A Very Merry ______mas To You!
Johnson County Kentucky Superintendent of Schools, a Mr. Salyer, being a good government employee sent out a directive that censored from an elementary school play the ______mas story as recorded in the Gospel of Luke. It was “Charlie Brown’s ______mas” that had the Bible passage censored. The students were instructed to be silent during that part of the story. The government wants to make sure that the students in school do not hear about the angel’s message to shepherds long ago that a Savior had been born. That would be a violation of some kind of Constitutional mandate that the founding fathers didn’t know they had written. Mr. Salyer is a good government employee. He furthers the State’s agenda. Neutral, you know, about the religion thing. Keep God out. (Somehow keeping God out doesn’t seem like a neutral position, but maybe that’s just me.)
For years and years ______mas plays have been performed in public schools. When I was in elementary school we would see a movie of puppets that portrayed the whole story of the birth of the Savior. But that was before the ACLU enlightened us about the part of the Constitution that the founders did not know they wrote.
It may be to my shame, or perhaps to genuine cultural lag, but when I heard the title of the play I had to go to YouTube to find out what it was about. So I watched an animated narration of Charles Shultz’s story. It went along famously with the Peanuts cartoon characters, until they came to the part where Linus quotes Luke. Then, and I could hardly believe what happened, the narrator went silent. No voice. The words of Luke scrolled across the bottom of my screen, but no narrator. When Linus said to Charlie something about that being the real meaning of ______mas, the narrator found his voice again. I guess he was protecting little ears whose eyes could not yet discern the meaning of the words.
The news from Kentucky did turn out to be bittersweet. During the performance, when the students dutifully went silent as per the instructions from the good government employee, Mr. Salyer, parents and others in the audience supplied the words. They quoted Luke. Out loud! According to some reports, it brought tears to the eyes. That’s the sweet part. The bitter part is that we are on notice about how this government views anything to do with the real meaning of ______mas. It’s holidays, trees, and whatever, but don’t officially say it has to do with the story of the One who was born in Bethlehem, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.
Turning to a more congenial view of God, (or Allah, the generic Arabic for God, we are told) a public school class in Greenville, Virginia was assigned to write in calligraphy the phrase “There is no god but Allah” in Arabic. When parents complained, school superintendent Dr. Eric Bond explained that it was not “an attempt at indoctrination to Islam or any other religion, or a request for students to renounce their own faith or profess any belief.”
With such a broadminded view of school activities, Dr. Bond of Virginia could perhaps give Mr. Salyer of Kentucky a call and explain how this works. If you write it but don’t say it, that is fine with the government, but if you say in a play what ______mas is really about (real history, and that kind of thing) then you will be censored. Maybe my mind doesn’t work well with these kinds of nuances but to me something does not exactly add up here.
Perhaps a lesson in logic may be in order to help us. At least logic may be of help for Wheaton professor Larycia Hawkins, who claims that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. If that is so, then why does Muslim spokesman Abu Musaab Wajdi Akkari say that wishing someone a Merry ______mas “is worse than fornication and drinking alcohol and killing someone”? Because he does not believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity. The Muslim god, according to their clear doctrine, has no son.
Here is the logic: A + S does not equal A. God who has a Son does not equal God who has no Son. Some Christians get that. Almost all Muslims do. But too many professing Christians haven’t even thought through the implications of what they are saying. Logically, Christians and Muslims do not worship the same deity. So why is it fine with the government to have children write a Muslim statement but it is not fine with them to verbalize the historic meaning of ______mas?
This is just speculation, but perhaps the people in power who are so intense on defending Muslims have an intuitive understanding of the difference and have chosen sides. It does not appear they are on the side of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, whose Son became incarnate on that night long ago. As far as He is concerned, they are like those the prophet Zechariah spoke to. “But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone lest they should hear the law” (Zech. 7:11,12a).
It was heartening to learn that professor Hawkins was put on leave by Wheaton College until she sorts out her beliefs. It was slightly disappointing that the college did not find that out before she was there long enough to become tenured. You would hope that an evangelical school would find out what beliefs were held by those they were hiring. But academia has been notoriously lax in matters of belief, which is why such institutions as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, once very clearly Christian in purpose and training, are now unrecognizable from the viewpoint of their beginnings. All it takes is a compromise here and there and eventually the faculty ruins the institution.
The compromises that have been tolerated by educational institutions have made their way into the mainstream of popular thinking. We are in perilous times. But that does not mean we must follow what is popular. We can stand for the truth. We can keep the faith. We can honor the Savior, not only in deed but also in word. Forget the PC. Merry CHRISTmas!!
(Full disclosure- I checked other read-along books on YouTube that had the Bible passage included. In fact, when I went back several days later and tried to find the version without the narrated passage I could not find it. Perhaps YouTube got some feedback?)