The annual battle to banish Christmas has started early this year with the beloved British children’s cartoon “Thomas the Tank Engine” carrying a “decorated tree” for the “winter holidays.
The word “Christmas” is never uttered although the plucky little train engine is obviously transporting a Christmas tree.
“The team behind TV’s ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ have angered church leaders after writing Christmas out of their latest DVD,” reports Anna Blyth for the Scotsman daily newspaper. “The much-loved train has been dubbed a member of the politically correct brigade after the term ‘Christmas’ was replaced with ‘winter holiday’ in ‘Little Engine’s Big Day Out.’”
“‘Thomas the Tank Engine” narrator Michael Angelis tells young viewers: ‘You’ll always see a tree with decorations during the winter holidays.’
“Tis the season to be worried!” headlined the Daily Mail. “Even Christmas trees have been axed in an episode of the DVD, ‘Little Engines, Big Days Out,’ and are instead referred to as decorated trees. Brightly wrapped presents are delivered to a ‘holiday party.’
Critics say the omission was particularly strange because the original Thomas books, hugely popular around the world, were written by a clergyman, the Reverend Wilbert Awdry.
Retired British political figure Ann Widdecombe told the Mail it was “extra ridiculous” not to mention Christmas in a children’s story as youngsters would be anticipating the special day for months in advance.
“The shops will be stocking Christmas gifts, the television will be advertising presents and people will be talking about it, so the idea that children won’t hear about it is ludicrous,” she said. “It is another example of the politically correct brigade trying to airbrush Christmas out of our lives because they fear they might upset non-Christians, which is nonsense.”
In the episode Thomas carries a fir tree and his friend, James the Red Engine, is anxious to beat the other engines to finish a series of jobs because he wants to win the privilege of distributing children’s presents.
The Fat Controller, the rotund manager of the railways system on the fictional island of Sodor, tells the trains that when the lines are clear of snow he will need an engine “to take the presents to the holiday party.”
The narration notes: “All the engines wanted to take the presents train. It was the jolliest train of the year.”
At one point, James pulls into a station where children are singing carols and decorating a tree with shiny baubles. The voice-over narration intones: “James listened to the choir and watched all the colorful decorations being put up.”
John Midgley of England’s Campaign Against Political Correctness, cautioned: “This is another example of the attempt to write Christmas out of something which is so popular with families. Let’s hope the makers of the DVD think hard about this. It’s our experience that people from other religions do not want to eradicate Christmas from holidays or write it out of our everyday language. We feel it is vital not to do this especially when the audience is children.”
The Rev. Mark Johnstone, convenor of the Mission and Discipleship Council of the Church of Scotland, commented to the online news site Tonight: “There is a great Christian tradition in Scotland and Christmas is important as it celebrates the birth of Christ.”
A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church told the Christian Institute news site: “It would be a great shame if political correctness were to wipe out the true meaning of Christmas for children, even to the extent of interfering in classic children’s stories.”