‘Tis the season to be boycotted

Every year, Christmas seems to be thrust into the center of the culture wars as businesses determine how to promote their goods to us and we decide just how upset we are at being wished a Happy Holiday.  My concerns began with an email alert I received from the American Family Association regarding the lack of the word “Christmas” in Costco’s holiday, er, Christmas, marketing campaign.


Send your email to Costco.

Let Costco know that you will exercise “your privilege” of shopping only at stores that recognize Christmas. Remind Costco that their competitors are vying for your business too, and you will shop accordingly.

So far as I can remember, I’ve never set foot inside a Costco, so my scathing emails and promises to “shop accordingly” would mean very little. Of course, they don’t need to know that, but that is what started my musing. That and being told to boycott. That sort of strikes at my rebellious nature and really isn’t the best way to get me to do much of anything…especially when it comes in the form of an email newsletter I can only assume I signed up for at some point.

Anyway, that led to the Naughty and Nice lists put out by The American Family Association and The Liberty Counsel.  And I just noticed this, but what am I to do with Barnes and Nobles? They made the AFA’s “Naughty List” and the Liberty Counsel’s “Nice List.”

I’m a rather conservative Christian. Perhaps a bit too conservative even for the AFA and The Liberty Counsel for as I look down the Nice List, I’m not impressed by well-meaning companies paying honor to my Lord and Savior.  Instead I see a list of companies who would very much like to replace any Christian meaning there may be in the season with the Almighty Dollar. The name of my Lord and Savior is slapped on sales, bath soaps, cookbooks, linens and toys, all to be delivered in time for Christmas in hopes of clinching a sale. I wonder sometimes what exactly Christ would say if he were to walk through the “naughty” Bloomingdale’s or the “nice” Macy’s.

How dare you remove my name from your holiday flyer!

Er, Christmas flyer.  That seems stranger yet. And a bit out of character. But as a Christian, I’m supposed to “take on the mind of Christ.” To be His light to a fallen world. And it really seems there are ways to do that which are much more effective than engaging in what comes across to me as a publicity stunt to garner attention to a cause outside of the mission of the Church.

No man will live or die, be saved or condemned based on the welcome phrases used at a place of business.  If I had my druthers, I would much prefer to have the name of Christ connected with missions to aid the poor, the widows and the orphans than to have it connected to boycott after boycott of issues which are little more than expressions of cultural dissatisfaction and do nothing to help those who are truly in need.

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0 Responses

  1. I think this sort of thing would have frustrated me more ten or fifteen years ago, but I didn’t think about things in term of whether the Gospel of Christ was furthered or hindered by any particular action.

  2. Amen! Friends forward me these letters and I want to gag. Sometimes I do! Thanks for putting my feelings into a very well written statement.

    “No man will live or die, be saved or condemned based on the welcome phrases used at a place of business”

    I am all for remembering God’s most amazing gift, that baby Jesus. But I don’t know what Old Navy has to do with that rememberance. And Old Navy telling me Merry Christmas doesn’t make me think they understand the significance this time of year could have. All they see is $ and if Christians can be enticed to spend more because they say Merry Christmas, they’ll say Merry Christmas.

    Thanks again.

  3. OK, but I draw the line at calling it a “holiday tree.”

    I got an ACTION ALERT a little bit ago because there was an ad in a gay magazine for Campbell’s. It seems gay people actually eat soup and other food-related items and I was supposed to be outraged.

    Howcome nobody’s boycotting Saudi Arabian oil? Because they never wished me a Merry Christmas.

    I think some of these boycotts are about the organization expressing power. Notice they don’t go for Saudi Arabia or anything like that. You can’t even pass out Bibles there, good grief. And we’re worried about gay people EATING SOUP??!!!

    Other things to do. Sorry, AFA.

    And Merry Christmas, Dana!

  4. During Subwaygate we discussed the idea of boycotting. I don’t ‘boycott’ anything for any reason, but instead choose services and products that best fit our needs, and when possible, those that support things we believe in.

    As for Christmas- my dh and I don’t consider Christmas a ‘Christian’ holiday (as in something we Scripturally should observe). IMO it’s basically a marketing scheme with questionable origins- it’s roots in paganism, adopted by Catholicism and shaped by consumerism. It would be very inconsistent of me to be offended at some retailer saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”.

    I don’t support Doomsday Prophets like the AFA. They thrive on fear and hysteria, which is in direct opposition to Biblical principle. They are an embarrassment, IMO. It’s why I stopped being a member of the HSLDA. They may do some good things, but I don’t like their fear-mongering tactics.

  5. Nice post Dana.

    While I do appreciate the frustration that some people feel at how their religious holiday has become corrupted, it does seem not the way to go to turn and insist that there be a closer tie between a holy celebration and department stores.

