For the past six years the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) has had a winter festival, which they chose to call “A Grand Ole Christmas.” This year a strategic decision was made to change the name from “A Grand Ole Christmas” to “A Hotty Toddy Holiday.”
Kaypounyers Maye, co-director of special events for the Student Activities Association (SAA), explained the decision by saying, “’Grand Ole Christmas’ connoted too much Christianity on campus and so we wanted to have a more inclusive environment for the holidays this year.”
So, this year, Ole Miss will celebrate “Hotty Toddy Holiday” in an effort to be more politically correct, more inclusive, more all-embracing.
The American Family Association’s newsletter asked recipients to “urge the Ole Miss Student Activities Association to stop using its office to promote an anti-Christian climate and to apologize for using inflammatory language toward people of the Christian faith.”
The Jackson Clarion-Ledger said the AFA’s newsletter could be more of a knee-jerk reaction than anything else, because the media release for the event referred to it as a Hotty Toddy Christmas with the lighting of the “Christmas tree” and a performance of the Ole Miss Gospel Choir.
Although Ole Miss is trying to downplay this issue, the statement, “too much Christianity on campus” is startling and appalling to many Christians. Can there be too much true Christianity on a university campus? Should Christians be kept in a minority? Is Christianity such a bane, such a blight, that it is to be minimized, marginalized, or shunned?
What kind of message does “A Hotty Toddy Holiday” convey?
Most SEC football fans would recognize the term as part of the Ole Miss battle cry. However, the Urban Dictionary defines “Hotty Toddy” in several ways. The term can refer to someone who actually feels superior to the crowd with whom they associate. The term can also refer to an alcoholic beverage. And, it can also refer to sexual activities that could never be described in The Christian Index.
However, rather than tearing passion to tatters over what Ole Miss has done in changing “A Grand Ole Christmas” to a “Hotty Toddy Holiday” for the sake of a more inclusive environment, let me address the church for a moment.
Does the world perceive the church as an exclusive, closed-door, selective, private society that is open to only a few approved, acceptable people? I hope that is not the case.
We need to be receptive, welcoming, open to anyone and everyone regardless of their race, language, ethnic origin, background, social status, education, or sexual orientation.
The Bible says that we are to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. Indeed, that is our mission, but in many cases the world has come to our churches’ doors in Georgia and it is hypocritical of us to send missionaries and mission teams around the world and not welcome people from every clime and culture into our churches here at home.
Even those who are morally bankrupt should be welcomed into the activities and worship services of the church, but obviously repentance (the renunciation and forsaking of sin), faith in Christ, and baptism should be requirements for membership.
In a recent conversation with Bryan Alexander, missionary in Georgia Baptist’s Church/Minister Relations, he stated, “I discourage churches from placing signs or marquees in front of their church that says, ‘Welcome to our church.’” Alexander contends that the possessive pronoun “our” is simply too possessive and too restrictive. In reality no true church belongs to any earthly person or persons, but to the Lord alone. Consequently, the Lord would enthusiastically invite and welcome anyone and everyone.
We must not allow the world to perceive that the church is exclusive and narrow-minded socially, even though the church must forever be narrow-minded and exclusive when it come to the message it proclaims.