Just 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.