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defending the First Amendment against the Christian right ...

Jews On First!

... because if Jews don't speak out, they'll think we don't mind

The "War" Over Christmas

Below on this page: The 2008 "war" over Christmas waged amid economic collapse | The "war" on Xmas, 2005 | The "war" on Xmas, 2006 | The "war" over Christmas returns for 2007 season | Christmas War 2006: Wal-Mart cedes | Chabad fights parallel Hanukah "war"

2008 "war" over Christmas waged amid economic collapse

Jesus Versus the Atheists

Bill O'Reilly, Townhall.com, December 6, 2008

Just in time for the Christmas season, Washington State Gov. Christine Gregoire has insulted Christians all over the world. Inside the state Capitol building in Olympia there is a traditional holiday display featuring a tree and the Nativity scene; perfectly appropriate since the federal and state Christmas holiday celebrates the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.

But this year Gregoire decided to add another item to the display. Standing alongside the baby Jesus is a giant placard designed by atheists that reads: "There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds." Continue.

O'Reilly's War on Christmas Goes Retail

Jason Linkins, Huffington Post, November 6, 2008

You know, as I walked up into the CVS across the street from my apartment a few days ago and saw the store festooned with Christmas decorations, I had two thoughts. First, I thought, "November 3rd! That's not so bad, actually!" And indeed, it wasn't: in previous years, area stores had their Christmas decor up before Halloween. But then I had another realization: namely, that the coming of the Christmas decorations brought an ill Yuletide wind along with it - the annual mindfrack that is Bill O'Reilly's War On Christmas.

It basically works like this. We live in a capitalist society, and consumer spending tends to increase during the Christmas season. To avoid alienating any customers during that peak period, many retailers have their cashiers say "Happy Holidays," because why not be nice? For centuries and centuries, this was totally fine with everybody because it made a lick of good sense. Then, one year, a bunch of feckless dimwits came to an extraordinary conclusion - saying "Happy Holidays" was "politically correct," and everyone who practices Christianity had the right to expect a complete stranger to recognize them as a Christmas practitioner by sight and specifically wish them "Merry Christmas," or else IT WAS WAR. Obviously, this latter position is the one you want to build an entire society around. Continue.

KO - O'Reilly's War on Christmas vs WA Gov. Gregoire

Keith Obermann, You Tube, December 3, 2008

MSNBC's Keith Obermann reviews Fox News Bill O'Reilly's annual "War on Christmas" reporting as a way to fill air time during a "newsless" season. Click to view.

University of North Carolina libraries to forgo Christmas trees
Chapel Hill library chief says staffers complained about the display

Eric Ferreri, The Charlotte Observer, December 05, 2008

Chapel Hill For as long as anyone can remember, Christmas trees adorned with lights and ornaments have greeted holiday season visitors to UNC Chapel Hill's two main libraries.

Not this year.

The trees, which have stood in the lobby areas of Wilson and Davis libraries each December, were kept in storage this year at the behest of Sarah Michalak, the associate provost for university libraries.

Michalak's decision followed several years of queries and complaints from library employees and patrons bothered by the Christian display, Michalak said this week. Continue.

Christmas Wins Another Round

David Moltz, Inside Higher Ed, December 1, 2008

There may be a war against Christmas, but the holiday is holding its own at public universities. On Wednesday, facing widespread criticism, the president of Florida Gulf Coast University reversed a ban on religious holiday decorations on the campus. This is the second year in a row that a public university has initially called off Christmas decorations but then abruptly changed course following criticism. Last year, Missouri State University restored a Christmas tree to a prominent place on the campus.]

At Florida Gulf Coast, President Wilson G. Bradshaw’s first memo to staff, which banned decorations outside of private office spaces, led to several controversial changes on the campus — including renaming a “giving tree” for needy children as a “giving garden.” Bradshaw initially gave a strong defense of the rules. “While it may appear at times that a vocal majority of opinion is the only view that is held, this is not always the case,” Bradshaw wrote in a memo to the campus. Continue.

Buttars takes aim at stores waging 'war on Christmas'

Cathy Mckitrick, The Salt Lake Tribune, December 2, 2008

Sen. Chris Buttars wants Utah's Legislature to declare its opposition to the "war on Christmas."

The West Jordan Republican is sponsoring a resolution encouraging retailers to embrace Christmas in their promotions rather than the generic "holidays."

"It would encourage the use of 'Merry Christmas,'" Buttars said of the non-binding statement that is still being drafted. "I'm sick of the Christmas wars -- we're a Christian nation and ought to use the word."

Several fellow lawmakers he wouldn't yet name support his effort, added Buttars, who has a long history of championing the socially conservative agenda of the Utah Eagle Forum. Continue. .

Faith Organization Battles 'War on Christmas' with Live Nativity Scene and Christmas Carols in Times Square

Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Christian News Wire, December 5, 2008

Washington, The Christian Defense Coalition will display the Nativity Scene on Saturday, December 6, starting at 10:00 A.M. in Times Square.

The location is Broadway and 44th Street right below MTV studios.

The Christian Defense Coalition based in Washington, D.C., thanks New York City for giving permission to publicly display the Nativity.

