Christopher Hale writes: Last week, Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly had good news for his viewers — the war on Christmas had finally ended. “We won!” O’Reilly declared.
What were O’Reilly’s metrics for measuring this great victory over the secularists who he saw as so hell-bent on ruining Christianity’s great feast? Simple: The number of stores using “Merry Christmas!” instead of “Happy Holidays!” has increased in the past decade.
But as O’Reilly noted, there are still some companies out there who won’t oblige with the victor’s demands that Christmas greetings be done the right way. Don’t worry, O’Reilly assured his viewers, there’s a new president in town, “and that’s bad news for them, because Donald Trump is on the case.”
In one sense, O’Reilly is absolutely right. The president-elect has made renewed Christian strength in the public sphere a key underpinning to his shocking victory. Trump told us time and again that when he’s president, Christianity will have power again in the United States. “Christians don’t use their power,” Trump has complained. “We have to strengthen. Because we are getting — if you look, it’s death by a million cuts — we are getting less and less and less powerful in terms of a religion, and in terms of a force.”
In typical Trump fashion, he thinks this starts in the marketplace: “I’ll tell you one thing: I get elected president, we’re going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ [at department stores] again.” He continued, “Because if I’m there, you’re going to have plenty of power. You don’t need anybody else. You’re going to have somebody representing you very, very well. Remember that.”
Unfortunately for O’Reilly and Trump, there’s still one person they must defeat in this self-perpetuating war on Christmas. It’s Pope Francis, the 80-year-old leader of 1.2 billion Catholics across the globe.
“Christmas is a charade!” Francis said last year.
These aren’t exactly words you would expect from a Christian during the holiday season, much less the pope. But that’s exactly what the troublemaker Pope Francis told a group of us gathered for Mass in 2015. “Christmas is approaching: There will be lights, parties, lighted Christmas trees and manger scenes. … It’s all a charade.”
Why would the pope wage war on Christmas? “The world continues to go to war. The world has not chosen a peaceful path. There are wars today everywhere, and hate,” Francis said. “We should ask for the grace to weep for this world, which does not recognize the path to peace. To weep for those who live for war and have the cynicism to deny it. God weeps; Jesus weeps.”
In other words, the meaning of Christmas isn’t strength and visibility in the public sphere. The central claim of this holiday has always been that the rejected, crucified and executed Jesus Christ is still somehow Lord of the entire earth. In Trump’s world, those like Jesus Christ are the losers. In God’s world, these are the victors. [Continue reading…]