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Illustration by Alex Cochran, Deseret News

Is the ‘war on Christmas’ finally over?

Trump claims it’s been won, and Biden isn’t fighting

SHARE Is the ‘war on Christmas’ finally over?
SHARE Is the ‘war on Christmas’ finally over?

Is there a “war on Christmas?” Depends on whom you ask.

A recent poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University found 71% of people who say they voted for former President Donald Trump in 2020 believe there has been “a concerted effort to take ‘Christ’ out of ‘Christmas,’” while just 14% of those who say they voted for President Joe Biden agreed.

Overall, 37% of Americans believe there’s an effort to remove religious elements from Christmas, but that number is on the rise, from 29% in a 2013. The increase is driven by an increase among Republicans, according to poll data, and it’s been pushed by Trump.

“Trump made this claim a centerpiece of his presidential campaigns and in the speeches he gave at rallies,” Fairleigh Dickinson government and politics professor Dan Cassino said in a statement. “His embrace of the war on Christmas narrative has made it an article of faith for his supporters.”

Trump claimed on the campaign trail and in office that people didn’t use “Merry Christmas” because it was viewed as politically incorrect. After Starbucks made a change to its holiday cup design in 2015, the then-presidential candidate Trump suggested potentially boycotting Starbucks.

“If I become president, we’re all going to be saying Merry Christmas again, that I can tell you,” he said at the time.

The narrative that the Christmas holiday is under attack has also been a reoccurring theme on Fox News since Christmas 2004, according to the left-learning media watchdog group Media Matters for America. This year an arsonist burned down Fox News’ Christmas tree. Fox News’ correspondent Peter Doocy brought up the incident during a recent White House press briefing.

“We’ve seen an arsonist burn down a half-million-dollar Christmas tree in New York City back out on the streets,” he said. “Does the president think that’s good governing?”

More recently, Trump has taken credit for winning the “war on Christmas,” including in a Newsmax interview last week with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

“When I started campaigning, I said you’re going to say ‘Merry Christmas’ again, and now people are saying it,” Trump said.

While people who are evangelical or born-again Christians are more likely to believe there’s a war on Christmas than those who aren’t are not, the poll found, the best predictor of belief in a war on Christmas wasn’t faith, but voter preference.

“The war on Christmas is a central example of how divided our culture has become,” Cassino said. “Republicans and Democrats are living in two different worlds, seeing different threats, so it’s no surprise they have trouble agreeing on just about anything.”

Biden, meanwhile, doesn’t appear to be discussing any perceived war on Christmas. He hasn’t been shy, however, about using the phrase “Merry Christmas” this month, and at the DNC holiday party, he covered all his bases.

“Merry Christmas, happy holidays, God bless you all,” Biden said.

Christmas is celebrated by 90% of Americans, according to a 2017 Pew poll, although not everyone celebrates it as a religious holiday. The poll found a 55% majority celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday while 33% celebrate it as more of a cultural holiday and 8% don’t celebrate.