Saturday, December 6, 2014

Faith in the Marketplace

Today in The Blaze, there was an article about one pastor's outrage against Disney and a Magic Kingdom Christmas celebration.  The word “Christmas” had been left off of a Disney billboard in Orlando, in a message advertising Disney World's popular holiday-themed Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

Right up front, let me say I found the pastor's concern over leaving the word "Christmas" off of the billboard message a bit odd, since the event itself (which he and his family have attended for eight consecutive years) is itself a profoundly secular event.  It has few - if any - truly Christian overtones. It's a typically Disney party for kids of all ages, celebrating the holiday season, but not the birth of Christ.

I read the pastor's comments with interest.  Some years ago, I had been personally active in the "war against Christmas" kerfuffle, at a time when it did seem that everywhere we looked, people and businesses were actively working to take "Christmas" out of the Christmas holiday. 

However, as I reflected on that former passion and this current situation, I saw some differences - perhaps in what is going on in society, and perhaps what is going on in me.

I still actively and vigorously oppose those organized atheists who use the threat of court costs to force municipalities and schools to ban Christmas celebrations. However, for me, that opposition is more political than theological, and it also highlights my own resentment against bullies.

This Disney deal, it seems to me, is different, and the issue here is theological rather than political.

I am a proud and (I hope) dedicated Christian; however, I don’t look to (or expect) secular corporations to carry my message of faith for me. Pastor Eddie DelValle of With Love Ministries is of course entitled to his reaction.  Viscerally, I might have reacted the same way on seeing that billboard for the first time.  However, for me, that would be the end of it, and here's why.

We Christians live in a secular society ... we cannot expect the secular world to reflect, let alone promote, our beliefs

We Christians live in a secular society, and I believe that  we are both misguided and misleading ourselves if we expect the secular world to reflect - let alone promote - our beliefs. If we boycotted every secular corporation that failed to carry our banner for us, we’d be limited to shopping at - or interacting with - just two kinds of companies.  Those whose owners have real faith and want to share that faith (Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-a come to mind) or those cynical secular corporations who proclaimed our message, not out of faith, but out of greed.

Frankly, I’d rather be ignored than be pandered to ...

While I do NOT want to deal with corporations or organizations that actively espouse an anti-Christian message, or which, by their actions, support an anti-Christian objective, I can't think of all that many organizations that fit that mold (except, perhaps for MSNBC and CNN, and a few other actively-hostile news media outlets). 

However, there are some businesses Christians can't avoid, even if something they do is distasteful.  For instance, all pharmacies are required to sell morning-after abortion pills, and as someone who's not a supporter of abortion, I find that distasteful. However, there are no alternatives I'm aware of, so I continue to do business with CVS Pharmacy.

I have also worked with and for clients and employers who personally profess either a lack of belief or an active disbelief. However, I deal with them in a purely secular role, and see no problem with that, since their businesses do not reflect their lack of faith or actively oppose mine.

So what's my bottom line here?  Disney is a secular corporation, and in our free country, they are free to celebrate - or not celebrate - Christmas as they choose.  That is their business, not mine.  I am free to do business with - or ignore - Disney. However, I have two grandkids who LOVE Disney movies, TV shows and products, and because of that, I'll very likely continue to "shop Disney" for Christmas presents. 

This does not offend, nor does it threaten, my faith

And I guess I encourage Christians, including Pastor Eddie DelValle, to pick their fights with a bit more care.  If Disney were actively trying to undermine Christianity, that would be different. But they're just trying to make a buck in December, which makes them not anti-Christian, but quintessentially American.

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