Friend or Foe 2009 November 10, 2009

Friend or Foe 2009

Guess where the Christian Right doesn’t want you to shop this year?

Anywhere that uses the word “holiday” in lieu of “Christmas” in their advertising, of course.

Liberty Counsel has released its 7th annual “Naughty & Nice list” (PDF)

This year, don’t you dare shop at Office Depot:

Web site: “Christmas” search only produced “Holiday” items such as “Holiday Cards.”

(Really? That’s not what I found.)

But Office Max is totally fine:

Web site: “Great Christmas and Holiday gifts.”

(Really? That’s not what I found.)

None of this means anything, of course. Stores are doing anything they can to get customers. Liberty Counsel is doing whatever it can to score publicity points (and it works).

I would love to hear from anyone who takes this list seriously…


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  • Valdyr

    When are we going to start seeing a backlash against groups for using “liberty” and “freedom” in their name while being vehemently opposed to a variety of things that hurt no one and are in fact none of their damned business?

  • PrimeNumbers

    Gosh, I wonder what she would have thought of WalMart a couple of years back where the advertising campaign told us to “be bright for the holidays”.

  • I bet they’d love this place: http://www.thegoodatheist.net/2009/11/thats-some-sinful-chocoloate/

    Maybe as atheists we should object to the term holiday, as it’s derived from ‘holy day’. Of course that would make us look as dickish as these theotards…

  • keddaw

    Can Christians please also boycott any design that has Santa Claus on it as he detracts from the message of the birth of Christ, or any card with a Christmas Tree as that is a throwback to the Pagan festivities that Christianity found happened to be on the same day as Jesus’ birth.

  • muggle

    Yay! My favorite drug store and the one by my house is naughty. Go, CVS! (BTW, they always have great holiday decorations for damned near any holiday.)

    I don’t take it seriously in the least but it does give me the urge to support those stores that don’t cave into the pressure. Hey, I appreciate you saying the all-inclusive happy holidays instead of merry christmas.

    Maybe I’ll smile at people on the street and say happy holidays. Just to irritate the a-holes who actually believe christians are persecuted minority.

  • Raven

    I really wonder why so many Christians are insisting that soulless corporations give lip-service to one of their most important religious celebrations.

  • Kelly

    Did you know that the Obama’s are putting up a “holiday” tree this year, instead of a Christmas tree? I saw it on my friend’s FB page, so it must be true, right? http://www.factcheck.org/2009/10/holiday-tree-hooey/

  • Peregrine

    Just an idle hypothesis, with no supporting evidence whatsoever, but the thought occurs to me;

    I wonder if making the “naughty” or “nice” list has anything to do with the owners and/or operators of these establishments having some kind of affiliation with the Liberty Counsel. Including, but not limited to, dipping into their advertising budget to make the ‘nice’ list, or making the ‘naughty’ list by flat out refusing to.

    Or maybe I’m being cynical.

  • I want Christians to go around complaining about people putting up and decorating trees like the pagans do. After all, their Bible specifically prohibits such practises.

    Any Christian that knows history knows that the winter celebration predates Christianity, and obviously pre-dates their celebrations because they hijacked it for their own purposes.

    I say let’s take back winter solstice away from the Christians!

  • Tony

    I wonder if making the “naughty” or “nice” list has anything to do with the owners and/or operators of these establishments having some kind of affiliation with the Liberty Counsel.

    I wondered the same thing. What criteria do they have for declaring one store “naughty” and the other “nice” considering that their claim is untrue?

    For the record I prefer the term “Christmas” despite its religious origins. For me it’s a secular holiday involving men with big white beards distributing toys, time spent with friends and family and copious booze. Language changes according to context and christmas no longer means “christ mass” any more than Easter means Oestre to those wacky christians.

  • My father-in-law takes this list very seriously. No, I’m not kidding. He uses it as a guide to do his gift shopping, and even makes a point to tell anyone and everyone who’ll listen which local stores’ clerks say “Merry Christmas” and which say “Happy Holidays.”

    If they say “Happy Holidays,” he’ll lean in and give them a sort of nudge-nudge-wink-wink “Merry Christmas!” And if they don’t respond in kind, he boycotts the store.

    I wish I were exaggerating.

  • Yes, ChrisMuss is a lovely secular holiday. They take our winter solstice, we’ll take their ChrisMuss.

  • I take it seriously. I will only shop at places that DON’T use the word Christmas. Fight fire with fire. 😀 (No, this comment is not to be taken seriously.)

  • Maybe I’ll smile at people on the street and say happy holidays. Just to irritate the a-holes who actually believe christians are persecuted minority.

