How the ‘War on Christmas’ Controversy Was Created
It’s that time of year again, folks. It’s time for the War on Christmas.
又到了一年中的这个时候，伙计们。圣诞之战(War on Christmas)到了。
What is that, you may ask? The short answer: a sometimes histrionic yuletide debate over whether the United States is a country that respects Christianity.
For the longer answer, keep reading.
The idea of a “War on Christmas” has turned things like holiday greetings and decorations into potentially divisive political statements. People who believe that Christmas is under attack point to inclusive phrases like “Happy Holidays” as (liberal) insults to Christianity.
For more than a decade, these debates have taken place mainly on conservative talk radio and cable programs. But this year they also burst onto a much grander stage: the presidential election.
At a rally in Wisconsin last week, Donald Trump stood in front of a line of Christmas trees and repeated a campaign-trail staple.
“When I started 18 months ago, I told my first crowd in Wisconsin that we are going to come back here some day and we are going to say ‘Merry Christmas’ again,” he said. “Merry Christmas. So, Merry Christmas everyone. Happy New Year, but Merry Christmas.”
“当我在18个月前起步的时候，我在威斯康星州告诉第一批支持我的群众，有一天我们将会回到这里，再次说起‘圣诞快乐’(Merry Christmas)，”他说。 “圣诞快乐。所以，大家圣诞快乐。新年快乐，但是，圣诞快乐。”
Christmas is a federal holiday celebrated widely by the country’s Christian majority. So where did the idea that it is threatened come from?
What is “The War on Christmas?”
The most organized attack on Christmas came from the Puritans, who banned celebrations of the holiday in the 17th century because it did not accord with their interpretation of the Bible.
Fast forward 400 years, and the idea of a plot against Christmas gained wide publicity when Fox News promoted a 2005 book by a radio host, John Gibson, that alleged liberal antagonism toward the holiday, according to Dan Cassino, a professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
时间快进到400年后，根据费尔里·迪金生大学(Fairleigh Dickinson University)教授丹·卡西诺(Dan Cassino)的说法，福克斯新闻(Fox News) 推广了一本广播节目主持人约翰·吉布森(John Gibson)2005年的书，声称自由主义者对圣诞节怀有敌意，有人阴谋针对圣诞节这一想法由此得到了广泛宣传 。
Gibson said in an interview that he was “amazed” by the uproar his book caused.
He said it primarily focused on an issue that rarely happens anymore: educators and local officials banning nonreligious symbols like Santa Claus or Christmas trees out of a mistaken belief that displaying them violated the Constitution.
Gibson said the book had taken on a life of its own over the years — and that it had never dwelled on the political implications of “Happy Holidays.”
He attributed the firestorm to two things: The book’s take-no-prisoner’s title (“The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought”) and the Fox News host Bill O’Reilly.
他把这场风暴归因于两件事：这本书毫不留情的标题《圣诞之战：为什么自由主义禁止神圣圣诞节的阴谋比你想的还要糟》(“The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought”)，此外就是福克斯新闻主持人比利·奥莱利(Bill O'Reilly)。
“It wasn’t really me. I think it was more Bill, to tell you the truth,” he said. “When Bill made it an issue, it went mega.”
Indeed, O’Reilly has returned to the theme of a war on Christmas again and again over the years. In 2012 he told viewers that liberals were “tying the Christmas situation into secular progressive politics” because they wanted “a new America, and traditional Christmas isn’t a part of it.”
That argument became a sweeping shorthand for conservative anxieties, Cassino said.
“They say the next step after saying ‘Happy Holidays’ is abortion on demand and euthanasia,” he said. “That’s a hell of a slippery slope, but that’s the argument being made.”
Is This a Real Thing?
There is no evidence of an organized attack on Christmas in the United States.
The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the annual uproar is based on “stories that only sometimes even contain a grain of truth and often are completely false.” He has spent years pushing back against it.
