Focus on the Family is coming to town

The right-wing Christian organization is preparing a list of "Christmas-friendly," "Christmas-negligent" and "Christmas-offensive" retailers.

By Alex Koppelman

Published November 17, 2008 8:50PM (EST)

Focus on the Family is making a list, and checking it twice. But the right-wing Christian group isn't exactly jolly. Instead, it's targeting retailers who are insufficiently solicitous toward Christmas.

Yes, the War on the War on Christmas has begun again.  The Colorado Springs Gazette's Mark Barna (who, full disclosure, also used a "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"-based joke -- hey, it's the natural way to go with this story) reports:

On Thursday the Colorado Springs-based ministry's political action arm launched its second-annual holiday campaign by posting an online shoppers guide with three categories: "Christmas-friendly" retailers, "Christmas-negligent" retailers and "Christmas-offensive" retailers.

The "friendly" retailers are so designated because they prominently use "Merry Christmas" and other Christmas-specific references in their catalogs and in-store promotions. Those on the Christmas-offensive list use secular phrases such as "happy holidays" and have "apparently abandoned" the use of the word "Christmas," Focus said. Christmas-negligent companies "marginalize" their message by using "Christmas" in some cases and "holidays" in others.

Just so you know -- so you can avoid these godless communist stores -- on the list as "Christmas-offensive" are American Eagle, Banana Republic, Bloomingdale's, Lane Bryant and Old Navy. You can also sign a petition that reads:

I am troubled by the growing trend among retailers to secularize the Christmas season by marginalizing or refusing to use the word "Christmas" in marketing and promotional materials. Christmas is fundamentally a Christian holiday, and efforts to secularize Christmas are offensive.

I am joining Focus on the Family Action’s "I Stand for Christmas" campaign to call on retailers to stop purging "Christmas." I stand for Christmas, and I urge you to stand for Christmas as well by highlighting "Christmas" in your stores, catalogs and Web sites. Further, I plan to consult Focus on the Family Action's Shopping Guide, which categorizes retailers by their treatment of "Christmas," while making my Christmas purchases this year.

The group has also produced a video, "Merry Tossmas 2008," in which catalogs and other promotional material that don't mention Christmas are thrown away. You can watch it at the bottom of this post.

As former Salon reporter Michelle Goldberg wrote back when the heathen anti-Christmas forces were gathering in 2005, the idea that retailers are at the vanguard of a campaign to destroy the holiday is an old one. Specifically, it goes back to the John Birch Society. Goldberg noted an old Bircher pamphlet, "There Goes Christmas?!" that warned, "One of the techniques now being applied by the Reds to weaken the pillar of religion in our country is the drive to take Christ out of Christmas ... What they now want to put over on the American people is simply this: Department stores throughout the country are to utilize UN symbols and emblems as Christmas decorations." 

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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