Eric Pickles hasn’t ended the War on Christmas… he’s started it!
Richy Thompson locks and loads for the War Against The War Against Christmas (that’s not a typo…)
Much has been made over the last few days of Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles’ declaration that “The War on Christmas is over, and the likes of Winterval, Winter Lights and Luminous deserve to be in the dustbin of history… We should actively celebrate the Christian basis of Christmas, and not allow politically correct Grinches to marginalise Christianity and the importance of the birth of Christ.” This led to much rejoicing in the Daily Mail, the Express, the Sun and the Daily Star.
But the idea that the non-religious, and those of faiths other than Christianity, are trying to ban Christmas – or swap it for “Winterval” – is nonsense. Christmas means different things to non-Christians than it does to Christians, but the vast majority of the former group still like to celebrate the occasion in some manner or another. The non-religious, in particular, often enjoy partaking in the secular goodwill of religious holidays – be it the tree, the presents and the turkey at Christmas, or the chocolate eggs at Easter. For them, this is the real meaning of Christmas.
There have been a few examples over the years of misguided councils using the terms “Winterval” or “Winter Lights” in their activities, but on closer inspection these turn out to be half the story, or – in the case of Luminous – entirely debunked. The examples used are always the same two or three, and the most cited example – that of Birmingham Council – is from all the way back in 1998/99!
So what’s really going on here? Well I think the key part of what Pickles said is not actually the part about Winterval, Winter Lights and Luminous, but the part about those reaaally mean PC Grinches! What Pickles is struggling against is in fact the realisation that Christmas is not just something that Christians celebrate, but that it is widely celebrated by the non-religious and others in a secular manner. Pickles is a leading proponent of the role of faith in our society – and back in July, he vowed to put Christian values at the heart of Government, stating that “I am determined to ensure Christians are not seen as some kind of strange sidelined religion.” (You can read the BHA’s response to all that).
So what Pickles is doing is not ending the War on Christmas by the “politically correct Grinches” to turn it into “Luminous”, but starting the evangelical War on Christmas, to try to turn it into an exclusively Christian festival that only Christians can enjoy, as opposed to a time for everybody.
How very inclusive of our Communities Minister.
- The politically correct Christmas « Freedom Apparatus
- A Day in the (Humanist) Life of the BHA Faith Schools Campaigner | HumanistLife