Dispatches from the Creation Wars

The Real War on Christmas

Bruce Wilson has an article at the Huffington Post that details the history of the real war on Christmas – the one perpetrated by Christians. And not just Christians, but the very Protestant reformers that form the intellectual ancestry of most of the fundamentalist movements that cry about the alleged war on Christmas today.

But how did the “War on Christmas”, as a concept, originate ? As it happens, once upon a time there was a real “War on Christmas” and it was initiated by the theocratic Christian right of its day, Swiss Calvinists and Scottish Presbyterians. Here’s a short overview:

The “war on Christmas” traces back, historically, to Calvinist bans on the celebration of Christmas which began in Geneva and then migrated, with the spread of Calvinist theological views, to Scotland, where Christmas was banned in 1583.

Ironically, the ban on Christmas in Scotland was only lifted in the 1950s, around the same time that the “war on Christmas” meme was getting started in the United States.

By the America of the early 1960’s, American Christian right groups such as Billy James Hargis’ Christian Crusade, which was at least heavily Christian nationalist if not overtly theocratic, had appropriated the notion of a “war on Christmas” as a means of red-baiting the American left ( see section, below ). But the true, historical War on Christmas was a creation of the Protestant, theocratic right.

According To Billy James Hargis’ 1960 “Crusader” article [below], published during dark days leading up to the Cuban Missile Crisis, during which communism was held to be stealthily advancing via liberal Protestant churches and the machinations of Hallmark Greeting Cards and UNICEF, Christmas was also then under siege from the left. But in 1960, the religious right’s war on the alleged war on Christmas got started much earlier in the season than is now customary.

Of course, this meme really took hold in the last few years, primarily as a fundraising pitch from religious right groups like the AFA and Liberty Counsel.