Caution: Christmas Too Religious

27 December 2022

2.2 MINS

Christmas would be better if we shed the religious baggage, Humanists UK insist.

The Guardian newspaper ran a story last week hilariously headlined:

“Christmas comes with good cheer. The tragedy is the religious baggage.”

Ah, yes, celebrating the birth of Jesus would be so much more enjoyable if people didn’t insist on going on about Jesus’ birth.

Also, the ocean would be better if it wasn’t for all the water. See what I did there?

Missing the Point

Humanists UK Vice President Polly Toynbee wrote that she loves to celebrate Christmas. She also wrote that she loves to celebrate “any rise in [the number of] those who look life and death in the eye with no expectation of anything beyond this earth.

Someone needs to explain to Polly that Christmas is entirely about Someone coming from beyond this earth so that we can look forward to a life beyond this earth.

Polly writes that she likes the star over Bethlehem, and the wise men, and the shepherds, and the shoutout to refugees.


Nativity – Lorenzo Lotto (1523)

“But the rest of it, I find loathsome,” she writes.


“Why wear the symbol of a barbaric torture? Martyrdom is a repugnant virtue, so too the imposition of perpetual guilt.”

So she loves the baby. She just loathes Who the baby grows up to be.

The “religious baggage” Polly says ruins her Christmas is the suggestion that Jesus was God come to die for the sins of the world.

Indeed. If only Jesus was just a baby turning up to serve as some kind of cutesy metaphor.

Christ Our Saviour

I understand Polly’s gripe. That God came to die for sinners, of whom I am chief, is kind of hard to wrap one’s ego around.

I completely agree it would be far preferable for God to turn up and simply applaud my efforts while taking on board my expert advice on how He might improve things.

There’s a big part of me that would love that to be the case. If I’m really honest, there is part of me that really believes that should be the case.

And therein lies my problem, and the exact reason I need a Saviour.

Pride makes a fool of people. It makes you believe God needs you to save Him rather than the other way around. And it makes you believe Christmas would be just perfect if only it wasn’t tarred by all that Christmassy stuff.

While hope does not spring eternal for Polly, there is temporal term hope at least. As she points out in her Guardian piece, this is the first Christmas “since time immemorial that most people in this country are not Christians”.

If the Humanist society has its way, we may soon arrive at a point where stories like the following, told by C.S. Lewis, are more common than not:

My brother heard a woman on a bus say, as the bus passed a church with a crib outside it, ‘Oh Lord! They bring religion into everything. Look — they’re dragging it even into Christmas now!’

But until then, Merry Christmas.

“Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled”!


Originally published at The James Macpherson Report.

Subscribe to his Substack here for daily witty commentary.
Photo by Myriam Zilles on Unsplash.

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