Donald Trump's Christmas Dog Whistle

I loved President-Elect Trump's recent thank you rallies – decorated Christmas trees, a red "Merry Christmas" sign on his podium, and the way Trump himself wasted no time wishing his supporters a merry Christmas.

The Christmas plank of Trump's campaign was one of the first things that drew me to him.  How shallow of me, right?  ISIS is chopping off heads, our economy's circling the drain, Obamacare's imploding, and I'm worried about a holiday greeting.

But Trump's promise to bring back "Merry Christmas" has a much deeper message for Christians.  In politics, this kind of targeted message is known as a dog whistle.  The term comes from a high-pitched whistle used to train dogs, a sound only dogs hear, inaudible to humans.

For Christians, we hear that someone acknowledges the war on Christmas and is willing to fight back.  It's a promise to bring back the all but banned Christmas greeting, and that signals that we can openly celebrate our faith again, that the clouds of religious oppression will lift.

How did we get to this place where a simple greeting is politically prohibited in America?  Well, Christmas is celebrated or opposed today by three major groups: Christians, Christmas guests, and Christmas assassins. 

Christmas started with...well, with Christians.  For generations, Christians have celebrated the birth of their Messiah, Jesus Christ.  It's a special a time of joy, goodwill, family, and love.

Traditionally, Christmas Eve is the time for Christians to reflect, a midnight Mass or candlelight service where choirs sing "Ave Maria" or Christmas hymns like "Silent Night."  It's then, on the night before Jesus's birth, that His story is told.  Priests and pastors read accounts of a virgin mother, the babe in a manger, kings who followed the star of Bethlehem to bring gifts and worship the true King.  Children act out the Nativity in Christmas plays or sing carols in children's choirs. 

The next day, Christmas, is for celebration.  Amid the glittering decorations, children squeal with joy to find presents from Santa.  Families share sumptuous turkey feasts, gather around with mugs of eggnog, and platters of decorated cookies.  It's this party that brings the guests. 

Christmas guests love the setting, the sparkling ornaments; fresh scent of pine; gifts wrapped in bright paper with shiny, colorful bows; and Santa Claus, the magical secular symbol of Christmas that for many has replaced Christ as the focus of the holiday. 

It's like a birthday party for a special guest of honor.  The hall's full of streamers and balloons, friends and family gather for cake and ice cream, and an amazing magician dazzles the crowd with his magic.  The party favors are fabulous, and everyone has a great time.  In fact, everything is perfect.

Then the party's over, but the guests don't want it to end.  So they arrange to meet next year, same time, same place, and try to top the previous affair.  It becomes an annual gig, each year bigger, splashier, more over the top than the year before.  Absent the birthday boy, the guests exchange presents with each other as they celebrate the celebration. 

Don't get me wrong – I don't resent guests.  All are welcome.  The truth is all religions can and do share in the Christmas celebration.  A Pew Research Center survey found that 81% of non-Christians in the United States celebrate Christmas.  No surprise – who wouldn't want Christmas?

Well, the third group, the Christmas assassins, is who wouldn't want Christmas.  These are the atheists, politically correct establishment, school principals, and town mayors who fight any mention of God or Jesus.  Though most of their battles are straightforward – a court order or letter-writing campaign to schools or other organizations to remove any religious reference from public view – the assassins hit a wall with Christmas. 

First of all, Christmas is the holiday gold standard for retail, an entire season taking up a full two months of the year.  In fact, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is so named for accounting practices – red ink for negative, black for positive.  The Christmas season means big profits, stores out of the red, in the black.  So retail is understandably reluctant to rock the boat.

Secondly, people love Christmas.  They're not going to just stand by and have it taken away. 

So the assassins instead work to take Christ out of Christmas, to cannibalize the holiday.  After all, it's not the party they resent; it's the Jesus thing.  So they get court orders to remove crosses, statues, and Nativity scenes and outright oppose any reference to God or Jesus in speech or public displays.

But too many people sense that something's missing in a celebration that consists solely of presents and Santa.  The assassins realize there has to be some deeper meaning to replace Christianity, so they tout generic ideals, those that fit all sectors of the population.  Thus, the "good heart," "giving spirit," and "love" themes supplants Jesus and have the added benefit of making people feel good about the reworked holiday. 

Even that bastardization of the Christmas message isn't enough.  So the assassins work to destroy the symbolism.  Xmas becomes the abbreviation for Christmas, "Christ" strategically removed.  Christmas hymns like "Silent Night" and "We Three Kings" disappear from the public square, replaced by "Marshmallow World," "White Christmas," and other secular tunes.

And yes, the Christmas greeting has to go.  The assassins demand that "merry Christmas" be replaced with "happy holidays."  This move telegraphs that Christmas is nothing special, that we can't single out December 25, must meld it with the Hanukkah, with Kwanzaa, and with every other holiday.  Changing the greeting accomplishes two things: it takes Christ out of the equation, and it effectively removes Christmas as the reason for the season, at least as the only reason. 

This constant assault on Christmas wears on Christians.  We question why they won't leave us alone, why they censor our music, tableaus, stars, and angels.  Why they demand that shows like Charlie Brown Christmas be banned for daring to quote the Bible.  They even attack the classic A Christmas Carol because the last line reads, "God bless us, everyone." 

It takes only a couple of assassins to ruin it for everyone else, and they work tirelessly to douse the Christmas spirit, to kill Christmas.  Under the banner of free speech, they attack free speech.  Like the 9/11 terrorists who used our own planes to destroy our towers, these assassins use our own constitutional guarantee of religious freedom to destroy our religious freedom.

With Trump's Christmas dog whistle, he's promised we can once again say, "Merry Christmas" without making clerks look over their shoulders, or cause friends at a party to furtively check the room for other people's reactions.  He's assured us we now have a powerful ally to fight the assassins, and we'll no longer stand alone against the war on Christmas.

Oh, Christians and guests alike will still ooh and aah at the decorations, stuff ourselves on Christmas dinner, and spend too much on gifts.  We'll welcome the magic of Santa, the glitter and glitz of sparkling lights, the joy of sharing with those less fortunate, the unique giving spirit of the Christmas season. 

And for Christians, we'll share the true meaning of Christmas:

10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:10-14 KJV)

So thank you, President-Elect Trump, for fighting back, for sending the message that we'll be free to celebrate December 25 for what it is: the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

To President-Elect Trump, to all Americans, and to the world, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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