Christians becoming militant about Christmas.

Xtremehkr

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This Season, Greetings Are at Issue

A Southern church presses store workers to say 'Merry Christmas,' not 'Happy Holidays.'

By Ellen Barry, Times Staff Writer

RALEIGH, N.C. — This year, as Christmas season swung into gear, Pastor Patrick Wooden's followers fanned out to shopping malls across Raleigh to deliver a muscular message of holiday cheer: As Christian shoppers, they would like to be greeted with the phrase "Merry Christmas" — not a bland "Happy Holidays" — and stores that failed to do so would risk losing their business.

Nearly six weeks later, some citizens in Raleigh are seething over what they see as an attempt to force religion into the public square.

But others say "Merry Christmas" is rolling off their tongues more easily and more often than in previous years.

Conservative Christians nationwide have converged around the topic of Christmas, complaining that secularists and nonbelievers have tried to obliterate the holiday's religious meaning.

In Oklahoma and Miami, local skirmishes have erupted over the display of nativity scenes on government property. A California man has called for a boycott of Macy's and Bloomingdale's department stores, demanding the phrase "Merry Christmas" be used. In Denver, the mayor's attempt to remove "Merry Christmas" from a light display raised such a howl of protest that he reversed his decision.

Here in Raleigh, the grass-roots campaigning has focused on retailers. And it's been so invigorating that the church is making plans for next year, said Wooden, a barrel-chested former football player who leads a conservative black congregation of about 3,000.

"Our position is: If they want the gold, frankincense and myrrh, they should acknowledge the birth of the child," said Wooden, pastor of the Upper Room Church of God in Christ.

Conservative Americans feel ready to push back against "the secularists or the humanists or the elitists" who dominate popular culture, said the Rev. Mark Creech of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, which is based in Raleigh.

"It's a cultural war. We are in the thick of it," Creech said. "It's not so much an attack on us. It's an attack on Christ."

Throughout history, religious people have fretted over the holiday's secular aspects, said Penne Restad, a lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of "Christmas in America: A History."

Created by the Roman Catholic Church in the 4th century, the celebration of the nativity coincided with pre-Christian feasts, allowing observant Christians to "then go out the door and participate in Saturnalia," Restad said.

In pre-Colonial days, English authorities looked on the holiday as a riot of drunkenness and hooliganism. American Puritans rejected it completely, preferring to get up and go to work. Not until the 1820s and '30s, with the holiday "getting rowdier and rowdier and more destructive," did Americans redefine it as a safe and private family time, Restad said — the "old-fashioned Christmas" celebrated in carols and Currier & Ives prints.

Karal Ann Marling, author of "Merry Christmas! Celebrating America's Greatest Holiday," called complaints about secularization "complete and utter bunk."

"If you think Christmas meant the baby Jesus in the past, it didn't," said Marling, a professor of art history at the University of Minnesota.

Still, the last 20 years have seen a corporate trend toward generic holiday celebrations — brought about not through the law, since private businesses are free to decorate as they like, but by a desire not to offend, a retail expert said.

At Cary Towne Center, a mall just outside Raleigh, displays featured azure and white artificial trees, massive suspended ornaments and flakes of iridescent plastic which, from a distance, bore a resemblance to snow.

Heather Vandeusen, manager at the Body Shop, which sells skin-care products, said off-site managers train her staff to say "Happy Holidays."

"If my corporate allowed it, I wouldn't have a problem with it," said Vandeusen, 20. "I still say 'Merry Christmas,' personally."

A major shift took place in the 1990s, when corporations became sensitive to complaints of customers on both ends of the political spectrum, said Russell Sway, international president of the Institute of Store Planners, an Atlanta-based association of design and merchandising specialists.

"On the one hand, you have a board of directors who's yelling at you for doing anything that offends anyone. On the other hand, you have this group that's yelling at you for commercializing a religious holiday," Sway said.