The display is part of a nationwide campaign called, "The Nativity Project," which encourages individuals and groups to display Nativity Scenes in public places across America Continue.

Nativity Scene Goes to U.S. Supreme Court

Paul Strand, The Christian Broadcasting Network News, November 20, 2008

CBNNews.com - Washington - A couple of Christian rights groups placed a nativity scene in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday, as part of an effort to encourage Americans to do the same in front of public buildings all across the United States.

The National Clergy Council and the Christian Defense Coalition point out many Americans falsely believe such displays are forbidden, and so creches have disappeared from many places where they used to be commonplace. Continue

Anti-religious Sign at State Capitol Raises Eyebrows

Associated Press & KING5.com (Olympia, Washington), December 5, 2008

Olympia, Wash. - An atheist group has unveiled an anti-religion placard in the state Capitol, joining a Christian Nativity scene and "holiday tree" on display during December.

The atheists' sign was installed Monday by Washington members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national group based in Madison, Wisconsin.

With a nod to the winter solstice - the year's shortest day occurring in late December - the placard reads: "At this season of the Winter Solstice may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds." Continue.

Was it the Grinch? Atheists' holiday sign stolen

Curt Woodward, Associated Press, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 5, 2008

Olympia, Wash. -- An anti-religion placard posted alongside Christmas displays drew a thief, a preacher, a part-time elf and a security detail to the state Capitol on Friday, as a weeklong uproar over religious speech hit a bizarre peak.

It all started Monday, when the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation unveiled a winter solstice sign in the grand marble hallways around the Capitol Rotunda.

The sign's atheistic message - reading in part that "religion is but myth and superstition" - drew top billing on conservative commentator Bill O'Reilly's TV show. Continue.

Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign "Naughty & Nice List"

Liberty Counsel web site, Decembrer 5, 2008

The Liberty Counsel published a list of retailers who passed the "Merry Christmas" test and those who did not. Matt Staver's Liberty Counsel claims that it is "a nonprofit litigation, education and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life and the traditional family. Established in 1989, Liberty Counsel is a nationwide organization with offices in Florida, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., and hundreds of affiliate attorneys across the Nation. Continue.

Costco says 'No' to Christmas...literally

Don Wildmon, American Family Association, December 2, 2008

Costco has 520 stores nationwide. But you will not find "Christmas" in a single store.

That's because Costco says it will not use the term "Christmas" on its website or in its stores. Instead, Costco is telling customers it purposely chooses to use the generic "holiday" verbiage. You know, they stock holiday gifts, not Christmas gifts. Continue.

"War" over Christmas returns for 2007 season


Christian Nationalists Win Ideological Victory in Congress with Christmas resolution
Huge majority, Jews included, pass resolution suggesting Christian founding of nation

by JewsOnFirst.org, December 20, 2007

Congressional Democrats -- including most Jewish Democrats -- voted for a resolution last week that "acknowledges and supports the role played by Christians and Christianity in the founding of the United States." We expect the Christian right to cite that language in their frequent claims that the United States was founded as a Christian nation.

372 members of Congress voted for the resolution, House Res. 847, "Recognizing the Importance of Christmas and the Christian Faith." Only nine members voted "no." Ten members voted "present," effectively abstaining from the December 11th vote.

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) told JewsOnFirst that many members would have voted against the measure if the vote had been by secret ballot. Click here

Signs of Season Include Legal Spats Over Church-State Issues

Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, December 21, 2007

It's the holidays, a busy time for Santa and shoppers.

And lawyers.

Attorneys who specialize in religious expression say they get a spike in calls in November and December, with people calling about everything from public school choirs singing religious songs to Nativity scenes on government property. Some are for, some are against, and some are public officials trying to find out how to avoid being sued.

While the Supreme Court has handed down multiple rulings about religious expression, including several about holiday displays, each case turns on the details, which means fertile ground for competing legal opinions and disagreement. Continue.

Goodwill lacking in Yule disputes

Wendy Koch, USA Today, December 21, 2007

Christmas fervor is prompting more communities this year to buck secular efforts to take down Christmas trees or Nativity scenes.

Some removed the symbols from public property because of complaints about legality, then later put them back. Missouri State University in Springfield re-erected a Christmas tree after a public outcry about its removal, and Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland ordered two state parks to restore Nativity scenes.

Both sides of the issue say conflict has intensified.Continue.

You Can Help Save Christmas®

Web site of Liberty Counsel, December 21, 2007

Liberty Counsel, which is affiliated with the late Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, exhorts Christian right visitors to engage in the "war" to protect Christmas. The web site sells buttons (such as the one pictured above) and bumper stickers. The site also offers legal memo on public celebrations of Christmas. Click here.

Green Bay Votes to Keep City Hall Nativity

All Things Considered, National Public Radio, December 19, 2007

Host Melissa Block talks with Green Bay, Wis., Mayor Jim Schmitt about Tuesday night's 6-6 vote by the city council on whether to keep in place a nativity display adorning the roof of City Hall.

Schmitt cast the tie-breaking "yes" vote to let the nativity stand and bar other holiday symbols until guidelines for future displays are approved.

In the interview, Mayor Schmitt promises to involve the Jews next year. Continue.

