It’s November, which in the southern United States means the pre-Christmas festivities are set to begin any moment: a ticking time bomb of fir trees, red ribbons and giant inflatable Santa Clauses at Home Depot. While the decorations and ornaments are undeniable signs of the passage of time, we can always count on another thing to accompany the holidays like clockwork: cries from the evangelical right that the Democrat envoys of Satan are engaging in a war on Christmas.
Tied for first place with Alabama as the most Christian state in the country, Mississippi has always been heavily influenced by Christianity, specifically its Baptist ministries and the ideology of evangelicalism. While it is important to note that not all adherents to Evangelical Christianity make these arguments for a war on Christmas, it is almost exclusively among the right-wing factions of evangelicals that these arguments stem from.
The war on Christmas is the idea that atheist liberals, Muslims, the political and financial elite and (depending on whom you ask) the devil himself are all conspiring to make the United States a nation of anti-Christians by tearing down references to Christ in government buildings and coffee cups alike.
It’s a myth whose only purpose is to serve as a battleground for conservative identity politics, an opportunity for the most powerful majority in the country to dress up and play victim for a month. The overwhelming majority of elected officials are Christian, with many espousing Christian interests and Christian doctrine as their number one priority. For all intents and purposes, Christians already have a de facto theocracy, and the design on your frappuccino won’t change that.
On Monday, students were treated to some evangelical ministry from the Consuming Fire Fellowship, a radical evangelical religious group that aims to save souls for Christ through their practice of “confrontational ministry.” This consists of middle-aged men screaming at 18 year-olds that they’re destined for hell because of their sexual orientation or religious beliefs (among many other, sometimes hilarious categories, such as whether or not you are a fornicator, feminist or a “reveler”).
The response from students was energetic, as students crowded the preachers in droves in a show of resistance. I found it inspiring to see such fervent opposition to the hateful doctrine that they were preaching.
What I find most inspiring, however, is what I heard from many Christian students I know on campus, all of whom expressed emotions of anger and embarrassment about the preachers. They were outraged that this collection of loud bigots were hijacking the faith that they held dear, twisting the doctrine of love they knew into an unrecognizable doctrine of hatred, corrupting what Jesus taught.
The Christians I know on campus don’t want to see people they care about — LGBT people, non-Christians, those that struggle with mental health — feel like they are unwelcome on campus, especially by people claiming to come in the name of their savior.
In much the same way that I saw Christians fervently reject and oppose the preachers that came to our school earlier this week, I ask that they continue to root out the false narratives in their faith communities. Just don’t let it stop at the most obviously hateful narratives. Although it’s harder to see, the war on Christmas narrative is just as damaging. Much like your drunk family on Christmas Day, the hoax of the war on Christmas has long overstayed its welcome.
Hal Fox is a sophomore Chinese and international studies major from Robert, LA.