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The Christmas Wars / Christmas Dilemma

Events during 2009, including
the AFA boycott. Part 2

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This is continued from Part 1

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bullet2009-NOV-18: USA: The Rutherford Institute explains "The twelve rules of Christmas:®" The Rutherford Institute is making available guidelines regarding what can and cannot be legally done in public schools, government offices, municipal displays, etc. to celebrate the holidays. 3 President John W. Whitehead, said:
"Whether through ignorance or fear, Americans are painfully misguided about the recognition of religious holidays. For example, every year we hear many complaints from parents about school officials banning any reference to the word 'Christmas.' There is an irrational bias against anything remotely religious unless it?s sanitized and secularized, and unfortunately far too many parents, students and teachers erroneously believe they cannot do anything to celebrate Christmas in the public schools." 4
bullet2009-DEC-10: CA: Commentary on the two Christmas wars: Muhammed El-Hasan, Business Writer for the Daily Breeze, posted a commentary about "The two wars on Christmas." He is referring to both the commercialization of Christmas and the "Happy Holidays" vs. "Merry Christmas" conflict. He writes:
"Does it make sense to denounce the business world's blatant exploitation of Christmas to spur sales, but also decry those same companies for not using the word Christmas to improve their bottom line? Here we have two competing wars on Christmas. And it is logically impossible to accept the existence of one without discounting the other. ..."

"... stores react to us customers and our needs, tastes and holidays much more than we react to them. If stores mark down an item by 90 percent, we may buy. But what stores put on their shelves, the colors and symbols they use to decorate and what greetings they utter depend on the customers."

"So if it's Christmastime, there's going to be a corresponding theme to most sales pitches, even if a store's owners aren't in the Christmas spirit. Likewise, using the salutation 'Happy holidays' is a way for businesses to broaden their customer appeal by being more inclusive."

"If the spirit of Christmas is strong in your heart, it comes from your feelings about this holiday, and not because of a store's greeting or color scheme." 5

"StayAtHomeMom" posted a response to the commentary, saying:

"It was always MERRY CHRISTMAS as I was growing up, so ask your self, times have changed and so HAPPY HOLIDAYS is a respectable way of noting everyone no matter who or what you are. That's the world we live in today ! For me it will always be "MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND A GOODNIGHT !!!!! Now go enjoy this wonderful day filled with lots of sunshine!"
bullet2009-DEC-10: North America: American Family Association posts "Naughty or Nice" listing: Each year, the American Family Association sorts major national retailers into three categories based on their print, radio, and TV advertisements; the content of their websites; and personal visits to their stores. The three categories are:
  1. "For Christmas:" 37 companies use the word "Christmas" often.
  2. "Marginalizing Christmas" 14 companies use the word "Christmas" infrequently.
  3. "Against Christmas" or "Censoring Christmas" 13 companies do not recognize Christmas but might use the term sparingly in a single or unique product description.

For some unexplained reason, they list Barnes & Noble as both "marginalizing" and "against" Christmas. Amazon.com is "for" Christmas. Borders is not listed.

Many companies use the terms Happy Holidays or Season's Greetings in order to be more inclusive and recognize that Americans celebrate different religious and secular days at this time of year. By using a generic term that includes Christmas, the AFA rates the company as being "Against Christmas."

Some readers of the AFA Naughty or Nice listing posted comments. The most recent 10 when we reviewed the list were:
[Satire alert]
bullet"Thanks again to the AFA for showing us a list of good businesses that don't push religion on their employees, customers, and just anyone who drives or walks by their business. I'll make sure to ONLY shop in the right column this season. Freedom of religion requires freedom FROM religion. Thank you AFA for this help!"  [The right column lists companies that the AFA rated as "against Christmas."]

bulletI'm relieved to hear that Dish Network has no problem with keeping Christ in Christmas! I was a bit concerned for a while since I have several friends who work for Dish and they uniformly state that Dish treats it's employees like S#! . I'm glad Dish understands that its more important what you say than in how you act. I'm relived that I can now give my money to such an upstanding representative of Christian mores. Thanks AFA!

