“War on Christmas?” Are retailers “naughty” or “nice”?

American Family Association Naughty or Nice list

CLICK ON THIS AMERICAN FAMILY ASSOC LOGO TO READ THE REPORT.

Do you prefer “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas”? Choosing the appropriate seasonal greeting is an annual conundrum for most people. And, it’s a conundrum for businesses, too. Does the traditional greeting ‘Merry Christmas’ alienate or attract customers? What about the politically correct ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Season’s Greetings’?

It’s safe to say that most large retailers will try to do whatever maximizes sales. And this year, a lot of retailers are “for Christmas,” according to the America Family Association (AFA). Each year, the AFA compiles a “naughty or nice” list of retailers, encouraging shoppers to boycott “naughty” companies.

The “nice” list includes 52 companies, such as Amazon, Bass Pro Shops, Kmart, Zappos, Nordstrom, and Sears. Among these 35, there are five super nice companies that actively promote and celebrate Christmas: Hobby Lobby, Wal-Mart, Belk, Lowe’s, and AFA Online Store.

The “naughty” list is much shorter, including a dozen companies. Examples are Barnes & Noble, The Limited, Pet Smart, Supervalu, and Victoria’s Secret. This year, the AFA is calling for a boycott of Pet Smart and invites you to sign a pledge.

Some companies are neither naughty nor nice. They “marginalize” Christmas, according to the AFA, by infrequently referring to Christmas. Fourteen companies are in this limbo state, including Best Buy, Safeway, Starbucks, and Whole Foods. (You can see the complete lists here.)

Which greeting do you prefer—Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?
Do you patronage retailers that are “for Christmas?”
Does a retailer’s stance on the holiday matter to you?

Your viewpoint is important!

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“War on Christmas?” Are you a SPUG?

New York Times SPUG Christmas giving headline November 1912

The New York Times headline from November 1912.

Puritans in early America waged the first war on Christmas, but they weren’t the only ones. Others have followed in their wake. Enter SPUG—Society for the Prevention of Useless Giving. Over 100 years ago, this society arose to combat the economic costs of gift giving. Is it time to restart SPUG?

Author-historian Paul Collins recounts the story of SPUG in a Slate magazine essay. As he writes—

“SPUG started with a bang at the Nov. 14, 1912 meeting of the Working Girls’ Vacation Fund. Founded a year earlier to help Manhattan shop clerks set aside a little money each week, the fund had quickly grown to 6,000 members, with savings of $30,000. But those savings faced a jolly nemesis: Christmas. Sapped by the extravagant gifts that female department store clerks were pressured into giving supervisors—often to the tune of two week’s worth of wages—the fund’s members took action.”

The basis of this “War on Christmas” wasn’t religious or ideological. It was economic and political. This was a working women’s movement. “SPUG squads” formed to deny their male supervisors’ extravagant gift expectations.

The SPUG movement denied the many male applicants until Teddy Roosevelt petitioned and become the first male SPUG.

The society eventually changed its name, Collins notes, from the Society for the Prevention of Useless Giving to the Society for the Promotion of Useful Giving. Under this banner, members focused on giving to the needy.

SPUG didn’t last long, but the economic costs of gift giving persist.

What do you think of this campaign more than a century ago?

Your viewpoint is important!

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“War on Christmas”? Who waged America’s FIRST war on Christmas?

New England Puritan minister and leader Cotton Mather

Cotton Mather (1663-1728) was a very influential Puritan minister, author and pamphleteer. He was a scientist, as well, who conducted early experiments in developing hybrid plants and methods for preventing the spread of disease. He also was relentless in defense of his Puritan faith and became infamous for touching off the Salem witch trials.

Americans Atheists are at the frontlines of today’s “War on Christmas.” Across the trenches, since 2005, Fox News has led the defense.

But do you know who led the FIRST war against the holiday? You might be surprised!

Turns out: The first War on Christmas in America was led by … Christians!

That’s right, Christians—namely Puritans—rejected Christmas as a pagan holiday. They saw to it that Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston! (You can read more on the “Christmas Controversy” paged at Wikipedia.)

The Puritan opposition to Christmas was imported from England where, according to History Today, Puritans since the late sixteenth century fought the war on Christmas. The “vileness” of the holiday, from the Puritan perspective, was described by the Elizabethan-era Puritan Phillip Stubbes:

“That more mischief is that time committed than in all the year besides, what masking and mumming, whereby robbery, whoredom, murder and what not is committed? What dicing and carding, what eating and drinking, what banqueting and feasting is then used, more than in all the years besides, to the great dishonour of God and impoverishing of the realm.”

Now, that sounds like a “War on Christmas”!

Did you know that the Puritans outlawed Christmas?

Are you surprised to learn that Christmas was actually banned in Boston?

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“War on Christmas”: Do you believe it’s real?

th Bill O Reilly Declares the War On Christmas Begins YouTube

WATCH BILL BELOW …

Come December each year, millions of American parents are confronting the question: Is Santa Claus real? OurValues.org will not weigh in that perennial conundrum. That’s far beyond our pay grade to answer. Good luck, parents.

But we are well equipped to explore the question: Is the “War on Christmas” real?

Signs of the seasonal strife are starting to emerge. The Washington Post reported on one sign: billboards by the American Atheists. One of the billboards shows a girl in a Santa hat ostensibly penning her annual Christmas wish list. Instead, the text is: “Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is to skip church! I’m too old for fairly tales.”

According to the organization’s press release, this billboard is in keeping with ‘its tradition of ‘firebrand-style’ billboards at Christmastime.” American Atheists featured its firebrand billboards in Bible-Belt cities like Memphis, Nashville, and St. Louis.

