barbarahowardweb.gifChristians all over the world have celebrated Dec. 25 as the birthday of Jesus Christ – the center of their religion for hundreds of years. 

In fact, Christianity has been recognized as a religion since the mid-first century, becoming the dominant religion in the western world by the fourth century.

Even from the beginning, Christians were subjected to various types of persecution that seem to manifest themselves today, over 2,100 years later, with the assault on Christianity and all its symbols in the U.S.

It used to be alright to say Merry Christmas. Now, we have to be so politically correct that people want you to say, “Happy Holidays,’’ just so you don’t “offend” someone who is not Christian.

It is estimated that there are between 1.5 billion and 2.1 billion Christian believers in the world, representing over a third of its population.

Now mind you there are several other holidays that are celebrated during the same time we Christians celebrate our holy day.

Jews celebrate Hanukkah, the “Festival of Lights,” over eight days, Judaism’s symbol of the nine-branched Menorah has one candle lit each night and an extra candle lit as a “Shamash,” otherwise known as a guard or servant.  It is estimated that there are 13.2 million Jews in the world, 41 percent of whom are thought to live in Israel.

But in America, almost 80 percent (76.5 – 78.5 percent, according to a 2002 Pew Global Attitudes Project study) of us are Christians with only about 5.5 percent, according to a December 2007 American Religious Identification Survey, as non-Christian religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and others).

In the South, where I come from, commonly known as the “Bible Belt,” an estimated 86 percent of the population is made up of acknowledged Christians.

So please tell me why there is such an effort to push us away from celebrating our most holy day, the birthday of Jesus Christ, in the manner in which we have become accustomed?

When someone wished me a Happy Holiday, I responded with a Merry Christmas, and he was so elated that someone finally had the courage to stay true to the season.  But then someone else groaned in disgust, saying “What about Happy Hanukkah or Happy Kwanzaa?”

Well, what about Hanukkah?  Nobody insists that Jews change their sacred celebration or symbols to be more politically correct for Christians, so why must Christians change their symbolic responses for them?

And Kwanzaa, while a great expression of African principles, was created in 1966 by Ron Karenga, who saw Christianity as another form of control and genocide for black folk, formerly enslaved Africans. 

It was, quite frankly, the same attitude about birth control and abortion when it came to black folk, but you see how long that lasted as, 40 years later, there is an abortion clinic run by Planned Parenthood in almost every black community, and a push by Democrats to make every state in the union give a female black child the only “right” a child can have as a child, and that is the right to have an abortion without the expressed consent of a parent.

My, my, my – how far we’ve come – and not necessarily in the right direction.

At least Karenga was not as sacrilegious as some of his peers are nowadays.  He celebrated Kwanzaa after the birth of Jesus, from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1.

So are we Christians going to continue to bow down to the 15 percent of Americans who are “offended” by our expression of our religious beliefs as are our great, intelligent, well-meaning, all-knowing Congress who were such wise men and women that they passed legislation recognizing almost every conceivable religion, except Christianity?

Or are we going to exercise our God-given right to celebrate our holy day the way we want – without persecution?

If you are not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and believe that Christ is your Savior, then you should loudly proclaim that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.”

As for me and my house, it is Merry Christmas.  Not Happy X-mas.  Not Happy Holidays. It is Merry Christmas.

And if you are offended, then tough.  Sue me. 

But for everybody else, have a very, MERRY CHRISTMAS.

Barbara Howard is president of Barbara Howard & Associates and the Florida state chair for C.O.R.E. (the Congress of Racial Equality).