For the ninth year in a row, the Liberty Counsel, a pro-life, pro-family litigation group based in Florida and Washington, is releasing its annual “Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign.”

“We’ve seen a major shift in the last several years, and now the ‘Nice’ side outnumbers the ‘Naughty’ side,” said Matthew Staver, Liberty Counsel’s founder and chairman. “For just one example, CVS was historically on the ‘Naughty’ side, but now it’s come over on the ‘Nice’ side.”

Staver noted a major shift came in 2006. In 2005, Walmart “forbade employees even returning ‘Merry Christmas’ when customers initiated (saying) ‘Merry Christmas.’ And they called their trees ‘holiday trees.’ When we pointed that out on our list, some people complained and returned goods to Walmart.

“Then, in 2006, Walmart said it will mention Christmas early and often, and it has done so. And last year we’ve seen Best Buy change from the ‘Naughty’ to the ‘Nice’ side.”

As Staver added, “Polls year after year show 70% of the people prefer being wished ‘Merry Christmas’ than ‘Happy Holidays.’”

Customers should let retailers know why or why not they’re shopping too, Staver said: “We recommend you not just patronize or not patronize those stores, but tell the stores why you’re shopping or not shopping. When you’re in a store that’s ‘Nice,’ compliment them. If you don’t go to a store on the ‘Naughty’ side, send them an email, call them and tell them why you’re not shopping in their store in December.”

Liberty Counsel also works to support Nativity scenes on public property and against censorship of religious words from carols in public schools.

This year the evergreen’s role is at stake. Rhode Island’s Gov. Lincoln Chafee has decided the Christmas tree in the State House cannot be called a “Christmas tree” but must be called a “holiday tree.” According to press releases, John Leyden, who owns Big John Leyden Christmas Trees and yearly donates the tree for the State House, said he may take it back because it’s not a holiday tree.

Liberty Counsel said the governor is even ignoring a resolution passed recently by the state Legislature that states trees during this season should be called “Christmas trees.”

Said Staver: “Anyone knows the green, pointed, prickly thing we decorate in December is called a Christmas tree. A Christmas tree celebrates only one holiday. It’s called Christmas. Everyone knows a Christmas tree is used to celebrate Christmas, not Hanukkah, not New Year’s.”

Staver added that Gov. Chafee ought to “wake up and exercise common sense. By trying not to offend people he’s offended the vast majority of people, and he has made his action look absurd.” He called on the governor to immediately reverse his decision, do the right thing, and call the tree by its correct name.

In the meantime, Staver urged citizens to call the governor’s office and ask Chafee to reverse his decision.

Similarly, Providence’s Bishop Thomas Tobin released a statement.

“Governor Chafee’s decision to avoid the word ‘Christmas’ at the State House ceremony is most disheartening and divisive,” Bishop Tobin stated. “It is sad that such a secular spirit has swept over our state. The governor’s decision ignores long-held American traditions and is an affront to the faith of many citizens. For the sake of peace and harmony in our state at this special time of the year, I respectfully encourage the governor to reconsider his decision to use the word ‘Christmas’ in the state observance.”

As an answer to the tree lighting, on Dec. 6, Bishop Tobin will lead a prayer service and Christmas tree lighting on the lawn of the nearby St. Patrick Church.

To help win the “Christmas Wars,” Liberty Counsel also offers material to educate everyone, from government officials to businesses, that it’s legal to celebrate Christmas; it offers items like “I ♥ CHRISTmas” buttons and “I Helped Save Christmas” bumper stickers.

Register staff writer Joseph Pronechen is based in Trumbull, Connecticut.