Sometimes the American public will surprise you with its common sense. Consider the findings of a Pew Research Center poll published this month: More than half of Americans simply don’t care whether they’re greeted in stores and businesses with “Merry Christmas” or a more generic “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings.”
The percentage of people who don’t care has grown, from 46 percent in 2012 to 52 percent this year. About a third of Americans, including most Republicans, prefer “Merry Christmas,” but that’s down 10 points in five years. About 15 percent of Americans prefer a generic greeting.
A Politico.com study of the “War on Christmas” dates its inception to a segment on Bill O’Reilly’s show on Dec. 7, 2004.
“All over the country, Christmas is taking flak,” O’Reilly said. “In Denver this past weekend, no religious floats were permitted in the holiday parade there. In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg unveiled the ‘holiday tree,’ and no Christian Christmas symbols are allowed in the public schools. Federated Department Stores - that’s Macy’s - have done away with the Christmas greeting ‘Merry Christmas.’”
O’Reilly blamed it on the “secularist progressive” agenda that included gay marriage, partial-birth abortion, euthanasia, legalized drugs and income redistribution through higher taxation. He claimed it was a plot to “destroy religion in the public arena,” as “happened in Canada.”
The next year, then-Fox News host John Gibson published a book with the self-explanatory title, “The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought.”
Here we are, 13 years later, and O’Reilly has been fired because of various sexual harassment claims, Gibson has been relegated to the outer reaches of the Fox commentariat.
The Pew Survey found fewer Americans celebrating Christmas today as a religious, rather than a cultural holiday.
And while 56 percent of those polled say the religious aspects of Christmas are emphasized less in American society today than in the past, relatively few are bothered by this trend. They see a larger truth.
Recall that in “A Christmas Carol,” Charles Dickens describes how Scrooge learned, from some secularist progressive ghosts, to be kind to people and care for the poor, “and he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.”