Wooden and his congregation — whose church building has a cherry-red "Merry Christmas" banner hanging across its front like a political slogan — aim to push back against that spirit of caution.

On the day after Thanksgiving, the church ran a full-page advertisement in the Raleigh News and Observer, urging Christians to "spend their hard-earned dollars with merchants who include the greeting Merry Christmas."

Over the next week, the paper ran a series of passionate letters, many critical of the advertisement:

"What happened to the land that my parents, Eastern European immigrants, adopted as their beloved country — a country of fairness and tolerance?" wrote Harriet Lasher.

An Episcopal priest wrote to compare the campaign to the Nazi policy requiring Jews to identify themselves with yellow stars.

Judah Segal, executive director of the Raleigh-Cary Jewish Federation, said he was not disturbed by the advertisement, and hoped it was intended to "remind Christians that there is an essence to the holiday," not to shut out others.

"We really respect and admire people who want to have religious content in their own holiday," he said.

Wooden, 43, considers the campaign such a success that he has already set aside money in the church budget — full-page ads cost about $7,600 — to buy a similar advertisement next year. Fresh off the fierce debate over same-sex marriage, which he opposes, he says condemnation from the left does not trouble him. On the contrary, he said: "It seems to me the greater the persecution, the stronger the church."

As far as complaints from people of other religions go, Wooden looks at it this way: An ice-cream vendor doesn't have to like every flavor he sells.

"There's one group of people who get bullied all the time, and that's Christians," he said. "I know what it is like to be bullied. It is apartheid in reverse — the majority is being bullied by the minority."

Little has changed at Cary Towne Center, where Wooden's members delivered letters in late October: Festoons of tiny lights twinkle from the ceiling, garlands of artificial pine deck the halls, and the word "Christmas" is hard to find. Phyllis Maultsby, who owns the shop Light Years Jewelry, said pressure would not change her holiday decorating choices.

"I'm not going to be influenced, because we embrace diversity," Maultsby said. "I certainly would never want to feel like I was being bullied."

But some retailers say they're behaving a little differently this season.

Kevin Coggins, who owns a bicycle shop called Spin Cycle in Cary, said he finds it easier — more comfortable — to wish people a "Merry Christmas" this year, as if after years of careful "Happy Holidays," he had suddenly been given permission.

"I think the Christians are out of the closet," Coggins said.

Ed Jones, president of the Greater Raleigh Merchants Assn., agreed. This Christmas, he is more conscious than ever of "a conspiracy of leftist-leaning people that want to bring down traditional values in our country," he said.

"I don't see anything to gain by offending others, but many of us are offended ourselves," said Jones, who owns a remodeling business. "I think we — the collective we — are allowing a small minority of people to rule our lives. I'm opposed to that."

His wife bought cards that read "Happy Holidays" this year, Jones said, but he was careful to ink "Merry Christmas" onto every one of them.
They are framing it in terms of a religious battle, a jihad so to speak. I wonder if the Church will come to dominate politics in America or be rejected because of its attempts to dictate to people.
 

stubeeef

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Aug 10, 2004
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The left wants what they want, the right wants what it wants, Christians want what they want, Jews want what they want, Muslims want what they want, Athiests want what they want, We all seem to want what we want.

While I don't agree with the militant and threatning tone of this message, I don't agree with the ACLU style lawsuits over "government sanctioned" Christmas displays either.

I think this is a non-issue, it will go away on the 26th. It is just an attempt to raise the ire of those who want more to be mad about.

Merry Christmas BTW!
 

Xtremehkr

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That's not quite what is being said. They are trying to make people say "Merry Christmas."
 

blackfox

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Xtremehkr said:
That's not quite what is being said. They are trying to make people say "Merry Christmas."
This is nonsensical. What does it accomplish to have people say one phrase over the other? It is the shallowest of objectives.

As a matter of the character of both the holiday and those who chose the manner in which they might regard it, this makes no difference.

