christmas celebrations
Reading Time: 7 minutes (Jorge Dominguez
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Hi and welcome back! This holiday season, we’ve seen way more belligerence out of white evangelicals than usual. Yes, they’re more outraged than ever that they can’t control what every single human being on Earth thinks about Christmas. They’re 1000% certain that we’re missing out on the full meaning of Christmas because we don’t celebrate the holiday the same way they do. So today, let’s find out just what ‘Christ’ adds to ‘Christmas,’ what happens when he’s removed from the festivities, and why evangelicals are so angry about secular Christmas celebrations.

christmas celebrations
(Jorge Dominguez

Jesus Flavoring For EVERYTHING.

tweets from christians trying to lay claim to christmas
Just a couple of tantrums from entitled, self-important Christians who forgot all about the Greatest Command.

Since about the 1970s, white evangelicals have been trying their hardest to inject as much Jesus flavoring into their lives as humanly possible. That process particularly includes holidays!

Americans have skewed more and more secular with each passing year, though. Along the way, white evangelicals have made a tradition out of their annual Tantrum on Christmas. But lately, that traditional tantrum has grown more and more strident. It’s like they’re personally offended that someone, somewhere celebrates Christmas in a way they don’t approve!

Their reactions have been absolutely priceless examples of entitlement and unwarranted self-importance.

For example, Billy Graham’s website writer recently answered a question from an atheist regarding Christmas. (I’m sure this letter came from an absolutely real atheist. Yep yep.) The website snootily informs the letter writer (LW) that celebrating the holidays without Christian belief is “like going to a birthday party and ignoring the person who’s having the birthday!”

Then, the website declares that if the LW converts, then they’ll “truly have a reason to celebrate Christmas.” That exhortation sure sounds like whoever wrote this response doesn’t think non-Christians “truly” have any reason to celebrate the holidays.

We find the same sentiment among many of the rank-and-file evangelical flocks as well, though they’re usually smart enough not to talk about it. (Here’s one Christian who apparently wasn’t.)

And Kirk Cameron famously made a really awful sorta-movie in 2014 shoehorning his religious beliefs into every single aspect of Christmas. Even other Christians don’t approve of the consumer orgy he recommended so wholeheartedly in Saving Christmas.

A Fully Religious Christmas Without Secular Embellishments.

My family, growing up, was extremely Catholic. We had a roster of Christmas rituals we practiced every year. We’d go to a special church service called Midnight Mass (or Christmas Vigil) on Christmas Eve. My grandparents had a very old Child Jesus of Prague doll that’d been in the family for many years. They’d dress the doll up in special Christmas robes for the holidays. (The doll also had vestments for other big Catholic occasions.) In later years, my aunt the nun used to like to take us all to visit the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for their Christmas concert at a nearby big Mormon temple that looked like the Disneyland castle.

So I had way more religious elements in my holiday experience than most Christians do. Very few families do any of that stuff anymore.

Even fewer evangelical families do, I’d reckon. When I became evangelical, my Jesus-flavored Christmas celebrations shrank to a church service on Christmas Eve and then again on Christmas Day. (My church usually did some kind of pageant play. Eventually, that custom ended — largely thanks to Biff.)

So if you take all the secular elements from Christmas, what you’ve got left is a church service. Maybe you’d get a religious play or a choir presentation.

A 100% religious Christmas would not look anything like Christmas for most people. Most Christians would reject it.

(That said, some groups go this route.)

Inventing Jesus-Flavored Christmas Customs.

Kirk Cameron’s abysmal mangling of history aside, completely religious Christmas celebrations would contain no tree, no ornaments, no presents, no feasting, no downtown strolls to look at pretty lights, no caroling, nothing.

There’d be a church service, a choir performance, and maybe a religious play.

Maybe that sad, hollowed-out result is what led evangelicals to invent more Jesus-flavored customs for the holiday. The cringiest one I’ve seen involves baking Jesus a birthday cake. We don’t even have any idea when Jesus might have been born, but since when has anything stopped evangelicals from making stuff up as they go along?

Some of these cakes even involve enough food coloring to produce quite a festive after-effect a few hours later in the bathroom, too, because evangelicals aren’t happy unless they’re going overboard on tortured metaphors. This link explains it all:

  • Chocolate, because everybody sins. And sinfulness is dark, right? Ai yi yi…
  • Red coloring, for Jesus’ blood. That’s a lovely thing to remind someone about on their birthday.
  • White frosting to represent the cleanliness of a newly-forgiven soul.
  • Green to tell Christians to grow up to be as much like Jesus as possible.
  • Yellow star decorations to commemorate the Star of Bethlehem.

That page’s writer says that as she watched her young son eating his cake she felt joy at the idea of him “filling up on something a little bit more than red dye and high fructose corn syrup.” She tells us (emphasis hers), “This cake is not only super yummy, but also it SHARES THE GOSPEL.”