bulletHow can you consider Walmart Christmas friendly when they informed their employees not to say merry christmas to shoppers at all so as not to upset anyone who might not celebrate christmas. When i said Merry christmas to a cashier i was told not to say that in walmart. You should check out the employee lounge for the notice i have been told is posted there.

bulletThank you for providing this list. Keep up the good work. Merry Christmas everybody!

bulletRemember Christ chose to associate himself with sinners in order to show them the love of God. I say go to these stores and sing religious Christmas songs while you are shopping.
bulletTo the "bashers" out there, do some research. The USA is, by most conservative estimates, 85-90% CHRISTIAN!! Why should such a large number of people, myself included, silently stand by and watch a holiday that we means so much to us get diluted by the few cry babies out there who get so easily "offended". Not to mention the numbers of Atheists and Jews who celebrate Christmas in one form or another this time of year? It's ALWAYS been called Christmas, get over yourselves and enjoy it! I'd be completely fine with any store that wants to put up a Happy Hannakuh sign next to a Merry Christmas sign. Why not? Jesus was raised Jewish! lol [Actually, only about 70 to 75% of American adults identify themselves as Christian]

bulletSo many small minds. How feeble your spiritual conviction must be in order to be so offended that some company says "Happy Holidays!" instead of semantically propping your favorite religion specifically. You do realize that there are other religions, right? What's wrong with treating them equally?

bulletWe only shop Nice List stores.

bulletMy wife works at Bass Pro and I can tell you this list is BOGUS! GAP ran one ad with Christmas, not enough for me to move them! BOYCOTT!

bulletYou know, when I say "Happy Holidays", I mean "Christmas and every other Winter holiday", not "every Winter holiday but Christmas". 6


bullet2010-JAN-10: Google's policy: Google's "Help Forum" contains a running debate about "Why does Google only wish "Happy holidays" and never "Merry Christmas"?

"Patrick9E" asked the question:

"For the entirety of Google's history (including this year) they put up a variety of  Christmas-themed logos between approximately December 22 and December 25, but they say "happy holidays" and not "Merry Christmas"!! What other holiday occurs between Dec. 22 and 25?? Why must Google be so politically correct? "Merry Christmas" is one of the most popular greetings in the world! This is ridiculous, why is Google forcing me out of the Christmas spirit?"

Among the answers:

bullet"why hide from Christmas, or try to pretend there is no such holiday? it is very offensive, stupid, and sad."

bullet"I'm not even Christian, but I still celebrate Christmas, and I hate that it's being ignored and avoided just because of its potential religious connotations. Like it or not, Christmas is on December 25, and almost 97% of Americans celebrate it (with similar numbers around the world), so why must Google insist on ignoring its existence?"

"Merry Christmas! And Happy Holidays to all! I'm no holy roller, but Jesus was born December 25th!  Religion aside, this is a fact, and Christmas is essentially a birthday party for Jesus!"

bullet"What is not healthy is the utter disdain of anything Christian.  It is not about being politically correct.  This is about putting down our country's Christian heritage.  Merry Christmas!  Christ Jesus the savior was born for all men and especially the lowly: let us rejoice
bullet"They probably say Happy Holidays because then don't say happy Hanukkah, Sabbath or whatever all these events are called. so saying Merry Christmas would be choosing Christianity as the religious view for Google, and being a major corporation that would be a pretty unfortunate thing to do. Beside that I've come to understand that Jesus Christ was born during the summer, and the celebration on 24th or 25th of December was a way to meld the heathen and the Christian celebration together."

bullet"Google is run by Satanists. Simple!"
bullet"It's a fact.  Jesus is the whole REASON we have the celebration.  You say Merry Christmas in the spirit of the celebration and it's THE reason for Christmas.  If you say Happy Holidays, you are no doubt denying there is even a reason to celebrate.  It's crazy.  If you aren't going to say Merry Christmas then don't say anything. Saying Happy Holidays is like someone saying, Have a good day, when it's really YOUR BIRTHDAY."

bullet"Because Google workers are big Obama supporters = bunch of communists who don't like religion even when talking about a religious holiday. Christmas is about CHRIST. Period. MERRY CHRISTMAS to the crazies at Google who leave out Easter too."

