Religious Right Groups Reignite Lucrative War On ‘Happy Holidays’

In keeping with their holiday custom, several Religious Right groups began complaining about an alleged “War on Christmas” before Halloween had even arrived.

The Rev. Donald Wildmon’s American Family Association announced in mid October that it is taking aim at retailers who wish customers “Happy Holidays” and fail to use the expression “Merry Christmas.”

The annual carp-fest has become quite lucrative for Wildmon. This year, the AFA is hawking buttons and stickers that proclaim, “It’s OK To Say Merry Christmas.” A pack of 10 buttons goes for a “suggested donation” of nine dollars, and the “semi-permanent adhesive, glossy finish stickers” can be had at 10 for $24.

“It’s hard to believe that there are companies and individuals who want to ban ‘Merry Christmas’ and replace it with ‘Holiday Greetings’ because, they say, they don’t want to offend anyone,” Wildmon gripes in a press release.

James Dobson’s Focus on the Family is also getting in on the act. In April, FOF took the step of writing to 33 leading companies, demanding to know if they would use the term “Christmas” in their 2008 catalogues. Last month, the organization reported on the results of that effort.

FOF says eight retailers have agreed to use the term: Best Buy, Cabela’s, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Nordstrom, Pier 1, Toys R Us and Wal-Mart.

The Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy replied to the FOF missive, but, the group soberly reports, “did not convey a clear commitment to use the term ‘Christmas.’ Rather, they communicated their intent to approach their marketing in broad and diverse terms. We’ll have to observe and see if what they publish avoids an insulting marginalization of Christmas.”

Twenty-two firms did not respond to the letter, among them Target, K-Mart, JC Penney, Home Depot, Borders and Neiman Marcus.

FOF is urging its supporters to monitor local stores and report to the group’s headquarters in Colorado Springs on what they find.

Liberty Counsel, a Religious Right legal group affiliated with the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University law school, has announced its sixth annual “Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign.”

The organization is offering a “Help Save Christmas Action Pack” and will publish a “Naughty and Nice” list of retailers “that seek to profit from Christmas shoppers but exclude their stores and advertisements from references to Christmas.”