Conflicts at Christmas time:
Conflicts during 2005: Part 1
Target Corp. targeted.
Activities by conservative Protestant groups.
Activities by secular church-state separation groups
Year 2005 conflicts (Part 1):
The conflict over Christmas in 2005 started to heat up well in advance of the holiday,
|Some people regard the late December season as a multi-cultural time
when followers of various religious faiths
and secularists -- including Christians, Wiccans, Muslims, Jews,
Atheists, secularists, etc. enjoy observing their unique seasonal days of celebration.|
|Others believe that the season should be restricted to an observance
|Still others have a heightened concern about the separation of church
and state during this season.|
Books in 2005 about conflicts over Christmas -- sort of:
On 2005-OCT-11, Doubleday released a new book by Bill Press called: "How
the Republicans Stole Christmas," The title and the front cover refer to
Christmas. But the subtitle gives the true content of the book: "The
Republican Party's Declared Monopoly on Religion and What Democrats Can Do to
Take it Back." But the text inside the book discuss abortion access,
separation of church and state, the death penalty, equal rights for homosexuals,
reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
A few days later,
on OCT-20, Sentinel released a book by John Gibson titled: "The War on
Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse
Than You Thought."
An Amazon.com reviewer writes:
"John Gibson, a popular anchor for the Fox News Channel, has been digging
up evidence about the liberal activists, lawyers, politicians, educators,
and media people who are leading the war on Christmas. And he reveals that
the situation is worse than you can imagine. For instance:
|In Illinois, state government workers were forbidden from saying the
words "Merry Christmas" while at work.|
|In Rhode Island, local officials banned Christians from
participating in a public project to decorate the lawn of City Hall|
|A New Jersey school banned even instrumental versions of traditional
|Arizona school officials ruled it unconstitutional for a student to
make any reference to the religious history of Christmas in a class
"Millions of Americans are starting to fight back against the secularist
forces and against local officials who would rather surrender than be seen
as politically incorrect. Gibson shows readers how they can help save
Christmas from being twisted beyond recognition, with even the slightest
reference to Jesus completely disappearing. The annual debate will be
hotter than ever in 2005, and this book will be perfect for everyone who’s
reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
Both books retail in the $24 - 25 range, but are available at Amazon for under $16.50 plus
postage. You can request free shipping for orders over $25.00
Target Corp. announces partnership with Salvation Army:
During the 2004 the end-of-year holiday season, Target Corp. refused to
allow Salvation Army bell-ringers from its store entrances. Their reason was
that if they allowed Salvation Army personnel to solicit donations there,
they would have to allow representatives of all other nonprofits as well.
The Salvation Army had to go elsewhere to make up for the approximately $9
million that they had collected from Target shoppers in previous years.
For 2005, Target announced a new partnership with the Salvation Army. From
2005-NOV-25 to 2006-JAN-25, visitors to the
Target web site will be able to purchase
clothing, household items, and other products, and donate them to one of the Salvation
Army's 13 distribution centers across the U.S. They will also be able to
donate money directly to the Salvation Army.
Carolyn Brookter, a spokesperson for Target, said: "We were concerned
that the holiday season would be a time when the hurricane victims would be
forgotten, with so much going on and so many families trying to serve their
George Hood, national community relations and development secretary for the
Salvation Army, said: "This will be an interesting test. If we can keep
the same high-profile presence through the holiday season, as we did during
the hurricane season, then it could be very productive for us."
Noting that Target would benefit financially from purchases made on its web
site and directed to the Salvation Army, Bernie Hesse, an organizer for
Local 789 of the United Food and Commercial Workers union in St. Paul, MN,
said: "Target is trying to recover some of the goodwill they lost when
they pulled the kettles last year. They benefit by the good public relations
and they benefit from the higher sales." 1
American Family Association (AFA) launches boycott of Target stores:
The AFA alerted its followers on 2005-OCT-07 that Target had banned
Salvation Army's kettles from the front of their stores. The AFA later
learned that Target would be using the term "Happy Holidays" instead
of "Merry Christmas" in their in-store promotions and media
advertising, presumably to recognize the religious diversity among their
customers. 2 The AFA, a fundamentalist Protestant agency, found this decision
unacceptable. They advocate that the holiday season in late December focus
solely on Christmas.
On 2005-NOV-14, Target Corp. announced that its November sales are less than
projected values and will come in "below our planned range."
According to the Globe and Mail newspaper, "Target's sales warning raises
concerns that consumer spending will falter as consumer struggle with a
backdrop of rising interest rates and soaring energy costs.....Last week,
Target reported a 12-per-cent increase in third-quarter sales, its seventh
consecutive quarterly gain. The company has become a favorite with investors
as its sales growth has outpaced that of Wal-Mart." 3 Target shares dropped by 7%.
Shares of Wal-Mart, Federated Department Stores, Kohl's, and J.C. Penny also
dropped, between 1 and 5.5%.
The AFA attributed the loss in Target's share value to the AFA's
announcement about the Salvation Army's kettles. Donald E. Wildmon, founder
and chairperson of the AFA, wrote: "Your efforts are having an impact.