The atheist group also attempted to acquire billboard space in Jackson, Mississippi, but the billboard owners rejected the offer “due to content.”

Fox host Bill O’Reilly is an annual defender in the yuletide conflict, and his first salvos have been fired, reports the Huffington Post. His guest is a psychotherapist who presents her analysis of why beleaguered atheists conduct war on Christmas.

Have you spotted this year’s signs of the “War on Christmas”?

Is the “war” real?

Your viewpoint is important!

You can leave a comment below. Or, you can talk with friends by using the blue-“f” Facebook or envelope-shaped email icons and asking friends to read this series with you. You’re also free to print out these columns and use them to spark discussion in your class or small group.

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Race in America: Will body cameras help the public—or the police?

Police body cam with communication microphone

POLICE BODY CAMS are so popular these days that Amazon offers dozens of models. This style replaces a police officer’s standard shoulder microphone with a high-tech camera built into a microphone. Click the photo to view its Amazon page.

Demonstrations are popping up around the country—and many Americans are calling for the widespread use of police body cameras to record their interactions. Obama has pledged millions of dollars to support the use of the technology.

Do you think it’s a good or bad idea? Would it reduce fatalities?

Americans overwhelmingly say it’s a good idea, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center. Almost nine of ten (87%) say so. This support cuts across racial lines and political lines. For example, 85% of White Americans, 90% of Black Americans, and 89% of Hispanic Americans say body cameras are a good idea.

Should the police be required to wear body cameras? About seven of ten Americans (69%) say yes, according to a new poll by Rasmussen Reports. Consensus about this cuts across racial, demographic, and political lines.

Would required body cameras reduce the number of fatal incidents that involve the police? Twelve percent of Americans say that it would increase fatal incidents. Just over a third (38%) say it would decrease them. And 50% of all Americans say it will have no impact or are unsure.

Who would the cameras protect? Half of all Americans (50%) say it would protect police officers more than the people they deal with, while 26% say it would protect the public more than the police who wear the body cameras. White and Black Americans tend to agree on this—it would protect the police more than it would protect the public.

Do you think police body cameras would reduce fatalities?
Should the police be required to wear them?
Would body cameras tend to protect the police or the public?

Your viewpoint is important!

You can leave a comment below. Or, you can talk with friends by using the blue-“f” Facebook or envelope-shaped email icons and asking friends to read this series with you. You’re also free to print out these columns and use them to spark discussion in your class or small group.

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Race in America: Are race relations at a low point?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Protests continue nationwide, including this one on December 6 at Washington DC’s Union Station. Photos of that protest by “Slow King” were uploaded for public use via Wikimedia Commons.

What is the current state of race relations in America? Would you say they are generally good or generally bad?

Overall, Americans are split in their assessments of race relations, according to a CBS News Poll released just yesterday: 45% say that race relations are good; 43% say they are bad.

In years past, the assessment was more positive. More than six of ten (62%) of Americans said race relations were good in January 2012. Assessments were even more positive before then.

The appraisal of race relations today is at the lowest point in CBS News Polls since 1997. Then, only 38% said that race relations were generally good. An even lower point was 1992, when 25% said race relations were good.

White and Black Americans see things differently. The majority of Black Americans (54%) say that race relations today are generally bad; just over a third (34%) say they are generally good. White Americans are divided: 47% say they are good; 42% say they are bad.

Similarly, more Black Americans (46%) say race relations in the U.S. are getting worse, compared to 36% of White Americans who say the same.

What is your assessment of the current state of race relations?
Would you say it is better, worse, or about the same as years past?

Your viewpoint is important!

You can leave a comment below. Or, you can talk with friends by using the blue-“f” Facebook or envelope-shaped email icons and asking friends to read this series with you. You’re also free to print out these columns and use them to spark discussion in your class or small group.

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Race in America: Are racial perceptions of Brown and Garner cases converging?

Protest of chokehold death of Eric Garner in Chicago on December 4 2014

PROTESTS SPREAD NATIONWIDE: This crowd gathered in Chicago on December 4, 2014, to protest the choke-hold death of Eric Garner. Photo by Samantha Lotti, provided for public use via Wikimedia Commons.

Grand juries in Ferguson, MO, and New York City reached the same decisions—to not indict the white police officers who killed unarmed black men. But the public has reacted quite differently to these cases.

Were they both the wrong decisions—or the right decisions?

In the case of Michael Brown, half (50%) of Americans said that the grand jury make the right decision, according to a new poll by Pew. Just over a third (37%) said it was the wrong decision. The reverse is true for the case of Eric Garner. Only 22% of Americans say that the grand jury made the right decision, compared to 57% who said they made the wrong decision.

These figures combine the views of White and Black Americans. Once we separate the two, we see vast differences of opinion.

Eight of ten African Americans (80%) said that the grand jury reached the wrong decision in the Michael Brown case, and nine of ten (90%) said the same in the case of Eric Garner.

In sharp contrast, about one of four White Americans (23%) said that the Ferguson, MO grand jury made the wrong decision, and almost half (47%) said that the grand jury in the Eric Garner case made the wrong decision.

The differences between White and Black Americans are sharp and wide, but they also indicate some convergence: More whites changed their views between the two cases, moving in the direction of the majority opinion of the black community. Indeed, while 64% of White Americans felt that the grand jury decision in the Brown case made the right decision, only 28% felt the same way in the Eric Garner case.

Are you surprised at the racial differences in opinion?
Are you surprised that white-black perceptions appear to be converging?

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