Why do these "christians" have such an inferiority/persecution complex? How you chose to believe is a deep, personal decision and should be immune to the influence of mere windowdressing. Why does the government and general society need to sanction Christianity to make it valid in these people's eyes?

I don't understand. Christians survived and flourished under all manners of persecution throughout the Centuries, yet the refusal to enshrine Christianity as a matter of Public policy or popular culture fodder is going to destroy it?

whatever. This attitude of absolutism, stemming from righteousness or fear, is example par excellence of why there is separation of Church and State.
 

Xtremehkr

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I believe it gives people an easily achievable sense of purpose and a clearly identifiable enemy to hate. Thus making the goal of improving the world simple. Make it christian and those who don't agree, make them go away because this is (erroneously) a christian nation.
 

Sun Baked

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May 19, 2002
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Let's go rewind the history and dump the commercialism that Macy's foisted on us and go back to the old days of feasts, social gathering, drinking, with the occasional riot like it used to be.

That'll probably satisfy everyone.
 

pseudobrit

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Jul 23, 2002
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Sun Baked said:
Let's go rewind the history and dump the commercialism that Macy's foisted on us and go back to the old days of feasts, social gathering, drinking, with the occasional riot like it used to be.

That'll probably satisfy everyone.
'cept Macy's.
 

3rdpath

macrumors 68000
stubeeef said:
The left wants what they want, the right wants what it wants, Christians want what they want, Jews want what they want, Muslims want what they want, Athiests want what they want, We all seem to want what we want.
that's a cop-out. show me where any of the other faiths you've mentioned have tried to dictate a "proper" holiday greeting. you believe what you want and you respect other's desires to express( or not) themselves as they so choose. take away the militant tactics and the message is still wrong.

I think this is a non-issue, it will go away on the 26th. It is just an attempt to raise the ire of those who want more to be mad about.
no it won't go away on the 26th...it will merely shift to another topic.
 

continuum

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Aug 22, 2004
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This crap iritates me. If someone came up to me and said "Happy Hanukah" (please pick the spelling of your choice if you disagree with mine, I'm not Jewish so what do I know) I would respond by saying "You too!" and be on my Merry Christmas way. Everything has to be so politically correct that it's blinding. Accept that there are other people in this world that aren't like you and me and, trust me, you'll live a more stressfree life. Then again, being the humans that we are with this intellectual thought process, we'll find something else to bitch about. Let's just start the inquisition again and get it over with...new rules though, if you have an opinion that doesn't benefit everyone equally you die! hehe :)

There is always that rumor going around that the Jews control the media...if they did, or if they do, don't you think they would have stopped airing the Charlie Brown Christmas special or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Yes, I'm spouting nonsense - but, what if?
 

continuum

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Aug 22, 2004
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3rdpath said:
thanks,

and a merry thereisonlyonetruewaytosalvationandhisnameisjesusandpityeverybodyelsebecausethey'regoingtohell day to you.*





*this greeting may be used any day of the year.

i'm offended. and because i am, no more blue M&M's!!!!!!!! I call on the M&M Mars company to remove all blue M&M's because I am offended by this statement (not really) and deserve to have everyone else's day ruined because it's all about number one, ME, and the followers of me! follow me, Continuum, to salvation. muh.
 

IJ Reilly

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Jul 16, 2002
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continuum said:
This crap iritates me. If someone came up to me and said "Happy Hanukah" (please pick the spelling of your choice if you disagree with mine, I'm not Jewish so what do I know) I would respond by saying "You too!" and be on my Merry Christmas way. Everything has to be so politically correct that it's blinding. Accept that there are other people in this world that aren't like you and me and, trust me, you'll live a more stressfree life. Then again, being the humans that we are with this intellectual thought process, we'll find something else to bitch about. Let's just start the inquisition again and get it over with...new rules though, if you have an opinion that doesn't benefit everyone equally you die! hehe :)

