Thursday, November 24, 2005

Boycotting Companies who ban "Christmas"?

I got an email from the American Family Association asking me to sign a petition threatening companies that do not use "Christmas" in their advertizing at this time of the year. Here is the complete text of the email:

Companies Ban 'Christmas,' Not Worried About Backlash

Dear Thomas,

Several retailers have joined in the push to ban the use of "Christmas" in their in-store promotions and retail advertising. The new push to eliminate "Christmas" and replace it with "Happy Holidays," "Season's Greetings," etc. is gaining ground with several retailers participating.

Not wanting to offend a handful of complainers, these companies are willing to offend the vast majority who hold Christmas as a time to celebrate the birth of Christ. Their attitude is that those who identify themselves as Christians don't care if they eliminate "Christmas."

While it is too late to make changes this year, we have already sent letters to several major retailers we have identified as participating in banning "Christmas," asking them to put Christmas back into their in-store promotions and retail advertising next year. We have sent letters to the chairmen of Target, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Kmart/Sears, Costco, Kohl's and Lowe's about their practice. (Lowe's even refuses to promote their trees as Christmas trees, but calls them "Holiday Trees." Their toll-free number is 1-800-445-6937.)

Please sign our petition letting these companies know that banning "Christmas" in their promotions and advertising next year will result in a loss of business. As we identify other companies participating in this practice, we will contact them.

We need your support to be effective. That is why we need your petition. Please help us get the word out by forwarding this to your friends and family. Many of them will want to participate. We will keep you informed on which companies make changes and which ones refuse.

Click Here To Sign The Petition Now!

Thanks for caring enough to get involved.

Sincerely,

Don

Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman
American Family Association

P.S. "There is an anti-Christian bias in this country, and it is more on display at Christmas season than any other time." – Bill O'Reilly, The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News Channel (Speaking about the decision of Target and other stores to ban the use of "Merry Christmas" in their stores and advertising.) Please forward this e-mail message to your family and friends!


Isn't it interesting where we evangelicals often choose to draw battle lines with the world? We take personal offense when retailers make marketing decisions that have absolutely nothing to do with biblical standards of morality and yet heartily support them when they blatantly violate biblical standards. The Bible says nothing about Christmas--either as a special day to be observed or a term to be included in marketing (for the record, I do celebrate Christmas, but not because I think I am biblically obliged to do so). So, why should Christians be exercised when retailers don't advertize "Christmas" specials?

On the other hand, the Bible does teach that one day in seven should be set aside for special observance in recognition that God is the Creator and we are His creatures. Yet, many (most?) Christians have no qualms about going to the mall on Sunday or treating it as no different from any other day of the week. Even conservative Southern Baptists reduced the Baptist Faith and Message in 2000 on the observance of the Lord's Day. I have always been confounded by those (like AFA) who argue loudly for the public display of the 10 Commandments and yet who do not seem to care that those commandments are virtually unknown and largely unregarded in our evangelical churches.

So count me out of the boycott. I will save my bullets for the real war.

30 comments:

Gordan said...

Amen, Tom!

Another instance of the same silliness that has griped me for some time is the broo-ha-ha raised over the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Which god? Do we care at all, as long as the G-word gets uttered? Most Americans' conceptions of the diety are so patently unbiblical that we must acknowledge that even with "under God" in the Pledge, the vast majority who say it are not talking of the same Being the Scriptures describe.

The tougher question is really, "Isn't the Pledge a religious oath offered in the name of American civil religion?" Does the Bible allow the citizens of heaven to pledge their loyalty to a temporal kingdom in the first place? To my mind, while I'm not convinced of the answers to those questions, that's the sort of thing we ought to be talking about.

Tim said...

Tom,

Great article. I have received some of the same silly stuff for years from AFA. I am more concerned that Christians think that a celebration of Christmas is biblical. I know.... I know... many will say, "But Jesus is the reason for the season." When you attend their festivities, you would never know it though. They might say a prayer or read the passages from Luke 1, but that seems to be the extent of their celebrations. We indulge ourselves in our lusts and often our gift giving becomes an act of guilt rather than an act of love.

Personally I have struggled with departing from Christmas for years. The more I think about it the more I have been convinced that Christians should not take part in it. I love being with family. Gifts are simply a side item with me. But we are never commanded for such a celebration and certainly we would do well to understand its history. Christmas was not a God ordained festival and has somehow become paganized, but the reverse is the reality. It was pagan and now has a veneer (a very thin veneer) of Christianity.

Maybe we would do well to follow sola scriptura concerning this holiday (holy day).

For those interested, a great metaphor is used in this story http://degenhart.us/blog/?p=192

Gordan,

I have believed the same as you concerning the pledge of allegiance and the US flag in the assembly of the church. It was a couple of months back in my blog achives, if you are interested.

One Salient Oversight said...

WHy are we so concerned about unbelievers who don't honour God? What do we want? Unbelievers who honour God? Is that possible? Is it the aim of the AFA to build a society in which unbelievers live in full obedience to the biblical law.

They're still unbelievers... so what's the point?

Gordan said...

