The Christmas Wars
2017 to 2019: Part 5 of 5
Recent developments on the
celebration of Christmas.
The candy cane controversy.
The future of the Christmas Wars.
Positive thoughts in December
2017-DEC: Mayor-elect of Hoboken is accused of banning the use of the word "Christmas:"
William "Truthteller" Farrow, writing for the "Last Line of Defense" website, published a fake-news article about the Mayor-elect of Hoboken, NJ. They said that the first Muslim mayor [sic] of Hoboken has banned the word "Christmas" at all government functions. Unfortunately, the author of the article didn't seem to check their facts:
- Ravi Bhalla is not the mayor of Hoboken as implied by the title of the article; he is the mayor-elect and will not take his post until 2018.
- Bhalla is not a Muslim, he is a Sikh.
- He did not ban the use of the word "Christmas." In fact, he posted a message on social media that ended: "Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays." 1,2
The "Last Line" web site concludes:
" 'The crowd began to boo loudly and one man was escorted out after throwing a souffle at Bhalla’s head, knocking his turban off,' the Journal reports. 'Eventually, things returned to normal but there was a sense of displeasure the rest of the evening.'
This war on Christmas has gone on long enough. Liberals need to learn that this is a Christian nation and nothing means more to us than our liberty than our God. If Mr. Bhalla doesn’t like it he can go back to his home country..."
The subtitle of the article read: "This monster needs to be impeached."
2017-DEC: Pew Research Poll on Christmas:
Pew sampled the opinions of a randomly selected group of U.S. adults and found:
- 56% believe that the religious aspects of Christmas are now emphasized less than in recent years' 30% believe that the emphasis hasn't changed much; 12% believe it has increased; 2% don't know or delined to answer.
- 55% say they celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. This is a reduction from 59% in 2013 when the poll was previously conducted.
- 90% celebrate Christmas; this percentage is unchanged from the value in 2013.
- 51% say they plan to attend church on Christmas Eve; a reduction from 54% in 2013. 3
- 66% believe that Christian symbols like nativity scenes should be allowed on government property; 26% are opposed. This compares with 72% in favor and 20% opposed in 2014.
- When asked how they would prefer for stores and businesses to greet their customers:
- 52% say it doesn't matter; this is an increase from 46% in 2012.
- 15% refer "Happy holidays" or "Season's Greetings,"; this is a slight increase from 12% in 2012.
- 32% say "Merry Christmas,: this is a drop from 42% in 2012.
- Declining percentages of U.S. adults believe that traditional Christmas stories reflect actual historical events. Between 2014 and 2017, the percentage of U.S. adults who believe that:
- Jesus was born to a virgin decreased from 73% to 66%. Among "Notas" -- those not affiliated with a faith group -- the percentage dropped from 30% to 17%!
- Jesus was laid in a manger decreased from 81% to 75%. Among "Notas," the percentage dropped from 53% to 41%.
- Wise men, guided by a star, brought gifts decreased from 75% to 68%. Among "Notas," the percentage dropped from 41% to 28%.
- Angels announce Jesus' birth to shepherds decreased from 74% to 67%. Among "Notas," the percentage dropped from 31% to 20%.
- Among Christians generally, the percentages also dropped but by smaller amounts, ranging from 3 to 5 percentage points. 3
We prefer the term "Notas" to "Nones." The latter sounds like "Nuns," a very different religious term. Also the "a" in Notas stands for "affiliated," whereas "Nones" may be interpreted as persons having no religous beliefs. However, the rest of the world disagrees with us.
The Cantankerous Candy Cane Controversy:
Joseph P. Laycock, writing for Rewire News , spotted a story about a school principal in Manchester Elementary School in Nebraska having banned candy canes because they are a Christian symbol. She wrote:
"Historically, the shape is a ‘J’ for Jesus. The red is for the blood of Christ, and the white is a symbol of his resurrection. This [ban] would also include different colored candy canes." 4
She seems to consider only the "J" shape that makes candy canes a religious symbol. Others have tied other features of canes to Jesus. Apparently this was all a myth generated in 1996-OCT with the publication of the book:
"The Candymaker's Gift: The Legend of the Candy Cane" written by Helen Haidle, with illustrations by David Haidle. and published by Cook Communications.
