Did Henry Brown Save Christmas?

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WASHINGTON - The Christmas season has arrived, but Rep. Henry Brown, R-S.C., fears all the "Happy Holiday" messages Americans are hearing in stores and seeing on signs threaten to suffocate the reason for the season.

"The shopping and all the commercialization of Christmas has just about clouded over the true meaning of the birth of Christ," Brown said.

To preserve the meaning, Brown has introduced a resolution asking members of the U.S. House of Representatives to express their desire to protect the symbols and traditions of Christmas.

"If Christ had not come and had not died on the cross then what kind of life would I have today?" Brown asked.

However, Robert Boston with American's United for Separation of Church and State says the resolution simply supports the faction of Americans who believe there is a war on Christmas.

"I don't really think that that's a matter for the government to be concerned about," Boston insisted. "What type of greeting people chose to give one another or even what type of greeting you get from a clerk in a store - who cares."

But Brown's staff reports Americans from across the country do care and have called in to support the resolution.

According to a November Rasmussen poll, 72 percent of adults prefer "Merry Christmas" while 22 percent prefer "Happy Holidays."

The poll also revealed older Americans favor "Merry Christmas" more than younger ones, supporting Brown's fears of something he calls the "creeping effect." It is the notion that the celebration of the birth of Christ will slowly, year after year, creep out of the season to make way for a more universal, secular holiday.

"If you want sort of a full throttle religious experience at Christmas, the place to get that is not city hall, not your local public school, not the U.S. Congress, it's a church," Boston said.

According to a poll taken in December, the majority of Americans will do just that. The survey reveals 66 percent of Americans celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, while 20 percent celebrate it as a secular holiday.

"We're in a troubled world," Brown warned. "That's the reason we can't lose sight of our deep faith by somehow or another diminishing the value of Christmas."

Whether or not his resolution ever sees the light of day, Brown believes he's succeeded in making his point. So far, 73 other lawmakers have signed on as co-sponsors to the congressman's Christmas bill.

The legislation has been referred to a House committee.

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