Continued Display Of Nativity Scene Is Unconstitutional, Americans United Tells Green Bay Officials
Watchdog Group Urges Removal Of Religious Symbol From City Hall

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, December 20, 2007

Americans United for Separation of Church and State has urged officials in Green Bay, Wisc., to remove a nativity scene from government property.

The display, Americans United points out, amounts to an unconstitutional endorsement of religion by government. Although officials in the city initially allowed other religious symbols to be displayed on an overhang of the city hall, they have since voted to allow only the nativity scene to remain with several council members expressing the belief that the city should be able to endorse the religious aspects of Christmas.

“There are several courses Green Bay officials could have taken to resolve this matter,” said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “Unfortunately, they rejected them all and chose to go down an unconstitutional path.” Continue.

Christian symbols back on display in OKC office

Associated Press, Tulsa World, December 20, 2007

Oklahoma City -- Two employees who claim they were forced to remove Christian-themed decorations from their office and breakroom put the items back on display while a legal battle continues over whether the employees' rights were violated.

A judge on Wednesday denied a temporary restraining order to two Oklahoma City employees who filed a lawsuit claiming the city violated their constitutional right to display religious symbols at work. The employees had asked for the order so they could continue to display the religious items.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy DeGiusti said a restraining order wasn't necessary because City Manager Jim Couch sent a clarifying memo Tuesday saying the decorations would be allowed. Continue.

Christmas controversy

The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle, December 19, 2007

In the Missouri State University Christmas tree controversy, Gov. Matt Blunt has come down decisively on the side of Christmas. Why doesn’t that surprise us? After all, he has a record favoring public-purse-picking vouchers designed to be used at private, religious schools. And he has endorsed “teacher-led voluntary prayer in public schools.” So what’s the harm in a state school endorsing the Christian faith, eh?

When MSU officials in Springfield, reacting to a Jewish professor’s complaint, briefly removed a Christmas tree from an academic building, Gov. Blunt seized the opportunity to issue a press release on the subject. The initial removal was “outrageous,” he blustered. “The historical underpinnings and meaning of Christmas cannot be ignored because some university office received a complaint.”

And for good measure, he added a bit declaring that “no state employee will be reprimanded, cautioned, or disciplined for saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to others.” Continue.

No Ho Ho

Nancy Gibbs, Time Magazine, November 21, 2007

So sacred is the American holiday-shopping season that Franklin Roosevelt officially moved Thanksgiving from the last Thursday in November (for years like this, with an extra one) to the fourth, to give retailers an edge. They'll need it this time around, as darkened Broadway theaters and striking Hollywood writers dampen the holiday spirit, toys have gotten scary, gas prices trudge ever upward, the dollar slips ever lower, and the credit crisis makes people feel poorer even if they aren't in foreclosure. One marketing firm predicts a "blue Christmas," citing slumping sales of tinsel as a leading indicator; 27% of shoppers say they'll be spending less this year.

To make matters worse, retailers must dodge the cultural crossfire that accompanies holiday fund-raising drives by activists on all sides. Environmentalists push Buy Nothing Day, an international shopping fast that urges people to "seek out greener alternatives to unrestrained consumption." The ACLU offers "talking points" in case Uncle Harry asks why the ACLU hates Christmas so much: Tell him "we work year-round to ensure that everyone in America has the freedom to practice their own religion (or no religion) and to keep the government out of religion."

Meanwhile, the American Family Association's Project Merry Christmas targets stores like Lowe's for advertising "family trees" instead of Christmas trees in its catalog. Having seen the boycotts of yore, Lowe's energetically apologized, citing a "breakdown in the proofing process." Continue.

The Attack on Christmas 2007

Ashley Tarter, Focus on the Family, November 26, 2007

Focus on the Family's web site is initiated its annual post-Thanksgiving season of lamentations and complaint: there is an "Attack on Christmas." In addition to Dr. Dobson's radio program, there are a number of books, buttons and DVDs that document the demise of Christmas. Dr. Dobson discusses our culture's ongoing attempts to remove Christmas from the Christmas season, and guest Ashley Tarter describes how listeners can encourage retailers to say "Merry Christmas." Continue.

JewsOnFirst cited on "manufactured 'war'" in report

Please Support
   JewsOnFirst

Support JewsOnFirst by purchasing greeting cards by David Honig spoofing the religious right's claim of a "War on Christmas." Click here for details.





Capitol rejects Nativity request

BY Adam Wilson, The Olympian (Olympia, Washington), December 21, 2006

"An Olympia man, inspired by the first-ever placement of a menorah in the Capitol this week, asked the state to place a Nativity there. His request was denied," begins this report. It notes that the requester did "research" on the "Save Christmas" site which, according to the report, "advocates public celebrations of Christmas, including singing religious songs in schools, placing Nativity displays on public property, and campaigning to have store clerks say 'Merry Christmas,' instead of 'Happy Holidays.'"

Then the report notes that "Other groups, including the Web site Jews on First, say conservative Christians have manufactured a perceived "war on Christmas" that results in anti-Semitism." Click here.

Groups sues for nativity scene at Washington Capitol

The Associated Press, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 28, 2006

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A Christian legal group is asking a federal court to force the state of Washington to accept the display of a nativity scene in the state Capitol.

