Too many Christians have become afraid to celebrate their faith. I say it's time to stop!

     Christmas for me is usually a time of emotional and intellectual conflict, but it is especially so this year. Being married to a Christian who is raising our child in the Christian faith (with my absolute support and approval), I celebrate Christmas in my home. I would not do so otherwise because, as a Jew, I do not believe Jesus Christ was the Son of God.

     When I tell my Christian acquaintances why I don't really "get into" Christmas, almost to a person they immediately begin to tell me that Christmas is not really just about Christ anymore, and that I can celebrate the "holidays" with everyone else, meaning I can attend the parties, give gifts, sing carols, and tolerate all of the decorations cluttering our office. Of course, this first assumes I am ignorant of Christianity, and second it incorrectly presupposes that Hanukkah is just a Jewish version of gift-giver christmas (lower-case) rather than Judaism's celebration of one of God's best, most meaningful miracles. Both notions are wrong, as is the unspoken belief that if they don't find a way to "include" me, I might take offense at their Christian celebration.

     Regarding the holidays, frankly, I am annually disgusted by the grotesque, greed-driven, over-hyped commercial face of Christmas; so much so that I find myself increasingly repulsed by stores, and especially Wal-Mart, from the beginning of November through the New Year. I don't mind spending money, but I sincerely miss the slow progression of holiday seasons from Memorial Day through Halloween and Thanksgiving to Christmas. Now it's christmas in September in warehouse stores and by 15 October in the larger retailers, and 1 November just about everywhere else.

     And all of this, to me, is one of the biggest reasons American Christians today face so much hostility from so many directions. It is not the only reason, nor the most important, but the overwhelming emphasis on the secular side of Christmas has diminished its status as one of the most important Holy Days celebrated on the planet. And this, coupled with the increasing prohibitions against free and public expression of Christian faith have combined to make Christianity the loser-religion of choice for the second millennium.

     A loser-religion, you say? As in a religion of losers!?!

     No. As in the religion losing the most ground, crumbling from the inside-out, becoming increasingly irrelevant and powerless in the face of relentless assault by those opposed to living a life guided by Christian values and mores. Christianity in America is clearly under attack, and what makes it worse is that most Christians do not fight back, they tolerate. And they mistakenly assume that tolerance means letting others determine when and how Christians can practice their religion; and that others have the right to decide what constitutes an appropriate expression of Faith, and where, and when. To me, this is beyond ludicrous. As I've written elsewhere, tolerance to the point of self-destruction is stupidity, and empathy to the point of self-loathing is absurd. Christians who demean or debase themselves, or who "deny" Christ in an effort to be more acceptable or more tolerant-seeming are missing the point!

     And it also misses the point to tell me that Christmas is not really just about Christ anymore, and that I can celebrate the holidays with everyone else. I am a Jew and I do not believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and I am not about to apologize for what I believe. I also do not believe in a triune God, or in Mary as a Virgin Mother, or in the need for Baptism. And according to at least one of my Christian friends who also happens to be a Preacher, I am certainly going to Hell when I die.

     Yeah, well.

     I may go to Hell, but until then, I am not going to pretend to believe other than I do just to make Christians like me. By the same token, it is utterly ridiculous for people who call themselves Christians to tell me they are celebrating not a religious event, but a secular one, just so I can participate without offense in their festivities. What utter silliness! I am not going to pretend my Jewish holidays are secular so that non-Jews can participate. Neither do the followers of any other religion declare their holy days non-religious just so nonbelievers can enjoy the songs, the fun, and the food. Christians in this country, on the other hand, seem to be working harder every year to avoid offending anyone. For example, in my upper-middle class subdivision of about 200 homes, there is only one house that has a nativity scene on it's lawn. Just one house!  When I was a child, every third or fourth house had a nativity display or an Icon in its yard, and when I was in Germany earlier this month, I saw dozens of nativity scenes in town squares--placed there by the town, no less. German Christians don't pretend they are invisible, why should American Christians?

