3 Misguided Claims of Attacks on Christmas

There is a tendency among some Christians to believe that people in the United States regularly attack and persecute Christians, and these claims intensify during Christmas season. Even an innocent design on a Starbucks coffee cup can lead to mass protest, as we saw a few years ago.

But there are three claims of attacks on Christians that show up every year, and they are all misguided.

Keep Christ in Christmas!

keep chi in xmas

Some Christians claim that we must put Christ back in Christmas, and this is somewhat understandable; when they see ‘Xmas‘ it seems as though Christ is deliberately crossed out of Christmas with a big, dark ‘X‘. Who would be so bold as to do such a thing! Well, actually it was early Christians.

I joined a Christian student group in college; a few months later the Christmas season was upon us and some suggested we promote a ‘Put Christ back in Christmas’ campaign as an objection against the term ‘Xmas’. I said, “Wait a minute guys; Christ is already in Xmas!” and explained the ancient use of the Greek letter ‘X’ (Chi) for ‘Christ’; there is nothing nefarious about it.

Most of the earliest Christians spoke Greek, where Christ is spelled ‘Χριστός’. So in writings they abbreviated words that began with ‘Christ’ as ‘X’ (‘Xian’ for example). So nobody crossed out the name of Christ with a big X. This is only a misunderstanding that seems to continue year after year.

Early Christians used other abbreviations as well.

XP – Chi-Rho. The Chi-Rho is another symbol for Christ. It comprises the first two letters of ‘Χριστός’ (Christos); the P is superimposed over the X to create a Christogram. We see the Chi-Rho in Christian contexts even today.

IXθYΣ. Who hasn’t ridden behind a car displaying these Greek letters inside the outline of a fish? The word IXθYΣ (sounds like Ickthoos) is Greek for ‘Fish’–a symbol used very early by Christians as a code indicating that they were Christian. The letters represent ‘Jesus Christ, Son (of) God, Savior’.

IHS (Iota, Eta, Sigma). Many churches use the symbol IHS composed of capitals of the first three letters of ‘Jesus’ in Greek (ΙΗΣΟΎΣ). It is found on communion wafers, altars, baptismal fonts, books, stained glass, and in other places.

INRI (Latin). The earliest abbreviation representing Jesus is found in the Bible itself, though it is not a Greek abbreviation but a Latin one. When Pilate had Jesus crucified, he ordered a placard nailed on the cross above his head bearing ‘INRI’, which in Latin stands for ‘Jesus the Nazarene King of the Jews’.

They Have Banned the Manger from the Courthouse!

First ACLU lawyer

Many county courthouses used to feature nativity scenes during Christmas, but this has changed a lot over the years. However, it is not due to anti-Christian persecution. The problem is that, in the United States, allowing a manger at the Courthouse when other religions are not allowed such displays constitutes establishment of religion, which is against the Constitution.

Some counties eliminate all religious displays rather than accommodating a variety of them. But this is not just a refusal of Christian displays but of all religious displays.

It is ‘Merry Christmas’ Not ‘Happy Holidays’!

x 001 happy holidays because im not a jerk

The claim here is that everyone should greet others with ‘Merry Christmas’ because ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’ and that wishing ‘Happy Holidays’ is specifically a persecution of Christians—a jab against Christianity. Every store, every shopper, and anyone else offering a holiday greeting should say ‘Merry Christmas’ instead of ‘Happy Holidays’ because this is the season when we observe the birth of Jesus.

This approach is misguided for a couple of reasons.

Jesus is the reason for the season. There is nothing wrong with believers emphasizing Jesus as the reason for the season; Jesus is certainly the reason for the season for me! But it is a mistake to imply that Christmas celebration has been hijacked for non-Christian purposes. Historically, it was actually Christians who hijacked Winter celebration for the purposes of the church and called it ‘Christmas’, which is fine.

I think it is great for us to celebrate and emphasize the coming of Jesus during the Christmas season, but we cannot demand that everyone do so.

‘Happy Holidays!’ is a form of persecution of Christians. I don’t know anyone who intends to attack Christianity by wishing ‘Happy Holidays’. ‘Happy Holidays’ is common for a very good reason—Christmas is not the only thing happening during the holiday season; there are many other holidays during the same period. Someone determined that there are 29 holidays during the season representing 7 major world religions. I don’t know about that, but I do know that Christians don’t OWN the holiday season; we share it.

So What Should We Do with this Information?

