Mega-retailer Wal-Mart has announced it will be using the word “Christmas” in its marketing efforts this year.
The decision bucks a trend in recent years to avoid saying “Merry Christmas” out of concern that someone in this multicultural society might be offended.
But there may be a counter-trend afoot. Macy’s, Target, Sears, Kohl’s and TJX Companies — which owns T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, A.J. Wright, and Bob’s Stores — are once again recognizing “Christmas” as part of the “holidays.”
Wal-mart recently unveiled its plans for “Merry Christmas”-themed advertising this year. In addition to print and television ads using the word “Christmas,” the retailer has also decided to change the name of its Christmas decorating department from “The Holiday Shop” to “The Christmas Shop.” Store signs will count down the days to Christmas, and stores will be playing Christmas carols throughout the season. Employees have also been encouraged to use the phrase “Merry Christmas” with customers.
This comes a year after several
Christian organizations, including the Catholic League, called for a boycott of
“We learned a lesson last year,” said Steven Restivo, a Wal-Mart spokesman. “We listened to our customers. There’s a call to return to a core ‘Merry Christmas’ message.”
The change in attitude may also be
thanks to the inspiration of an 8-year-old girl named Hannah Austin. Last year,
when she noticed that many stores weren’t recognizing Christmas, she got 300
Not all retailers are embracing the trend, though, and some people are doing something about it.
“Forty percent of their money is made during the Christmas season,” said Marley. “Corporations are diminishing and disparaging our holiday and traditions because they don’t want to lose five percent of the population as consumers. They can continue that stance, but we will not shop at their stores.”
set their sights on Indianapolis-based
“Last year, they were all anti-Christmas,” said Marley, a Catholic father of four.
Of the managers he has spoken with, eight have responded; seven positively.
Marley said he also received a
telephone call from
“She asked us not to do this,” said Marley. “She said we were trying to force them to do something they didn’t want to do.
“We’re not forcing them to do anything,” said Marley. “We’re just expressing our dissatisfaction.”
“Our goal is to offer a place for all members of the community to experience this special time of year,” said Stewart Stockdale, Simon’s chief marketing officer, in a press statement.
Nevertheless, Fox News anchor John Gibson believes there’s been a victory against the retail war on Christmas but that there’s a larger battle going on — over Christianity itself.
“I used to call those opposed to Christmas ‘secularists,’ but the shadows have become clearer,” said Gibson, who authored the 2005 book The War on Christmas. “These are angry atheists. They have had it with believers. They don’t want to talk to them, listen to them or be on the same side as believers.
“Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union said that Christmas could be celebrated in the homes of Christians and their churches,” said Gibson. “The implication was that it shouldn’t be celebrated in public. If the faithful are interested in this, they ought to look at the wider picture. This is an organized bunch. Heads-up, believers, they are coming after you.”
The battle Gibson describes is
best observed through the various lawsuits taking place at the municipal level.
The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based public interest law firm, the
“The fight is not over,” said Brian Rooney, spokesman for Thomas More. “It’s going on in every state, county and town in this country.”
The U.S. Supreme Court was expected
in late November to decide whether to grant review of the Andrea Skoros v. City of New York case.
In that case, a sharply divided panel of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals
upheld the right of
Rooney characterized the case as not only hostile to Christianity, but also unclear with regard to the Establishment Clause.
In upholding the City of Pawtucket, R.I.’s Nativity display, Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote in 1984, “To forbid the use of this one passive symbol — the crèche — at the very time people are taking note of the season with Christmas hymns and carols in public schools and other public places, and while the Congress and Legislature open session with prayers by paid chaplains would be a stilted over-reaction contrary to our history and to our holdings.”
“It’s no wonder why you have towns
that are afraid to put up Nativity crèches. You shouldn’t have to worry about a
threat from the ACLU if that’s what your community decides to have,” said
Rooney. “We need the court to make a more objective ruling on what is and is
not a violation of the Establishment Clause. Until we do that, this war will
continue in every town in
Tim Drake is based in