There is always that rumor going around that the Jews control the media...if they did, or if they do, don't you think they would have stopped airing the Charlie Brown Christmas special or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Yes, I'm spouting nonsense - but, what if?
It's not a rumor, it's neo-nazi propaganda. Beyond that, I don't have a clue what you are arguing. As far as political correctness is concerned, in this case, it's coming entirely from the evangelical Christians. They are the people who are trying to control speech on the grounds that what other people says offends them.
 

stubeeef

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Aug 10, 2004
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3rdpath said:
that's a cop-out. show me where any of the other faiths you've mentioned have tried to dictate a "proper" holiday greeting. you believe what you want and you respect other's desires to express( or not) themselves as they so choose. take away the militant tactics and the message is still wrong.
Should I also respect the KKK to express themselves as they so choose? These people are expressing their desire to hear MERRY CHRISTMAS, that is their point. They are doing so lawfully.

What part of this reply did you not get?

While I don't agree with the militant and threatning tone of this message
All sides use tactics on their behalf, not JUST at Christmas, but all year long, wether or not it is a belief in a more, or a less social government, etc.... That is my point.
If Dr MLK did not use the pulpit to change amercia, where would the message have come from. Because most will agree that Christianity strong arming department stores is pretty rediculous, doesn't mean the Christian Church doesn't have a place in strong societal change, hopefully for the better. While you may or may not agree, the present Pope had a lot to do with the fall of Communism, or at least the speeding up of it.
I am not saying that each of the previous mentioned groups are after proper verbage of their holiday, but each is after something at sometime or another, and often something that is not always what everyone else wants either.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!
 

stubeeef

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IJ Reilly said:
It's not a rumor, it's neo-nazi propaganda. Beyond that, I don't have a clue what you are arguing. As far as political correctness is concerned, in this case, it's coming entirely from the evangelical Christians. They are the people who are trying to control speech on the grounds that what other people says offends them.
NEO-NAZI PROPAGANDA!!!!!!!!
If you truly believe it is such, you must see the dark in everything! Goodness!

Is it NEO-NAZI PROPAGAND, when PITA is out dumping paint on others clothes? Is it NEO-NAZI PROPAGANDA when Green Peace protests! Turn it down a notch big fella! :)
These people are using non-violent means to a cause. While it is petty and silly, atleast they are not destructing others property. And it is completely within the law to do so.
 

Xtremehkr

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That's not what the article is about Stu. These people are trying to make others conform to how they think things should be.
 

stubeeef

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Xtremehkr said:
That's not what the article is about Stu. These people are trying to make others conform to how they think things should be.
I understand what the article is saying, why is it that you think I don't?
 

IJ Reilly

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stubeeef said:
NEO-NAZI PROPAGANDA!!!!!!!!
If you truly believe it is such, you must see the dark in everything! Goodness!

Is it NEO-NAZI PROPAGAND, when PITA is out dumping paint on others clothes? Is it NEO-NAZI PROPAGANDA when Green Peace protests! Turn it down a notch big fella! :)
These people are using non-violent means to a cause. While it is petty and silly, atleast they are not destructing others property. And it is completely within the law to do so.
I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume that you aren't tracking this thread very carefully. I was responding to the "rumor" that Jews control the media. This is neo-nazi propaganda. If you happen to agree with the statement that Jews control the media, please let me know so I can add you to my ignore list.
 

stubeeef

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Aug 10, 2004
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IJ Reilly said:
I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume that you aren't tracking this thread very carefully. I was responding to the "rumor" that Jews control the media. This is neo-nazi propaganda. If you happen to agree with the statement that Jews control the media, please let me know so I can add you to my ignore list.
'k, gotit.
 

IJ Reilly

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Xtremehkr said:
That's not what the article is about Stu. These people are trying to make others conform to how they think things should be.
Just call it by its real name: political correctness, right-wing style.