The Alliance Defense Fund of Scottsdale, Ariz., said it was appropriate for the state to recognize Hanukkah by allowing the display of a menorah but unconstitutional to deny the nativity scene to recognize Christmas. Continue.

The "war" over Christmas, 2006

Christmas Wars Prove Lucrative Fundraising Opportunity for Advocacy Groups
AFA says buttons and magnets are selling so well, it plans to expand its campaign to Easter.

Daniel Burke, Religion News Service via Christianity Today, December 19, 2006

For Conservative Christian groups, this year's hot gift is a weapon for fighting back in the "War on Christmas," be it a button, a bumper sticker or a memo with advice to the troops.

The Mississippi-based American Family Association says it has sold more than 500,000 buttons and 125,000 bumper stickers bearing the slogan "Merry Christmas: It's Worth Saying."

The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal aid group that boasts a network of some 900 lawyers standing ready to "defend Christmas," says it has moved about 20,000 "Christmas packs." The packs, available for a suggested $29 donation, include a three-page legal memo and two lapel pins.

And Liberty Counsel, a conservative law firm affiliated with the Rev. Jerry Falwell, says it has sold 12,500 legal memos on celebrating Christmas and 8,000 of its own buttons and bumper stickers. Continue.

'War on Christmas' has a new jingle: money

Christian groups raise funds as they sell items to counter a perceived assault on the holiday.

By Stephanie Simon, The Los Angeles Times, December 23, 2006

The "War on Christmas" has never been so profitable.

For the fourth year running, conservative Christian groups have spent much of December mobilizing against what they see as a liberal plot to censor Christmas.

But this year, it's more than a cause. It's a heck of a fundraiser. Continue.

Merry Christmas. It's okay to say it.

Alliance Defense Fund, November 2006

Christmas is a cherished time of year when Americans come together and celebrate something bigger than ourselves, something that has united us for generations. An event that is the center of all history—the birth of Jesus Christ.

Surveys show that 95% of Americans celebrate Christmas. Yet, due to political correctness, disinformation, and even the threat of lawsuits from the ACLU and its allies, religious expression at Christmastime is increasingly absent from the public square. Slowly, this holy day is being turned into a secular “solstice season.”

The Alliance Defense Fund works year-round to preserve and protect our religious liberties, including the right to…

  • ...sing Christmas carols at school
  • ...pass out candy canes to classmates
  • ...call it “Christmas vacation”
  • ...sponsor a nativity scene on public property
  • ...say “Merry Christmas”

ADF wants all Americans to know the Truth—that they have the freedom to celebrate Christmas publicly, joyfully, and without fear—for generations to come! We are launching our annual national Christmas Project to spread the message, “Merry Christmas. It’s okay to say it.” Will you join with us?

Click here for the ADF page -- and note that it has trade-marked the title "ADF Christmas Project" and the slogan "Merry Christmas. It's okay to say it."

ADF allied attorneys contact nearly 11,500 school districts regarding Christmas expression
Louisiana legislators to receive information on Christmas expression today

News Release, Alliance Defense Fund, December 8, 2006

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Alliance Defense Fund allied attorneys have contacted nearly 11,500 school districts across the nation within the last month explaining the law with regard to the celebration of Christmas in the public schools. In addition, information has been sent to mayors of more than 5,500 cities.

Louisiana legislators will receive information on Christmas expression from ADF and the Louisiana Family Forum today as the legislature commences a 10-day special session. The letter the legislators will receive can be read at www.telladf.org/UserDocs/ADF-LFF-letter.pdf.

“Of course it’s ridiculous that Americans have to think twice about whether it’s okay to say Merry Christmas,” said ADF Senior Counsel Joe Infranco. “It’s time to repair the damage organizations like the ACLU have done to America’s favorite holiday. It’s a sad day in this country when you have to retain an attorney to wish someone a Merry Christmas. And an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose censoring Christmas.” Continue.

Legal Group Offers to Defend Anyone Denied Religious Freedom at Christmas
ADF's Christmas Project seeks to clear up misconceptions about seasonal religious expression.

Focus on the Family, November 20, 2006

The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) announced last week it has more than 950 allied attorneys available nationwide to help anyone who is faced with an improper attempt to censor celebrations of Christmas in schools or on public property.

Alan Sears, president of ADF, said unfortunate myths about religious expression at Christmastime have prompted many wrongful acts of government censorship.

"ADF's goal is to inform, educate and help protect the rights of the 95 percent of Americans who celebrate Christmas," he said. "The fear, intimidation and disinformation spread by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its allies over the years will not be changed overnight." Continue.

The War on Christmas Continued -- And How To Fight Back

By: Rick Scarborough, VisionAmerica website, November 22, 2006

Scarborough is marketing the cards shown here -- and the concept that 90% of the nation's population is Christian and so stores should cater to their yen to hear religious greetings at the cash register. As Scarborough writes: "Last year, progress was made on this front, with many stores recognizing that Christians are offended by their avoidance of the word "Christmas." Still, all too many proprietors seem to forget that Christians are customers too." Click here for his complete screed.