政教分离美国人联合会(Americans United for Separation of Church and State)执行总监巴瑞·W·林恩(Barry W. Lynn)牧师表示，每年都会出现的喧嚣建立在“仅仅是有时候具有一点真实性，通常完全是无稽之谈的故事”的基础之上。他在过去多年中一直对此进行反击。
“This politicizing of the whole issue is mind-boggling to me,” Lynn said, “and it has been for well over a decade.”
He added, “They see this as some kind of a politically correct effort, but I see it as reasonable to not use Christmas references as just an accommodation of the reality of America.”
People who believe that Christmas is under attack often blame the American Civil Liberties Union. Earlier this month, the ACLU in Indiana filed a lawsuit on behalf of a resident of Knightstown, Indiana, who objected to a Latin cross displayed atop the town’s official Christmas tree. The cross was removed.
认为圣诞节正在遭受攻击的人常常指责美国公民自由联盟（American Civil Liberties Union，简称ACLU）。本月早些时候，ACLU印第安纳分支代表该州奈茨敦的一名居民提起诉讼。这名居民反对在该镇官方的圣诞树树顶上悬挂拉丁十字架。后来，该十字架被取下。
Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU program on freedom of religion and belief, said his organization has also defended people’s right to engage in Christmas-related activity, including a Pennsylvania inmate who wanted to organize a communal prayer.
“Christmas celebrations in this country are alive and well,” Mach said. “And as long as the government itself isn’t promoting religious doctrine those celebrations are entirely constitutional.”
What does the “war” look like in practice?
Many conservative groups have rallied to defend Christmas, lobbying for decorations in public schools or town halls. One group, the American Family Association based in Tupelo, Mississippi, publishes a “Naughty and Nice” list every year to castigate companies it believes are “censoring ‘Christmas.'”
很多保守派团体举行集会，保卫圣诞节，并通过游说，争取装饰公立学校或市政厅。其中一个团体是总部设在密西西比州图珀洛的美国家庭协会(American Family Association)，该组织每年都会发布一个“不良与友善”(Naughty and Nice)名单，严厉批评其认为正在“审查‘圣诞节’”的公司。
“There are secular forces in our country that hate Christmas because the word itself is a reminder of Jesus Christ,” the group said on its website. “They want to eradicate anything that reminds Americans of Christianity.”
Entries on the 2016 naughty list include Barnes & Noble, Best Buy and Victoria’s Secret. Starbucks has come under fire for several years for seasonal cup designs that emphasize winter weather or social harmony over Christmas greetings.
2016年的不良名单中的上榜企业包括Barnes & Noble、百思买(Best Buy)，以及维多利亚的秘密(Victoria’s Secret)。多年来，星巴克(Starbucks)因节日杯具设计强调冬季天气或社会和谐而非圣诞问候而备受抨击。
“Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”?
The greeting “Happy Holidays” has been in use as a Christmas greeting for more than 100 years. But it has grown in popularity in recent decades as people have tried to be inclusive and sensitive to those of other faiths and the nonreligious.
The controversy appears to have shifted opinion about the proper greeting. Cassino wrote in the Harvard Business Review this month that the number of people who said they preferred to to hear “Happy Holidays” has decreased sharply in the past 10 years, from 41 percent to 25 percent. “Merry Christmas” remained popular. Indeed, President Barack Obama, a Christian, has frequently uttered the phrase.
相关争论似乎改变了对恰当的问候语的看法。卡西诺本月在《哈佛商业评论》(Harvard Business Review)中写道，过去十年里，自称更愿意听到“节日快乐”的人数急剧减少，从41%跌至25%。“圣诞快乐”仍颇受欢迎。的确，身为基督徒的贝拉克·奥巴马总统就经常说这句话。
It should be noted that Jews, Muslims and others who do not celebrate Christmas often say they are not offended by a hearty “Merry Christmas.”
So perhaps there is hope for peace on earth, or at least cable television.