The independent news organization of Duke University

The case for Christmas

It's the most wonderful time of year-but you wouldn't know it looking around Duke's campus.

You'd probably find more Christmas decorations at your local mosque.

A pretty sad showing for a university that boasts a Divinity School and a Trinity College-and which is in the heart of a nation where 96 percent of citizens celebrate Christmas, a federal holiday.

There is absolutely no single logical reason why we shouldn't have a Christmas tree on the quad and a Nativity scene in the Bryan Center. Eighty-five percent of our nation is Christian and every single one of us, Christian or not (I'm a practicing Jew myself), is living in a country settled and founded by Christians and benefitting daily from the principles of Christian philosophy on which our forebears relied.

Christianity is embedded in the very soul of our nation.

Yet its presence is visibly absent from our campus.

As a service to its students and staff, Duke should take it upon itself to recognize this crucial American holiday. Of course, the messiah is likely to come before that happens, so the burden falls on student groups.

I urge every group of Christian faith on campus to do whatever it can to bring the Christmas spirit publicly and passionately to Duke. There are sure to be many roadblocks, and I know the secular left has tried very hard to make you feel ashamed to broadcast your beliefs (while they so irritatingly broadcast theirs), but bringing Christmas to our campus is something that desperately needs to be done.

Sadly, there is nothing exceptional about Duke ignoring Christmas. It's symptomatic of the larger anti-faith movement sweeping across our country. Somehow, a small group of bitter atheists and secularists have convinced otherwise sane people to call trees that are bought for Christmas, decorated for Christmas and displayed on Christmas, not Christmas, but holiday trees; have purged Nativity scenes from public spaces even as courts have consistently upheld their constitutionality; have removed Christmas songs, Christmas displays and all things Christian from many of our nation's schools; have scared major national retailers from permitting the words "merry Christmas," to be shown or spoken on their premises; and have done this while launching no attack on the religious activities or symbols of other faiths.

Now I'm sure some of you are saying, what does it matter? Why is it so important that our society acknowledge and celebrate Christmas?

Christmas has come to represent and embody all that is good and righteous about the people of this country; it celebrates the values of charity, compassion and goodwill. In contrast to the brutally cold hedonism of the atheist view, Christmas is a time filled with warmth and spirit.

It reminds us of the need to be good and caring, and to look to our creator for strength and courage. From the founding of our country to the earliest abolition movement to civil rights to our recovery and resolve in the wake of Sept. 11, it is faith and religion on which our society has depended to become and to stay the world's most free and just nation.

As our country celebrates debauchery and debasement more and more, it is vitally important at this time of year to celebrate the values that have made our nation great and call upon everyone in society, whatever their faith, to renew their commitment to uphold in their lives what is just and good.

I'll let the facts speak for themselves: New polling data shows religious Americans donate four times more than secular Americans, and those who attend church are a staggering 23 times more likely to volunteer.

Atheists may talk about humanism and justice, but when you don't believe in a soul or the ultimate truth of goodness and morality, then why live your life except in whatever fashion most plainly and immediately benefits you?

No just society can survive which abandons God.

It's of course up to you where you stand on the Christmas issue, so I'll end with two representative proclamations about what this time of year means and you can decide which one speaks for you:

The first was placed by the Freedom from Religion foundation in the Wisconsin state capitol as part of the Christmastime displays: "At this season of winter solstice may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."

The second is a letter from our 22nd President, Calvin Coolidge: "To the American People: Christmas is not a time or a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world."

Where do you think hopes lies?

Stephen Miller is a Trinity senior. His column runs every other Monday.


Share and discuss “The case for Christmas” on social media.