the party off. (For instance I voted for Al Sharpton in the 2004 primary.) But I will accept the label of Democrat because I have yet to meet a Republican who deserved my vote. Whenever the Democratic party dumped such colossal turds such as Dolph Brisco onto the ballet, the Republicans made sure to counter with a candidate that made him look good. So I voted for the La Raza candidate Ramsey Muñiz. In other elections I simply wrote in “none of the above,” which so pissed off one precinct chair that she posted a sign in later elections warning “No voting ‘none of the above.'” It didn’t stop me.back