This holiday season some religious and political conservatives have decided to try and force retail businesses to wish customers a “Merry Christmas” instead of the more inclusive “Happy Holidays”. See the post “Have a Merry Christmas… Or Else!”.
Cal Thomas, a conservative columnist, has gone against his conservative brethren. Both in a recent column and on the FOX News Channel, Thomas complained about the efforts in support of “Merry Christmas”. In his column titled “Not so silent night”, Thomas writes:
The effort by some cable TV hosts and ministers to force commercial establishments into wishing everyone a “Merry Christmas” might be more objectionable to the One who is the reason for the season than the “Happy Holidays” mantra required by some store managers.
I have never understood why so many Christians feel the need to see and hear “Merry Christmas” proclaimed to them at stores by people who may not believe its central message. While TV personalities, junk mail letters and some of the ordained bemoan the increasing secularization of culture; perhaps some teaching might be helpful from the One in whose behalf they claim to speak.
I do not care if a mall employee wishes me a “Merry Christmas,” or not, or if mall managers favor snowpersons over manger scenes, or erect trees they call “holiday” and not “Christmas.” It isn’t about their observing this event, giving us a “religious rush” and creating a false sense of security that culture is better than it is. It is about people who believe in this historic event observing it in a way that recalls the birth of the Savior of the world (not the savior of the bottom line): silently, wondrously and worshipfully.
Let the world get drunk at its office parties. Let it consume material things, pile up credit card debt and embrace other trappings of this counterfeit “Christmas” road show. I prefer the “original cast.”
Thomas also stated the same view on December 13th, on the Fox News Channel show “Your World with Neil Cavuto”, when he was asked if he was troubled by the lack of “Merry Christmas”:
CAVUTO: Cal, you’re a deeply religious man. I know you personally, and you’re one of the most decent guys I know. Now, do you, when you go searching for Christmas cards and have a tough time finding Christmas cards, or go to stores and have a tough time even hearing the word “Christmas,” does that bug you as a religious guy?
THOMAS: [laughs] Not at all, Neil. I’m not expecting it there. I hear it in church. That’s fine. That’s no problem for me.
Of course this isn’t the first time that Cal Thomas has expressed views contrary to religious conservatives who want to force Christianity into all the nooks and crannies of public life. In a column in 2000, he took religious conservatives to task in comments on a US Supreme Court ruling that prohibited prayer at high school football games:
Conservative Christians ought to stop looking to the state for permission and validation and start looking to God for their commission and marching orders. With this kind of faith, they won’t have to petition government. Government will petition them to find out why what they’re doing works.
If and when they do, they will find they are exerting real influence. They will stop believing that public displays of their faith are changing anything, from the outcome of football games to the transformation of culture.
From: Court, Jesus agree on public prayer by Cal Thomas of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate. Jun 22, 2000
So we may not agree with everything Cal has to say but at least on this issue he gets it.