Naughty and Nice List Grows as Part of Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign

Public Relations Department, Liberty Counsel, November 27, 2006

Orlando, As part of the Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign, Liberty Counsel has created a "Naughty and Nice" checklist (available online in pdf or MSWord) which catalogs retailers who either censor or recognize Christmas. The complete list can be found at www.LC.org or www.HelpSaveChristmas.org. The list was compiled from information gathered by Liberty Counsel supporters.

Partial "Naughty List"

Lowe's -- Employees cannot say "Merry Christmas" to customers. Lowe's corporate advised that only when customers initiate a "Merry Christmas" greeting can employees respond in kind.

Toys 'R' Us -- "Holidays" are in, "Merry Christmas" is out. Continue

Coalition Calls for Nationwide Push on Public Nativity Scenes

By Allie Martin and Jody Brown, AgapePress via AmericanFaithNews.com, December 8, 2006

At the same time that a coalition of Christian groups is encouraging the display of Nativity scenes at public buildings nationwide during this Christmas season, a Pennsylvania town has reversed an earlier decision and will now permit a couple to display one in a public park.

The Christian Defense Coalition, Faith and Action, Generation Life, and various members of Congress have launched "The Nativity Project: A Public Witness to Keep Christ in Christmas." At a news conference on Thursday just outside the U.S. Capitol Building, coalition spokesman Pat Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, said the group is calling on believers across the country to apply for permits to set up Nativity scenes in front of their city halls, government centers, or state capitol buildings in the days leading up to Christmas (December 19-22). Continue.

The Jewish grinch who stole Christmas

by Burt Prelutsky, World Net Daily, December 6, 2006

Prelutsky writes "I blame my fellow Jews [for opposing tax-payer funded manifestations of Christmas]. When it comes to pushing the multicultural, anti-Christian, agenda, you find Jewish judges, Jewish journalists and the ACLU at the forefront."

He also states:

It is the ACLU, which is overwhelmingly Jewish in terms of membership and funding, that is leading the attack against Christianity in America. It is they who have conned far too many people into believing that the phrase "separation of church and state" actually exists somewhere in the Constitution...
I am getting the idea that too many Jews won't be happy until they pull off their own version of the Spanish Inquisition, forcing Christians to either deny their faith and convert to agnosticism or suffer the consequences.

Please click here for Prelutsky's column.

Chicago officials ask holiday bazaar to nix movie about Jesus' birth

By Don Babwin, The Chicago Tribune, November 27, 2006

CHICAGO -- City officials sent a message to a movie studio that hoped to help sponsor a Christmas festival with advertising for its film about the night Mary and Joseph couldn't find a room at the inn: There's no room for you.

Worried that ads for "The Nativity Story" would offend non-Christians browsing in the traditional German Christkindlmarket in the heart of downtown, the city asked the German American Chamber of Commerce to reconsider New Line Cinema, which made the film, as a sponsor. The group then told the studio it would not be part of the bazaar that began Thursday.

The reasoning has at least one prominent Christian group, and the studio, shaking their heads. Continue.

'Nativity' Booted from Illinois Holiday Fair

Church Report, November 28, 2006

CHICAGO (AP) - A public Christmas festival is no place for the Christmas story, the city says. Officials have asked organizers of a downtown Christmas festival, the German Christkindlmarket, to reconsider using a movie studio as a sponsor because it is worried ads for its film "The Nativity Story" might offend non-Christians.

New Line Cinema, which said it was dropped, had planned to play a loop of the new film on televisions at the event. The decision had both the studio and a prominent Christian group shaking their heads. Continue

There are more reports about "The Nativity Story" in the At The Movies section.

Best Buy Bans Use of Merry Christmas in Advertising

American Family Association "Action Alert," November 2006

Best Buy has announced they will be using "Happy Holidays" this coming Christmas shopping season, and they will not be using "Merry Christmas." UPDATE! Best Buy is blocking emails! Please call their corporate office and ask for Chairman Schulze to express your displeasure at their "Anti-Christmas" policy. The number is ... Continue.

Project Focuses on Religious Expression Rights of Students

By Ed Thomas, AgapePress via Newsbull.com, December 1, 2006

A First Amendment and religious speech law firm says it's working to keep public schools from becoming "religion-free zones" and has introduced the "Public School Christmas Project" to begin its educational efforts.

Attorney Bruce Green with the American Family Association's Center for Law & Policy (CLP) says the constitutional religious expression rights of students are being violated in various ways because of a lack of understanding by school administrators about those rights. "Entire school districts," says Green, "have begun to eradicate all vestiges of seasonal religious expression from the public schools." Continue.

The ACLU is at it again.

Jay Sekulow, American Center for Law & Justice, November 28, 2006

With an outrageous boldness that only they could muster, the ACLU has set their sights on Christmas ...

In their never-ending quest to completely eradicate all things religious from public life, the ACLU's latest lawsuit is an all-out frontal attack on the freedom of speech. Let me ask you - when did a children's Christmas program become illegal? When did the nativity story and Christmas songs become unconstitutional?

Because this is the dangerous charge the ACLU has leveled. A children's Christmas program has been deemed unconstitutional by the ACLU.

