War on Christmas over? Jesus is again the reason for the season

Gov. Brian Kemp declares Jesus Christ 'the greatest gift of all'


ATLANTA — Inside the Capitol rotunda, a towering Christmas tree shines with thousands of lights. Red poinsettias line the staircases. Long strands of garland hang from railings. And a children’s choir sings about the birth of Christ.

That was the scene when Gov. Brian Kemp and his family kicked off the Christmas season in Georgia earlier this month with the lighting of the state Christmas tree, a clear signal that it’s still politically correct to celebrate Christmas as a Christian holy day in the Bible Belt.

Kemp was clear that he and others had gathered in the Capitol to celebrate, in his words, ‘the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ.”

“From the moment of his birth, Jesus set the example of humility, of service, and of God’s love,” the governor told a crowd gathered for the tree-lighting ceremony. “That overwhelming gift is why we celebrate the season.”

The flap from past yuletides about the political correctness of saying “merry Christmas” vs. “happy holidays” has been largely absent this year, signaling, perhaps, a truce in the so-called "war on Christmas."

After President Joe Biden counted down to the lighting of the National Christmas Tree outside the nation’s Capitol, he declared, “Merry Christmas, everyone.”

Inside the Georgia Capitol on Tuesday, Kemp prayed with a group of Georgia Baptists taking part in a Christmas tour. A photo shows Kemp and his wife, Marty, with their heads bowed in prayer, red poinsettias in the background matching the first lady’s coat.

“We are so blessed in Georgia to have so many God-fearing people in leadership, starting at the top with our governor," said Suzanne Guy, a member of First Baptist Church in Woodstock who serves on the Georgia Baptist Convention's Public Affairs Committee. "He sets the tone, and, when he’s so bold and unapologetic in stating the real reason for the season, that sends a strong message all over Georgia. That’s important in the day and age we’re living in, when people are trying to take Jesus out of everything.”

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, groups of Georgia Baptists have been taking part in a series of prayer tours of the state Capitol.

Mike Griffin, public affairs representative for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, has been leading the tours, providing insights to participants into how state government operates at they make their way through the Capitol.

When Kemp’s schedule allows, he poses for photos with the Georgia Baptists, who are part of the state’s largest religious group, the 1.4 million-member Georgia Baptist Convention.

To the group gathered for the December 4 tree lighting, Kemp, a member of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Athens, said the hope of Christ shines in the darkness, like Christmas lights.

Guy said evangelical Christians appreciate such words from Kemp.

"As a born-again believer, it's such a privilege to live in a state where we have a governor and first lady who love Jesus and who openly talk about Him," she said.