And the secularists are gaining ground. A new survey indicates that while the holiday is still celebrated, fewer are doing it for religious reasons. It is returning to its roots as a secular holiday meant to lift people’s spirits in the darkest days of winter.
This year more than ever, Americans prefer that stores and businesses welcome them with the more generic “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” than “Merry Christmas,” according to a survey released Tuesday (Dec. 17) by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service.
And for one in four American adults (26 percent), Dec. 25 is simply a cultural holiday, not a religious holy day.
“The trend is in that direction, for sure,” said Robert Jones, CEO of PRRI. The percentage of people who say the Bible’s Christmas story is historically accurate has fallen more than 17 percentage points since a 2004 survey reported by Newsweek.
What most surprised me is that only 59% expect to attend church on Christmas day or Christmas eve, a day that, next to Easter, is the most pro forma day of attendance when even nonbelievers go just for the sake of family holiday solidarity.
I am beginning to wonder if Fox News’s and some other groups’ obsession with defending Christmas from its supposed enemies is, in some perverse way, leading to its demise as a religious holiday, by enabling more people to realize that this season is celebrated by people other than Christians.
Fox News may have been more successful if they simply focused on showing nativity scenes, carolers, and other messages that promote a positive image of Christianity. Of course, that would not get much ratings by getting their viewers’ blood boiling, which is what this silly war is all about anyway.