December 16, 2011
Delaware City Vice Mayor Windell Wheeler publicly announced that December festivities are getting too secular.
“Many places, businesses and community groups are calling it a holiday season — it’s not,” said Wheeler.
“It’s a Christmas season for me, has been and always will be, but many people are taking Christ out of Christmas.”
While “Happy Holidays” has been considered the more politically correct December greeting, Wheeler told the Gazette that doing away with “Merry Christmas” is an affront to his religion.
“That is slowly happening across our country; we are being deprived of our beliefs,” he said.
However, blending secular commercialization and religious celebrations around Dec. 25 is nothing new, said Jeffrey Jaynes, professor of church history at Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MTSO).
“Sometimes people get the thought that early Christians really embraced the celebration of Christmas. That’s not really true,” said Jaynes.
The holiday has always had a national context, and has never been exclusively religious or secular, he said.
Jaynes is not offended by the “Happy Holidays” greeting because, while he celebrates Christmas, he knows others do not.
“I have friends that are Muslim, Sikh, Jewish. I realize that many of them are going to have the day off on Dec 25, and I wish them a happy holiday,” he said.
Jaynes added that while some Christians may feel that something has been taken away from them, it is healthy for people to recognize the diversity of their own culture.
For others, diversity can be celebrated by preserving traditions.
Posted in store windows and planted near the downtown Delaware entrances are signs reading, “Discover the Joy of a Hometown Christmas!”
The signs were made possible by a new merchants’ group called “Discover Downtown Delaware!” Patrick Bailey, who launched the group, coincidentally presented the Christmas signs to council the same night that Wheeler advocated Christmas-specific greetings.
After the meeting, Bailey said “Christmas” was printed on the signs in the spirit of tradition.
He said that not specifying the holiday is “very generic” and “kind of crass.”
“I think (Christmas) is all-inclusive. It’s a Christian nation,” said Bailey. “If anyone’s offended, it’s kind of sad.”
Ironically, businesses who opt for the seemingly all-inclusive “Happy Holidays” greetings, may lose Christian business.
Wheeler said he has limited his support of certain organizations that become more secular.
“I give to places I feel celebrate the Christmas holiday,” he said.