I’m a Presbyterian. I’m an old fashioned Presbyterian. I’m a hard-core, old-fashioned Presbyterian. That is to say, I take the historic, Protestant position that “holy days” such as “Christmas” are an innovation of the Roman Catholic Church and have no Scriptural warrant. Furthermore, I also take the position that the “Christmas tree” is a Christianized tradition of ancient pagan tree worship. In short, I’m no apologist for the Christmas holiday or its traditions, especially the Christmas tree.
I say all this not to promote my personal view on these matters but rather to provide a context for what I’m about to do, which is to rigorously defend the use of the phrase “Christmas tree” in the public arena.
Recently at a public school in Ames, IA, there were complaints about a Christmas tree at the school. The tree was apparently “offensive” to some, and school officials decided it had to go. This was rather silly for any number of reasons, but that’s not what struck me as preposterous. What did strike me as preposterous was the subsequent news media coverage in which at least two media outlets didn’t call it a Christmas tree. One called it a “winter tree”, and another called it a “decorated pine tree”. It’s possible, of course, that the school itself was using those terms when describing the tree in interviews with the media, but that wouldn’t necessitate the exclusive use of those terms. The media simply could have referred to it as something “commonly called a Christmas tree”. How hard would that have been?
The notion that anything remotely religious (particularly if it’s Christian) has to be eliminated from public life is utterly ridiculous and a pathetic misunderstanding of the Constitution. But it’s the politically correct thing to do, and the saps in the media are quite happy to further this myth instead of merely reporting the news.
Theologically speaking I may not be happy about it, but it’s been a Christmas tree in Western Civilization for at least some four centuries. Don’t insult my intelligence by calling it something else in some stupid (and for most of us, offensive) attempt to remove the name of Christ from the public arena.