The Official White House Christmas Tree arrives at the White House in Washington, Nov. 27, 2015. This year's White House Christmas Tree is an 18.5-foot Fraser fir grown by Jay and Glenn Bustard in Lansdale, Penn. 
Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

This Week in God, 12.10.16

First up from the God Machine this week, whether most Americans realized it or not, the “War on Christmas” has apparently ended – and Donald Trump won. The Huffington Post noted the unintentionally funny news a few days ago.
One of Donald Trump’s surrogates is declaring victory on the so-called War on Christmas.

Speaking on Fox News on Tuesday night, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski claimed it was safe to say “Merry Christmas” again.
Lewandowski, a Trump advisor and former campaign manager, proudly declared, “You can say again, ‘Merry Christmas,’ because Donald Trump is now the president. You can say it again, it’s OK to say; it’s not a pejorative word anymore.”

Evidently, had the winner of the popular vote prevailed in the presidential election, Americans wouldn’t be able to wish each other a “Merry Christmas.” I guess we dodged a holiday-themed bullet.

This comes just a few months after one of Trump’s adult children said the Republican launched his national campaign because “the tree on the White House lawn has been renamed ‘Holiday tree’ instead of ‘Christmas tree.’” In reality, the tree on the White House lawn wasn’t actually renamed at all – Eric Trump made this up – but as a pro-Trump pundit recently explained, there’s “no such thing” as facts anymore.

As for why in the world a prominent Trump ally would tie the president-elect’s win with holiday greetings, The New Republic’s Alex Shephard explained, “Trump’s attraction to ‘Merry Christmas’ was never based on his religious belief, it was based on it being a (practically audible) dog whistle to those who believe that America is being threatened by multiculturalism.”

Message delivered.

Also from the God Machine this week:

* Get to know Betsy DeVos, your next Secretary of Education: “The billionaire philanthropist whom Donald Trump has tapped to lead the Education Department once compared her work in education reform to a biblical battleground where she wants to ‘advance God’s Kingdom.’”

* Building bridges, not walls: “Jolted into action by a wave of hate crimes that followed the election victory of Donald J. Trump, American Muslims and Jews are banding together in a surprising new alliance. They are putting aside for now their divisions over Israel to join forces to resist whatever may come next. New groups are forming, and interfaith coalitions that already existed say interest is increasing.”

* She used to know better: “German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who last year opened the door to nearly 1 million mostly Muslim migrants, staked out a tough new stance on conservative Islam on Tuesday by making her first direct call for a widespread ban on ‘full veil’ religious coverings.”

* The Vatican this week “reaffirmed its position that gay men are barred from entering Catholic seminaries. In a document entitled ‘The Gift of the Priestly Vocation,’ published online Wednesday, the church outlined a wide range of guidelines for priestly formation. One section addressed ‘persons with homosexual tendencies,’ who, it said, cannot be admitted to seminaries or to the priesthood.”