Every year, there is a war that rages throughout the nation. The 76 percent of Americans who call themselves Christian face a nearly existential threat from the myriad forces that come together to conspire against them. This year, the battles raged on, and TPM was there to document them.
This, friends, is the story of the War on Christmas 2010.
The Frontlines: Capitol Hill
The 2010 War on Christmas found its epicenter, perhaps inexorably, in the nation’s capitol and the opening salvo was lobbed, unsurprisingly, by the Senate’s most powerful liberal.
Here’s what happened: The Congressional session was scheduled to end Dec. 17, giving senators and congressmen the two-week Christmas vacation that’s customary for all working Americans. But Senate Majority Leader Harry “The Grinch” Reid announced that he would keep the Senate in session as long as necessary to finish its lame duck business, including the week before and after Christmas.
Immediately, senators on the right-ly pious side of the aisle fought back. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) spat at the idea, calling it “disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians.” Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) called the idea of holding a vote on the START treaty near Christmas “sacrilegious.” “What’s going on here is just wrong,” he said. “This is the most sacred holiday for Christians.” It was a poignant, if incorrect, attack — as all good Christians (and quite a few Jews) know that Easter is the most sacred holiday for the Christians.
It wasn’t over though. Reid, who is Mormon, shot back from the Senate floor, “I don’t need to hear the sanctimonious lectures of Sen. Kyl and DeMint to remind me of what Christmas means.” Vice President Joe Biden, Catholic, played tough: “Don’t tell me about Christmas. I understand Christmas.”
In the end, the START treaty passed and Congress went home Dec. 22, three days before Christmas.
The Home Front
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) is a big fan of Christmas, and a big believer in the need to celebrate it as a commemoration of the birth of his savior, full stop. (He also believes that Jesus is protecting us from global warming.) So when his hometown of Tulsa announced it would hold a “holiday parade” instead of a Christmas parade, he put his foot down.
“I am hopeful that the good people of Tulsa and the city’s leadership will demand a correction to this shameful attempt to take Christ, the true reason for our celebration, out of the parade’s title,” he told the local paper. “Until the parade is again named the Christmas Parade of Lights, I will not participate.”
“You know, I would expect it some other places, but not here in Oklahoma,” he later told Fox News. “Last time I checked, Gretchen, Christmas meant the birth of Jesus Christ, and that’s what we’re celebrating, that’s what I’m celebrating, that’s what my 20 kids and grandkids are celebrating.”
The Holiday Parade of Lights was held just the same. As Tulsa World reported the next day: “Holiday parade is full of Christmas.”
The First Lady’s Stealth Campaign
Former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO), who ran for governor this year, told TPM in September that his distrust of the Obamas comes from “little things:”
“I remember a little thing, like Ms. Obama saying she didn’t want any Christian artifacts in the White House during Christmas time,” Tancredo said. Another problem, Tancredo said, is “hosting Ramadan events there.”
The Obamas did host an iftar, a Ramadan dinner, at the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama also decorated the residence with 19 Christmas trees, a 350-pound gingerbread house and thousands of Christmas decorations, many made with reusable materials to fit with the theme, “Simple Gifts.”
We mustn’t forget that the Christmas battles also take place outside the spotlight, in the small towns and hamlets of the suburban countryside Take, for example, the events of Haymarket, Va., where a group of young men donned their grandmas’ best knits and started the Christmas Sweater Club.
They walked through the halls of Battlefield High School in their finery, singing Christmas carols and spreading Christmas cheer. And then it all fell apart.
As WUSA9 reported, the administration shut them down for, as one of the students put it, trying to “maliciously maim students with the intent to injure.” Their crime? Passing out miniature candy canes.
“They said the candy canes are weapons because you can sharpen them with your mouth and stab people with them,” another club member said, denying that the CSC would ever participate in such yuletide violence.
Although the boys were disciplined, their candy canes taken away, this story ends on a happy note. To paraphrase WUSA9, the boys, like the Whos down in Whoville, kept singing.