USA Today (11/16/05) announced that 'Target alarmed investors by saying
projected sales at stores open a year in November would miss the estimated
4% to 6% growth." 2
A search of the Target web site on
2005-NOV-22 showed 48,378 product matches for "Christmas." Almost all
were the titles or topics of books and recorded music. The Target web site
itself referred to topics like "Holiday" gift finder, cooking,
entertaining, décor, catalogs, shipping
dates, etc. and did not stress Christmas. They sell a wide variety of
ornamental trees, without mentioning the term "Christmas tree." The
only place that we could find on their web site where Christmas was
mentioned was in the "Shop by Style" section of the
Holiday Decorating menu. It had a hyperlink to "Classic Christmas."
The latter section featured ten items -- topiaries, candleholders, etc. of
which eight items were out of stock.
The AFA asked everyone to boycott Target during the Thanksgiving Weekend
2005-NOV-25-27. This is the busiest shopping weekend of the year.
They are asking their supporters to share this request: "... with friends,
family and members of your church and Sunday school class."
The AFA feels that last year's boycott against Federated Stores was a
success, because Federated will be using "Merry Christmas" in 2005.
Alliance Defense Fund gears up for Christmas:
In early 2005-NOV, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a fundamentalist
Christian legal group, said that it is repeating its "Christmas Project"
for the second time in 2005. It has 800 cooperating lawyers across the U.S. who
have offered to handle without charge complaints about "improper attempts to
censor the celebration of Christmas in schools and on public property.''
Their affiliated attorneys sent a detailed memo on ADF's view of Christmas and
constitutional law to 7,000 school districts. ADF President Alan Sears said: "An
overwhelming majority of Americans of all faiths agree that we should celebrate
Christmas. This is a time for goodness, giving, and hope--not a time for fear,
intimidation, and the disinformation of agenda-driven, anti-Christmas legal
entities." He appears to discount the fear and intimidation posed by the 800
Liberty Council gears up for Christmas:
Liberty Counsel, another fundamentalist Christian legal group, has
begun a "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign." Their executive director, Mat
"Every year we have so much confusion that managers and school officials
just censor if they have any doubt. They just remove that nativity scene or
stop children from singing carols. There is such an overreaction that some
school officials have banned green and red clothes because those are
Liberty Counsel has prepared a list of Christmas activities that courts have
declared constitutional. They are encouraging churches to run the ads in local
newspapers. They have also asked the 8,000 public school teachers who are
members of the Christian Educators Association International to report
any questionable restrictions that school officials are putting in place in
their schools. 6
Secular legal groups claim there is no war on
The three main legal organizations active in preserving separation of church
and state are the Americans United for Separation of Church and State,
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and People for the American Way
|Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United said that
he was unaware of any lawsuit filed by any of the three groups in at least
two years. He said: "They're preparing a campaign to fight for Christmas
in a war that in fact does not exist. This is just one more fund-raising
gimmick for Jerry Falwell." He explained that "The law is reasonable
settled" as far as putting Christmas displays on public property, like
city halls, fire stations, police stations, city owned parks, etc. Such a
display is constitutional as long as it also contains secular elements, such
as Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, etc. However, there is not yet a
definitive U.S. Supreme Court ruling on school concerts. He speculated that
a concert that contained Christmas carols such as "Silent Night"
would probably be found constitutional if it also included secular songs
such as "Frosty the Snowman." He concluded: "This so-called `war
against Christmas' is a powerful image but it's mythological. Most public
institutions understand what the law is."|
|Jeremy Gunn, director of the ACLU's Program on Freedom of Religion
and Belief, said that the idea of of a "war on Christmas [is]
nonsense." He indicated that people can put religious displays on
religious property and personal property. He continued: "...the ACLU will
defend their right to do so. The issue is whether people want to have a
political fight about putting religious displays on government property. We
wonder why people are seeking such controversy. Is that the Christmas spirit?"
|PFAWF's is asking for Americans to join them
in a special Christmas time campaign. Their web site states:|
"Do you feel unrepresented when the loudest voices on TV try to turn
simple respect for diverse religious beliefs into an attack on
Christianity? Do you think the 'war on Christmas' crowd is violating the
spirit of the season - and trying to create religious conflict for
political purposes? Do you have an opinion on what's best about
religious freedom in America? Can you record yourself on a web-cam or
other digital camera?"
"We are looking for a thoughtful variety of American opinions on how
America works best in respecting both religious liberty and religious
"The 'war on Christmas' claim is just the latest example of religion
being used to divide Americans for political purposes. You can help us
give Americans an alternative vision.
They are asking the public to make a short, personal video tape in which
they express their feelings about religious liberty and diversity. They will
post the best submissions online. 7
This topic is continued in Part 2
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Chris Serres, "Target makes deal with Salvation Army; red kettles still
banned," Star Tribune, Minneapolis- St. Paul, 2005-NOV-14, at:
- Donald Wildmon, "Target Getting the Message - Stock Drops 7%,"
American Family Association, 2005-NOV, at:
- Roma Luciw, "Target warning sinks stock," Globe and Mail,
- "AFA 'Targets' Retailer That Won't Say 'Merry Christmas',"
Citizen Link mailing, Focus on the Family, 2005-NOV-21.
- Richard Ostling, "Interest groups gear up for conflict over Christmas,"
Associated Press, 2005-NOV-12, at:
- Bob Dart, "Right charges war on Christmas," Cox News Service,
- "Broadcast your thoughts to the nation," People for the American way,
Copyright © 2005 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally posted: 2005-NOV-22
Latest update: 2005-DEC-19
Author: B.A. Robinson