By Fr. George Welzbacher
December 17, 2006
When people wish me "Happy Holidays!" I smile, and unless I happen to know that my greeter is not of the Christian faith, I usually answer "And a blessed Christmas to you!" In recent years the ACLU's campaign to banish from the public forum any and every reference to God, let alone to Christian belief and practice, has reached the outer limits of absurdity. And the "p.c." lobby's "sensitivity" propaganda has lagged not far behind. I therefore found a report in the December 4th, 2006 issue of the national edition of The Washington Times to be so refreshing a reflection of common sense that I would like to share it with you. Here it is, only slightly abridged.
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Americans Favor 'Merry Christmas' over Generic Greetings.
By Jennifer Harper
Go ahead, say "Merry Christmas!" Americans want it that way, according to a new survey, which found that 69 percent of us prefer the traditional greeting over a generic "Happy Holidays!" which garnered a mere 23 percent of the vote.....
"The growing trend of political correctness runs against the tide of popular opinion," the survey of 1,000 adults stated. It was conducted Nov. 18-19 with a margin of error of three percentage points.
Other polls had similar findings. A survey of 1,000 adults conducted by America's Research Group released Nov. 29 found that 53 percent were "bothered" if merchants omitted "Merry Christmas!" in their stores and signage. A CNBC survey released Nov. 27 also found that "most Americans said they prefer 'Merry Christmas!' to the more nondenominational 'Happy Holidays!'"
The Alliance Defense Fund is riled up over the Christmas cause. The Arizona-based legal group, which specializes in defending religious liberty, has lined up 930 attorneys nationwide to challenge "improper attempts to censor the celebration of Christmas on public property or schools."
"It's ridiculous that Americans have to think twice about whether it's OK to say Merry Christmas, " said ADF spokesman Alan Sears. 'Thanks to the [American Civil Liberties Union] and its allies, Christmas isn't what it used to be. It's time to repair the damage that such organizations have done to America's favorite holiday.'
There still are wide contrasts around the nation. While the U.S. Capitol showcases "The Capitol Christmas Tree," New York State will light "The Empire State Holiday Tree...." Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is still trying to appease locals offended by his decision to discourage producers of "The Nativity Story" from sponsoring a downtown Christmas festival on the grounds that such an event might "offend" people of other faiths.
"What manner of spirit visited City Hall?" the Chicago Tribune asked in an editorial. "The Ghost of George Orwell?"
Meanwhile, some retailers have lightened up on secular leanings. Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl's, Macy's and others are vigorously embracing Christmas this year after previous bans of the "C-word" resulted in several public relations disasters. Wal-Mart has even tailored their in-store Christmas music from region to region to foster "the Christmas spirit," according to spokesman Tom Redwine.
"Last year, the Christmas wars bordered on the absurd, and perhaps we've turned the tide," observed David Jeremiah, senior pastor of California's Shadow Mountain Community Church.
Best Buy, Eddie Bauer and Pet Smart are among those which continue to embrace "Happy Holidays," prompting protests from the American Family Association and the Liberty Council, which maintains a list of "naughty and nice" merchants who openly celebrate -or ban- Christmas .....
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For those whose circumstances will bring a touch of sadness into their observance of Christmas, or perhaps much more than a touch, may I share some words of John Henry Cardinal Newman that can provide a ray of light in the darkness.
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"God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission-I may never know it in this life, but I shall he told it in the next.
I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place while not intending it-if I do but keep His commandments. '
John Henry Cardinal Newman