Events during 2009, including
a major AFA boycott. PART 1
The conflict over Christmas in 2009 seems to be much more muted than in
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. i.e. people should wish each other
"Merry Christmas.", or
Recognize the many religious and secular observances at this time of
year of which Christmas is by far the most popular one. If so, then people should
wish each other "Happy Holidays" or "Seasons Greetings" unless perhaps the
other person would obviously be celebrating a specific observance.
That is: whether everyone should follow the traditional status of
Christianity in the U.S., or follow the emerging multi-faith and secularist reality. The choice
is exclusivism or inclusivism in response to America's increasing religious and
A OneNewsNow.com poll was conducted in late 2008 to find out how retail store employees are
greeting customers. Results were:
Merry Christmas 47.7%
Happy Holidays 44.7%
Happy Kwanzaa: 0.12%
Happy Hanukkah: 0.02%
"Seasons Greetings" probably formed a large portion of the 7.5% "other" category. 1
One member of our group was surprised on a day trip to Watertown and Syracuse NY to
be greeted by Salvation Army kettle watchers with "Happy Holidays." Being an
Agnostic and celebrating the
Winter Solstice, he expressed his
Are the "Christmas wars" winding down?
We performed a crude analysis of the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) website by using
their internal search function to find articles in their website containing the
word "Christmas." 2 We chose the ADF because they
are a religiously conservative legal defense group and seem to take the
Christmas Wars very seriously. They have regularly marshaled "More than 800
attorneys nationwide ready to combat attempts to censor Christmas."
We scanned the search results,
counting only those whose theme involved Christmas. The number of results, sorted by year were:
Number of hits
* Up to 2009-DEC-14
The Christmas wars seem to have reached a peak in 2004, about the time of the
re-election of George W. Bush as president, and gradually declined since.
2009-OCT-09: USA: American Family Association (AFA) decided to boycott one
or more national stores: The AFA decided that retail outlets
wishing customers "Happy Holidays" -- which includes Christmas -- is
unacceptable. They must wish people "Merry Christmas" directly and
exclusively. Persuasion failed, so
they decided to abandon the Golden Rule, denigrate the approximately 25% of Americans who are not
Christians, and use economic force. They wrote on their website:
"Christians celebrate Christmas as the birthday of Christ. It's a federal holiday and has
always held a special place in the hearts of Americans. Yet there are those
companies which feel that a public recognition of the birthday of Christ is
not appropriate. Why? Because a few people may be offended!"
"In early November, AFA will choose at least one national retailer and ask
you to boycott it until it begins recognizing Christmas in its 'holiday'
advertising. Will you let us know you will support our efforts by
participating in the boycott?"
"Would you be willing to boycott retailers which refuse to allow the word
Christmas to be displayed in their stores? Give us your answer." 7
The website visitors agreed with the boycott. The AFA selected the Gap organization, which includes
The Gap, Old Navy and the Banana Republic stores, to attack.
2009-NOV-17: USA: The Gap creatively responds to the boycott: Gap
responded with the following video commercial. It mentions "Christmas" but is
also very respectful of other secular and religious annual celebrations in
late December. It was probably not exactly what the AFA was expecting.
Although it mentions Christmas, it also mentions alternate celebrations:
The lyrics are:
"Two, Four, Six, Eight, now's the time to
Go Christmas, Go Hanukkah, Go Kwanza, Go Solstice.
Go classic tree, go plastic tree, go plant a tree, go add a tree,
You 86 the rules, you do what feels just right.
Happy do whatever you wanukkah, and to all a cheery night.
Go Christmas, Go Hanukkah, go whatever
holiday you wanukkah." [Emphasis ours]
The AFA did not appear to be amused, They provided a link to the video and wrote:
"Did you notice it? Gap compares Christmas to the
pagan holiday called 'Solstice.' Solstice is celebrated by
Wiccans who practice witchcraft!"
"Gap also encourages you to "86" or "dismiss" traditions and
'do what feels
just right'." 8
The commercial seems to have met the AFA's minimum criteria to stop the boycott.
Their ad did include "Christmas," mentioned it twice, and even gave it top billing ahead of a Jewish
holy day, African American secular celebration and the multi-faith/secular
The AFA conducted a poll of their website visitors to determine whether
they should end the boycott. The polling options were:
To end the boycott: "Yes. Any reference to Christmas is good enough to me," or
To continue the boycott: "No. Gap has taken a disrespectful attitude towards Christians with its ad." 9
90% of their website visitors voted to continue the boycott. 11
2009-NOV-30: USA: AFA terminates the boycott: The Gap responded
with a second commercial titled "Holidays in Hoodie." It also mentions
Christmas. This one is nicely commercialized, promoting
Alpine Hoodies and featuring some very happy dummies. They mention "the
holidays" as well as Christmas: 10
This commercial seems to have met the AFA's criteria; they terminated the