It’s December and with Christmas fast approaching a number of groups are speaking out to defend the holiday. This is the first of a three part series.
Here in the nation’s capital the brisk winter air is blowing, houses are starting to twinkle and the shopping season is in full swing because Christmas is coming and this year an unlikely rallying cry to save Christmas is coming from a segment of the Jewish population.
“Christmas parades have been replaced by Winterfests. Schools frown on Christmas decorations. Cities and towns have rechristened the municipal Christmas tree a ‘community tree.’ You’d have an easier time setting up a nativity scene in Saudi Arabia than in most public parks. And sales clerks wish us a ‘Happy Holiday!’ – as if we all celebrated something called ‘holiday’,” wrote syndicated columnist Don Feder in a recent commentary.
Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation, a group founded in April of this year by Don Feder and others, held a press conference on Thursday, Dec 1 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to defend the Christmas holiday. Despite the fact that Jews do not celebrate Christmas, Feder along with Michael Horowitz, Rabbi David Lapin and entertainer Jackie Mason spoke about why they believe the Christian holiday has come under such attack and why it should be protected.
Feder was an editorial writer for the Boston Herald, has authored two books with a third due out this year, practiced law and now runs a media consulting firm called Don Feder Associates; and his Web site is www.donfeder.com. He believes Christmas is under attack for three reasons: a tyranny of the hypersensitive have decided they have an “inalienable right” not to be offended, some have chosen to “interpret the First Amendment to exclude any public recognition of Christmas,” and a “subliminal urge on the part of the cultural elite to undermine America’s Judeo-Christian ethic.”
In their press conference Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation said unequivocally, “Enough already!”
Michael Horowitz, a lawyer, law professor and director of the Project for Civil Justice Reform and Project for International Religious Liberty at the Hudson Institute said that he is fighting for the celebration of Christmas for his grandchildren and their children so they can grow up with religious freedom instead of oppression.
“Protestants created separation of church and state. They wanted freedom to practice their religion in the public square,” said Horowitz who sees a discrepancy between the current interpretation of those words and the intention of the founders of America.
Horowitz also believes that the influence of Christianity on American culture has been a positive one overall, though not a perfect one. “If not for the rooted Christian principles in this country, we (Jews) would be lampshades and bars of soap,” said Horowitz.
Rabbi David Lapin, the founding Rabbi of the Pacific Jewish Center and president of Toward Tradition personalized his remarks addressing his great-grandfather who lived during a time when the Christian church was a threat to Jews. The Rabbi explained why Jews should now unite with Christians to protect Christmas, despite sins committed in past generations by the Christian faith against Jews like his great-grandfather.
Years ago, in Europe there were two choices: a utopian secularism and a sinister and rigid theocracy, but time has changed and there is now a choice between “a sordid spreading sinister secularism” and a “benign Christianity” said Rabbi Lapin. The secularism that is pushing out the celebration of Christmas and other religious activity has reached the point of an ardent fundamentalist faith and “they (secularism and religious freedom) cannot coexist,” Rabbi Lapin explained.
Entertainer Jackie Mason also made the point by conference call that Jews are not offended by “Merry Christmas’ or Christians’ celebration of the holiday anymore than others are offended by Jews celebrating Yom Kippur or Hanukah.
When asked how this anti-Christian cultural shift can be stopped, Horowitz said that “Truth and a measure of history can help separate the blind from the bigots.”
“If you’re offended by a municipal Christmas tree or Santa in a holiday parade or a manger in a park—Get over it. There’s a lot that offends me. That doesn’t give me the right to ban it,” said Feder, “The war on Christmas should matter to all people of faith—
and all people of good will.”
Julia A. Seymour is a staff writer for Accuracy in Academia.