Christmas is almost here and the signs of the season are all around us.
Atheists are suing to have manger scenes removed from town squares. School boards are banning the mention of Christmas in the classrooms. Teachers are told that they can’t have any symbols of Christmas near their students. That includes every thing, from Nativity scenes to Styrofoam Santas.
Christmas carols cannot be sung in school assemblies, and even the color red is banned in some public schools because it might be misconstrued as a symbolic Christmas color. Perhaps we should repaint all the fire extinguishers in the hallways to something other than red.
According to Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, the conifer formerly known as a Christmas tree will now be called a holiday tree. Oh goodie, now we can use that big green decorated dust collector for Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and Thanksgiving, as well as the "Day in December" that shall remain nameless.
This new "Christmas Spirit" has even reached Capitol Hill, where Congressional franking priveledges will no longer extend to the mailing of Christmas cards to constituents; holiday cards, on the other hand, are OK. Kind of begs the question, "Why should taxpayers have to pay for the mailing of any greeting card from an elected official?" But I digress.
One would presume these "signs of the season" might be the rule if we were in an athiestic country, like the former Soviet Union or modern-day China. But we should expect the United States to be different.
Since 80 percent of Americans claim to be Christians, we should expect that most would be deeply offended by these assaults on our most important religious Holyday. Even non-Christians who consider themselves patriotic Americans should be upset knowing that the Judeo-Christian principles upon which this country was founded are being ignored by our educational system and scorned by elected officials who should be protecting them.
But most people don’t seem to care. More the pity.
This is not the way it should be, nor is it the way it used to be. We used to know what Christmas was all about and why we celebrate it. We listened to and sang Christmas Carols such as "O Little Town of Bethleham," "It Came upon a Midnight Clear" and "Silent Night."
Now, if we listen to FM radio, we hear the likes of "Jinglebell Rock" and "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" three or four times each hour.
For me, the real spirit of Christmas reached its peak on Christmas Eve in 1968, when the three astronauts aboard Apollo 8 recited from Genesis, and Frank Boremen closed by saying, “Merry Christmas and God bless all of you ... all of you on the good Earth.”
Back then, no one complained that the astronauts in our federally funded space program had unequivocally acknowledged that God created the Earth and then tied it all together with Christmas, which celebrates the birth of God incarnate.
Interestingly, if you look at the National Air and Space Museum’s website, you will find all the details of the Apollo 8 mission, except for the Christmas message from the crew.
The website also doesn't make any mention that humankind’s first pass around the moon occurred on Christmas Eve. That part of history seems to have been conveniently forgotten.
This whole thing is wrong. The United States of America has been blessed by God from its very beginning.
We used to be humble and appreciative enough recognize that. We became the greatest nation on Earth because we acknowledged the fact that our greatness doesn’t come from us, but from God, who generously gave us the capacity to be great.
I, for one, will continue to celebrate Christmas and acknowledge the birth of Jesus Christ, and I pray that I will somehow gain the capacity to be grateful enough for all that His life, death and resurection means to all of us.