    My personal thought is that I should be turning more and more to having two separate celebrations, one of gift giving and celebrating family in the dead of winter. Another marveling in the incarnation that is the backbone of my faith. I wonder what a store would do if people started to complain about using the name of a religious holiday to promote sales of slippers, sweaters and video games.

  6. I wholeheartedly agree with the original post and subsequent comments, especially this by Sunniemom:
    “As for Christmas- my dh and I don’t consider Christmas a ‘Christian’ holiday (as in something we Scripturally should observe). IMO it’s basically a marketing scheme with questionable origins- it’s roots in paganism, adopted by Catholicism and shaped by consumerism. It would be very inconsistent of me to be offended at some retailer saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”.”

  7. I think I agree with you on this. Commercialism and the love of money doesn’t promote the cause of Christ in any way possible, and slapping the name of Jesus on it doesn’t sanctify it in any fashion or form. I’m content to let the world have their “Happy Holidays”, because that’s all this season means to them anyway. I think that being nitpicky over words is a bit of overkill.
    Good post!

  8. Shauna, I had to laugh:

    Some people aren’t happy unless they’re outraged.

    I get that feeling too, sometimes. I think people get frustrated for a variety of reasons, some of them probably quite good, and then you have organizations capitalizing on that by stirring the pot. I don’t like appeals to emotion which seem the dominant means of communication in these e-lerts.

    Obviously, it works or it wouldn’t seem so standard. It just turns me off, however.

  9. ITA! Great post. Maybe we should just focus on sharing the love of Christ with others this season. If we share the Gospel and lives are changed by the power of God, we may find that we hear, Merry Christmas, more often.

  10. Dana, reading you and your regular commenters gives me real hope for homeschooling being able to build an identity as intelligent independence from group think of any kind. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

  11. I will say that I noticed when Hobby Lobby decided to close on Sundays so their employees could worship or have a day with their families. That doesn’t seem as commercial-driven and more about caring for their employees.

  12. Excellent points.

    On the other hand, what bugs me about “holiday trees” and avoiding “Merry Christmas” sentiments is the PC nature of it all. I love what you say about Christ, His mission, and what we should be focusing on–completely agree. But it does bug me when people work so hard not to “offend” others that it boarders on offensive to the original group.

    …I don’t think that paragraph made sense. Hopefully what I am trying to say comes through clearer, but I can’t think of a nicer/easier/better way of saying that. Sorry.

    Just ignore me if I’m blathering. [smile]


  13. I understand what you are saying. 🙂 And sometimes I wonder if that isn’t more where some of the frustration stems rather than anyone truly being upset that they’re wished a Happy Holiday or that other holidays are observed this time of year.

    I don’t know. On my informal Twitter poll, some expressed frustration at this trend, but all who responded agreed that boycotting was a bit extreme.

    A few made the point that it seemed weird to try to force non-Christians and secular institutions to say Merry Christmas.

    I haven’t been able to find anyone all that upset about this issue, but then I’m asking people I know or sort of know so that would likely be a very biased poll. 🙂 You have to be able to put up with me to participate.

  14. I recieved the same email, but ignored since I don’t have a Costco card AND went to the Costco website where they had Christmas trees as well as “Christmas ribbon for your holiday tablescape”.

    Truthfully, I’m more annoyed that the upstart Kwanzaa gets equal press than I am to hear people say “holiday”. After all, the etymology of “holiday” is Holy Day!

  15. With my black devil’s advocate hat on, here’s something folks upset enough to boycott could REALLY be upset about (if they’re not already boycotting Psychology Today anyway) — a business professor’s argument that religion itself is a product being marketed this time of year, and especially being marketed to kids who we parents otherwise consider too young to be bombarded with advertising that plays on their undeveloped critical thinking skills.

    And hey, don’t shoot the messenger, it’s Christmas! Peace on earth, good will to men. . .

  16. There is a bit of a double standard, isn’t there, both on the part of us Christians and on the part of businesses.

    Frankly I consider the chit chat between myself and a salesperson to be a personal interaction with Brian or Susan or whoever it is across the counter that has little or nothing to do with Old Navy or Sears. I’d rather have a sincere greeting of any sort from a real person than a stilted one because some CEO told them what they could and couldn’t say.

    Guess I’m overdue for my annual reading of Lewis’ Lost Chapter from Herodotus on the distinction between Exmas and Christmas.

  17. Happy Holidays has never bothered me at this time of year because it DOES celebrate plural holidays for me, as a Christian and an individual (I am not meaning plural holidays as in Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, etc.)

