The president's season of hope and happiness

Is the White House taking "Christ" out of Christmas?


Tim Grieve
December 2, 2005 1:32AM (UTC)

We didn't make the list again this year, but we've got our sources: The 2005 White House Christmas card has just arrived in the War Room mailbox.

Wait, did we say "Christmas card"? With apologies to our Christianist friends, we must report that you won't find the word "Christmas" anywhere on this joint production of Hallmark and the Republican National Committee. On the outside of the card, there's a Jamie Wyeth painting of a rather lonely-looking White House in the snow. On the inside, the president and the missus send us -- or somebody, anyway -- their "best wishes for a holiday season of hope and happiness."

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A "holiday season of hope and happiness"?

Where's the Christ child? The manger? The star, the goats, the gold, frankincense and myrrh? If the White House Christmas card were a department store, it would find itself on Bill O'Reilly's naughty list.

Yes, there's a Bible passage inside -- right under the gold-embossed presidential seal -- but it isn't even from the New Testament. It's Psalm 28, or, more accurately, an excerpt from it. The Bushes left out the bit where David talks of the "workers of iniquity" who "speak peace to their neighbors" but have "mischief . . . in their hearts." And they didn't include the part where David asks the Lord to punish such evildoers for the "wickedness of their endeavors" by banishing them to "their desert."

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So what do they use? "The Lord is my strength and my shield; In Him my heart trusts; So I am helped, and my heart exults. And with my song I give thanks to him." It's all very beautiful, especially in the golden text in which it's laid out, and we're sure it means a lot to the believers among us. But if we were off wandering in the president's desert during this "season of hope and happiness," we might feel better off with body armor.


Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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