This is why I am asking for your help. The ACLJ is engaged in this case, so if you are as outraged as I am over this latest legal scare tactic by the ACLU, please give your most generous gift of support today to be matched by our $850,000 PROTECTING LIFE AND LIBERTY Matching Challenge for TWICE the impact! Continue

Catholic League's NY Times ad on Op-Ed page
"To be excluded is normal"

This ad appeared on the op-ed page of the New York times on November 28th and has been posted on the website of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, where you can find a full-size document. Click here.

The Catholic League's 2006 Christmas Watch

Catholic League website, November 2006

Every December sees its fair share of "Grinches," those retailers, schools, websites, towns and municipalities who refuse to acknowledge Christmas as part of the "holiday season." These Christmas kill-joys are all around.

This Christmas, the Catholic League, Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R. and the other Franciscan Friars of the Renewal have joined up to put the spotlight on these folks. Should you notice one of these Grinches, please let us know. You may submit the details either by faxing the Catholic League at 212-371-3394, writing to us at 450 Seventh Avenue, New York, New York 10123 or by e-mailing catalyst@catholicleague.org.

The names of the nominees are posted below. Each week, we will select the worst offender and dub it the Supreme Grinch of the Week. Continue.

Christmas wars in schools: The First Amendment solution
Inside the First Amendment

Charles C. Haynes, First Amendment Center, November 12, 2006

Now that the midterm elections are finally over, parents and school officials can turn their attention to the battle that really counts: The December "holiday" (aka "Christmas") program at their local school.

If you think I’m kidding, you haven’t been in a community divided by the December dilemma. Nowhere are the Christmas fights more explosive -- and nowhere do people feel the stakes are higher -- than in public schools.

Schools, of course, are only one battleground in what some religious conservatives have dubbed the "war on Christmas." Is it my imagination, or is the fight starting earlier each year? Even before the pumpkins are smashed, Christmas-bashing begins. Continue

Liberty Counsel Kicks Off Annual 'Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign'

Allie Martin, Agape Press via Newsbull.com, October 16, 2006

Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based public-interest law firm specializing in the defense of civil liberties, has launched its fourth annual "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign," an effort to defend Christmas from secularist attempts to suppress the holiday's traditional, faith-based aspects.

The campaign is designed to help those who face persecution or censorship for celebrating Christmas. Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, expects another active season. "Last year, we put the 'grinches' on the run," he notes, " and this year, millions of Americans will join together to help save Christmas." Continue

Francis Howell calendar's wording draws fire

By Michael Beder, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 4, 2006

The board of the Francis Howell School District, in St. Charles, Missouri, voted 4-3 to change "winter break" to "Christmas break" on the district's calendar. They voted despite opposition from several Jewish organizations and a Christian leader who specifically objected to "theocracy." Advocates argued that the majority of people were Christian and Christmas is a federal holiday. Continue

'Christmas Season' to Begin Early in 2006

By AFA Journal, Agape Press via Newsbull.com, February 1, 2006

"The American Family Association says it will begin in June 2006 reminding national retailers that the word "Christmas" is not a four-letter word for most Americans, and it deserves to be included in store promotions and greetings in November and December." Click here for the article.

Christmas war, 2006: Wal-Mart cedes to religious right

Please note: As Wal-Mart rolled out this holiday marketing campaign, the religious right group American Family Association announced a boycott of the company because of its cooperation with an LGBT group. Please click here.

Wal-Mart wishes you a Merry Christmas

By Jayne O'Donnell, USA TODAY, November 8, 2006

Wal-Mart will put "Christmas" back into the holidays this year, the retailer plans to announce Thursday.

A year after religious and other groups boycotted retailers, including Wal-Mart (WMT), for downplaying Christmas, the world's largest retail chain will have an in-your-face Christmas theme this year.

"We, quite frankly, have learned a lesson from last year," says Wal-Mart spokeswoman Linda Blakley. "We're not afraid to use the term 'Merry Christmas.' We'll use it early, and we'll use it often."

Wal-Mart told about 7,000 associates of the plans at a conference last month and "was met with rapturous applause. ... We know many of our customers will feel the same," says John Fleming, Wal-Mart's executive vice president of marketing. Continue.

Value and Christmas Dominate Wal-Mart's 2006 Holiday Marketing

News release, Wal-Mart via PRnewswire.com, November 9, 2006

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Nov. 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Whether in the aisles or on the air, online or on TV, Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT - News) today announced that 'Christmas' and 'value' will dominate its U.S. marketing and in-store initiatives throughout this year's holiday season.

Wal-Mart's biggest-ever 2006 holiday campaign, with the advertising and marketing theme of "Be Bright," will offer good value and goodwill through multi-channel outreach and throughout its stores. Continue.

Christmas returns to Wal-Mart marketing

By Anne D'innocenzio, AP, Foxnews.com, November 9, 2006

In this handout image from video provided by Wal-Mart, children are shown next to a nativity scene in a Wal-Mart holiday commercial. Wal-Mart is bringing "Christmas" back into its marketing, after several years of playing down the term. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s Christmas cheer seems to be a hot trend this season as several other retailers including Kohl's Corp. and Macy's, a division of Federated Department Stores Inc., are also stepping up their Christmas marketing. The moves respond to mounting criticism from religious groups that staged boycotts against Wal-Mart and other merchants after they eliminated or de-emphasized "Christmas" in their advertising. (AP Photo/Wal-Mart) Click here.

