Christians Demand Retailer Lip Service

Happy Eid al-Adha from Best BuyJust what you always needed—a web site to show you which retailers will wish you a hearty “Merry Christmas” while taking your money and which ones are heathen bastards and say something sinful like “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays”. It’s the lastest effort from Focus on the Family: Stand for Christmas. The site guages how “Christmas-friendly” retailers are with a user-generated rating and comment system.

For example, you know those heathens at Best Buy are hell-bound with their 9% friendly rating and devilish 77% offensive rating. That’s what they get for wishing Muslims a happy Eid al-Adha. And you can take comfort in WalMart’s 63% friendly rating and low 13% offensive rating (nevermind the continual questions about WalMart’s human rights abuses—another issue for another day).

I’m not even sure where to start. I think what disappoints me the most is that this is perhaps the least Christ-like way to celebrate Christmas. I don’t think brow-beating and threatening retailers with my dollars unless they pay lip service to my religion is a very Christ-like approach. It seems like Jesus would have intentionally shopped with the heathens.

Assuming Jesus would have shopped. The consumer-centric approach is even more baffling. One of their news reports even notes that promoting Christmas by name is good for business (PDF). Seems like we need an Advent Conspiracy. Instead of letting retailers feel our righteous wrath by spending our dollars elsewhere, maybe we should stop the spending entirely. Maybe we should focus on spreading the message that Christmas isn’t about shopping. Maybe we should find more productive ways to focus our energy at Christmas. After all, 76% of adults who rather receive a Christmas gift that helps someone else instead of another sweater or DVD player. Our culture doesn’t care so much about the lip service of saying “Merry Christmas”—instead they’re yearning for some actual meaning in Christmas.

God forbid a business seeks to acknowledge the many faiths and beliefs represented among its customers, whether we’re talking a specific “Happy Christmas/Hanukkah/Eid/what-have-you,” or a generic “Happy Holidays.” Is that really worth getting worked up about? Should I really be holding it against my Muslim/Jewish/atheist friends for not saying “Merry Christmas”? That seems kind of petty. Especially when they pitch it as being “more inclusive and respectful” (read the comments on Best Buy and tell me that’s an inclusive and respectful tone).

I’m not alone. One columnist said this kind of effort gives Christmas a bad name, and as if to prove it Wonkette weighs in with easy swipes at “wingnut” Christians. Then again, there’s also the folks putting words in Jesus’ mouth—and then putting them on a billboard. Ug. It doesn’t end.

Being obsessed with retailer lip service is not what Christmas is about. There are better ways to put the ‘Christ’ back in ‘Christmas,’ and they don’t start with shopping.

Update: Pocket Guider Jason Boyett writes a similar piece that says much the same thing in more detail and better. Plus he’s got 35 comments and counting.

11 thoughts on “Christians Demand Retailer Lip Service”

  1. I found your “heathen bastards’ reference to be inappropriate. I believe “uncircumcised Philistines” would be far more suitable.

  2. I strongly suspect that Jesus would prefer that He not be blamed for Christmas as celebrated in our retail centers …

    Great post. I’ll be linking to it when I do my own post about this nonsense.

  3. Actually, I have to disagree with you. I felt YOU wrote a much better article than Jason because you said what needed to be said in a much more charitable manner. I didn’t think FotF needed to be shredded because of their somewhat misguided campaign. I think their intent was to use it as a tool but it’s become a weapon in many hands, unfortunately.

    Also, thank you for mentioning the billboards with the fake Jesus words…HORRIBLE! Again, I’m sure someone had good intentions there but…WOW!

  4. As a Christian, I take offense at this post. It is far easier for me to not shop that it is for me to get out and actually do something constructive for Jesus.

    What will you radicals want next? That Christians actually live up to those extremely high (and surely unattainable) fruits of the Spirit in our lives?

    Merry Christmas! So there.

    (Please note: sarcasm intended)

  5. I’m going to respectfully disagree I don’t have a problem with Christians paying attention to the secular attitude toward Christmas. Yes, the holiday has been turned into a retail extravaganza. But there are still vestiges of the truth that must be preserved, ESPECIALLY the name.

    At the very least, retailers, (whose very survival may depend on Christmas) should use the name. Yes, there are many other pressing issues, yes there are other problems to solve.

    But the assault on the name of the holiday is part of the incremental degradation toward crass secularization of the holiday. To me, it just makes sense to start the remediation process with the NAME. (It’s “low hanging fruit,” in business terms). I guess that makes me a minority on this issue.

    Sorry for being contrarian, and Merry Christmas to you all!


  6. So if I start to commercialize Ramadan with retail frenzies, lights, ugly sweaters, parties, gift giving etc. You think there would be some opposition?

    That being said I think that christians spend too much time making a big deal out of the Christmas. If we spent the rest of the year doing the things God asks us to do…we wouldn’t care about losing a culture war. The reason stores say “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” is because Christmas is not the only holiday celebrated this time of year.

  7. I’m a little confused, Craig. Your comment about commercializing Ramadan seems to imply that Focus on the Family’s problem with retailers is that they’re commercializing Christmas. But that’s not their complaint at all. If anything, Focus on the Family’s efforts are an endorsement of the commercialization of Christmas because they’re only concerned with retailers saying “Merry Christmas.”

    If this whole culture war over Christmas were a backlash against the commercialization of Christmas, then wouldn’t we be telling people to stop shopping entirely, instead of just insisting retailers say “Merry Christmas”?

    And I agree with you. “Not the only holiday celebrated this time of the year” is probably the most practical and sane reason to say “Happy Holidays.” Does it have to be more complicated than that?

  8. I’m with you it really doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. I myself don’t feel my christian beliefs are threatened in any way by how someone at a retail store greets me, just as I don’t think anyone elses faith is shattered or should they be offended if they were to be “wished a merry christmas” If someone wants to say Happy Hanakauh to me or Happy Kwanza during those celebrations I am not going to lose my faith.

    So Happy Holidays everyone…thanks for the dialogue

  9. I came across the other blog first. His was incredible, but I liked yours better for whatever reason. I started googling because I am so tired of being told to keep Christ in Christmas by people who only mean the word, not the holiday. Also, who are they to force their religion on me? I had Christianity shoved down my throat. Christian school, churches, youth groups, camps, revivals, etc. Christians not being Christ-like for so many years pushed me away from the religion, and my own research pushed me even further. I’m not offended to be wished a Merry Christmas because I see it as a wonderful holiday. I am offended to be flat out told to keep Christ in Christmas by these “fake” Christians that do not really live their supposedly beloved religion.

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