From Ford to O'Reilly; From the John Birch Society to the AFA; Welcome to the 'War on Christmas'
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Nov 28, 2014 at 11:23:28 AM EST
The "War on Christmas" is becoming as American as police shootings of unarmed Black men, drones striking weddings in Afghanistan and the revolving door at the Defense Department. While Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and the American Family Association may be some of the 21st century's chief promulgators of the "War on Christmas," interestingly enough, it was the far-right John Birch Society that followed in the footsteps of Henry Ford, who, Daniel Denvir wrote in Politico last year, "was an avid proponent of the idea that someone - or more precisely, some group - was waging a war on Christmas."
According to Wikipedia:

"In 1959, they [the John Birch Society] released a pamphlet called 'There Goes Christmas,' in which they claimed that there was a new communist plot to 'take the Christ out of Christmas' by replacing Christmas decorations with United Nations iconography. The Society claimed this was part of a larger push to stamp out religion altogether and cede US sovereignty to the UN. They urged their members to boycott any stores with 'inappropriate decorations.'"

While the good folks at Fox News have led "War on Christmas" hectoring over the past ten years or so, it is the American Family Association, with its annual "Naughty and Nice" list, that is doing some of the heaviest lifting and mobilizing its troops for the battlefield.

The American Family Association, a long-time Christian conservative multimillion-dollar lobbying group founded by the Rev. Donald Wildmon, feels that the best way of "keeping Christ in Christmas" is to make sure that retailers "embrace Christmas in their seasonal shopping campaigns," Charisma News' Deborah Hamilton recently reported.

The AFA, known for launching boycotts against gay-positive businesses, movies and television programs it deems blasphemous, risqué or racy, and any other hot-button issue it can garner financial contributions from its supporters, is no slouch when it come to the "War on Christmas."

Here's AFA President Tim Wildmon (Donald's son) cutting to the heart of the matter:

"There are concerted efforts in our country to eliminate 'Christmas' because the word itself is a reminder of Jesus Christ. Those who hate Christ want to eradicate anything that reminds Americans of Christianity. That is why it is important to remind companies to keep the word 'Christmas' alive. AFA wants to keep Christ in Christmas and Christmas in America."

Every year, to "keep Christ in Christmas and Christmas in America," the AFA compiles an annual "Naughty or Nice" list, which mentions the good guys and then drills down on those companies not "keeping the Christ in Christmas."

"Keeping the Christ in Christmas" has nothing to do with companies providing a living wage and decent benefits for its workers; it has nothing to do with companies not gouging its customers; and it has nothing to do with encouraging companies to plow a portion of its profits into charitable endeavors.

Rather, it's all about making sure that retailers use the word Christmas in its promotional activities and marketing efforts.

This year's "Nice" retailers, number about 45, and include: Lowe's, Sears, Hobby Lobby, Walmart and

"Marginal" outlets (there are 13 of them), include:, Bath & Body Works, Best Buy, CVS Pharmacy, Radio Shack, Safeway and Starbucks.

According to Charisma News, "The 11 retailers on the 'Naughty' list may use 'Christmas' sparingly in a single or unique product description, but as companies, do not recognize it. These include: Barnes & Noble, Family Dollar, Foot Locker, Limited Brands, Maurice's, Office Depot, Office Max, PetSmart, Staples, Supervalu and Victoria's Secret."

(I'm not in marketing, although I did take a course called Principles of Salesmanship in Junior College many years ago, but if I was advising Victoria's Secret, I'd sure as heck order the marketing team to Christmas-ize all promotional efforts. What could be more of a hoot than having the AFA forced to include VS on their "Nice" list.)

In mid-November, the AFA announced that PetSmart would be a target of a one-month AFA boycott. "PetSmart has ignored the pleas of its shoppers and AFA for years and doesn't deserve your business," Wildmon said. "As consumers, let's tell PetSmart that we won't be doing any Christmas shopping for Fido and Fluffy in its stores this year."

In two previous years, 2007 and 2011, PetSmart rebuffed efforts by the AFA to bully them. "Soon after AFA sent the PetSmart Action Alert to its one million-plus friends and supporters last week, PetSmart sent a promotional email to its own consumer list, using the word 'Christmas,' but PetSmart's newfound 'Christmas' spirit appears relegated to this one email and a small gift labeled 'Merry Christmas' in a television commercial, with no indication of any real change on the part of the retailer," Charisma News reported.

In essence, PetSmart is not responding Christmas-y enough for the self-righteous AFA.

The American Family Association isn't alone in warning folks about the "War on Christmas." This year, Kirk Cameron, best known for playing Mike Seaver on the '80s mega-hit Growing Pains and now making a name for himself in fundamentalist Christian circles, recently released "A film espousing fundamentalist Christian dogma called Saving Christmas, which argues that trampling people to death for doorbuster sales is the best way to celebrate the birth of Jesus," Matt Saccaro recently wrote at

The "War on Christmas" will not end soon. There's too much anger to stoke; too many grievances to unleash. We'll leave you with the immortal words of Pat Buchanan, one of America's heroic culture warriors:

"What we are witnessing here [with the secularization of Christmas] are hate crimes against Christianity - the manifestations, the symptoms of a sickness of the soul, a disease a Vatican diplomat correctly calls 'Christianophobia,' the fear and loathing of all things Christian, coupled with a fanatic will to expunge from the public life of the West all reminders that ours was once a Christian civilization and America once a Christian country."

Happy Holidays!

Oddly, I seem to remember more emphasis on the religious nature of the feeling of gratitude in the Thanksgiving holiday back in the 60s, when I was a kid. We would list items to be thankful for, and topping the list was our families. Pets, friends, food, a roof over our heads, and school were also on the list (I was looking over some ancient papers saved by my Mom, and found one of these school essays). Church sermons encouraged us to make an accounting of the year and be thankful.

Now Thanksgiving is a mad commercial scramble, and retail employees are not given the day off to be with their families. People seem to be grateful mostly for the sales, and then for the parade and football.

by NancyP on Tue Dec 02, 2014 at 11:18:19 AM EST

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