BTW, did we really need a third thread on this subject? I cited this exact same story earlier this morning in one of the other threads.
 

continuum

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IJ Reilly said:
It's not a rumor, it's neo-nazi propaganda. Beyond that, I don't have a clue what you are arguing. As far as political correctness is concerned, in this case, it's coming entirely from the evangelical Christians. They are the people who are trying to control speech on the grounds that what other people says offends them.
Hello Newman!

I'm agreeing with Xtremehkr - "These people are trying to make others conform to how they think things should be." Nobody has to be happy on my special day or your special day. If they don't celebrate Christmas or Hanukah then ignore it - although that's hard to do if you have a radio or TV. It's just another day for them. And the whole "Jewish Media" thing was just a little sarcasm. This is just a different, milder version of what's been happening in the Holy Land for years...the world for that matter. My faith is bigger and better than yours....blah blah blah.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! If you're not Christian...have a good day! If you are Mexican, well, then I'll wish you Happy New Year in May.
 

Xtremehkr

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IJ Reilly said:
Just call it by its real name: political correctness, right-wing style.

BTW, did we really need a third thread on this subject? I cited this exact same story earlier this morning in one of the other threads.
I didn't see the other one(s), I thought it was worth discussing.

It could be compared to political correctness, but it's not politically correct. It's intolerant of other religions and beliefs and peoples rights to interperet things they way they wish to.

It's more like Christian Correctness that is being applied to the populace as a whole.

Though I will grant that it is almost purely for political gain.
 

Roger1

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Jun 3, 2002
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This is stupid. As a Christian, I usually say Merry Christmas or Happy holidays. However, I say it because I want to. I don't expect stores to tell me Merry Christmas, because there are other holidays during this time of year, which other religions celebrate. Therefore these stores also have to cater to them. Anyhow, if the owners of the stores aren't Christian, wouldn't it be hypocritcal of them to say it (unless they were coerced, of course)?

All I expect of the local retailers at Christmas it to give me good service, and reasonable prices. I will do my celebrating of Christ's birth in my church, with friends. :)


BTW: Rather than coercing stores owners/employees to say Merry Christmas, which in many instances would be insincere (since employee may not be Christian) wouldn't it be better to invite them to your church to learn about Jesus? I mean if it really bothers you that much...


edit: when I say "you", I mean the people in the article.
 

pdham

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Jan 28, 2003
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This stuff really annoys me. If a Christian has a problem with a store saying happy holidays or what have you then they, as in that single individual, shouldnt shop there. As someone who is a deeply spiritual Christian, I plan to pursue a career in ministry, this holiday is about Christ for me, and you won't catch me saying Happy Holidays just to be politically correct. But guess what, the same freedom that I have to say Merry Christmas to someone gives that person the right to display, say, or cellebrate anything they would like. Or even tell me that they would prefere I didnt say Merry Christmas in which I would respect their request. When will people realize, and by this I mean the Christians who are complaining about this stuff, that noone can take Christ out of Christmas if you approach it as being about Jesus. As a Christian I don't see how making someone view, say or respect a symbol of our faith makes anyone more faithful or better followers of Christ. I guess I don't feel my allegiance is to the image of this as a Christian nation, but rather to Christ himself.


Sorry for the rant, I just wanted you to understand a different and popular Christian view of this.

Paul
 

themadchemist

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Roger1 said:
BTW: Rather than coercing stores owners/employees to say Merry Christmas, which in many instances would be insincere (since employee may not be Christian) wouldn't it be better to invite them to your church to learn about Jesus? I mean if it really bothers you that much...


edit: when I say "you", I mean the people in the article.
Fair enough, but I've got to say that every time that someone tries to "save" me from my "heathen" religion and help me open my heart to Christ, I get considerably annoyed. I appreciate neither the personal patronization nor the air of cultural/religious superiority.

If I were working in a store, I would not enjoy the smug proselytization of my customers, though I would endure it, as I would like to keep my job.