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About 15 years ago, on Christmas Eve, our family departed from the traditional American Jewish observance of the holiday (ordering Chinese take-out) and elected to find an open restaurant. We drove to the local city center (or what passes for it in suburbia) and were stunned to find that not only were all of the restaurants open, they were packed.
I had pictured my Christian friends and neighbors at home, gathered around the table Norman Rockwell-style, eating goose or ham or whatever Gentiles eat, bathed in the twinkling lights of decorated trees. In fact, I liked to think of them that way, and finding crowds treating Christmas Eve as just another night was almost a sacrilege.
Americans have long resisted the secularizing trend of Western Europe. In many Western European countries, churches stand virtually empty on Sundays and few profess belief in God (37 percent in the United Kingdom; 27 percent in France; 28 percent in The Netherlands). In the United States, according to Gallup, 92 percent said they believed in God as recently as 2011, which was down only 4 points from the 1944 response.