Snopes.com "... has long been engaged in the battle against misinformation" and investigates claims such as this one. They noted that various Christian sources linked candy canes to:
"... a secret form of identification used by European Christians during a time of persecution, a sweet treat created to induce children to behave well in church, or a confection dreamed up by a candymaker in Indiana to express his Christian faith."
But all appear to be false. 5
2018-Year end: Future resolution of the Christmas Wars:
There has been a noticable reduction in conflicts about Christmas during recent years in the U.S. Objects, like candy canes and Starbucks' cups have become the main targets instead of people's behavior.
Two reasons for this reduction come to mind:
Some will interpret the Barna Group's statement as implying that Atheist affiliation has actually doubled among Generation Z. I feel that much of the increase is because a larger percentage of Atheists in Generation Z feel safer to admit their lack of belief in God to a stranger over the telophone who claims to be from a confidential polling agency. An innovative polling technique found that 26% of U.S. adults are actually Atheists, but that most refuse to admit this to polling agencies.
Canada may provide a good indication of where the U.S. is headed in the future. A conventional 2010 survey by the Carleton University Survey Centre and the Association for Canadian Studies found that 19% of adults are willing to identify as being Atheist or Agnostic -- about twice the current American figure -- to a polling agency. 7
During the Christmas season in 2018, I noticed that my local Harvey's restaurant -- one of a hamburger chain across Canada -- had two wall signs on display opposite the entrance door. One said "Merry Christmas." A separate sign said "Happy Holidays." Perhaps during the 2020's, this will become common in the U.S.
2019: A note on Christmas, as viewed by Agnostics, Atheists, Humanists, and other non-believers:
Foundation Beyond Belief sent a circular Email just before Christmas in 2019, saying:
"We know what you’re thinking: 'But isn't this month just about religious holidays?' Never fear! ... [We] have put together a list of the Top Ten Secular Things to Love about December in the hopes that you, too, will soon share our joy during this most wonderful time of the year."
They list ten thing to enjoys:
- the cookies,
- volunteering opportunities,
- catching up with family, friends, neighbors, pets, sleep, or favorite podcasts,
- sparkling decorations,
- the snow,
- new year's resolutions,
- start a new calendar for the new year,
- the Winter Solstice, and its promise of longer days and increasing warmth ahead.
- the opportunity to spend, spend, spend! (Nope! Not that)
- make a donation to a worthy cause.
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
- "BREAKING: Muslim New Jersey Mayor Just Banned The Word ‘Christmas’," 2017-DEC-19, Archived at: https://archive.is/
- Muslim Mayor Just Banned the Word ‘Christmas?’," Snopes, 2017-DEC-19, at: https://www.snopes.com/
- "Americans Say Religious Aspects of Christmas Are Declining in Public Life," Pew Research Center, 2017-DEC-12, at: http://www.pewforum.org/
- Joseph P. Laycock, "Will Infamous ‘Candy Cane Memo’ Resurrect Flailing ‘War on Christmas’?" Rewire News, 2018-DEC-19, at: https://rewire.news/
- "Did Candy Canes Originate as Religious Symbols?," Snopes, 2000-DEC-DEC-07, at: https://www.snopes.com/
- "Atheism Doubles Among Generation Z," Barna Group, 2018-JAN-24, at: https://www.barna.com/
- "Non-Religious Demographics and the Canadian Census," Speech delivered at the Centre For Inquiry Ontario 2011-APR-29, at: http://secularalliance.ca
Copyright © 2015 to 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2015-NOV-12
Latest update: 2019-DEC-16
Author: B.A. Robinson