Tom, I think I found the stuff you mentioned, and I enjoyed it. It is interesting (in a scary, sinking-stomach sort of way sometimes) how when you really start to examine our own traditions (public schools, Christmas, the two-party system, flags in the sanctuary, and the pledge, for instance) that the Scripture rarely gives us a pat on the head and sends us merrily on our way. Am I the only one who seriously gets uncomfortable about this stuff?

Gordan said...

Ooops, Tim, I just called you Tom. Sorry. For some reason the hat makes you look like Tom.

Randy Williams said...

I agree with most of the comments here but will note that there is no command in the Bible to worship on Sunday. Sunday Worship is based upon Apostolic tradition and we see this tradition carried on by the Church Fathers. I do believe Sunday is the Christian Sabbath because of this tradition. And who are we to challenge the Apostles tradition?

I understand that Christmas is not commanded to us as a Holy Day, but then again neither was Purim which has it orgins in Esther and neither was Hanukkah but Jesus celebrated it in John 10. This is where strict Regulative people run aground.

I agree with the remarks said about AFA. To emphasise Christmas I think it would do Churches to actually celebrate Advent, have Christmas Eve services, etc..

shick said...

I say go ahead and ban Christmas from unbeliever's marketing strategies. Marketing Christmas cheapens the real 'reason for the season'. It equates to Christmas=$$$. I would much prefer the Holidays=$$$. If the third Friday of November became known as the busiest day of shopping for the Holidays that would be fine by me. Stop cheapening "Christ's" name by using it as a marketing tag. Think of it this way, retailers have come to the realization that using Christ's name no longer brings in the money. Praise God!

puritancovenanter said...

Put simple and straight forward. We ought to be more worried about violating what is commanded in scripture than that which is not. Could this be an instant in time where we are straining at a gnats and swallowing camels.

RMS

puritancovenanter said...

Mat 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

One more thing. The world cares little about what we are against. To our shame, they also know little about what we are for.

FBC servant said...

Gentlemen,

Please open your eyes to look at the big picture in our society, and to perceive God's glory in his creation, fallen though it is. The AFA is right to rebuke our current culture for being ashamed of our heritage. This is not a question of either objecting to Sunday sales or objecting to "politically correct" marketing decisions. Let's do both and much more!

In fact, a boycott by its nature and as one of its aims, intends to demonstrate that they have misjudged the market. My guess is that AFA has opposed Sunday sales as well when this was a public issue.

Your comments hint of the attitude to shoot your friends and give aid and comfort to the enemy.

Tom said...

FBC:

Are you suggesting that there better ways to express concern for God's glory than those which God Himself has revealed in His Word? Boycotting is a fine political and economic tool, but it in no way is a weapon of spiritual warfare.

I do not consider it "shooting friends" to hold spokesmen for Christ accountable to his Word. Nor do I consider businessmen who make economic marketing decisions "the enemy." Your comments betray the very concerns I raised in my post originally. American evangelicals tend to be more American than evangelical and thus our thinking (strategies, responses, methods, etc.) differ little from the unbelieving world's. That, to me, is a much greater tragedy and cause of concern than Lowe's not calling evergreens "Christmas" trees.

Gordan said...

"American evangelicals tend to be more American than evangelical and thus our thinking (strategies, responses, methods, etc.) differ little from the unbelieving world's."

That metal-on-metal sound you hear is the nail being hit squarely on the head.

GeneMBridges said...

The early church thrived when its language and customs were not ingrained in the dominant culture. Instead of challenging the culture, it seems to me that some of us want the culture to adopt our ways...but looking at the state of the American evangelical community, is that something we really want? As shallow as American Christianity has become, it seems we're actually promoting lip service to God while He remains far from our own hearts.

Maybe the biggest kick in the pants American Christians need is removing the outward appearances of religion from the commercial culture. Either celebrate Christmas with more than lip service in the churches or don't celebrate it at all. Let your "Yes," be "Yes," and your "No" be "No."

Jeremy said...

Good stuff!

I guess it's easier for people to jump on one of these bandwagons, than to demonstrate the Gospel in their daily lives.

Jay Harrison said...

Hi Tom,

I totally agree with you on this. In the larger picture, whether or not Big Box Mart decides to cut "Christmas" out of their vocabulary, makes little difference.

However, it is one more (very small) attack on Christianity. And that is how satan makes huge progress, by small little advances, that most people shrug off as trivial.

If you save your bullets on this battle, and save your bullets on the next battle, you may turn around one day to find that the war is over; and you never fired a shot.

(Good thing we already know who wins in the End.) ;)

Gordon said...

For years I have heard it said that we need to get commercialism out of Christmas. So what's the difference now that Christmas is being taken out of commercialism? Let the pagans have heir "holidays. "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ," and not from a plastic "tree", no matter how well decorated.

justin said...

Amen, I think the key is what Tom said: we are more American then we are evangelical.

And, what will the boycotters do when every store in the country but LifeWay is saying "Happy Holidays"? It will be hard to find milk, hammers, and light bulbs at LifeWay.

David B. Hewitt said...

