Friday, December 02, 2005

More on the Christmas Debate - You Win Some; You Lose Some

His Barking Dog has been following the war on Christmas through several posts on this blog site. Readers may be interested in receiving an update of the progress and lack thereof on this issue to date.

Restoring 'Christmas' -- Walgreen's, Kroger Respond-- But Target's Silence Results in Announcement of Boycott
By Jody BrownDecember 1, 2005

(AgapePress) - You win some -- and you lose some. That adage seems to apply appropriately to one group's ongoing efforts to keep "Christ" in Christmas, at least on the retail front.

According to the founder of Mississippi-based American Family Association (AFA), it is apparent that at least one retailer -- Walgreen's -- has gotten the message that it is not in their best interest to continue avoiding use of the phrase "Merry Christmas" in its advertising campaigns and in-store promotions. Speaking earlier today (Dec. 1) on American Family Radio, Donald E. Wildmon said an AFA supporter had heard from Walgreen's, indicating that although it is too late to change this season's advertising materials, next year "things will be different."

He says a consumer response representative with Walgreen's is distributing a letter stating that "Next year, you can be assured our advertising will better incorporate 'Christmas' -- and our holiday trees will be called Christmas trees."

According to Wildmon, supporters of his organization continue to be effective in delivering the message that they 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" and to be "inclusive" by prohibiting employees from issuing a traditional "Merry Christmas" greeting. Lowe's, a national home improvement outlet, recently got that message and announced it was going to "avoid confusion" and sell "Christmas trees" instead of "holiday trees" (See related story).

But all is not well on AFA's score sheet. Another major retailer that has been the focus of the group's efforts on this topic -- Target -- has now been selected as the object of a boycott. Wildmon says his group had asked Target to make Christmas an "integral part" of its promotions and advertising in next year's Christmas season.

"Knowing that is was too late to make changes this season," he explains, "we told Target that if they would make that change in 2006 we would encourage our supporters to shop at Target. But we also said if Target refused, or did not respond, AFA would call for a boycott."

The retailer did not respond to the offer, says AFA -- and therefore the group has called upon its 2.8-million online supporters and listeners of its nearly 200 radio stations nationwide to avoid shopping at Target stores for the remainder of the Christmas shopping season.

"Target doesn't want to offend a small minority who oppose Christmas," Wildmon adds. "But they don't mind offending Christians who celebrate the birth of Christ, the Reason for the season."

AFA says via an online petition it has gathered nearly 600,000 signatures from individuals who have pledged to boycott Target. The goal, says AFA, is to get upwards of a million signatures.

Meanwhile, in a letter to AFA president Tim Wildmon, the Kroger Company has explained its company policy regarding use of the holiday greeting "Merry Christmas." The letter, signed by group vice president Lynn Marmer, says the stores wish to "reflect the diversity" of customers, employees, and society and to make sure every customer and employee feels "welcomed and appreciated."

For that reason, writes Marmer, Kroger uses a variety of greetings and advertising materials during December -- including Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Season's Greetings, and Happy Holidays.

"We have not and do not intend to ban any of these greetings, including Merry Christmas," the letter concludes.

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