Friday, December 02, 2005

Don Wildmon and the Great Christmas Penis

So, I'm on the American Family Association's email list.

Their latest email alert filled me with alarm: "Survey Proves Retailers Banning Christmas!"

Well, since I am a Christian, that is a cause for concern. I happen to like Christmas.

From the email they sent me:

Dear Andy,

I thought you would be interested in a survey we did. We gathered advertising inserts from 11 different companies placed in two papers on Nov. 27 (Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal and Memphis Commercial Appeal.)

Did they write this with a straight face? They looked at two minor newspapers published 100 miles apart from each other on one day and this is supposed to provide conclusive evidence of...anything? (Of course, this is the same organization that put a poll on its webpage and invited members to vote on whether they supported gay marriage or not; the page promised the results would be submitted to Congress. When the results didn't come out quite as they expected, they pulled it and declined to share the "findings" with the government.)

Okay, but let's give them the benefit of the doubt. Just because the research is, shall we say, scanty, doesn't mean it's inaccurate. If I see one raven and conclude all ravens are black, I might be lazy, but I'm still right. Maybe retailers really are banning Christmas!

Of the 11 companies, only one—McRae's/Belks—had a reference to "Christmas." They mentioned "Christmas" only two times. The other 10 companies did not mention "Christmas" a single time! While refusing to use "Christmas," they used the term "holiday" a total of 59 times in their 10 inserts.

So, I guess if you see an advertising insert decorated with twinkling stars, evergreen boughs, glass baubles, candles, stockings, candy canes, wreaths and other traditionally Christmasy trappings in a newspaper one month before Christmas but it doesn't say "Christmas" anywhere, you are looking at a concerted effort to ban Christmas. Got it. The fact that it says "holiday," even though Christmas is, in fact, a holiday, is a victory for Godlessness. And if you "only" mention Christmas twice, you just barely get a pass.

Ask these companies why they banned "Christmas" in their in-store promotions and retail advertising and they will tell you they didn't want to offend anyone. They mean, of course, anyone except Christians!

Ah, so by making the holiday season (d'oh, look, I just banned Christmas myself!) more inclusive, they're actually making it exclusive. The fact that Christmas is a "holiday" and they are wishing us "happy holidays" means that they hate us. Makes sense.

And of course even though James tells us, "Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God," it's time to get mad!

Here's why: "According to [Chairman Don] Wildmon, supporters of his organization...are offended when retailers choose to promote the Christmas season without acknowledging it as such, choosing instead to remain 'politically correct' by marketing such things as 'holiday trees'."

Unfortunately for Don "Wildman" Wildmon, calling them "holiday trees" is actually closer to historical accuracy than political correctness (assuming there's a difference). Even the most cursory research shows that the tradition of using fir trees as decoration for winter holidays originated with pre-Christian European pagans, who venerated the trees as phallic symbols. Adopting the practice as part of the commemoration of Christ's birth is a relatively recent phenomenon; most believe it started in Germany in the 1600's.

But according to ","the custom spread slowly. The Puritans banned Christmas in New England. Even as late as 1851, a Cleveland minister nearly lost his job because he allowed a tree in his church. Schools in Boston stayed open on Christmas Day through 1870, and sometimes expelled students who stayed home. The Christmas tree market was born in 1851 when Catskill farmer Mark Carr hauled two ox sleds of evergreens into New York City and sold them all. By 1900, one in five American families had a Christmas tree, and 20 years later, the custom was nearly universal." The History Channel confirms this account.

You know, if December came and went without any commercial "holiday" music, if stores didn't bring in special decorations, and generally stayed open on the holiday itself, I might worry about an effort to "ban" Christmas. Instead what I see happening is an organization trying to pressure retailers into promoting one religion to the exclusion of others, based upon historically and theologically inaccurate arguments. To that I say, "Bah humbug!"


Steve said...

You have a very (dear I say it) enlightened view. It is amazing to me the number of people who are worked up over the de-Christmasation of the culture. They are worried about whether a tree is called a Christmas or Holiday tree but don't seem to worry about their fellow man.

They will spend donations going around the country defending the "ideal of Christmas" but forget the message. The message is the BIRTH of one who will rescue people from sin. He will bring peace, hope and comfort. How I wish the Wildmons, Falwells and others on the right would remember the message and truly live it.

Nathan said...

I'm surprised you forgot the main reason to keep it "Holidays" instead of just "Christmas" – money. The people who advertise holiday specials are not advertising to promote the teachings of Jesus Christ, they're doing it to make as much money as they possibly can. Call it Christmas, and you may alienate the 1 present a day for 8 days (sic) Hannukah crowd.

These guys must be anti-capitalist, promoting a scheme that would reduce revenues! Burn'em.

That's an interesting topic in and of itself. What are the parallels between the separation of church and state and the separation of church and business? Can we learn something about one from an understanding of the other? An interesting survey could be developed, measuring people's attitudes toward these topics.

Take it away Andy.

Jon-Marc said...

Love this blog.

Wildmon is a scary man but even scarier is the sort of media attention he gets when he opens his mouth...and really that's all he is in this for --publicity.

djraindog said...

Furthermore, a point Mr. Wild-ass fails to note: Would JC want his birth commemmorated with a commercial holiday? Je crois que non. Could you replay that righteous-anger-tantrum-in-the-temple footage for us, Bob?

little-cicero said...

What should be important concerning our fellow man is intentions, not actions. If I say to a Jewish person "Merry Christmas" he will usually not feel excluded, but included. That I am happier because of the season comforts others. In the same way, a Christmas Tree permeates the spirit of the season among agnostic and devoted Christians alike. At a distance, a little bit of Holly never hurt anybody. What you must keep in mind is that no one is promoting a religion, we are only promoting a tradition that makes society happier. Pragmatically speaking, a Christmas tree is better for society than a Calender marking the Winter Solstice, so why phase out the observance of Christmas?