Predictably, the opponents of public displays of Christmas continue to put forth counter-arguments on 'Secular Central.' I — I mean, Comedy Central. They said this:
This was followed by Samantha Bee's joke, which went like this:
Christmas: It's the only religious holiday that's also a federal holiday. That way, Christians can go to their services and everyone else can stay home and reflect on the true meaning of separation of church and state.
O'Reilly finished with, "And a Merry Christmas to you, Jon Stewart."
Now, Jon Stewart's hilarious follow-up on December 7 is too long to put here. If you want to read it, you can find a transcript for it at the Media Matters web site: http://mediamatters.org/items/200512080005. The important point is this: the item was first broadcast last year, though O'Reilly implied that it was broadcast the night before. It's easy to prove that wasn't the case... in fact Stewart and Bee did just that. You see, Samantha Bee was wearing a tight pink blouse in the show. She wore the same blouse on The Daily Show's December 7 episode. It didn't quite fit, though, because she is now about 8 months pregnant. She was quite obviously not pregnant when the joke originally aired.
Secularists are out to kill Christmas. This is the latest neocon cry. It's part of their whole "persecution of Christians in the United States" battlecry. Or rather, it's their latest battlecry because it's the Christmas season. This isn't really new or anything, as they trotted out the same argument last year. Apparently secularists have banded together (no mention where they hold their meetings, as I'm guessing they won't be able to organize in Church basements; probably in a Starbucks in San Francisco) to do away with Christmas. This incredibly influential group has even coerced — again, according to neocons — stores like Wal-Mart to stop saying "Merry Christmas" and start saying, "Happy Holidays".
Secularists are stealing Christmas from Christians!
Funny enough, there seems to be a dearth of proof for this. Last year the same three stories were trotted out again and again as proof of this "war on Christmas" (as O'Reilly puts it). The Columbia Journalism Review piece from last year, found at http://www.cjrdaily.org/behind_the_news/
its_christmas_and_the_echo_cha.php, said that there were three stories recycled again and again as proof of this "war", two of which were essentially false. This year the Washington Times went looking for "war on Christmas" battlefields within the federal government but, according to CJR at this link: http://www.cjrdaily.org/politics/
christmas_sends_washington_ti.php, they came up a little short.
So, the Washington Times had a hard time finding any real evidence of this war (must be clandestine!), and O'Reilly resorted to displaying year-old jokes as current evidence. Why would they do this? Is it because controversy sells, and Fox's conservative (and largely Christian) base eats this stuff up? Could it be that they are counter-programming the recent bad press shovelled on the Bush administration? Or could it be that back in October Fox News host John Gibson released a book, The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought? Gosh, they wouldn't be making things up to push an agenda and sell books, would they?
(I haven't heard any secularists pounding the streets of Monroe calling for a ban against Christmas. I do know that the Puritans banned Christmas during the 1600s, though. Damn those liberal, secularist, Puritans!)
As a secular humanist (I guess I'm one, according to this definition anyway: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secular_humanism) I have to say that all of my secular friends call the holiday "Christmas". None of them seem to be offended in the least that it's a religous holiday. Some express concern at the erosion of the separation between church and state, but they are quite happy to get the day off work, give presents, and listen to Christmas music.
Christians have a right to be upset at the way Christmas has become commercialized, but that has little to do with liberals or secularists. It has to do with businesses co-opting every holiday they can find in order to make people buy more stuff. That should be good for the country, right? After all, the neocons are all about spurring the economy by helping business.
I bet you won't see Fox news doing a show on how businesses are stripping Christianity from Christmas. Nope, it's — once again — the fault of liberals. And their sneaky, hidden but well-organized cousins, the secularists.