This Christmas season when many pastors, some of whom are originally from communist countries, are facing fines and imprisonment simply for holding worship services in America, it is important to examine how communism can eradicate the Christian faith in a nation.
Before Ronald Reagan became president in 1981, he gave more than 1,000 daily radio broadcasts from 1975 to 1979, including one in which he shared a story about the history of Christmas in the Ukraine before and after communism.
In an effort to resist Christians, communist leaders secularized a favorite Ukrainian Christmas carol, “Nova Radist Stala” (Joyous News Has Come to Us). The original song began with these words: “The joyous news has come which never was before. Over a cave above a manger a bright star has lit the world, where Jesus was born from a virgin maiden…” Communists feared the public outcry that would follow a complete ban on Christmas, so they began to slowly secularize the holiday. The first rewrite of the song began: “The joyous news has come which never was before, a red star with five tails has brightly lit the world.” The second rewrite went further: “The joyous news has come which never was before. Long-awaited star of freedom lit the skies in October [the month of the Revolution]. Where formerly lived the kings and had the roots their nobles, there today with simple folks, Lenin’s glory hovers.”
The former Soviet Union eventually began banning Christmas commemorations. St. Nicholas was replaced with “Did Moroz,” or Grandfather Frost. This Stalinist creation wears a red cap and long white beard of Santa Claus, but he delivers gifts to children on New Year’s Eve. Christmas trees were also banned, but people continued to trim their New Year’s trees. Communism folded all Christmas celebrations into a New Year’s celebration.
Christians in the former Soviet Union exhibited bravery and courage in confronting communism’s anti-Christmas campaign. One person recalled how the young people would go out in the streets and sing Christmas carols, knowing that if police heard them, they would be arrested. In communist Romania, Rev. Geza Palffy, a Roman Catholic priest, delivered a sermon in 1983, protesting against the fact that December 25 had been declared a workday instead of a holiday. The next day he was arrested by secret police, beaten, imprisoned and died. Inside and outside the Iron Curtain, Ukrainians never stopped singing: “We beg you our Lord, we pray to you today. Grant us freedom, return glory to our Mother Ukraine.” Reagan ended his broadcast: “I guess we all hope their prayer is answered.” Indeed it was.
The secularization of Christmas is nothing new. Christianity Today in 2002 reported that in the Vietnamese province of Dak Lak, children’s choirs were forbidden to sing “Silent Night.” From 1969 to 1997, Christmas was banned in Cuba.
Legal challenges to Christmas and holiday displays have been ongoing for decades. The challenges to Nativity displays expanded to the public schools and even to nursing homes and assisted living centers. In some schools, students were told that Christmas cards, Merry Christmas greetings, signing religious Christmas carols, and even the colors red and green were not permissible. Some senior living centers prohibited residents from placing Christian or religious symbols on the Christmas tree or otherwise decorating with such religious imagery. Around 2003, the censorship of Christmas entered the retail market. Christmas trees was renamed “Holiday Trees,” Christmas decorations were referred to as Holiday Decorations or Holiday Lights. In response to this trend, Liberty Counsel launched the annual Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign which is designed to educate—and, if necessary, litigate—to ensure that the religious and Christian viewpoints of Christmas are not censored.
Learn here about some of the numerous Christmas-related issues in which Liberty Counsel has been involved.
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The war against Christians is nothing new. Repressive forces have always had the same goal – to first secularize and then to eliminate Christmas. In America the First Amendment is a guard against censorship. In the retail market, the consumer can decide to patronize stores that recognize Christmas and avoid those that profit from Christmas while pretending it does not exist.”