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Trump Opens Culture War Battle Over “Merry Christmas”

This past Friday, President Trump spoke at the Values Voters Summit in Washington, DC. The event is an annual gathering of religious groups and social conservatives seeking to push traditional values in government in society. The President was well-received at the gathering, especially when touching on hot-button culture war issues, like the simplicity of whether people are more likely to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

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The UK Guardian reports on how several socially conservative groups are now feeling like the gamble on Donald Trump is paying off in the culture wars, since he knows how to speak their language:

Nearly a year ago, conservative Christians gambled on Donald Trump, a thrice-married Manhattan billionaire who bragged about sexual assault, ran casinos and used to support a woman’s right to abortion. The bet paid off.

This weekend, Trump became the first sitting president to address the Values Voters Summit, a yearly Washington symposium that brings together social conservative leaders and voters seeking “to preserve the bedrock values of traditional marriage, religious liberty, sanctity of life and limited government that make our nation strong”. He duly touted his administration’s progress in “returning moral clarity to our view of the world”.

“How times have changed,” Trump thundered across the cavernous Shoreham Hotel ballroom, lamenting the erosion of conservative values he said were the bedrock of America. “But you know what? Now they’re changing back again, just remember that.”

Keep in mind that a year ago, back in October of 2016, Trump was booed at the same conference and finish fifth place in their annual straw poll. And yet, here we are after Trump won a greater share of the evangelical vote last November than George W. Bush did:

“I didn’t have a schedule,” he said, “[but] if I did have a schedule, I would say we are substantially ahead of schedule.” His administration would “stop cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values”, he said.

Trump may be an unlikely favorite of the religious right but last November exit polls said he won 81% of white evangelicals – more than George W Bush, John McCain or Mitt Romney. Michele Bachmann, a former congresswoman from Minnesota and candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, called Trump’s victory “proof positive of what the Lord did”.

“He knows he is the president of United States today because evangelical Christians came out and supported him,” she said in her address.

Republicans have given a lot of lip service to this voter slice in recent elections, but few continue wandering into the culture war the way Trump does. He knows what he’s doing here, of course, by working hard to strengthen his base. But clearly there was trepidation by many “values voters” over supporting the jet-setting New Yorker who was better known for “playboy values” over the past few decades rather than “traditional values.”

As CNN reports, Trump has already opened the next battle front in the culture wars, and it involves the “war on Christmas.”

“We are stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values,” Trump said to applause, before slamming people who don’t say “Merry Christmas.”

“They don’t use the word Christmas because it is not politically correct,” Trump said, complaining that department stores will use red and Christmas decorations but say “Happy New Year.” “We’re saying Merry Christmas again.”

The comment drew thunderous applause.

This is low-hanging fruit, similar to that of the NFL National Anthem debate. Do we say Merry Christmas more or less in society than we used to? Who knows, but if Trump points it out, people will begin to perceive it that way and begin to take more offense to it. The “Christmas” debate isn’t anything new, it’s been raging for probably almost a decade, but Trump knows which issues he can pull to the forefront to create a headline and cement his base of support.

Nate Ashworth :Nate Ashworth is the Founder and Senior Editor of Election Central. He's been blogging elections and politics for almost a decade. He started covering the 2008 Presidential Election which turned into a full-time political blog in 2012 and 2016.

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    • First of all, there never was a war on Christmas. Second Christmas is the result of early Christians, realizing that the celebration of the winter solstice was very popular and not easily discouraged decided to co-op it and turn it into a Christian holiday. And Christmas has in recent years become more and more secular than religious. But leave it to Trump and the ever hatefful religious right to find something hateful in a holiday that most Christians and nonchristian alike find only good will and happiness.

      When you say this is one issue people are in favor of, do you mean in favor of taking something most people celebrate joyfully, and making it something hateful?

        • Then a real Christian would not be upset if someone said "Happy Holidays" instead of saying "Merry Christmas"?

          • Besides, there are a number of religious holidays in December. Why limit your good wishes to only one sect?

          • I do agree, several religious holidays, and the secular celebration of New Years. My point was that certain self rituous people think no one else has a right to celebrate their own traditions. To them everyone is welcome to celebrate their holidays and welcome to shut up about everything else.

    • The 25th of December is the birthdate of Jesus Christ, hence Christ-mas day. The word Merry means joyful, celebrate, and be to be good cheer. Merry Christmas is an expression that says we should be Merry and enjoy the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, our savior.

      Who is Trump to speak on this issue? Trump does not honor or follow the teachings of Jesus
      Christ. He is the Leader-in-chief of breaking all ten of the commandments, most of them on an hourly basis.

      • Trump won the Evangelical vote. So you're sadly mistaken.

        Sad that you would make something up just because you don't like Trump.

        • So, tell me, when you use the term evangelical exactly who are you referring to? Billy Graham was asked to define the term in the late 1980s, he replied, “Actually, that’s a question I’d like to ask somebody too.” Even America’s most famous evangelical preacher couldn’t describe what the term meant.