How about if we are just kind and considerate to other people during the holiday season? In the USA, Christians are by far the majority over any other religious group; yet we need not be stingy and clinging about the season. Everyone knows the birth of Jesus is the major focus of the celebration, but other things are happening as well.

Why can’t we share the holiday season and extend courtesy and good cheer to each other. We can wish ‘Happy Holidays’ knowing that not everyone we meet is celebrating what we are celebrating, just as others wish us ‘Happy Holidays’ for the same reason; I don’t hear Jewish people greeting strangers with ‘Happy Hanukkah’. Of course we can still say ‘Merry Christmas’ all we want; some people will reply the same way and some might not; but we aren’t being persecuted.

Let’s not worry about imagined persecution this year, and let’s be kind and considerate to everyone.

Jesus without Baggage exists to assist and support those questioning beliefs they have been taught in fundamentalist, traditional evangelical, and other groups. If you know someone who might find Jesus without Baggage helpful, feel free to send them the introductory page: About Jesus without Baggage.

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35 Responses to 3 Misguided Claims of Attacks on Christmas

  1. JJS says:

    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kevin says:

    Thank you for the education on the abbreviations! This is a great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Steve Hill says:

    “Let’s be kind and considerate to everyone.” A new concept for some folks. Nice article.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Even if you only look at holidays Christians celebrate, there are more than one. People said “Happy Holidays” for decades without any issues until a few employers required it.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. newtonfinn says:

    It’s so “un-Jesus-like” to be offended if people express the goodwill of the Christmas season in inclusive terms. Surely the real attack on Christmas comes in the form of commercialism and materialism, and Tim, in his usual style, cuts through the hypocrisy of the tribal form of Christianity, which can’t see the forest for the trees. As a Christmas gift to the readers of “Jesus Without Baggage,” let me offer an expanded view of the significance of the holiday and the meaning of the Christian life.

    https://newtonfinn.com/2011/12/15/the-harder-edge-of-christmas/

    May the richest, deepest blessings of this sacred season be showered upon all of the friends I meet on this precious blog, including, of course, the one who graciously invites us to gather here.

    Liked by 4 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Newton, thanks for sharing your perspective on the birth of Jesus. I particularly liked your description, “When he marched triumphantly into Jerusalem and cleansed the temple, recalling the revolutionary acts of the Maccabees, he was a dead man. The Roman officials and their cronies in the temple priesthood would not tolerate rebellious conduct in the volatile outpost of Israel. So the tiny baby ended up on a cross between two thieves, with a sign over his head mocking him as king of the Jews.”

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Chas says:

    For those who do not believe that Jesus the Son of God was the mythological Messiah, maybe we should take the Christ out of Christmas. Seasons greetings!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. tonycutty says:

    Well said, Tim!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Tom Johnson says:

    Well done, Tim! Thanks and Merry Xmas yourself!
    Tom Johnson

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Paz says:

    “Jesus is not just the reason for the season. He’s the reason for every day of our life.” – Unknown

    Love & Peace!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. fiddlrts says:

    Great post as usual.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great post Tim. I think what drives me nuts about all of these fake persecutions is that they are a distraction and an excuse for people to now actually live out being a Christian.

    Like

  12. Charlotte Robertson says:

    Lovely post Tim, thanks. Everyone here Merry (love that word) Christmas, blessed 2018 and happy holidays. Just thought I’d cover the lot.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. sheila0405 says:

    Excellent post, Tim.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. sheila0405 says:

    Excellent column, Tim! Merry Christmas. 🎄

    Liked by 1 person

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  16. Jared says:

    Love it! There are surely times and places and circumstances where Christianity comes under attack. But I feel modern American Christians in particular are too quick to cry wolf and play the martyr card! Christ promised us persecution, but that doesn’t mean we should handle it like babies!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Pingback: 3 Misguided Claims of Attacks on Christmas (Reblog) | Jesus Without Baggage

  18. MAS Images says:

    Fantastic post! I learned a lot on the Greek references. I will be spreading the points from this post around.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Charlotte says:

    Good post and Happy Holidays. I am always a bit baffled by the ‘merry’ in merry Christmas. Furthermore I wish everyone here a blessed 2019!

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Thanks Charlotte and Happy Holidays to you as well! I guess ‘merry’ Christmas is a bit baffling. Perhaps it is a Britishism like ‘God rest you merry gentlemen’.

      Like

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