Whether it is a Black Santa at the Mall, brown baby Jesus in the manger, Happy Holidays on a Starbucks’ cup, or Christianity Today calling for the Impeachment and Removal of Trump…Now is a good time to remind white Evangelical Christians, you are not being persecuted this Christmas.
You are obsessed with decrying your own persecution. As Brandi Miller succinctly tweeted:
Christians at the White House won’t be convinced of wrong doing.— Brandi Miller (@BrandiNico) December 13, 2019
No matter how articulate, biblical or moral we are in our critique, nothing will supersede the embedded evangelical ideology that pushback (calling it persecution) means you are doing the right and holy thing.
For far too many Christians, Advent and Christmas season means re-visting pointless musings about how society needs to “Keep Christ in Christmas” and that wishing people “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” is tantamount to nailing Jesus on the cross…again. Or something like that.
Let’s take the example of the ridiculous idea that there is a “war on Christmas.”
What some factions of American Christianity fail to understand is that being greeted with a “Happy Holidays” instead of a “Merry Christmas,” is not the same as being imprisoned or killed for one’s faith. Christians, in the United States, this does not count as being persecuted.
Not to mention that the history of Christmas is complicated with various hypothesis put forth explaining the holiday’s origins including the Calculation hypothesis and The History of Religions hypothesis.
Yet the phrase, “Keep Christ in Christmas” sticks with me. What if, instead of being the opening salvo in an imaginary war that feeds into to the American evangelical persecution complex, the phrase becomes a personal reminder for Christians about the promises inherent in Christ’s birth? What if we were reminded of a God that journeys with us through the pain and sorrow of life and that advocates for a better world where oppression is a distant memory?
What would it mean for Christians to keep Christ in Christmas? It would mean protesting the inhumane treatment of migrants on the border. It would mean insisting to those in power that migrants are human beings who deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. It would entail recognizing that American foreign policy is deeply intertwined with the various economic and political forces that drive migrants out of their home countries in search of a less violent and more economically stable life in the United States.
What would it mean for Christians to keep Christ in Christmas?
It would entail boldly accepting and defending the rights and humanity of members of the LGBTQ+. All members of the LGBTQ+ community deserve to be recognized as Children of God. As a proudly bisexual woman, I grew up believing that I was condemned to hell and that my attraction to men and women was an abomination. That caused me an incredible amount of pain and suffering. No one should be taught that they are an abomination to God because their sexual orientation or gender expression goes against opressive heteronormative standards.
Keeping Christ in Christmas would look like boldly affirming that Black Lives Matter and that state violence and institutional oppression against Black people needs to be eradicated. It looks like a recognition that America is built on the foundations of white supremacy and that discourses on “color blindness” are not an acknowledgement of this history but an erasure.
Keeping Christ in Christmas would look like a condemnation of the militarization of American society and the overuse of military action abroad. The militarization of American police and of the US-Mexico Border is endangering the lives of Black and Brown People, in order to provide white people a false sense of security. US military action abroad during the War on Terror has led to the deaths and maiming of hundreds of thousands of civilians (if not more). Not to mention that the official insistence that the US was making progress in Afghanistan were lies.
Keeping Christ in Christmas would mean advocating for healthcare for all, so that people do not have to choose between death and living a life with thousands of dollars of medical debt and an inability to gain access to life saving medicine?
Keeping Christ in Christmas would entail the insistence that people deserve access to affordable and adequate housing, to enough food to feed their families, and to a living wage. The distinctions between the “deserving poor” and the “undeserving poor” would be erased. The homeless would be viewed as Children of God instead of nuances to be forcibly moved from one city to another or from one state to another.
The cry to “Keep Christ in Christmas” has been used to ridicule people of different faiths or of no faith and it has feed into the false American Christian persecution complex. However, the phrase could be interpreted as a call to action.
If Christians truly want to “keep Christ in Christmas,” we can avoid getting into silly debates on semantics and instead focus on the marginalized, the oppressed, and the forgotten. Instead of worshiping an egoistical Christ that demands that retail workers say, “Merry Christmas,” we can worship a Christ that insists that everyone gets paid a living wage and treated with dignity and respect.