     Other religions also don't cut their followers any slack. People who consider themselves practicing Jews follow the rules. People who call themselves Moslem or Hindu follow the rules. With that as example, it is utterly inane for Christians to proclaim their holidays are meant for everyone, even non-Christians, and it is insane for them to increasingly dilute and trivialize their faith and their ceremonies in an effort to offend fewer and fewer people. That path leads to dissolution, the fate of all insignificant and meager theology.

     But look, the simple truth is this: The United States is primarily a Christian country founded on Judeo-Christian principles by people who were only a few generations removed from the original European settlers--the ones who left the old countries, especially England, so they could practice their religion as they saw fit. And that religion was Christianity, not Judaism or Islam, and certainly not the anti-religious stupidity of atheism. Again, the United States in its infancy was primarily a Christian country, and saying so does not insult anyone, no matter how much they may want to feel insulted.

     Certainly it's true that most people who came to these lands did so for economic reasons, but they also brought their religion with them, and almost overwhelmingly that religion was Christian. In America today, if there is any doubt about where the weight of religion falls, one need only count the number of churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples.

     Do I have a problem with this? Not even a little! Moreover, I think it is about time for Christians in this country to stop acting like their religion is something to be ashamed of. I am not talking about the vocal minority who are what is pejoratively called the Christian Right, but about the majority of Christians who are not bible thumping fanatics, who nonetheless identify themselves with the worship of Jesus Christ as the Son of God on Earth. I am talking about people who may not think about their religion every day, or even go to church every Sunday, but who try as they can to live by Judeo-Christian principles, and who still care about High Holy Days, as the Jews call them. The people who are pretty sure they are going to a heaven ruled by God-the-Father when they die.

     To say it plainly, this is a country with a proud Christian heritage, and American Christians ought to stop being ashamed of saying so! I believe the great majority of Americans who are Christian have every right to speak about, and shout about, and in whatever other noisy way they want, to declare openly as often and as proudly as they want that they are Christians, living in a country that was inarguably founded on Christian principals!

     And I think people who don't like it or who don't want to hear it ought to just stick their heads back where they belong!

     No matter how much fanatic Islamicists, foaming-mouth atheists, Michael Moore clones, or any other intolerant group might twist the truth, the fact remains that ours is one of the most sensibly tolerant countries on Earth; and further, that it is tolerant because of its grounding in Judeo-Christian principles, not, for example, because of Islamic principles or the general good nature of Man. Anyone who believes otherwise is deluded or is a fool.

     Yes, I am a Jew in America, and yes, I consider this a Christian country. And no, that doesn't bother me in the slightest because when Christians practice their faith as it was laid down in the New Testament, Jews are perfectly safe and secure, and able to worship just as they wish. So are Moslems, Hindus, Shintoists, and all manner of other peoples. Even the worship of an anti-Christ is acceptable in this country, as is the utterly moronic belief that there is no God.

     But this is an issue of tolerance, not rights, and it offends me no end when I hear people say they have a right to not be bothered by Christians, that they have the right to not have to listen to other people practice or celebrate the Christian faith. What arrogant, narcissistic nonsense. Christians don't ask anyone else to practice their religion quietly in a corner, so why should Christians have to do so.

     Which brings me back to Christmas, a time of year when many people put a little extra effort into being nice or go a little further than normal to be helpful to others. Of course, it's not just Christians who do that, but the tradition of gift giving on Christmas is grounded in the Gifts of the Magi Balthazar, Gaspar, and Melchior, who traveled to Bethlehem from Persia to see Jesus Christ, declared the Son of God.

     And so I say to Christians in America: Take back your religion and your holiday! Stop letting societal parasites like the ACLU and its atheistic clients tell you how to celebrate your faith. Stop letting the whiners of other religions make you fearful! Celebrate Christmas however you want, in whatever way you want! Display those nativity scenes on every lawn and in every city square! And most important, stop trying to convince everyone else that it's not about Jesus. If you consider yourself a Christian, Christmas is the celebration of your Messiah's birth. Declaring it otherwise is akin to heresy.

     Be proud of your faith, be proud of Christian accomplishments, and be noisily joyous on this day!


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