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Made for Each Other The Children of the Welfare State

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Excluding Christianity Won't Work, Liberals

by Christopher Chantrill
December 14, 2003 at 7:00 pm


EVERY YEAR around Christmas, the left moves the yard markers a little further on its campaign to remove Christianity from the public square. This year, some tender shoots in the IU-Purdue University at Indianapolis School of Law, students and a professor on sabbatical, complained about a Christmas tree display in the lobby of the school. And at an unnamed department at the University of California, Davs, they have decided to rename the “Holiday” party as the “Annual” party.

They really are something, our liberals, aren’t they? If we celebrate something that liberals don’t like, then we have to stop because liberals feel excluded. But woe unto anyone who doesn’t celebrate what liberals want to celebrate. Because then you are a sexist, a racist, or a homophobe. Then you are too eurocentric, and lacking in sensitivity for other cultures and lifestyles. Then you are guilty of failing to celebrate diversity.

Remember back in the Seventies, when radical students were burning, baby burning, and feminists were the roughest, toughest kids on the block. Then they made a fuss out of being “in your face.” Now all of a sudden, liberals are desperately fragile. They might break if they have to pass by a Nativity scene or be confronted by a Christmas tree as they hurry through a lobby on the way out to Starbucks. What could have gone wrong? How could the robust demonstrators and activists have withered into the shrinking violets of today? Is it Rush Limbaugh? Is it Jerry Falwell? Who could have reduced our rambunctious rebels of yesteryear into simpering wallflowers?

Now it’s conservatives that are playing at Rambunctious Rebels. No sooner had the news broken about the excluded victims of IU Law School than talk show host Greg Browning organized a Christmas Tree Brigade to circle IU Law with trucks, vans, SUVs and Christmas trees. “HONK IF YOU/LOVE/CHRISTMAS TREES/END PC NOW” said one protester’s reader board.

Of course, conservatives should fight these hypocritical liberals and expose them to the klieg lights of ridicule and publicity. It is good for pusillanimous university bureaucrats to have to worry about angry conservatives; they should have to work for their pensions. But driving Christmas out of the public square is not going to help advance the progessive millennium. Tactically, it may score a few points, but strategically, it’s meaningless. After all, the American elite has never really liked Christmas anyway. A generation ago they pulled the plug on outdoor Christmas lights. It took a decade before outdoor lights came back, bigger than ever.

Nor will the elite succeed in defeating the target behind Christmas, enthusiastic Christianity. Christianity has never needed elite sponsorship. In fact, it seems to thrive on elite disapproval

In the eighteenth century, the powers-that-be strongly disapproved of the Great Awakening and the mesmerizing preaching of George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards. In the early nineteenth century they complained about the revivalism of Lyman Beecher and Timothy Dwight, and sneered at the uneducated Methodist circuit-riders who doubled the rate of church adherence in half a century. In the latter half of the nineteenth century the Protestant elite tried everything to head the Catholics off at the pass, including a frankly anti-Catholic public school system. So Archbishop “Dagger” John Hughes and the New York Irish built their own schools, and erected Saint Patrick’s Cathedral right on Fifth Avenue so that the Astors and the Morgans couldn’t miss it.

In our own time we have seen another eruption of Christian enthusiasm, beginning about the time in 1965 that Time magazine declared, a century after Nietzsche, that God was Dead.

Why is it, liberals, that after a century of your Social Gospel, people still flock to enthusiastic Christianity, and a new Pentecostal church opens in New York City every three weeks? Why is it that the Anglican Church in Nigeria has more members than in Britain and the United States together? Why is it that people in Latin America are increasingly walking past the Catholic Church next door to city hall in the Plaza de Armas to the storefront Iglesia Cristiana Pentecostes a couple of blocks away down a side street. Why have up to 80 million Chinese people started worshipping Christ in the “house church” movement?

While you are pondering that, why don’t you just leave Christmas alone? Otherwise in twenty years presidential candidate Chelsea Clinton may find herself echoing Howard Dean, and promising to take our Christmas trees back from Sean Hannity Jr. and Rick Warren Jr.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.

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presented by Christopher Chantrill

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