“War on Christmas” enters final week

By Gustav Niebuhr Just how old is the idea that segments of corporate America are trying to erode the spiritual … Continued

By Gustav Niebuhr

Just how old is the idea that segments of corporate America are trying to erode the spiritual integrity of the most commercialized federal holiday of the year? Maybe it’s the fault of my cultural antennae, but it’s only been very late in the run-up to Christmas Day this year and last that I’ve been aware that some people seem very concerned that the giants of American capitalism are not giving the holiday its due.

Didn’t all this start with a series of reports on some news channel about salespeople saying, “Happy Holidays” or even “Season’s Greetings?” That’s what I thought, anyway. But I guess it’s a bigger phenomenon.

Until earlier this week, I was unaware that the American Family Association, for instance, features “naughty and nice” lists of major retailers on its website. Said merchants are judged on which ones use the term “Christmas” in their advertising and how often they do. Guess what? Amazon.com, Bass Pro Shops and Costco, among many others, get in the green (“nice”) list. But Barnes & Noble, CVS Pharmacy and NASCAR, are on that shorter list of the red (“naughty”). I know what you’re thinking–NASCAR?

I get out and about, but I’m trying to remember if sales clerks since Thanksgiving have offered me any sort of holiday recognition when I’ve entered a store or handed over my credit card to close a transaction. I suppose expressions like, “May I help you?” How are you?” Thank you” and “Have a nice evening” don’t quite clear the bar in question. But I count them as courtesies, which (Heaven knows) we can all stand to have more of in our lives.

So what is this war on the spirit of Christmas? Maybe I can imagine, care of a recent incident in a shopping district I patronize. As I slowed down to snag a parking place (I was sure another car was backing out), a driver came right up behind me and sat on his horn, blasting away. I thought he could have swung around me. But I guess he wanted to make a point.

So I rolled forward, letting him be about his way. And as I did so, I put down my window to wave. All five fingers. “Happy Holidays!”

Someone’s got to keep the seasonal spirit alive.

  • lepidopteryx

    I don’t quite see what the AFA is trying to accomplish with its list.

Read More Articles

Sociologist: Religion Can Predict Sexual Behavior

“Religion and sex are tracking each other like never before,” says sociologist Mark Regnerus.

The Internet Is Not Killing Religion. So What Is?

Why is religion in decline in the modern world? And what can save it?

river dusk
Cleaner, Lighter, Closer

What’s a fella got to do to be baptized?

Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

Why Pope Francis is canonizing two popes for all of the world wide web to see.

Pope Francis: Stop the Culture of Waste

What is the human cost of our tendency to throw away?

Screenshot 2014-04-23 11.40.54
Atheists Bad, Christians Good: A Review of “God’s Not Dead”

A smug Christian movie about smug atheists leads to an inevitable happy ending.

Ten Ways to Make Your Church Autism-Friendly

The author of the Church of England’s autism guidelines shares advice any church can follow.

Valle Header Art
My Life Depended on the Very Act of Writing

How I was saved by writing about God and cancer.

chapel door
“Sometimes You Find Something Quiet and Holy”: A New York Story

In a hidden, underground sanctuary, we were all together for a few minutes in this sweet and holy mystery.

Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

From Passover to Easter: Why I’m Grateful to be Jewish, Christian, and Alive

Passover with friends. Easter with family. It’s almost enough to make you believe in God.

Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.