TURES COLUMN: We’re losing the war on Christmas, but not in the way you think

Published 9:30 am Saturday, December 18, 2021

An Evangelical Pastor criticizes the “War on Christmas” as a false battle where victory is “easily declared because there was no fight, except in the overheated evangelical imagination.” But he’s not entirely correct. As the evidence shows, Christians are leaving churches in droves, a bitter defeat for America’s religions. Yet, it’s not the tiny rag-tag handful of atheists that are behind the decline in church membership. It’s more about what Christianity has become, or more accurately, what those who profess to control religious have done that seems to have drained parishioners from the pews.

“Christmas always comes around every year and fake victory follows,” writes Nathaniel Manderson in Salon. “At one point some years ago, former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly declared he had personally won this fight, saving Christmas for all real Americans.” Other politicians have also claimed that they alone have “saved Christmas” for us.

Evidence shows that they’re all wrong.

From the 1940s through 2000, church membership among U.S. adults was over 70 percent, or close to it, according to Gallup polling. It fell to the upper 50s over the next decade, inching up to about 61% in 2010. From then, it fell to about 55% from 2015-2016. Now, it’s down to 47% in 2020, and COVID-19 is not to blame. It’s not just about attendance. It’s about people pulling membership from organized religion.

Those who are quick to blame colleges for this are going to be in for a rude shock. That’s because college graduates have higher rates of church membership than those who don’t go to college, whose membership levels have plummeted. The “War on College” is destined to make America even less of a Christian nation.

I’m sure some will blame Democrats for this. But as Gallup reports “political independents have lower rates of church membership than Democrats do.”

“The enemy is said to be everywhere, yet somehow the fight is easily winnable,” Manderson writes. “You will hear a handful of folks who announce, ‘I proudly say Merry Christmas,’ as if some committee of socialists or feminists were trying to prevent them from saying it. It is difficult for me to imagine Jesus Christ walking around an American town saying, ‘Hey, where’s my nativity scene?’ It’s easier for me to imagine Jesus wondering why in this country so many people claim is a ‘Christian nation’ can ignore the plight of the poor, the sick and those newly arrived among us.”

I disagree with Manderson that the fight is easily winnable, since church membership is sinking to historic lows. There are plenty of Christians doing great things, from feeding the hungry, to providing clothing and shelter, as well as counseling and supporting those who are suffering, not just on the outside, but on the inside as well. Their many voices and good deeds are being drowned out by the hucksters and politicians who claim to be the ones representing the faith, doing their utmost to drive away so many away. I know some who think Christianity has become synonymous with authoritarianism because of these so-called leaders.

If you agree with me, and Pastor Manderson, that being a member of Christianity is about devoting yourself to serving others, and living a life of Jesus, please support their actions or highlight the stories of those who are doing so much for others in the community, to show what the Christmas season is really all about.