          Evangelical pops up in American media to describe everything from mega-churches to voting blocs, few people seem to know what an evangelical is exactly. To the pastor, it is a denominational or doctrinal term. And to the politician, it is a synonym for a white Christian.

          So, tell me, when you use the term evangelical exactly whom, or what, are you referring to? Or better yet, tell me your definition of this term. Also tell me, which of the ten commandants that Trump does not break repeatedly.

          Sad that you would accuse me of falsehoods. Take the time and effort to verify before you speak.

  • Couldn't be more of a non-issue. There never was a "war on Christmas". Christmas celebrations preceded any Christian hijacking of the season (Saturnalia for instance) and that is simply what continues to this day, with a natural decline in irrational religious belief systems such as Christianity tending toward a more inclusive, secular approach. If you wish to celebrate Christmas in a secular or a religious sense, do so. No one worries about people using their own way to express goodwill. Except bigots who fear the erosion of their myths because everyone else is gradually dropping the need for messianic boogeyman fairy tales.

    Another example of the privileged Christian majority crying persecution when they can't get forcing their personal, subjective belief systems on others. Boo-hoo, religious bigots. Welcome to the real world, where people do not share your nonsensical beliefs.

        • hgb and G Friedmann...If you carefully read the First Amendment you two will discover that it protects several basic liberties — freedom of religion, speech, press, petition, and assembly. While we may not agree in full with Mano’s convictions, he has a constitutional right to express his convictions without being persecuted by two wayward tongue lashers.

    • RELIGIOUS BIGOTS, this coming from someone who probably congregates with others somewhere deep in the woods so they can perform their blood sacrifices. Hey, to each his own. You can believe in the GREAT PUMPKIN for all I care. However your belief or lack thereof gives you no right to belittle others for their beliefs.?

      Now why don't you be a good whatever you are and pray for forgiveness for being such an arrogant putz!!!

  • "Merry Christmas" is not "politically correct"?
    What the heck has politics and speaking "politically correct" to do with Christmas?!
    (BTW: WHAT ist "politically correct" anyway?)
    Will they change Easter, too? Into what.......? "SPRING-FEST"?!?!
    WINTERFEST, SPRINGFEST, OKTOBERFEST......what next.......?

    Its astonishing, that in Germany (as in other European Countries, too) we have the same phenomenon!

    Out of "respect" (!?!) for the millions of Muslims living there (most of them illegaly!) they change the names of traditional Christmas-Markets to WINTER-MARKET.
    They remove Cristian-Crosses out of schools and public places, take them off of peak-of-mountains where they had been standing for hundreds of years(!) because these crosses are "significantly insulting" to Muslims and their religious-ideology.
    Muslims openly attack Woman in the streets and plain daylight for the sole reason, that they wear jewellery in form of religious crosses, because they feel insultet(!) by that Cristian-Symbol.
    And even Cardinals (City of Cologne) open their Churches to Muslims and their Muezzins to have their religious service held in 1000 years old Cristian-Churches(!)
    They read the Quran in the Cathedral of Cologne! A thousand-year old Cathedral.

    They even think (loud and publically!) in converting Cristian Churches into Mosques (Would be interesting, to knowing, what the Pope thinks about that, hahaha)
    Maybe they open their Churches to the Islam out of sheer Self-Defense against those Radicalists.
    Better open the Church and convert it into a Mosque befor getting stabbed and killed by one of those Fanatics, Anti-Cristians.

    But back to the main-theme:
    Department Stores will not use MERRY CHRISTMAS anymore.....?

    I doubt that very much!

    If there is no Christmas - than there are no Christmas-Trees
    If there are no Christmas-Trees, there will be no Christmas - Gifts under them, either
    And THAT should say it all...........!
    No Christmas-Gifts - NO Christmas-Business!
    There are no such things as: "NewYears-Gifts"

    To all of you out there - even to those of you, who do not believe.......
    May you have a WONDERFUL AND MERRY CHRISTMAS

    (Enjoy it................it may be the last one o your life)

    • It’s always shady business decrying a religious tradition that is not your own.

      ISIL(ISIS) is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way. Just because they shout God’s name while committing murder doesn’t make their actions righteous. ISIS is an abomination to the Islamic faithful.

      Pope Paul VI explained it this way:“The Church has also a high regard for the Muslims. They worship God, who is one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men. They strive to submit themselves without reserve to the hidden decrees of God, just as Abraham submitted himself to God’s plan, to whose faith Muslims eagerly link their own. Although not acknowledging him as God, they venerate Jesus as a prophet, his Virgin Mother they also honor, and even at times devoutly invoke. Further, they await the day of judgment and the reward of God following the resurrection of the dead. For this reason they highly esteem an upright life and worship God, especially by way of prayer, alms-deeds and fasting.”

      It doesn’t take gifts to make a joyous Christmas. It’s about celebration, it is about looking ahead. It’s about good cheer and the hope that all our dreams come true. The Philippines do it best. They start their Christmas celebration the first of September and continues through January of the new year. So pack up your cynicism and try to enjoy life. You are right on one point “each day may be our last day” for the one thing humans cannot control is their lifespan.