The Christmas Wars / Christmas Dilemma
Events during 2007
As in past years, the conflict over Christmas in 2007 started to heat up well
in advance of the holiday. The fundamental question is whether stores, public schools,
municipal displays should:
|Recognize Christmas as the sole "reason for the season" -- the only
acknowledged festival in late December, or|
|Recognize the many religious and secular observances at this time of
year of which Christmas is the most popular one.|
That is, whether everyone should follow the traditional situation, or follow
reality; exclusivism or inclusivism.
Is the "War on Christmas" a hoax motivated by greed?
Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of
Church and State, (AU) feels that the war on Christmas is "overwrought." He
"If there?s a ?War on Christmas,? why aren?t our courts bulging with
lawsuits?. Why aren?t all of these people who have been ordered not to say
?Merry Christmas? knocking down the doors of our courts??
"The fact is, this ?war? was conjured up by Religious Right groups with
visions of big checks from donors dancing in their heads."
Rob Boston of the AU wrote:
"It's undeniable that the 'War on Christmas' has become an extremely
lucrative enterprise for the Religious Right. Last year, the ADF
[Alliance Defense Fund] sold 'Christmas Packs' for $29 apiece. The pack
consisted of a three-page legal memo -? a document one could download for
free on the ADF's Web site -? and two lapel pins."
"Not to be outdone, Liberty Counsel and the American Family
Association offered a 'Help Save Christmas Action Pack' ? essentially a
fancy name for the sale of buttons, stickers and other items reading 'Merry
Christmas: It?s Worth Saying.' (This year, the Liberty Counsel has
rolled out a new button: '?I Christmas.')"
"The Religion News Service reported last year [in 2006] that Religious
Right groups raised tidy sums selling such material in 2005. With so much
money at stake, it?s imperative that the Religious Right keep the myth of
the 'War on Christmas' alive." 1
"Wish Me A Merry Christmas Campaign:
Ashley Tarter is the campaign manager at the "Wish Me A Merry Christmas
Campaign?." She has been interviewed on a number of conservative Christian
programs including the 700 Club and Focus on the Family. They sell green and red
buttons that say "It's OK. Wish me a Merry Christmas?" By
distributing the buttons widely throughout the U.S., they hope to influence
retailers to require their employees to wish customers a "Merry Christmas"
instead of the more generic and inclusive "Happy Holidays." Their goal is to
sell five million buttons during the 2007 Christmas season.
She believes that Satan and his demons are behind the shift towards including
non-Christians in holiday wishes. She writes:
"Although the liberal media and even some churches are leading the charge
against Christmas, they are not the main force behind the attack on
Christmas. When the angel came to announce our Lord?s birth, [he said] ...
that the human race was about to be redeemed from the forces of darkness by
the Savior. It is these same forces of darkness that are attempting to
silence the good news today. We are organizing a campaign that stands up to
the powers and principalities, 'the rulers of the darkness of this age' (Eph
6:12), that lovingly announces the Light of the World through the wishing of
'Merry Christmas' again."
Are the Christmas wars winding down?
During late 2008, we performed a crude analysis of the Alliance Defense Fund
(ADF) website by using
their internal search function to find locations in their website containing the
word "Christmas." The ADF is a conservative Christian legal defense
The number of results, sorted by year were:
||Number of hits
|2007-OCT: City of Berkley, MI: Some local religious
conservatives were distressed that the city's winter display in 2006 was not
sufficiently religious. They proposed the following change to the Berkley
"The city council shall ensure that each year the city displays on
city hall property a Christmas holiday display from the Monday following
the Thanksgiving holiday through the following January 6th."
?The Christmas holiday display shall include symbols and objects that
depict or relate to the national holiday of Christmas and that includes
a depiction of a nativity scene, which at the minimum includes
proportionally-sized figures of the infant Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The
overall nativity scene display shall not be smaller in size than 4 feet
by 4 feet."
A new group, called Citizens for Religious Freedom was formed to
oppose this change to the charter. The voters rejected the clause by a 55%
to 45% vote in the 2007-NOV elections.
|2007-OCT-30: Liberty Counsel: This is a fundamentalist Christian
legal advocacy group founded by Jerry Falwell. They issued an Email asking
for donations and announcing that they were preparing a "Naughty and Nice"
list of retailers again this year. Naughty companies promoted the season by
including all celebrations; the nice companies promoted only the traditional
|2007-NOV-12: Liberty Counsel: They issued their annual list of
"Naughty and Nice" retailers. Americans United state that:|
|?Nice? retailers include Amazon.com, Cabela?s, Dollar General, Sears
and Target. |
|"Naughty? retailers include Circuit City, Ebay.com, Food Lion, Old
Navy and K-Mart. (The latter is guilty of this horrible infraction:
?They are selling ?Christmas Decorations? and ?Christmas Trees,? but
they are calling Christmas ?The Holiday.??).
