Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering, head of the German Luftwaffe in World War II and convicted war criminal, famously explained how you get the common people to go to war. "All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked," he said, going on to explain that you then denounce those who don't want to fight and accuse them of making things even worse by their reluctance to join the defenders.
The loud and annoying bunch who start each Christmas season by shouting about how Christmas is under attack have learned that lesson well. I don't suggest that they learned it from the Reichsmarshall himself, but their technique is the same as they attempt to separate us into two sides, those who fight to defend Christmas and those who don't care if it is destroyed. And the technique is not reserved just for Christmas. Increasingly it's being used to convince us that Christianity itself is under attack.
Social media web sites are loaded each day with these claims, some by politicians trying to nudge more voters into their party, some by preacher/politicians, some by broadcast personalities, some by ordinary citizens who apparently believe that the rest of us are wandering in ignorance so they must enlighten us. Christians are being attacked, they shout.
If you read enough of this nonsense, and I must confess that I've read more than enough of it, you come to see that what these folks are really reacting to is the demand that they not force their religious beliefs upon others. Many can't seem to understand the idea of the separation of church and state or, if they understand it, reject it. Even with the clear examples of the ayatollahs, the Taliban, and ISIS, they appear happy with the idea of government involvement in religion, as long as the involvement promotes their own beliefs. At the same time, government action to insure fairness and equal treatment under the law, as ordered by the Constitution, is anathema to them.
I have news for these folks. Christians are being attacked in some parts of the world, as are Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, and others. Pick your group, and somebody hates them. But Christians are not being attacked in this country. Being told that if you are in a position to serve the public, in a publicly licensed business, you must serve all the public, does not constitute being attacked because of your religion. The idea that you can pick and choose whom you sell to, wait on, provide a service to, is awfully close to the once-widespread idea that you didn't have to sell to, wait on, or provide a service to people of any race if you chose to discriminate against that race. That idea has been laid to rest, no doubt to the dismay of some. But dismay has no legal standing and cannot make the law be what you want it to be. There are many things to dislike in this world. Just because you or I dislike them doesn't mean they must be eliminated to make us feel better.
Among the best known, and certainly one of the most attractive, purveyors of the "Christians are being treated horribly" idea is Gretchen Carlson, of Fox News. If I had to listen all day to any one of the group, I'd certainly choose her over a politician like Mike Huckabee or a preacher/politician like Franklin Graham. This former Miss Minnesota and former Miss America is extremely attractive and articulate. And absolutely convinced that Christians are under attack. When a group campaigned to get approval for a pole representing Festivus, that fake day at Christmas "for the rest of us" from a "Seinfeld" episode, to be added to a Nativity display, she was outraged. As I would have been. But I would have considered it a disrespectful gesture by a bunch of jerks. She considered it an attack on Christians.
I read on Wikipedia that one of Miss Carlson's childhood nannies was Michele Bachman. Whether that set her on the way to her present beliefs I can't say. But I can say this, with absolute confidence: The things that make Christians uncomfortable in this country are pin-pricks compared to the real war that some Christians historically have endured. And that some are enduring even today in some parts of the world. Christianity is a robust, enduring faith. Pin-pricks won't defeat it.
Robert B. Simpson, a 28-year Infantry veteran who retired as a colonel at Fort Benning, is the author of "Through the Dark Waters: Searching for Hope and Courage."