All this is very interesting, and I find myself agreeing with Tom (not too surprising). :)

At the same time, this also does appear to be another step toward ostracizing Christians in the United States, perhaps even a step closer to some real persecution of the Church. Of course there have been a few legal issues here and there and some slander tossed around, but the "persecution" we face here is nothing like it is elsewhere in this world or what it has been historically.

Perhaps this could be a good thing. After all, the church has seemed to grow the best and strongest when we have been persecuted. It may refine the US church better than most anything else....perhaps then, some sense, when things like "Merry Christmas" begin to disappear from the culture, we should be thankful. Why? God is orchestrating this whole thing for His glory, and when His church is persecuted, we are required to rely on Him alone rather than whatever comforts this American society provides us.

Yes, I think this move in some way is a GOOD thing, because I see God getting glorified in it in His church! Also, when persecution comes, it becomes a lot more apparent who the real sheep are. :)

Just a thought.

p.s. -- good to see some activity here again. :)

GeneMBridges said...

Sometimes I wonder...

Are events like this God's judicial hardening of unbelievers in our society...

Or is it also a judgment upon the church, a people whose lips give Him service, but whose hearts are far from Him, who will complain about "Happy Holidays," and then turn around and fight with their inlaws on Christmas Day, who care more for Thanksgiving Dinner than giving thanks, and who do more for the Easter Bunny than the Risen Lord.


Just a thought.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

Thank you! Unfortunately evangelicals view our culture as the enemy (retail, entertainment, gays, Islam, etc.) rather than the mission field.

Jacob Hantla said...

Great post, an echo of my sentiments. I commented on it at my blog.

Lush's Moments said...

Where in the New Testament do you see Sunday being set aside as the Sabbath, when the Sabbath was given to Israel as a day of rest.

Jerry said...

I have a few comments about what I read here: 1.) I earnestly believe that until a person's heart is changed by God, no lasting behavioral change will result. I believe this puts me in the company of the majority of the bloggers here. 2.) I also believe that "even" the hearts of regenerate men need contiual purging from such things as pride and arrogance, far too much of which I perceive lying not too far under the surface in some of the comments here; 3.) I believe that "little things" (like the use of the term Christmas vs. holidays) do matter! As believers we have sat on our hands (and ___'s) so long that the adversary believes that nothing matters to us any longer. Not only are we not "of the world" we are also not "in the world" in a real sense. 4.) I do not feel that the AFA is "silly" (a favorite term of derision here) but "courageous". Question their leaders and you will discover that they too know that God is sovereign. They are simply offering themselves as the means by which His purposes (in the culture) are being achieved.

Andrew McGee said...

It grieves me to know that these "Big Box" stores aren't allowing their employees to use the term 'Merry Christmas'to shoppers.
However, if that is one of the terms of employment then unfortunately it must be obeyed.
I'm sure their attorney's had to hunt for loop holes in the system to get around 1st Ammendment rights and so forth, but nonetheless it has been done.
If there is any true boycott to come about, it would be in the hands of those that are currently employed or seeking employment.
How many would make the sacrifice to walk away from the job? How many depend on that paycheck to put food in their children's mouths? Or that it's a litrtle more than just supplemental income to their Social Security check?
Unless those employees are prepared to make a huge leap of faith, these kinds of work related provisions will continue.
It is far easier to cry out to God when already falling than to willingly, in faith, step off that cliff.
I feel a little sad for those people, but they can glorify God in so many other REAL ways than using a typical greeting or parting cliche'

Brooke said...
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Brooke said...
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Brooke said...

Censorship.. nice ^.^ So you can say your opinion but I can't say mine? Home Depot hasn't stopped saying Merry Christmas and they dont' call them Holiday Trees

Tom said...

Yes, Brooke, it is censorship. Expect to have your posts removed from this blog every time they contain profanity.

webmaster said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sharedtears said...

Hello,
I browsed through this, and I too feel very uneasy about Christians saying the Pledge of alleigience, it seems like Idolatry, Christmas is from Roman Catholics and pagan origins, but I find it interesting that Christians are ready to boycott stores over issues like this...what about stores selling magazines at the ends of the check out, with half naked men and women at eye levele of our children, or selling dirty movies, playing secular music while we shop...songs our children are not allowed to hear at home??? I have become more and more uncomfortable shopping each and every day...yet Christians seem unconcerned about these matters....Christmas was never commanded...it is not Jesus's birthday....that would be like me coming to your home on a day I pick and wishing you a happy birthday and giving your neighbor a gift???? What was comanded in scripture...was remebering Lord's death and the "churches have reduced that to a sip and a crumb once a month???!!!!!
All Christians need to go back to God's word and re-examine the way we live our daily lives and get the world's stuff out! Christians blend in with the world...they have super bowl parties...The NFL is the one of the largest promoters of beer and women etc...yet we now have "Christian super bowl parties", some "churches are now having beach party baptismals...in swim suits and at public beaches....I fear Christians no longer Reverence nor fear God! He is Holy and has commanded us to be Holy....set apart not blend in!
Your sister in Christ
Stephanie C.