Keeping Christmas under wraps

Op-ed, by Laura Billings, Pioneer-Press (St. Paul, Minnesota), November 12, 2006

The nation's big value retailers made headlines this election season by trying to sell their employees on the value of voting.

Arkansas-based Wal-Mart came out with a campaign to get its 1.3 million associates across the country to go to the polls. And here in our hometown, Target posted a voter's guide for its 330,000 employees that made some critics wonder whether that red bull's-eye was symbolic of some other affiliation.

So far, analysts haven't weighed in on what effect the Wal-Mart voters may have had in the midterm election, but Tuesday's Democratic tide may not have been the result hoped for by management types at both retailers, whose political action committees each gave more than 70 percent of their funding this cycle to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Continue.

Chabad fights parallel Hanukah "war"

Can public menorah lighting ceremonies pull in unaffiliated Jews?

By Jane Ulman, Jewish Journal (Los Angeles), December 15, 2006

The Orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch organization erects thousands of public menorahs each year. Writes Ulman:

To many Jews, these public celebrations -- many with oversize and unconventional menorahs carved of ice or built of LEGOs -- create a fierce sense of Jewish pride. And given that Chanukah is the ultimate anti-assimilationist holiday, many Jews and non-Jews alike believe the exhibits establish the menorah as a universal symbol of religious freedom.

To others, however, the public menorah displays raise controversial legal issues regarding separation of church and state, as well as issues regarding the religious significance of the menorah and the true interpretation of the Talmudic commandment to publicize the holiday miracle.

Please click here for the report.

Christmas trees returned to Sea-Tac Airport

By John Iwasaki, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 12, 2006

The Christmas spirit has returned to Sea-Tac Airport.

The Port of Seattle, which had been battered internationally for removing 14 Christmas trees last week in response to a rabbi's threat of a federal lawsuit, began reinstalling the displays Monday night.

The decision came shortly after Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky told port officials that his organization would not file the suit to get an 8-foot menorah added to the public display, ending a flap that Port Commissioner Alec Fisken said made Seattle "an international joke."

Port Chairwoman Pat Davis expressed relief that the situation was resolved without Bogomilsky resorting to litigation.

"He pulled that stinger out, and it's wonderful," she said.

Davis said Bogomilsky never asked the port to remove the "holiday trees" -- the agency's staff does not refer to them as Christmas trees -- and expressed appreciation for the rabbi's willingness to work with the Port and other community and religious leaders to develop a plan for next year's holiday decorations at the airport. Continue.

Christmas trees come down at Sea-Tac, controversy rises
Some want airport decorations put back up

By AMY ROLPH, Seattle Post Intelligencer, December 11, 2006

Christmas still might have a chance at Sea-Tac Airport.

Amid the growing controversy over the Port of Seattle's decision to remove Christmas trees from the airport, many agree on one thing: Packing away the trees could have been an overreaction.

The port's staff took down the trees Thursday after commissioners learned a lawsuit could be filed the next day if they didn't allow an 8-foot menorah to be displayed beside the largest of 15 Christmas trees throughout the airport.

"In hindsight, we probably should have handled this in a more deliberate and thoughtful manner, but at the time we were given a very short timeline," Commissioner John Creighton said Sunday evening. Continue.

Christmas trees removed at Sea-Tac

KOMO-TV STAFF AND ASSOCIATED PRESS, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, December 10, 2006

All nine Christmas trees have been removed from Sea-Tac International Airport instead of adding a giant Jewish menorah to the holiday display as a rabbi had requested.

For more than 25 years, the airport has celebrated the holidays with Christmas trees over its entrances. But overnight, the Port of Seattle ordered all of them removed. Maintenance workers boxed up the trees during the graveyard shift early Saturday, when airport bosses believed few people would notice.

"We decided to take the trees down because we didn't want to be exclusive," said airport spokeswoman Terri-Ann Betancourt. "We're trying to be thoughtful and respectful, and will review policies after the first of the year."

Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky, who made his request weeks ago, said he was appalled by the decision. He had hired a lawyer and threatened to sue if the Port of Seattle didn't add the menorah next to the trees, which had been festooned with red ribbons and bows. Continue.

The "war" on Christmas, 2005

Led by Fox News personalities and religious right organizations, this war involved bullying retailers and public officials into replacing the inclusive term "holidays" with "Christmas." The trumped-up campaign discomforted Jews and other minorities.

This Season's War Cry: Commercialize Christmas, or Else

By Adam Cohen, Editorial Observer, New York Times, December 4, 2005

Cohen writes on the campaign by Fox Network's Bill O'Reilly against use of the inclusive word "holiday" instead of Christmas. "The Christmas that Mr. O'Reilly and his allies are promoting - one closely aligned with retailers, with a smack-down attitude toward nonobservers - fits with their campaign to make America more like a theocracy, with Christian displays on public property and Christian prayer in public schools." Click here to read the op-ed article.

What would Cardinal Cushing do?