bullet"... the last days of Advent or the Nativity Fast, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and some years the Winter Solstice 冬至 (dōngzhì) and Yule occur between Dec. 22 and Dec. 25. This past decade, many have become upset (see http://en.wikipedia.org/) as more governments and businesses experiment with "politically correct" messages. Like any unconventional use of language, this can seem contrived or worse, as in Patrick's case, it may be perceived as a direct challenge to tradition. In fact, the purpose is to show the greatest possible respect for all people, every day of the year, regardless of anyone's religion, nationality etc."
"A review of the other replies to this question will demonstrate how necessary and yet daunting the task can be. It is a terrible mistake to frame this issue in the context of a struggle between two particular religions which both recognize Jesus, as so many respondents here have done. I'm neither Christian nor Muslim, but I thank Google for their well intentioned, if awkwardly expressed sentiment. Given the teachings of Jesus, it's a sad irony so many professed followers spread animosity in this venue over the holidays, despite their faith: Gloria in excelsis Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth, goodwill to all people."
"Fear not."

I posted the following note on 2010-JAN-10. Since it was a personal posting, I expressed my own ideas -- something that I don't do often on this website:

"Internal evidence in the Bible concerning the rotation assignments of priests at the Jerusalem Temple seems to imply that Jesus was born in the Fall. Thus, Jesus was historically not the reason for the season."

"Dec-25 was chosen by the Church because the people of the Roman Empire were used to celebrating Saturnalia at that time -- a holy day related to the Unconquerable Sun. When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire it was easier  for the leadership to switch the date to a new observance than to create a separate holy day."

"But to go back to the original 'reason for the season' it is the time of the Winter Solstice. The solstice typically comes on Dec-21. By Dec-25, the length of the daytime was noticeably getting longer, and so was chosen for the holy day."

"On the topic of 'Happy Holidays' vs. 'Merry Christmas,' this comes down to a decision whether to promote Christian triumphalism or the Golden Rule."

"If you feel that companies should recognize Christianity as the country's preferred religion, and if you cannot persuade them to do so on the basis of logic and historical data, then by all means boycott them in order to force them to say Merry Christmas. However, resorting to a boycott, as some fundamentalist Christian groups have decided, is really a confession of failure. Also it reinforces the common belief among Americans that Christians are known mainly for what they are against, not what they are for."

"If you want to exercise the Golden Rule, then by all means say 'Happy Holidays' and urge companies to do so also. This would recognize the religious diversity in the country by being inclusive. There are lots of religious and secular groups who celebrate days at this time of year. 'Happy Holidays includes them all'."

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. OneNewsNow.com Poll, 2008, at: http://www.onenewsnow.com/
  2. The ADF website is at: http://www.alliancedefensefund.org
  3. "The Twelve Rules of Christmas,?" Rutherford Institute, 2009, at: http://www.rutherford.org/
  4. "The Twelve Rules of Christmas??Guidelines for Christmas, Thanksgiving Holiday Celebrations," Rutherford Institute, 2009-NOV-18, at: http://www.rutherford.org/
  5. Muhammed El-Hasan, "The two wars on Christmas," Daily Breeze, 2009-DEC-01, at: http://www.dailybreeze.com/
  6. "Naughty or Nice?," AFA, as at 2009-DEC-14, at: http://action.afa.net/
  7. "Would you be willing to boycott stores that refuse to use the word 'Christmas'?" AFA, 2009-OCT-08, at: http://action.afa.net/
  8. "Gap responds - Should the boycott end or not? You decide. Gap ad compares Christmas to pagan "Solstice" holiday," AFA, 2009-NOV-17, at: http://action.afa.net/
  9. "Gap responds with ad disrespecting Christians," AFA, undated, at: http://www.afa.net/
  10. "AFA ends boycott of Gap, Old Navy - see the ad," American Family Association, 2009-NOV-30, at: http://action.afa.net/
  11. "Patrick9E," "Why does Google only...," 2009-DEC-21, at: http://www.google.com/

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Copyright © 2009 & 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2009-DEC-14
Latest update: 2010-JAN-10
Author: B.A. Robinson

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