Christian Groups Looking for ‘Christmas’

At least two Christian organizations are outing retailers for using generic messages like “Season’s Greetings,” “Happy Holidays,” and “Winter Holiday” instead of “Christmas” in their holiday messages.Focus Action, an evangelical group based on Colorado Springs, has launched a website, StandforChristmas.com, that enables shoppers to rate a list of 30 retailers on how “Christmas-Friendly” they are. So far, the retailers with the highest “friendly” ratings include Bass Pro Shops (97 percent), Kmart (87 percent), Lands’ End (84 percent), Sears, (77 percent) and Target (74 percent). Among those with low Christmas-friendly ratings are The Gap (2 percent), Best Buy (7 percent), Borders (8 percent), Old Navy (13 percent), and Toys “R” Us (20 percent).

Target hangs holiday banners inscribed with “Christmas” in its stores, and at Target.com there is a shopping section called “Christmas at Target.” But company spokeswoman Kelly Basgen told The Colorado Springs Gazette that the chain also features holiday-neutral language.

“We know that Christmas is important to many of our guests,” she said, “but we also want to be inclusive and sensitive to everyone.”

Meanwhile, The American Family Association, based in Tupelo, Miss., on November 10 called for a ban on The Gap Inc. for not using the word ‘Christmas’ in its advertising at Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic.

“It’s not just a ‘winter holiday,'” said AFA President Tim Wildmon at the time. “For millions of Americans, the giving and receiving of gifts is in honor of the One who gave Himself.”

The AFA ended its boycott on December 1 after Gap aired an an “unambiguous” Christmas ad over Thanksgiving weekend. But it has still come out with a “Naughty or Nice?” of retailers that avoid, ban, or use the term “Christmas” in their advertising. This year’s offenders include Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Staples and Supervalu. Macy’s, Wal-Mart, Sears and Lowe’s are among those being recognized as “Christmas-friendly” since they use the word.

In an article, Brandweek noted the challenges retailers face alienating believers as well as non-believes in their holiday messaging.

Randy Sharp, a special projects director at APA, told Brandweek the problem is not just not using the word “Christmas” but when “you lump us in with other pagan holidays, like the Winter Solstice. That is where companies offend us because in choosing to be politically correct and not offend anyone by being generic, they’re offending the greater segment of people.”

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About Arthur De Gennaro

My friends call me Art. Welcome to my blog. In this space you’ll find information and comments on the ophthalmology world, the optical industry, the hearing industry and medical practice management. My intent is to provide information you can use to improve your business and your own performance. Please visit often and feel free to join the discussions by leaving comments.

You can learn more about me and my consulting company, Arthur De Gennaro & Associates, LLC by visiting my web site www.adegennaro.com

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December 2009

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