    It starts with Thanksgiving, then family birthdays here, Christmas and wraps up with New Years–multiple/plural holidays. (I realize others may have other holidays in there as well like Advent Sundays, St. Nicholas Day, St. Lucia’s Day, Dia de Los Reyes, Epiphany, etc.) This time of year has never been strictly about Christmas for me; and although not a devout Christian I am a Christian, and the celebration of Christmas is about Christ for me, the season is about Christ for me–the season of hope and GIVING and celebration.

    So Happy Holidays! May all the holidays you recognize and celebrate this season be happy and merry!

    The other conclusion I came to THIS year is that the commercialism of the season that has always bothered me isn’t really the evil thing I perceived it to be… maybe it is the real miracle here: once a year we all come together to give; to really give. We may do so by “buying” things for one another, but we sit down and GIVE it away to another. We have given our time in work to earn the money for the” gift,” we give our time in shopping and selecting a “gift,” we give our time and creativity in wrapping our “gift,” and then even after we may be broke or in debt, we come together and feel the joy and warmth as we literally GIVE our gift to another–regardless if it is for Christmas or Hanukkah or Zwanzaa or Yule or which ever name we give our holiday. We don’t feel our debt or fear or petty issues for short awhile. We are GIVING… and for me, in this very frenzied, commercial and often selfish society and time we live in… that is the real miracle! GIVING! as God gave us his gift of Christ.

    The idea of commercialism didn’t bother me this year: it is simply ONE means of fulfilling the promise of this time of year. It’s our modern means of fulfilling that promise. It’s merely perception and maybe that is God’s gift to me this year–a peace of mind brought about through a clearer perception 🙂

  18. Well said… Christmas in America is a secular holiday that supports our culture of overspending to “stimulate” the economy. I really care very little if I am wished a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holiday.

  19. “Some people aren’t happy unless they’re outraged.”

    As someone who finds it hard to become outraged over non-life or death issues, I appreciate that statement greatly. I wish both Christians and non-Christians alike would leave the trivial (to my mind) alone and start worrying about the big stuff.

    Children Starving = Big Issue
    Families Homeless = Big Issue
    World Economy = Big Issue
    Costco’s Marketing Plan = Not on my radar

    Merry Christmas!

  20. Thanks, Tango. And judging from the response here and in my Twitter discussions, I’m guessing by following the commenters profiles. Most of them are Christian and most are conservative.

  21. Here’s the direct link to Sebastian’s post. She also makes a good point.

    Especially the comment about Amazon came up here when WalMart was being boycotted. They were the largest local contributor to our crisis pregnancy center. A little bigger issue for me than whatever it was AFA was upset about.

    I don’t get myself up in a gander about companies looking to make a profit unless they portray themselves as Christian. Honestly, Christian bookstores have a tendency to annoy me more.

  22. It doesn’t annoy me to be wished a Happy Holiday. But, it does annoy me that people are annoyed by being wished a “Merry Christmas.” Dec 25th is Christmas. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope you have a Merry Christmas. In other words, I hope your Dec 25th is great, no matter what. Of course, I’m not a Christian, but I celebrate both Chanukah and Christmas, because Christmas is a family tradition (albeit a completely commercial/secular one). I wonder if the same people that are upset by being wished a Merry Christmas get upset when someone whishes them a good day. And, I wonder if the same people who get upset that stores are not saying Merry Christmas want those of us non-Christians who celebrate Christmas, to stop celebrating it.

    Thanks for a great post.

  23. LOL at “but what am I to do with Barnes and Nobles?” 🙂

    Great post, Dana. The irony at this time of year can be puzzling, entertaining – and sad. Mulled wine, deep breaths and a copy of this post would do Mr. Wildmon good.

    Btw, like your commenter, Mrs C, I too was shocked to learn about homosexual broth-eaters! Who knew :/ Next time I’m at the market, I’ll have to keep an eye our for them in the soup aisle.

  24. Great post as usual. I wonder what would happen if Christians were more concerned with spreading Christmas joy than hearing the appropriate words upon completing their purchase?

  25. JJ, I was going to pop by your blog to chat about the article, but I get some sort of error message:

    “If you can see this page, then the people who manage this server have installed cPanel and WebHost Manager (WHM) which use the Apache Web server software and the Apache Interface to OpenSSL (mod_ssl) successfully. They now have to add content to this directory and replace this placeholder page, or else point the server at their real content.”

    I didn’t want to hijack Dana’s blog with my thoughts, but know no other way to contact you. Thanks and Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and well, just have a great day. :]

  26. Wow, thanks to Mrs. C and Dana (you guys are awesome!) — after all this time I now see the old automatic signature I entered here at Dana’s when I first became a commenter, has an error! Dana gave the correct link above, and so I’ll try to check every time I comment here for awhile, hoping in time that the correction will replace the old one . . .

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