Activism and ... Christmas

IssueDecember 2011 / January 2012

I suppose for me as a Christian activist Christmas is a particularly important time of the year. After all, the Christmas story focuses on the birth of a baby who was born into poverty, and whose parents were fleeing a repressive regime - lots of resonance there with stuff I'm concerned with.

When I first began to connect my activism with my faith, it gave Advent and Christmas a new meaning. Itís now a time when I take stock and really think about the meaning of the season.

I also do a bunch of practical things through the church, working within the community to make connections between faith and activism. For example, our Justice and Peace Group uses Advent to raise some of our issues of  concern, collecting for local refugee and homelessness groups (food and other stuff), and encouraging people to write letters to prisoners of conscience.

In church at this time of year, there are often readings from Isaiah, a part of the Bible thatís particularly resonant for activists!
Christmas helps me ground my activism in a centuries-old culture and faith.
Woman,40s, Oxford

My own bit of activism around Christmas is I send my own Solstice cards instead of Christmas Cards. I'm not religious, anti religion in general, so it seemed hypocritical sending Christmas cards and though not a druid I do have a fondness for the Winter Solstice as it heralds the days getting longer and I love daylight.

My solstice cards usually have a couple of photos, front and back, one of which is invariably a peace action somewhere during that year. Inside I print a round robin of my year's activities including any protests Iíve been on, which might bore some recipients but might provoke thought in others. I send them to neighbours, friends and relatives.
Man, Lancashire, 60s

For radical Christians the Christmas season is one of hope and despair. Despair at its co-option by consumerism and sentimentality, and the hope that is central to the original story.

For Christmas to be real to us it needs to be taken in the context of the Feast of Holy Innocents, which recalls Herod's search-and-destroy mission against the Christ child. We remember this by gathering in community and going, in a spirit of nonviolent resistance, to the institutions responsible for todayís wars.

For the last decade, Iíve done this by going (with others) to Northwood - Britainís military headquarters in London.
Man, 50s, London

I remember a Christmas about 15 years ago when our affinity group did a weekly anti-sanctions on Iraq vigil on Mondays outside the Foreign Office. That year Christmas Day fell on a Monday. It was a strange time, we had a not-quite one-year-old baby and we were homeless. We walked miles into Town because there was no public transport, did a one family vigil in Whitehall and then went and had a cup of tea at a cafe in Charing Cross Road.
Woman, 40s, Sussex

See more of: Activism and