Last month, I posted about how Mayor Amy Schuler Goodwin of Charleston, West Virginia renamed the town’s annual “Christmas Parade” to the “Charleston Winter Parade.”
That lasted for all of a couple of days. The backlash was so intense, and the fight wasn’t one Goodwin was eager to take on, that she reversed course almost immediately.
In today’s New York Times, Dionne Searcey takes a closer look at what happened in that community and why the change to a more inclusive word rubbed so many people the wrong way. The entire piece reads as a summary of how Christians overreact when faced with the reality that they’re not the only game in town.
“The new mayor needs to be voted out if she does away with the Christmas parade,” read one comment on the initial Facebook post. “Christmas is all about Christ, not some winter parade.”
A local lawyer and newspaper columnist, Mark Sadd, said he didn’t understand why the mayor needed to show the city as more welcoming. It wasn’t like there were a lot of complaints.
“A Christmas parade is about as inclusive as we can get,” he said.
What’s wrong with a celebration of Christ? asked a man who has never heard of Jews…
That statement is both on the nose and a perfect encapsulation of how Christians have blinders on when it comes to any tradition that isn’t their own. They accept Christianity, therefore it must be the default for everyone, whether we’re talking about a holiday parade, a city council invocation, or reading the Bible in school. If you don’t like it, you’re part of the problem.
The article also reveals just how many people in power have no ability to consider the perspectives of anyone who’s not a Christian.
“The community reaction was a collective groan,” said Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce in Charleston, explaining how a simple name change could elicit such outrage. “It’s a cute little parade with cute little kids and can’t we just have a Christmas parade?”
They could. The parade wasn’t canceled. The title of the parade was meant to include more cute little kids who don’t celebrate Christian myths. Instead of speaking out against the outrage, Roberts just poured more gasoline on the fire.
There was plenty of Christian ignorance, too.
… outrage continued to mount. People pored over the rules put in place by the shopping mall that sponsors the parade. One stated that religious-themed floats were banned. That rule had been on the books for years, officials said, but amid the anger over the new parade name it took on new meaning and inspired a new round of vitriol when people started sharing it on social media.
Everything is an example of anti-Christian bias if you’re too lazy to do any research.
And, of course, Republicans used this as a political weapon, because they have no decent ideas to run on:
For the Republican State Senate president, Mitch Carmichael, it was a liberal thing. Late on the second evening of the battle of the “winter parade,” he released a blistering statement in opposition to the name change.
“It is clear, these radicals have no interest in our Christmas traditions or in following our United States Constitution,” Mr. Carmichael said. “We are calling on Mayor Goodwin and her liberal allies to end this madness and allow our citizens to freely and fully exercise their Freedom of Religion with a CHRISTMAS PARADE.”
This has nothing to do with the Constitution. No one who wants to celebrate Christmas has been blocked from doing so. And this wasn’t part of some liberal agenda. But, again, facts don’t matter to Republicans if they can gin up hatred and fear among their ever-more-ignorant base.
As I said before, I can’t even blame Goodwin for reversing her decision. It’s not a hill worth dying on. Her attempt to make marginalized people feel a little more included was a no-go for Christians hell-bent on taking over everyone’s life, and it wasn’t a fight she cared to drag out. But I would add that conservative Christians will never be satisfied and compromise isn’t possible with people like the ones mentioned in this article.
Everything Goodwin does will be deemed anti-Christian, no matter how innocuous it is. There will always be backlash by the FOX News crowd because there’s no “off” on their volume dial. If Goodwin thinks she can appease these people by calling it a “Christmas parade” again, she’s woefully naïve. They’ll attack her the next chance they get.
(Screenshot via WSAZ)