In the Catholic League’s latest press release, Bill Donohue argues that the major divinity schools are ignoring Christmas because they don’t have Christmas pictures on their websites and list few if any Christmas services on their calendars. He mentions Harvard, Yale, Chicago, Emory, Duke, and Vanderbilt. Ah, one thinks at first, a very good point—but it’s not. It’s grossly unfair.
One ought to be skeptical just from the inclusion of Duke in his list, Duke the home of Paul Griffiths, Reinhard Huetter, Kavin Row, Stanley Hauerwas, Richard Hays, and Geoffrey Wainwright, all of whom have written for First Things, among many other good people. It’s absurd to think that the divinity school is ignoring Christmas, with the imputation of secularist commitments that is supposed to imply.
And indeed, the two criteria don’t prove anything of the sort. Like the websites of almost every similar institution, seminary websites have a set form that they don’t change from season to season. They’re not decorated with pictures. They’re not creative enterprises. That’s not what they’re for. Look, for example, at the websites of Gordon-Conwell and St. Vladimir’s. They’re no more Christmasy than those of Duke etc.