Cal Thomas: "War on Christmas" crusaders "might be more objectionable" than those saying "Happy Holidays"December 14, 2005 5:19 PM EST ››› SIMON MALOY
Nationally syndicated columnist and Fox News host Cal Thomas decried the "effort by some cable TV hosts and ministers to force commercial establishments into wishing everyone a 'Merry Christmas.' " While Thomas did not single anyone out by name, among those who have most aggressively promoted the notion of a "War on Christmas" are fellow Fox News personalities Bill O'Reilly and John Gibson and religious figures such as Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights president William A. Donohue and Moral Majority Coalition founder Rev. Jerry Falwell.
In his December 13 syndicated column, Thomas, a conservative Christian, wrote: "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." Thomas wrote:
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.
On the December 13 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, Thomas again voiced his concern:
CAVUTO: You're saying that, you know, the John Gibsons, the Sean Hannitys, the others are going too far in this thing. What do you mean?
THOMAS: I don't mention any names.
CAVUTO: Come on. Come on.
THOMAS: Hey, look, we shouldn't expect store clerks who are about the bottom line to wish whoever or whatever a "Merry Christmas," a "Happy Ramadan," a "Happy Hanukkah." They're there to make money, and the fact that they've cashed in on Christmas, which is about not the bottom line but the savior of the world. Not about lights on the tree, but the light of the world. And not about Xboxes, but about our sin boxes, if you will. Let them do what they do. But the people who actually revere the person who is supposed to be the reason for the season have a special way of worshipping and adoring him that have nothing to do with the crass commercialism --
CAVUTO: Yeah. But, Cal, this is not about the person behind the cash register, the person who's stocking toys. This has to do with the organizations themselves, the Wal-Marts and the big stores that seem to have an inherent policy not to say the words, "Merry Christmas."
THOMAS: I don't care, Neil! I don't care what they say! Their holidays are on April 1, April Fools' Day, OK? I won't mess with them if they don't mess with me. Let them do whatever they want. They're stores! They're selling stuff! They're increasing the bottom line.
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.
CAVUTO: If they're not saying it now, does that at all make a difference to you? Or are they just giving in to what was always their secular gut?
THOMAS: Look, I believe there are cultural problems in this country. I believe that, you know, people are celebrating Howard Stern being able to say whatever he wants, and they're trying to censor other language. I think people ought to be free to express themselves -- religiously, politically, matters of faith, matters of non-faith -- in the public square. I believe in all of those things. But we're talking about a very specific thing here, Neil, and that is whether just the mention by a store clerk or in the public square of the phrase "Merry Christmas," or even the word "Christmas," is reflective of something deeper. I don't think you can necessarily make that case.