Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The War on Christmas

Slacktivist alerted me to the "Liberty Council's" "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign," and how the (in)famous televangelist Jerry Falwell claims that the celebration of Christmas is under attack from secular institutions. I've already commented how, despite plenty of reason to feel otherwise, conservatives really do feel persecuted by the rest of society. Slacktivist does a perfectly adequate job of detailing how, at least in regard to Christmas, this claim is preposterous, and I see no need to duplicate his efforts.

By choosing a name like "Friend or Foe" for their campaign, I can't help but wonder if I am expected to recall the passage from the gospels, where Jesus tells the Pharisees, "Whoever is not with me is against me" (Matthew 12:30). This occurs in the context of the Pharisees' accusation that Jesus is driving out demons by the power of the devil. Jesus then talks about blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

Of course, there are also the parallel passages in Mark 9:40 and Luke 9:50, where Jesus tells his disciples not to stop a man (who was apparently not counted among Jesus' followers) driving out demons using Jesus' name, saying to them "Do not stop him.... for whoever is not against you is for you." (Lukan version)

Although "Christ" is Jesus' title (from the Greek word for "anointed"), rather than his name, I expect the same principle applies whenever the name of Christmas is used. And as Slacktivist has already pointed out (What? You didn't follow the link to his site already?), the name "Christmas" is still used quite frequently in our society during this season.

Of course, the kind theology that says "whoever is not against you is for you" is seldom practiced among the extreme Christian right wing....

(As an aside, I wonder if they've gotten permission from the estate of Dr. Seuss to use the image of the "Grinch" in their campaign. My sources through Copyright Clearance Center tell me that the book is indeed still protected by copyright. Of course, this may be a matter of trademarks rather than copyrights, and trademarks are more easily lost....)

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