Costco, Christmas, Duck Dynasty! Vital Skirmishes in Culture War

Written by Steve Pauwels on December 22, 2013

We tiresome, “Bible-thumper” types recently have collected a handful of fresh notches on our “culture war” belt, some carrying more “oomph” than others. One of the more modest wins – although, increasingly, I’m concluding they all play their crucial role — was Costco’s commendable decision to correct one store’s allegedly unintentional decision to label copies of the Bible as “Fiction”. Placement in the “Religion” category, obviously, would be more appropriate. And why not sprinkle a few among the “History” tomes? They also belong there, of course.

Again, one Costco outlet’s reclassifying a few printings of Holy Writ does not, admittedly, a seismic, cultural-front victory make. Taken in isolation? It’s, honestly, relatively small potatoes. But, coalescing with other outbreaks of society’s broadening animosity toward all things religious? Particularly, all things Christian? That’s another matter:

— Team ACLU’s insisting “God” remain unmentioned in recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance or during high school graduation speeches
— Prayer floridly verboten in the classroom, at football games, or during town-hall meetings
— Religious convictions ruthlessly quashed in public-policy debates (see: Obamacare’s Abortion-Contraception mandate, etc.)
— Bible-based opinions shushed from polite company or from any open discussion (see: Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson)

All of these — and more — factored in with the relatively minor Costco/Bible episode? Suddenly, that latter contretemps sprouts legs. 

No big deal, you still insist?  The Secular-Progressive set rub their prayerless mitts with glee when the pious respond that way to these anti-God forays. Go head, giggle derisively with John Stewart at the notion of  “The War on Christmas”. By all means, along with O’Reilly Factor regular Bernie Goldberg airily dismiss it as a non-issue. 

The Sec-Progs get it: Train believers to shrug consistently and indifferently at each of 21st-century society’s serial,  faith-shriveling blitzes and, sure as you can say “Richard Dawkins”, the bulk of the populace will come to regard devotion to the Creator as a cockeyed oddity. Its actual status will wither into obscurity — that once-noble status as life-enriching, nation-fortifying  wisdom from heaven; the lynchpin, in fact, of Western Civilization and wellspring of so much of America’s greatness.  

The corrosive effectiveness of this widespread, anti-religious hostility may play out gradually but  — like winter road-salt gnawing away at the underbelly of a once glistening automobile — it’ll prove inevitable if left unchecked. Two generations’ experience following early-1960’s broadsides against public school prayer and Bible reading have demonstrated how remorselessly successful can be an  initially subterranean, lately increasingly brazen, religion-diminishing agenda.

Children who’ve marinated in a post-modern zeitgeist which determinedly frowns upon any frank outcropping of Christian spirituality — public worship or praying, verbal professions, references to scriptural principles — are dependably maturing into adults who conclude faith in a Divine Being is, at best, irrelevant, at worst ridiculous or icky. Avert your gaze, kiddos! — there’s a whiff of Jesus on the horizon!

Candidly, Christians —  religionists in general, for all that  — could do worse than crib a page from the much-vaunted, early-1990’s “Clinton War Room”. That group’s “Rapid Rebuttal Unit” resolved no charge would be leveled at their candidate, no criticism sown about him, but that it would be answered forcefully and immediately. Every knock against Bill Clinton  was met with an indignant — if often slippery — counterclaim. The outcome? Double terms of “Slick Willy” and his cabal occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. 

Believers need to catch on — perhaps they finally are: after decades (centuries?) of sighingly tolerating metastasizing, if sometimes subtle, anti-faith agitation, they’ve gotta nip it in the iconoclastic bud every time it appears. When strutting impiety waltzes out onto the public square?  Expose it, neutralize it, promptly, confidently — before it can take root and overtake the Judeo-Christian ideals that, manifestly, favorably shaped America’s unfolding.

Each niggling anti-Christian legal squabble? Every case of Bible-phobic hectoring assaulting our shrinkingly faith-friendly culture? The War on Christmas? Our educational system’s “God-Erased-From-the-Picture” revisionist history? Unhesitatingly resist these trends. Speak up, make the traditionalist case, take a stand. Don’t fatalistically turn away. Don’t wait. 

“It’s easier to crush the egg, than kill the serpent,” advised Charles Spurgeon. 

Thomas Jefferson, using a different analogy, concurred: “It is better to keep the wolf out of the fold, than to trust to drawing his teeth and talons after he shall have entered.”

And for irreligious Liberty-lovers? Don’t mistakenly wave off this as mere church-goers’ paranoia, extraneous to other freedom-centered concerns. Know for certain, if devout believers can be officially or effectively shunted into segregated corners, no individual or group is safe. If practitioners of religion can be magnanimously permitted “freedom of worship” — allowed to privately think or feel whatever they choose, that is, providing it never leaks outside their homes or meeting places — but not “freedom of religion” — ie, the right to functionally apply their faith persuasions to comprehensive, real-life matters? If that becomes the status quo? Then  proponents of any worldview which dips out of favor cam be smothered. The anti-Liberty bullies will always concoct a justification. 

“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel,” admonished Patrick Henry in 1778.

“[T]he jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake;” seconded our first President eighteen years later.

Spot a gray blotch of mold on your wall? Scrub it away — or cut it out. That’ll pay vast dividends if it prevents the entire house from ultimately becoming uninhabitably poisoned. Vigilantly extinguishing every threat to religious folks’ right to ply their convictions will similarly benefit those who prize liberty in life’s other areas.

A Department store’s Bible-dissing faux pas? Unbelievers’ contemptuous crusade against Christian holidays? Libeling reality-TV stars who articulate biblical values? Nothing to yawn at.

Someone recently reminded me: the enemies of liberty – and of righteousness – don’t rest; not even at Christmastime. So, it’s incumbent that people of faith watchfully reaffirm – during the holidays and yearlong – they will not cower in the shadows of secularists’ soulless despotism.

Image: Courtesy of: The Boy’s King Arthur: Sir Thomas Malory’s History of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table, Edited for Boys by Sidney Lanier (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1922); artist: N.C. Wyeth (1882–1945; public domain

Steve Pauwels is pastor of Church of the King, Londonderry, NH and host of Striker Radio with Steve Pauwels on the Red State Talk Radio Network. He's also husband to the lovely Maureen and proud father of three fine sons: Mike, Sam and Jake.