According to the UK’s Catholic Herald, it seems the War on By Christmas has enlisted a new recruit: Ben Stein.
There’s a story somewhere about Barack Obama referring to a Christmas tree as a “holiday tree,” which is apparently a worse form of persecution than denying Christians the right to marry one another, or something. In a vigorous and principled rebuttal on CBS Sunday Morning (which all good Christians will have missed because they’re in church where they belong), Stein says:
I am a Jew and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it doesn’t bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful, lit up, bejewelled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against… It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say ‘Merry Christmas’ to me… In fact I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year.
Oh my God, Ben, which side are you on? How dare you refer to it as “this happy time of year” instead of calling it Christmas? Are you trying to take Christ out of Christmas? You do remember, don’t you, that this whole “war on Christmas” meme was originally concocted as an anti-Semitic propaganda campaign? That Jews were originally accused of writing secular holiday songs (like Jingle Bells) as an attack on Christmas as a holy day reminding us of the miracle of the incarnation of the Son of God?
Well, maybe he does, and he’s just kissing up. Or maybe he’s just being paid to shill for the conservative Christian majority. Wouldn’t be the first time, eh?
I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat…
Let’s recap, shall we? The offence Obama allegedly committed was that he used a generic term to refer to a pagan symbol that Christians have adopted as their own. Instead of abiding by the dictum that everything in America must be done The Christian Way, Obama’s actions implied that other religions (e.g. Judaism) deserve equal respect. This, according to Ben Stein, constitutes “pushing Christians around” and “shoving atheism down our throats.” Because everybody knows that Jews and Muslims don’t believe in the real God—right Ben?
Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort says
Doesn’t bother me if it’s called a Christmas tree, either. That’s what it is, after all. I’m an atheist, but I celebrate Christmas.
Ned Champlain says
Ahhhhhhhhhhh Ben the hypocrit, doesn’t mind people calling a decorated tree a Christmas tree, but dests then calling it a holiday tree, What a moroon.
I too celebrate Christmas. I like the colored lights and the trees and gift exchange and celebration of friends and family. That is why christians attached themselves to it in the first place. If they want to share this pagan celebration with us – fine but just putting their name on it does not make it theirs.
the bug guy says
That’s a fairly old piece, dating back to 2005 with the usual modifications and additions as it bounced around the internet.
the bug guy says
Oh, and no, the White House has not banned Christmas trees:
It is rather sad that they couldn’t even do that level of fact checking.
The “War on Christmas” is a war that you lose as soon as you participate. I don’t care if you wish me a Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, Happy Hannakuh, Cheerful Diwali, Super Saturnalia, or a Wonderful Solstice. You’re wishing me a happy day and that’s a nice thing. Telling other people how they are supposed to wish you a good day, or what they are supposed to call their decorated trees is ridiculous.
How dare they deny god-fearing christians the right to bring a tree into the house, and decorate it like an eastern European bordello, as commanded in the Bible!
Ditto, ditto, and ditto.
But I thought Ben Stein was a Christian. By religion, I mean, not ethnicity.
Reginald Selkirk says
Is it? Please remind me which Gospel has the story of the baby Jesus and the evergreen tree? I prefer to think it is a Yule tree, a tradition stolen from pagans.
“I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country.”
You know what ? Neither can I, cause nobody is saying that. You constantly read about republicans insisting the opposite, that the US is a christian country. Seems there’s more projection going on.
d cwilson says
@the bug guy:
Obviously, Ben is behind on his wingnut talking points. The new line of attack is that Obama has too many Christmas trees.
the bug guy says
You can’t make that stuff up.
In fact, God explicitly forbids Christmas trees in the bible.
The Lorax says
In fact, that passage also explicitly forbids adopting pagan rituals, or “learning the ways of the nations.”
I’m afraid I cannot think of anything to say about that. Sometimes, the levels of cognitive dissonance stupefy me into silence.
Remember the season is the reason for jesus, not the other way round.
There’s a pattern of argumentation here that goes, “I’m not offended by X, so anybody who is needs to quit their whining!” That’s such a lame argument. It somewhat misses the point. Which is not to say we should recoil in shame any time anybody says they are offended, obviously, but the point is that one should take a moment to try and understand why the other person is offended, rather than just asserting (as Stein does here), “Hey, doesn’t bother me, so SHUT UP!”
It’s moot point anyway, since what Stein is whining about didn’t actually happen. But the point is, just because you don’t find Merry Christmas offensive (and neither do I, FWIW), that is not an argument against e.g. retail stores having their cashiers say Happy Holidays. Really, the one has nothing to do with the other.
