AMAC Exclusive – By Seamus Brennan
In the domain of presidential rhetoric, President Joe Biden has become the first president to take Christ out of Christmas.
In recent remarks at the lighting of the National Christmas Tree, President Biden paved the way for his hard-left political allies to resume their longstanding War on Christmas by excluding any meaningful reference to God, Jesus, or even the meaning of Christmas, which is among the holiest days of the year for Christians. Biden’s godless rhetoric surrounding the Christmas season stands in particularly stark contrast with the distinctively faith-based rhetoric of former President Donald Trump—and Americans of faith and goodwill are sure to take note of the glaring difference.
As a candidate in 2016, Donald Trump vigorously campaigned on ending the so-called War on Christmas and replacing the politically correct greeting of “Happy Holidays” with the more traditional “Merry Christmas.” As President, Trump delivered on his promise. During his four years in office, Trump’s remarks at the annual National Christmas Tree Lighting (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020)—an iconic ceremony dating back to 1923—were filled with religious language and a deep sense of reverence for the birth of Jesus. “For Christians, this is a holy season: the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” the former president said during the 2017 ceremony. “The Christmas Story begins 2,000 years ago with a mother, a father, their baby Son, and the most extraordinary gift of all—the gift of God’s love for all of humanity. Whatever our beliefs, we know that the birth of Jesus Christ and the story of His life forever changed the course of human history.”
One Christian newspaper was so grateful for President Trump’s first Christmas message that it produced an extraordinary and beautiful video of those remarks with music and photography.
Similar God-centered rhetoric—often accompanied by verses from Scripture—were a defining feature of Trump’s speeches at his last three Tree Lighting ceremonies as well. “There in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph held in their hands the Son of God, the light of the world–and, through Him, the promise of eternal salvation,” he said at the 2018 Tree Lighting, where he also invited the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist—a group of Catholic nuns from Michigan—to sing Christmas carols. “At Christmas, we give thanks to God and that God sent His only Son to die for us and to offer everlasting peace to all humanity,” Trump said at last year’s event.
Joe Biden, on the other hand, has decided to take a radically secular approach to the occasion. In Biden’s first Tree Lighting ceremony as president, after bizarrely appearing on stage a full two minutes after he was introduced—with no explanation—Biden then failed to mention or make any reference to the birth of Christ or the story of Christmas. In his remarks, he instead opting to reduce both the National Christmas Tree and the holiday itself to a secular and terribly clichéd “beacon of hope” and an opportunity to “find light.” While Biden did, manage to quote several lines of the Peace Prayer of St. Francis, he omitted portions of the prayer that make explicit reference to God. Biden also made mention of his self-professed “Catholic faith”—even though Catholic bishops have repeatedly criticized Biden for his pro-abortion stance and his longstanding pattern of diverging from Catholic Church teachings when it is politically convenient for him to do so.
The watered-down language of “light” and “hope” that pervaded his Tree Lighting speech echoes other remarks that President Biden has made on religious occasions—for instance when he incorporated his “Build Back Better” slogan into a Menorah lighting ceremony commemorating Hannukah. “That little bit of light,” he said, referring to the socialist spending plan during his cringe-worthy remarks, can “dispel the darkness” from our “democracy” and encourage us to “build back better or perhaps build back brighter.” During Biden’s remarks celebrating Easter at the White House this spring, Biden similarly twisted the Christian concepts of “resurrection” and “renewal” to encourage vaccination against COVID-19 and to remind Americans that the “virus is not gone.”
Clearly, when it comes to religious celebrations, Joe Biden is way out of step with the millions of faithful Americans he serves. In an age when national religious affiliation is plummeting to historic lows, President Biden is doing little to revive America’s deep-rooted religious spirit. In this regard, like so many others, he has failed where his predecessor succeeded. And yet as Trump said in Warsaw in 2017, harkening back to a famous refrain Poles had chanted under Communism, “The people of Poland, the people of America, and the people of Europe still cry out: ‘WE WANT GOD.’”
So do Joe Biden’s speeches.