Anywhere from 79% to 87% of Americans identify themselves as religious, with the overwhelming majority being Christian. Not a single member of the U.S. Congress claims to be atheist, at least implying that 100% of Congress is religious. The overwhelming majority faith in Congress is Christianity. And yet, increasingly we hear that there is a war on Christianity in this country. My question: who exactly is waging this war?
On the official recess calendar for the U.S. Congress posted by the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs, the only official holiday listed is CHRISTmas. It is still legal for the Old Testament Ten Commandments to be displayed on government property. There are Congressional committee meetings that still begin with prayer (a Christian one, specifically), and you can bet that plenty of state legislatures open their sessions with a Christian prayer — Allah’s name is never invoked, you can bet your last BBQ sandwich on it.
The dominant holiday across the land, especially in the commercial arena, is Christmas. It has almost completely engulfed the national holiday of Thanksgiving (which still has strong overtones of Christianity — who are we thanking, after all?) and is extending its reach further back in the year to early November. Hanukkah is like a subdivision of the metro area of Christmas in this country. And forget Ramadan — it’s not even a hamlet out in the rural countryside compared to the big city of Christmas.
There are several cable television networks that feed Christian programming around the clock, and plenty of other cable networks include Christian programs or movies with clear Christian themes. Local affiliates broadcast Sunday morning church services in many areas of the country. There are loads of U.S. publishers that do nothing else than print Bibles and Christian literature.
Yet when someone decides that the prevailing presence of Christianity is not appropriate in a certain venue, particularly in a government setting, the angry reaction that has become so predictable now is “Christianity is under attack in America!” Really? Are the rights of Christians all across the nation being trampled on because some of us see the real value of separating Church and State? If some of us want to see a little more equality among religious practice in the U.S., or even a safe haven from religious practice for those with no faith, does that hinder Christians from going to church and worshiping just as they have been doing for generation after generation in America? Somehow, this just doesn’t feel quite like war.