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.

The review of the seminary calendars is just as unfair and misleading. Most seminaries will have perhaps just one Christmas event because their students are supposed to be active members of local churches, and in any case classes usually end half-way through December so there’s no one on campus for Christmas. When I taught at an Episcopal seminary, which was a conservative one, every one of whose students and faculty happily affirmed the Nicene Creed, including “born of the Virgin Mary,” we may have had one campus-wide Christmas service, but I don’t think we did. In Advent, we observed Advent in chapel, because, you know, it was Advent. Look, again, at Gordon-Conwell and St. Vlad’s websites.

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