It doesn’t, though. Like, at all. It’s just a box-mix cake with tons of food coloring to push a really bad metaphor onto a child too young — and too vulnerable — to reject it.

Ya know, every time I think evangelicals have managed to wreck any given custom as completely as they possibly can, along comes another one to tell me to hold their Bible. I haven’t seen Jesus birthday cakes make much of an inroad, though. The holiday already contains plenty of customs and fun without it.

A Fully Secular Christmas.

Meanwhile, if you celebrate a purely secular Christmas, you have the tree, the ornaments, presents, feasting, downtown strolls to look at lights, caroling, and everything else. It looks, in every single way, exactly like a traditional regular Christmas holiday.

The religious elements of Christmas were never the highlights of the holiday at all. The highlights consisted of stuff like seeing my family, being together and happy in our company, exchanging presents, and doing stuff as a family like picking out and decorating a tree, shopping for and wrapping presents, sending cards and thank-you notes, helping cook the holiday feast, watching silly Christmas specials on TV, and all that fun stuff.

It’s no accident at all that Kirk Cameron, in constructing his revised history, did it in a way that’d allow him to indulge fully in all the gloriously-secular customs that have sprung up around Christmas.

He and evangelicals like him want their full Christmas experience — but they also want to think of it as completely Jesus-flavored when it isn’t.

The truth still remains:

A fully secular Christmas still looks completely like Christmas.

Ignoring the Greatest Command.

I’ve been told that as an atheist I shouldn’t celebrate Christmas. That sometimes hurts: I love Christmas. [. . .] I just don’t believe in the story that is being celebrated. And I obviously don’t believe in Santa anymore.

Tash Williams, an atheist who
has experienced “Christian love”

Losing their perceived stranglehold on Christmas has unhinged white evangelicals. Instead of just loving their neighbors and being a good example after that loss, these Christians have chosen instead to declare metaphorical war on everyone who dares celebrate their holidays in a purely secular fashion. The more belligerently they behave, the more hurtful they can act, the more they think they’re totally winning this one-sided, unnecessary, completely backfiring war.

That’s why Kirk Cameron was out there during a serious spike of the pandemic last week having maskless caroling sessions. It’s also why a lot of his fellow evangelicals joined him for this tasteless, crass display of contempt. They’re downright enraged that nobody cares what they think anymore.

So they’ve chosen to act out by pissing all over Christmas like they’re marking territory. They act like they seriously think that if they can just put an indelible claim of ownership on the holiday, then everyone else must celebrate it only in the way they like best — or else go without it.

Just imagine all those poor atheists and pagans and all the rest. They’re now deprived of Christmas because jealous, grabby Christians have marked it as their own! Aww, lookit them all going around all sad-faced and forlorn! Poor dears! If they want Christmas trees and lights and caroling, then they must comply with evangelicals’ demands!

It’s just so hilarious, and it’s already backfiring hard on them. Their territoriality and nastiness betrays the truth about them.

Christmas Shows Us the Truth About Christianity.

Evangelicals’ obvious hatred for their enemies outshines any simpering they try to do about their Lord of Love. Their unalloyed giddy joy at hurting others, trampling them, destroying them, punishing them, completely obliterates any hint of their god being a Prince of Peace. Their religion is Jesus-flavored authoritarianism, and nothing more. We are completely in the right to reject it and them — and to celebrate Christmas however we choose.

They never owned it; they will never own it. Nobody does. That’s part of its charm. It is for everyone.

It might seem ironic that it’s a season of goodwill toward all people and peace on Earth that brings out the real truth about Christianity. But I don’t think it’s ironic.

No, it’s entirely appropriate.

There’s just so much love and goodwill in the air that we can finally perceive clearly how little kindness and compassion can be found in Christianity — especially in evangelicalism.

And there’s something truly wondrous about the idea of millions of people celebrating the holidays in whatever way they like best without caring what these TRUE CHRISTIANS™ have to say about the matter. I guess we’re all just so used to them hating us and trying to hurt us that it’s not like they can bring anything to bear here that we haven’t already seen and handled many times already.

Any time they manage to outdo themselves, as Kirk Cameron and his merry band of COVIDiots are lately, all it does is make them look worse — and it’ll hurt their sales even more in the future, I guarantee it.

NEXT UP: LSP! And then, yet another major evangelical leader turns out to be a sex abuser. His closest associates refused to take accusations against him seriously for a reason that’s all too common in Christianity. We’ll check that out on Tuesday. See you tomorrow!

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ROLL TO DISBELIEVE "Captain Cassidy" is Cassidy McGillicuddy, a Gen Xer and ex-Pentecostal. (The title is metaphorical.) She writes about the intersection of psychology, belief, popular culture, science,...