    It would be even more fun to say “Merry Xmas!”. I don’t think I could actually say it (well, maybe to @Optimus Primate’s pushy father-in-law?), but it’s a fun thought. 🙂

  • sil-chan

    IANAL(yet), but I do believe this qualifies for libel since it verifiably hurts business and isn’t true. Office Depot’s lawyers should do some good for once and sue the idiots.

  • martin

    I really think that this has to do with who gives money to them. They say Office-Max has Christmas on their page, and like Hemant points out, not what he found.. I did further digging (by typing christmas into the search) and anything they have they call X-Mas, which I thought was the biggest no-no to groups like “Liberty” counsel…

  • BlueRidgeLady (formerly Anonymouse)

    What I don’t get is..

    Don’t these people know that not everyone celebrates Christmas? If I have to put up with 2 solid months of antiquated carols in every store/grocery store I go into, they can deal with a “happy holidays” from stores (most of which ARE decorated in Christimas colors).

    Also, it IS holidays, plural. There is American Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, New Year, Kwanzaa, etc all in a short time. It just makes more sense to say “Holidays”.

  • Polly

    I’d be interested to know if anyone is actually offended by the stores using the word “Christmas.” Does anyone REALLY feel excluded?

    I always end up saying “Christmas” when I’m supposed to say “holiday” at work.
    Well? we used to refer to things such as the “Christmas bonus”, “Christmas holiday party”, etc. at this very same company.

    To tell you the truth, it still is Christmas as far as I’m concerned. It sure as Hell,MI isn’t because of Ramadan or Hanukkah. Every Jewish person I’ve known celebrates (and exchanges gifts) for Christmas. The many Buddhists I know certainly don’t have a problem with it.

    In fact the only people I know who don’t celebrate Xmas are JW’s, i.e. a sect of Christians.

  • JJR

    I once bought 2 sets of some bargain Christmas cards at Walgreens; I didn’t notice until I got home that one set were overtly religious, with verses from the bible, etc.

    I sent those to family/friends whom I knew were religious, and saved the more “secular” ones for friends/family that were only nominally religious.

    Unfortunately it gave a particular family friend of my Dad’s the wrong idea about me and so now I get regular email newsletters from their church, etc. (which I usually quietly delete, though sometimes I glance through in the spirit of “opposition research”). I’m not going to bother to correct them, but I won’t lie about my atheism if they challenge me on it. I do regret sending them the “religious” card, though. Should have just thrown those away and gotten another “secular” set, but I’m a cheap bastard, I guess.

  • ChrisZ

    Stores put up Christmas decorations, they play Christmas carols over the speakers, and they use Christmas imagery in their advertisement. Changing the word from “Christmas” to “Holiday” shouldn’t fool anyone (nor is the word “Christmas worth getting upset over). There are better things to be outraged about, on both sides.

  • @ Peregrine: That was my first thought: the list might be a shake-down tactic. Not unlike “Love me and give me 10% of your money or you’ll go to hell,” come to think of it.

  • Angie

    That’s it. I’m tempted to send the Liberty Council a card that reads “Blessed Yule!”.

  • curran

    From their website:

    Help Save Christmas® is a registered mark of Liberty Counsel

    I Love CHRISTmas® is a registered mark of Liberty Counsel

    …how lame can these guys get? I can’t believe “Help save christmas” is trademarked. Geez. They’re trying so hard to be relevant in a world that doesn’t give a damn.

  • Someone above said it, but Christmas is a secular holiday and one that’s not even calendar-related to Jesus and the story of his birth.

    And they want to save this how?

    I love how Hemant did a simple search that showed just the opposite of Liberty Counsel’s results.

    This is about PR and publicity. Must be low on funds over at the Liberty Counsel and it’s time to add more.

  • martin

    @Marvin
    Great idea!!! I am so going to do something like that for this holiday season and for spring celebration, or what they like to call Easter!!! 😀 Is a get well soon card appropriate for Easter???

  • @Angie–yes! haha, that would be awesome!

    @Polly–I don’t care what people tell me. I don’t get offended at all. I actually still enjoy celebrating it (I grew up not celebrating Halloween because it was a “pagan holiday.” I am not going to do the opposite to my daughter just because Christmas is a “religious” holiday. Not trying to argue or convince anyone I’m right, just giving my personal reasons for it.) However, I find the crusade to “save” Christmas highly annoying and ethnocentric and that is what I don’t like.

  • What if a store were to advertise “Great Hanukkah and Holiday Gifts” ? Would they be on the “naughty” list?

  • @Polly–Yeah, I actually do get a little offended at the assumption that obviously I *must* be celebrating Christmas, because “everybody” is. (I don’t know any non-Christians who celebrate it. My Jewish family and friends certainly don’t! Nor do the pagans, generally, unless they’re stuck at home with Christian families.)

