President Obama redefined the meaning of Christmas during his weekly address to the nation — calling on Americans to “remember a spirit of service” – whatever they believe.
The president told Americans that Christmas is specifically about “giving of ourselves.”
“Service to others – that’s what this season is all about,” Obama said. “For my family and millions of Americans, that’s what Christmas is all about.”
However, for most Americans of the Christian faith, the season is all about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ — the son of God.
Mrs. Obama made a passing reference to what she called a story of “love and redemption that began 2,000 years ago.”
But there were absolutely no mentions of Jesus, Wise Men, or even so much as a manger in the Obama’s address.
“So whatever you believe, wherever you’re from, let’s remember the spirit of service that connects us all this season – as Americans,” he said. ”Each of us can do our part to serve our communities and our country, not just today, but every day.”
The president also made the Christmas message all-inclusive — noting that “part of what it means to love God is to love one another, to be our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper.”
“But that believe is not just at the center of our Christian faith, it’s also shared by Americans of all faiths and backgrounds,” Obama said.
It’s not the first time the Obama White House has tried to make Christian holiday statements all-inclusive.
In 2010, Obama was criticized for releasing an all-inclusive Easter greeting. He reached out to Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and people of no faith at all in a statement about a holiday that is uniquely Christian.
“All of us are striving to make a way in this world; to build a purposeful and fulfilling life in the fleeting time we have here,” Obama said in his 2010 “Easter” message. “A dignified life. A healthy life. A life, true to its potential. And a life that serves other.” “These are aspirations that stretch back through the ages – aspirations at the heart of Judaism, at the heart of Christianity, at the heart of all the world’s great religions,” the president added.
When the White House released statements about Muslim holidays, no attempts were made to include Christianity or to mention a spirit of inclusivity. For example, in his 2010 statement on Hajj and Eid-ul-Adha, Obama made no references to Christianity or any other religion.
And in 2011 the White House Hanukkah message made no reference to any faith group or holiday other than Hanukkah.
By comparison, Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann’s Christmas greeting reminded Americans of the true reason for the season.
“At a time when Christ is all to often lost in Christmas, it’s more important than ever to draw near to our family and friends, praising and thanking God for the ultimate Christmas gift: His son,” she wrote in a message to her supporters. “He is the reason for the season and the source of all our blessings.”
Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum also provided a Christmas message to his supporters.
“May you and your family take some time to remember the real meaning of the Christmas season and reflect on the miracle of the birth of Jesus Christ,” Santorum wrote.
So if Republicans like Bachmann and Santorum can identify the true meaning of Christmas — why can’t President Obama?
Read the President’s Christmas greeting below:
Remarks of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama
The White House
December 24, 2011
THE PRESIDENT: Hi everyone. As you gather with family and friends this weekend, Michelle, Malia, Sasha and I – and of course Bo – want to wish you all Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
THE FIRST LADY: This is such a wonderful time of year.
It’s a time to honor the story of love and redemption that began 2,000 years ago … a time to see the world through a child’s eyes and rediscover the magic all around us … and a time to give thanks for the gifts that bless us every single day.
This holiday season at the White House, we wanted to show our thanks with a special holiday tribute to some of the strongest, bravest, and most resilient members of our American family – the men and women who wear our country’s uniform and the families who support them.
THE PRESIDENT: For many military families, the best gift this year is a simple one – welcoming a loved one back for the holidays. You see, after nearly nine years, our war in Iraq is over. Our troops are coming home. And across America, military families are being reunited.
So let’s take a moment to give thanks for their service; for their families’ service; for our veterans’ service. And let’s say a prayer for all our troops standing post all over the world, especially our brave men and women in Afghanistan who are serving, even as we speak, in harm’s way to protect the freedoms and security we hold dear.
THE FIRST LADY: Our veterans, troops, and military families sacrifice so much for us.
So this holiday season, let’s make sure that all of them know just how much we appreciate everything they do.
Let’s ask ourselves, “How can I give back? How can my family serve them as well as they’ve served us”
One way you can get started is to visit JoiningForces.gov to find out how you can get involved in your community.
THE PRESIDENT: Giving of ourselves; service to others – that’s what this season is all about. For my family and millions of Americans, that’s what Christmas is all about. It reminds us that part of what it means to love God is to love one another, to be our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper. But that belief is not just at the center of our Christian faith, it’s shared by Americans of all faiths and backgrounds. It’s why so many of us, every year, volunteer our time to help those most in need; especially our hungry and our homeless.
So whatever you believe, wherever you’re from, let’s remember the spirit of service that connects us all this season – as Americans. Each of us can do our part to serve our communities and our country, not just today, but every day.
THE FIRST LADY: So from our family to yours, Merry Christmas.
THE PRESIDENT: Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everybody.