A new poll reveals that the Religious Right was correct all along about the “war on Christmas.”
The far right invented the “war” years ago out of fears that the holiday was supposedly too secular or commercialized. And while larger numbers of Americans are celebrating Christmas without overt religious components, the vast majority still partake in some sort of sectarian activity as part of the holiday.
The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) recently analyzed data collected in 2013 and found that 90 percent of Americans said they intended to celebrate Christmas. Of those who reported that they would observe the holiday, 42 percent said they would celebrate it in a “strongly religious way” and 31 percent said they would observe it in a “somewhat religious way.”
Additionally, 59 percent of Americans told PRRI they would go to church services on December 24 or 25, though that was down from 66 percent in 2010. And 49 percent of respondents said they believe the Christmas story as told in the Bible is historically accurate.
But the PRRI data also revealed something else: More and more Americans say they want tolerance during the holiday season. The poll found that 49 percent prefer retailers say “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” to their customers, while 43 percent said they want businesses to wish them “Merry Christmas.” In 2010, only 44 percent said they favored secular tidings while 49 percent wanted to be wished “Merry Christmas.”
Even half of Catholics said in 2013 that they would like a secular greeting from stores.
The only group polled that preferred “Merry Christmas” was white evangelical Protestants (62 percent).
In a sense, the Religious Right is losing its phony “war.” Groups like the American Family Association (AFA) that insist on being the “Christmas Police” are obsessed with what sort of holiday greetings retail stores give to their customers – so much so that they produce an annual “Naughty or Nice” list on this very matter. Any business that dares show inclusion by saying “happy holidays” or the like lands on the “naughty” side.
Of course, the AFA’s perspective is out of touch with what about half of Americans want, which means the Religious Right is failing to bully people into doing things its way. You see, that’s what this “war on Christmas” is really about. Extreme fundamentalist groups like the AFA want everyone to celebrate Christmas in a very narrow way and if they don’t, well, the Religious Right is going to be really mad about it.
One of the wonderful things about America is that people have the right to celebrate Christmas any way they darn well please – or not at all. The Religious Right can’t stand that reality, so they keep trying to shame retailers and others into accepting a specific viewpoint.
Fortunately, the AFA and its allies are failing. In that sense, the “war on Christmas” is a losing battle.