I really find it hard to believe that anyone in any great numbers are REALLY offended by “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Holidays”, “Christmas Tree”, or “Holiday Tree”.
No one cares. And THAT, I think, is why some Christians trumped up this “controversy”. Once people don’t really care, then the importance of YOUR specific holiday is eroded in the country at large, as is your power, as is your importance in your own mind.
It all comes down to selfishness. And isn’t that the true reason for the season? Selfishness?
I would really respect Christians more of they’d all stand up in one voice and demand this Fake/Fox News story on the “war on Christmas” stop, and encourage everyone to help each other no matter what religion they are. Volunteer. Give to a charity of your choice. Whatever. But do something USEFUL AND HELPFUL for your fellow man. Whining about the fake “war on Christmas” is neither useful nor helpful (although I do think it will erode the gravitas of the faith even more as it focuses on something that isn’t true, isnt’ about helping others, and has this childish undercurrent of “look at me me me me ME!”).
Dalryn Van cuylenberg says
I know for sure that Jesus was not born on the 25th December. We all know that it stemmed from a pagan festival, and yet God looks at the heart and we celebrate His birth at this time of the year. To those people especially Barack Obama who thinks he has to give other religions equal recognition by not putting too much emphasis on christmas. He is sadly mistaken as the other religions in their predominant countries get all the recognition and respect they deserve, because they make no qualms in declaring themselves Muslims, Hindus, sikhs and Jews. It seems that the predominantly christian countries like England, Australia, America whose constitution was and is built on Christian principles who have a problem declaring their beliefs. All this is only offending the Christians themselves. Think about it, this polictically correctness has reached fanatical heights, and I dare to be politically incorrect and i will say that Jesus is the reason for the season. You will never ever write Him off the history books, The common era and the uncommon era, will never replace BC and AD, I live in the year of our Lord!
“America whose constitution was and is built on Christian principles”
The Constitution, Article VI: “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” (Please note the “or affirm”.)
The Constitution, Amendment I: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (Please note the fact that a lack of government religion doesn’t stop you from the free exercise of your religion.)
I searched far and wide, and could find no requirement to be Christian anywhere–it seems you can be an American and not be a Christian. I couldn’t even find the WORD “Christian”…or “Jesus”…or “Judeo-Christian”…or any more than those TWO mentions of religion (both of which keep it out of government). The writers must have been totally incompetent to omit the most important parts of the bible–I mean, The Constitution. Goodness. Did I get the bible and Constitution confused again?
Besides, Obama was chosen by god or he wouldn’t be there, remember? “This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men” (Daniel 4:17).
“Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God” (1 Peter 2:13-15).
“Whosoever therefore resisteth the power [of government], resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation” (Romans 13:2).
Even the BIBLE says you must obey the government, and the enlightenment principle of freedom, and of thought, and of religion, says that you can celebrate whatever religious or nonreligious idea you want. You just can’t have the government establishing or endorsing a particular religion–and I have to say I’m surprised you would WANT the government involved in establishing your religion. I thought you guys hated government generally, and government regulations absolutely? You really want the courts deciding if manger scenes count as idolatry or not? If the new Lord’s Prayer is legal to force children to use in schools, or if only the old one is legal? And if Mormon’s count as Christians at all (or Catholics, for that matter)? If the government decides these things, then there MUST be a state religion, and that state religion will be the result of all those decisions (and there is nearly certain chance that your version of your religion will not end up being the version the state settles on). Then you get the fun of trying to enforce that religion on everyone. Good luck with that.
George Washington: “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” And you know if Jesus said it, it is true. I mean George Washington. Did I get those two confused again?
E.A. Blair says
Well, Article Seven’s second paragraph does mention “our Lord”:
Hardly an endorsement.
John Morales says
Patently false, of course, if you go back far enough.
Pierce R. Butler says
You just gotta (ahem!) accommodate for certain linguistic drift since Ye Olde Days.
There was a consonant dropped from what some people now call the Primordial Ooze…
Ben says “and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat…” Sounds like we are making headway. Keep up the good work everyone!
When I was young, I had christmas trees. Then when my stepmother married my father, I gained a hannukkah bush as well as the christmas tree. When I left christianity and entered my pagan-searching years, my christmas tree turned into a yule shrubbery. I still call it that, in fact. I find the name hilarious.
Pierce R. Butler says
… every single one of my ancestors was Jewish.
All the way back to Adam, ~6K years ago? But how could he have been, not having been born of a Jewish mother? And was he circumcised, Bar Mitzvah’d, etc?