The time of year has come again where Christians all over the US are proclaiming that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” and that they intend to “Keep Christ in Christmas” in response to what many view as a secularization of a holiday that is solely dedicated to the birth of their Christ. This claim being erroneous has done nothing to stifle the annual fervor many believers get caught up in when a retailer uses “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas”- many of the same people that I’ve sat down to discuss the pagan and secular origins of this holiday continue making the same chants every year.
This year, rather than discussing the pagan origins of the Christmas holiday (and others) or going off on yet another rant about how frustrated this whole thing makes me I’m going to ask that the members of the Christian faith that are reasonable enough to know that they don’t have a monopoly on holidays during the winter months hold the less scrupulous believers around them accountable for their words and actions. I’ve made this plea before – but in this instance it is a matter of timing.
This year, unlike previous years, I want to hear more believers discussing openly and condemning the right-fighting and hate mongering that occurs within their own community. I want to hear pastors talking about the fact that other holidays exist around this time and that it is perfectly OK for a retailer to try to include different faiths in their advertisements (and if the pastor really wants to impress me, they could talk about how the alleged Jesus wasn’t a consumerist or about how the early church was indeed a Socialist structure)
During my lengthy discussions with pastors and believers that I’m friends with I’ve noticed that there is a tendency for intelligent and critically thinking people within the Christian community to be far too silent and unwilling to challenge the many voices of irrationality, anger, and malcontent. In a prime example of the squeaky wheel getting all the oil, I believe that the good people within the community of all faiths are being outnumbered and over-encumbered by the numbers and the volume of those that fail to meet the standards of intelligence – unfortunately I can’t do anything to fix that outside of my own community identity and the task of repairing this problem lies directly at the feet of the silent thinkers within the church.
Much like Islam is most often associated with extremism or terrorism, Christianity is most often associated with closed minded bigotry, hypocrisy, and creationism. While many of these objectionable things are often very much a part of these faiths – one must wonder whether or not they present a majority of those that identify with these faiths. If this is the case then there must be some sort of obligation for those well reasoned and kind hearted believers to attempt to enforce change from within – or to move without to make something better. If, and I hope this is the case, the majority of believers are well reasoned and merely suffering cognitive dissonance in one single area of their lives – I think it’s well time to speak up and become considerably louder than their embarrassing counterparts.
If Fred Phelps, Pat Roberson, Jerry Falwell, and their less famous equivalents don’t represent the faith that you hold dear then you have a job to do in repairing the damage they’ve done in the name of your god. If ignorant Christians that want to monopolize a holiday season with rhetoric and hate don’t represent your faith, then it’s time to speak up and show the world around you – including the very believers we are discussing here, the error of their ways. If you are tired of being grouped in with bigots and hate mongers then it’s time to change that image or remove yourself from the association you hold with those people. I can think of no better time to begin than during the holiday season (except maybe the political season).
Begin correcting your pastors and your fellow believers when they are wrong. Make people accountable for the words they say and the claims they make. The next time someone makes an egregious claim or sensationalizes a portion of a fact – call them out on it. If you decide to take up this cause…good luck.