    I happily say “Merry Christmas” to my Christian friends celebrating the holiday and I know they will wish me a Happy Hanukkah in return. But I don’t need strangers making assumptions, thankyewverymuch.

    If I could become a hermit for the month of December, I’d be much happier.

  • Polly

    @Mara,

    Question asked, answer received. I understand a little better.
    Thank you.

  • AxeGrrl

    Valdyr wrote:

    When are we going to start seeing a backlash against groups for using “liberty” and “freedom” in their name while being vehemently opposed to a variety of things that hurt no one and are in fact none of their damned business?

    amen!

  • I think they’ve missed the point at how secularized Christmas has become. They co-opted an earlier festival and now secular society has taken it and stripped away anything religious that remains. I’m thinking that maybe atheists should steal it completely. I’m going to make decorations of little red As to celebrate. 😉

    Anecdotally to illustrate my point I was in a taxi the other day while and was lamenting the early prevalence of jingles and Xmas advertising (yes, I am a scrooge) and driver replied that the loved it even though he was a Muslim. They get a tree and go the whole hog with presents and everything. They even watch the Bond movie.

  • muggle

    Good point on how secular it has become and I can’t really get all that worked up about it (until they start with the mangers and such) but I do kind of prefer to keep Christ’s name out of it. All the more so because Christians stole it. But it’s not really a fighting word. Yet, might become one if I think about it more and/or they keep making an issue of it.

    Store clerk says it to me, I’ll probably just smile back and say happy holidays just in case they (or more likely their employer) are caught up in the war on Christmas.

    One reason I prefer happy holidays is that is all inclusive. Jews must feel terribly alienated this time of year and it’s a tough one to call. Just because someone has a Jewish last name doesn’t necessarily mean they celebrate Hannukah and don’t celebrate Christmas. My daughter and I decided way back when she still believed in Santa Claus that it was Happy Winter based on some school artwork she did for Easter that she labelled happy spring. I thought that worked all around. Since, unless you know the person well enough to know what they actually practice, you don’t really know what the heck they celebrate, it’s just politer to say happy holiday and celebrate life with all our fellow humans.

    Aren’t they always proclaiming peace on earth this time of year? Well, what promotes peace on earth, good will to all, more than being all inclusive?

    So, yep, I’ll stick with Happy Holidays. I’m tempted to say happy winter but since that even rarer than Merry Solstice, I’ll say Happy Holidays, in the spirit of the season. The only ones it will irritate are the ones who aren’t wishing good will to all. To them, a hearty Bah! Humbug! is how they’ll hear happy holidays and, well, what they deserve.

  • Brannon

    Look people, this is the Christmas season. Without Christmas there would be none of this. It didn’t start out as holiday, paid time off, kids out of school being called Happy Holiday Time, this is all because of Christmas.
    People have every right to not do business with those who won’t recognize what this time of year is all about. They will take your money, that says “In GOD We Trust”, but they are scared to mention Christmas. You also like to put everyone who believes this way in a group, they are all kooks right, well thats wrong. Some of us are tired of having our traditions and way of life changed and altered because of a handfull that have problems with it. Prayer was taken out of school because ONE atheist in California complained enough. If you agree with prayer in school or not, how can it be ok to take away the rights and freedoms of the masses because of ONE or a handful. You have your rights and we have ours. You say Happy Holidays all you want in NYC and Cali, those of us in the rest of the country still believe in GOD and Jesus Christ. Thanks.

  • But Brannon, where did Christmas come from? Hint: under other names it is more that 2000 years old.

  • gigi

    those of us in the rest of the country still believe in GOD and Jesus Christ.

    Actually Brannon, not even everyone in the Bible belt is a Christian – shocking, I know, but not only is it true now – it has ALWAYS been true since the beginning of this nation. Sure its the majority religion, but its still not everyone’s chosen religion.

    How would you feel if there was prayer in school, but it was prayers to Allah or Shiva?

    If we allow prayers in the schools you can bet that there would be some ‘crazy’ non-Christians who will want their own religions also represented – truly, it would be the ‘save Christmas’-type Christians who would be the most unhappy with the results if we ever did go back to having prayer in schools…because people like me (yep, one of those ‘crazies’) would make sure that more than just Christianity was represented.

    I say the the ‘save Christmas’-type Christians because there are actually many Christians who do recognize that not everyone believes like they do and don’t have a problem with that (some of them are even friends of mine and don’t feel the need to try to convert me anymore than I do them, lol). Like any group, its the loud intolerant ones within it that are making them all look bad.