The Christmas Wars / Christmas Dilemma Part 1 of 3
2015: Conflicts over "Merry Christmas,"
vs. the inclusive "Happy Holidays:"
If elected President, Donald
Trump would limit free speech.
2015-SEP-25: Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump discusses the "War on Christmas:"
Speaking at the 2015 Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC, Trump said:
"The word Christmas: I love Christmas. I love Christmas. You go to stores now, you don’t see the word Christmas. It says, ‘Happy holidays’ all over. I say, ‘Where’s Christmas?’ I tell my wife, 'Don’t go to those stores'.
I want to see Christmas — no, I want to see Christmas.
And you know, other people can have their holidays … but Christmas is Christmas. [Remember] the expression ‘Merry Christmas?’ You don’t see it anymore. You’re [going to] see it if I get elected, I can tell you right now. I can tell you right now. ..."
"The progressives are pushing to an extent that if we’re not careful, we’re [going to] have some big problems and even bigger than we have right now. Look, we need people that can support us. We need people that are strong, and smart, and can back us." 1
2015-OCT-22: Donald Trump confirmed his policy on store greetings at Christmas if and when he becomes President:
A month later, during a political speech in Burlington Iowa, Donald Trump appealed to evangelical Christian voters and others by saying:
"I'm a good Christian. If I become president, we're gonna be saying 'Merry Christmas' at every store ... You can leave 'happy holidays' at the corner." 2
The audience exploded with applause.
CNN Politics quotes him as referring to "happy holidays." However the soundtrack of the video on their web site seems to clearly say "happy holiday."
If he did say "holiday," then it was either a slip of the tongue or he misunderstands the greeting. The entire intent of saying "Happy Holidays" in place of "Merry Christmas" is to emphasize that although Christmas is the main holiday celebrated at this time in the U.S., there are many other additional; holidays -- religious, cultural, secular, and humorous -- that are observed as well.
A member of the audience, Cynthia Forth, 60, from Crawfordsville, IA said:
"He actually says what I want to hear and he's not worried about telling somebody or saying it in a way that doesn't sound real. I want to hear (it) straight. He'll give it to you straight." 2
On OCT-23, Hemant Mehta, writing for Patheos', the "Friendly Atheist" column, said:
"He went on to say 'other religions can do what they want,' which seems to contradict the previous statement. Then again, logic was never one of his strong suits.
Trump added that it’s a travesty for 'them' to 'take away the word 'Christmas',' ... even though no one’s doing that. Some stores just prefer that employees say 'Happy Holidays' because their customers aren’t all Christians. It’s a better umbrella phrase.
Trump is merely demonstrating what we’ve all known for a long time: inclusivity and respect for other people are not Christian traits." 3
Mehta's final comment is, of course, lacking in accuracy. Some 70% of adults in the U.S. currently identify themselves as being Christians. They hold a wide range of religious beliefs and practices including what is the proper greeting late in the year. Many, perhaps most, Christians pride themselves in being inclusive and respectful of other faiths.
It is not clear how, as President, Donald Trump could implement such a requirement. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech to everyone in the U.S. A presidential order, or law passed by Congress to require store owners and employees to give a specific greeting would be clearly unconstitutional. It could not survive a constitutional challenge in the courts.
"ClementC" posted a comment to Mehta's article:
"When I am King of These United States, I will ban all public celebration of Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas before the first day of the month they occur in. Anyone caught putting up Halloween decorations before October 1st, Thanksgiving decorations before November 1st, or Christmas decorations before December 1st will be fined and have their decorations confiscated." 3
Needless to day, the U.S. is a constitutional democracy in which the federal Constitution is the highest law of the land. Such a federal law or presidential decree would be unconstitutional. A war was fought during the late 18th Century to overthrow the authority of a King to, among other things, restricted freedom of speech and of expression.
Another article reader, "Randay" posted an interesting point which mirrors the refusal of a few county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples:
"Suppose I work in a department store and I refuse to say 'Merry Christmas' because it goes against my atheism, or for that matter some religion whatever. Can I sue the store if it fires me because of my deeply held beliefs? 3
To which "fifthdentist" responded with humor:
"No. Don't be silly. Atheism is un-American. And probably communist and Nazi and all hippie-like." 3
"I guess 'The Donald' has never heard of the 1st Amendment. So how is he gonna 'force' store employees to say 'Merry Christmas' instead of 'Happy Holidays?' The threat of a fine or jail time? Please Donald tell us how you are gonna do this. This is about as dumb as him saying he was going to 'force' Mexico to pay for a wall along our border. How?
Of course the knuckledragger types eat this stuff up but most people know this is crazy talk." 3
This topic continues in Part 2 with a discussion of the the latest victim
of the War on Christmas: Starbucks and the design of their coffee cups.
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
- David Schrfinski, "Donald Trump: You will hear ‘Merry Christmas’ if I’m elected," Washington Times, 2015-SEP-25, at: http://www.washingtontimes.com/
- MJ Lee, "Donald Trump's pledge: 'We're gonna be saying Merry Christmas'," CNN Politics, 2015-OCT-22, at: http://www.cnn.com/
- Hemant Mehta, "Donald Trump: When I’m in Office, Every Store Will Be Saying 'Merry Christmas'," Patheos, 2015-OCT-23, at: http://www.patheos.com/
Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2015-NOV-12
Latest update: 2015-NOV-13
Author: B.A. Robinson