By James Carroll, op-ed article, Boston Globe, December 19, 2005

"THE DISPUTE OVER whether it is appropriate, in public, to say 'Happy Holidays' instead of ''Merry Christmas" puts me in mind of Cardinal Richard Cushing. He was my boss when I was Catholic Chaplain at Boston University, and I loved him. In the early 1950s, Cushing forced one of the great changes in Catholic theology by excommunicating Father Leonard Feeney for preaching on Boston Common that 'there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church.' As is true of today's exclusivist claims for a Christian meaning of 'the holidays,' there was an undercurrent of antisemitism in Feeney's exclusivist claim for Catholicism. An inch below all Christian triumphalism is special contempt for Jews who reject the idea that Jesus is the saving Messiah. " Click here to read the op-ed article.

Base tree-lighting event pulls no punches on Christmas references

By Gene Rector, The Macon Telegraph (Macon, Georgia), December 8, 2005

This report on a "decidedly Christian ceremony" at Robins Air Force Base is largely devoted to quoting military spokesmen saying that guidelines issued in the wake of protests of proselytizing at the Air Force Academy did not prevent the public prayer to Jesus featured at the event. The report also mentions that the plaintiff in the lawsuit filed to stop religious coercion at the Air Force Academy is Jewish. Click here to read the report.

House leaders offer some relief for 'persecuted' Christians

By Greg Bluestein, The Telegraph (Macon, Georgia), January 16, 2006

George House Republicans have introduced legislation that will forbid local governments from banning "expressions" celebrating holidays. The report quotes a ranking House Republican saying "Whether we like it or not, this country was founded by Christian pilgrims. It seems like we're taking all of our beliefs out to be in favor of these people that have no religion." Click here to read the report.

Boycotts Bloom as Religious Conservatives Wage Battle Over Christmas

By Nathaniel Popper, Forward, December 16, 2005

"Religious conservatives are waging a war against 'the war against Christmas' - and depending on which critics you ask, the weapons of choice are unfair boycotts or coded anti-Jewish messages." Click here to go to the report.

As Christmas struggle intensifies, American Jews fear the Grinch role

By Matthew E. Berger, Jewish Telegraphic Agency via Jewishphoenix.org, December 14, 2005

This report canvasses Jewish reaction to the fundamentalist campaign to force public entities and businesses to use the word "Christmas," rather than the more inclusive "holidays." The survey finds Jews uncomfortable with the Christianization effort, but anxious about opposing it. Click here to go to the report.

The Ugly Fox News "War on Christmas"

By MJ Rosenberg, Israel Policy Forum Friday, December 13, 2005

MJ Rosenberg, policy director of the Israel Policy Forum, decodes the language of the trumped-up "war" on Christmas, showing how the leaders of the battle are portraying Jews as leading and funding the "war." Click here to read the essay.

Did the Jews Kill Christmas?

Andrew Silow-Carroll, The Jewish Journal (Los Angeles), December 23, 2005

"Christian activists are waging the culture war with a worrisome combination of triumphalism and insecurity. Note how Christian activists responded to objections - from Jews and others - to a climate of insensitive, even aggressive proselytizing at the U.S. Air Force Academy." Click here to read the column.

Christian legal group sees tree's name change as a victory
A controversy over what to call a Christmas tree thrusts Newport News into the spotlight.

By Chris Flores, Daily Press (Hampton Roads, Virginia), December 8, 2005

"When Newport News Mayor Joe Frank stood before the crowd at City Center on Friday and announced the lighting of the "Christmas tree," the Christian legal group Liberty Counsel and its supporters saw another big victory.

"Frank saw what he's always seen - and called, even though he's Jewish: a Christmas tree." Click here to read the report.

Public Schools Facing Threats of Lawsuits for Stifling Religious Expression

By Jim Brown, Agape Press via Freerepublic.com, December 28, 2005

This report, on a religious right legal group's threat to sue a public school for changing the words in a religious Christmas song, exemplifies the threatening, hectoring language of ascendant "Christocrats." Click here to go to the report.

Is the 'war on Christmas' worth fighting against?

By Robert Marus, Associated Baptist Press, December 15, 2005

"WASHINGTON (ABP) -- Is the 'war on Christmas' one worth fighting? Despite the dutiful culture warriors lining up to defend the religious trappings of the holiday, some Christian ethicists aren't so sure it's a wise battle to pick." Click here to read the report from a moderate Baptist source.

Bah Humbug

By Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker, December 19, 2005

"The War on Christmas is a little like Santa Claus, in that it (a) comes to us from the sky, beamed down by the satellites of cable news, and (b) does not, in the boringly empirical sense, exist. What does exist is the idea of the War on Christmas, which, though forever new, is a venerable tradition, older even than strip malls and plastic mistletoe." Click here to read the report.

'Merry Holiday' to all and to some a Christmas fight

By Frank James and Jason George, Chicago Tribune, November 30, 2005

"Two groups, Liberty Counsel, affiliated with Rev. Jerry Falwell, and the Alliance Defense Fund, say they have almost 1,600 lawyer-volunteers between them ready to battle what some conservative Christians view as a secular movement against nativity scenes, Christmas trees and even the greeting 'Merry Christmas.'" Click here to read the report.

Ads Portray Nominee as Protector of Christmas

David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times, December 6, 2005

Backers of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito are playing up his rulings favoring religious displays on public property. Click here to read the report.