Christians and non-Christian Christmas
"Keep Christ in Christmas!" is the familiar refrain of Christians who fear the secularization of the holy day celebrating the birth of Jesus, their savior.
But in America, non-Christians often celebrate Christmas.
According to a recent poll by the Christian group LifeWay Research, "A majority of agnostics or those claiming no preference (89 percent), individuals claiming other religions (62 percent), and even atheists (55 percent) celebrate Christmas along with 97 percent of Christians."
Do you need to be Christian to celebrate Christmas? What is Christmas all about?
Christmas in modern America has certainly become a highly commercialized, secular holiday. Christians often fear that Santa and snowmen will replace Christ, as the holiday moves from its religious basis. Because of this, many people and organizations remind us to "keep Christ in Christmas."
Recent studies show that an overwhelming number of agnostics and non-Christians celebrate Christmas, and a majority of atheists do as well. Magician Penn Jillette, sort of a televangelist of atheism, recently ruminated over the situation. He misses the family gathering, but he feels Christian content of the holiday is still too strong for his family. He is true to his philosophy, but I feel sorry for what he is missing.
Over 20 years ago, when my wife and I first moved to Mississippi, we lived in faculty housing on the Ole Miss campus. Our neighbors were Muslim immigrants from Egypt, and like us they had young children. We became close friends.
Every year our town holds an Easter egg hunt for the children. As this approached, the woman of the house asked my wife about it. She wanted to figure out whether, as Muslims, her children should participate. She and my wife spoke about both the religious and secular aspects of Easter. Eventually, she decided to let her children take part (the father was not quite as certain about this, but that is between them).
The family is still Muslim, and we are still good friends. If it had not been for the secular Easter egg hunt, however, my wife would never have had this conversation with our neighbor, that family might not have understood the Christian view of Easter, and the children certainly would not have been exposed to the holiday in this same way.
"Keep Christ in Christmas" is a great reminder for Christians about "the reason for the season," but trying to put Christ into someone else's Christmas can chase them further away. Christmas, even as a secular celebration, is about family and loving others, things Jesus taught us to do. A family that celebrates Christmas, even in a non-religious way, is one step closer to finding Christ. As a Christian, I think that is a good thing.
Posted by: joe_allen_doty | December 24, 2010 10:35 PM
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Posted by: joe_allen_doty | December 24, 2010 10:32 PM
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