Their full Naughty & Nice list,
subtitled "Friend or Foe 2007" is available in Word 3
and PDF format.
Amazon.com is considered "Naughty" persumably because:
|Its home page has a picture of a winter scene, and references
to "holiday toy list." "Holidays at home." "most wished for in toys and
|Its home page has no reference to "Christmas." |
|If you order a book, the site informs you whether it will be delivered
by December 25, but doesn't mention Christmas by name. |
|2007-DEC-03: Mount Pleasant, MI: The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF)
complained that the City of Mount Pleasant had changed the name of its
Dickens Holiday Festival from the name "Dickens Christmas Festival" that it
had used in the past. 2|
|2007-DEC-11: Washington DC: The U.S. House passed a resolution
supporting Christmas and Christianity. The resolution passed by a vote of
372 to 9, with 10 representatives voting "present" and 40 other
representatives not voting. The resolution states that the House recognizes
"... the Christian faith as one of the great religions of the
world...expresses continued support for Christians...acknowledges the
international religious and historical importance of Christmas and the
Christian faith...acknowledges and supports the role played by
Christians and Christianity in the founding of the United States and in
the formation of the western civilization...rejects bigotry and
persecution directed against Christians...and expresses its deepest
respect to American Christians and Christians throughout the world."
Mathew D. Staver, of Liberty Counsel a fundamentalist Christian
legal defense group said:
"I am pleased to see that the vast majority of the United States
House of Representatives supports Christmas and recognizes the
fundamental role of Christianity in America. Our Founders believed that
Christianity was the best foundation for a republican form of government
and freedom." 7
|2007-DEC-15: New York, NY: The Christian Defense Coalition has
been given permission by the City of New York to display a small nativity
scene for two hours on DEC-15 starting at 11 AM. It was located at Broadway
and 44th street, right below MTV. It is part of "The Nativity Project" which
encourages indificuals to set up nativity displays outside of public
buildings, city halls, state capitols, etc. Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney,
Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, said:|
"The Nativity Project offers an opportunity for people of faith to
enter the public square with the glorious news of Christmas. And this
is, the Christ-child has provided 'Peace on earth and goodwill toward
" 'Sadly, we are seeing an erosion and crushing of religious freedoms
across America. This is especially true during the Christmas season
where there is an open hostility toward public expressions of faith. We
must constantly remind our public officials that the Constitution
promises freedom 'of' religion not freedom 'from' religion'."
" 'It is essential that the faith community not be intimidated into
surrendering their God give First Amendment freedoms which offers to all
Americans the right to publicly worship God free from government
interference or harassment. That is why it is so important for this
Nativity Scene to be in Times Square'."
Although not specifically stated in news accounts, the displays appear to
exclude non-Christian and secular symbols.
|2007-DEC-15: Owensboro, KY: The
Texas Gas Transmission company had displayed a cross overlooking Owensboro,
KY, every year for the past four decades. It is 50 feet high and 30 feet
wide (15 x 9 meters). Dean Jones, president of the company, said that the
cross is a religious symbol and that the company doesn't want to alienate
people of religions other than Christianity. So, it will not be on display
this year. They have offered to give the cross to several churches, colleges
and schools without success.|
Although the cross is seen by
Christians as their main symbol, it brings back memories of genocide to some
Native Americans, Jews, and others oppressed by Christianity in the past.
"I want all employees and visitors to feel welcome in our building.
It's that time of year when emotions for symbols and things important to
Jeff McKeown is a state employee whose wife works for Texas Gas
Transmission. He said:
"I think they're caving in to public pressure to not put anything out
there that brings recognition to Christ. I think the world is going
overboard with that.'' 4
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Rob Boston, "Is There A ?War On Christmas??" 2007-DEC, at:
- Letter, Alliance Defense Fund, 2007-DEC-03, at:
http://www.telladf.org/ This is a PDF file.
- "Naughty & Nice List: Friend or Foe 2007," Liberty Counsel, 2007-DEC-05, at:
- "Gas company won't display yule cross," The Deseret Morning News,
- The "Wish Me A Merry Christmas Campaign" has a website at:
- "The Attack on Christmas," at:
- "U.S. House Passes Resolution Supporting Christmas and Christianity,"
Breaking Christian News, 20007-DEC-13, at:
- "New York City Approves the Public Display of a Nativity Scene in Times
Square During this Christmas Season," Christian News Wire, 2007-DEC-14, at:
Copyright © 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally posted: 2007-DEC-05
Latest update: 2007-DEC-16
Author: B.A. Robinson