The War on Christmas

The War on Christmas isn’t waged with “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas”es. It isn’t a battle between the erection of a Nativity, and the bells and wreaths of civic lights.

It is a battle between rampant consumerism on one hand, and family, love and peace on the other.

December is our annual orgy of consumption and capitalism. The time when more people get further into debt, when pressure to buy is at its greatest, and where more families break up.

By any sane measure, Christmas is losing.

And into this ‘War on Christmas’, the American Family Association rolls its artillery. Waging a black propaganda offensive with its own definition of ‘War on Christmas’. According to its ‘Naughty list‘, the true supporters of Christmas are the major retailers that most comprehensively use the festival in their advertising. Stores that encourage people to mark the celebration with purchases, consumption, consumerism and capitalism. Those stores are the true friends of the holiday.

Stores who refuse to take advantage of the religious holiday as a marketing gimmick? They’re naughty. And if they don’t embrace at least some minimal quantity of Christmas-branded marketing, the AFA will even call for a boycott.

So, a big blue thank you to Walmart, for cramming Christmas onto every product and advert it can, for paying its staff so poorly they need a food-drive, and for opening on Thanksgiving. In the world of the conservative Christian capitalist right, Walmart has it right, it gets the highest possible rating.

I have a suggestion. Let’s hold up as exemplary every store that refuses to put Christmas on any advert, any product that isn’t specifically religious, or any in-store signage. Let’s celebrate those stores who commit all year to paying living wages to their employees, sourcing products ethically, and putting customer needs before corporate profits. They are fighting on my side in the War on Christmas.

Let’s make no mistake, the AFA and its cronies worship no deity but Mammon. By studiously calling it ‘Christ’ or ‘God’, they hope to sucker the religious faithful into their idolatry.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “The War on Christmas

  1. Let’s hold up as exemplary every store that refuses to put Christmas on any advert, any product that isn’t specifically religious, or any in-store signage. Let’s celebrate those stores who commit all year to paying living wages to their employees, sourcing products ethically, and putting customer needs before corporate profits.

    Well said.

    As I sometimes say, Christmas has become an orgy of celebration in honor of America’s true god, The Almighty Dollar.

  2. Congratulation Ian, you almost sound like a Christian believing in the virgin birth!
    I was tempted to say: “Amen, brother!” 😉

    As a Christian socialist , I certainly believe that celebrating love during the Christmas time (and resisting Mammon) is far more important than arguing about whether or not Jesus came into the world through the wonderful intervention of God (or of a space-alien for that matter).

    Best wishes from Lancashire.

  3. Uncommon Goods is on the yellow list, really? Those gay-hugging, tree-hugging liberals? Now that is a holiday surprise! It’s amusing too, their rabid call for a Radio Shack boycott. They’re about as dull as it gets for controversy. I don’t think the Family institute has thought this through very well.

  4. Ian

    @Neil – well “In God We Trust” is written on every one.

    @Lotharson – why do I sound like someone believing in the virgin birth?

    @Amelie – I’m not familiar with many of the stores on the list. Its been a while since I lived in the US. But Radio Shack, yeah, I know, what has Christmas to do with plug fittings and cable?

  5. In the world of the conservative Christian capitalist right, Walmart has it right, it gets the highest possible rating.

    What a complete load of bull.

    What some Christians like is being appealed to. Targeted.

    Treated as if they actually exist – indeed, in America, they still exist in large quantities – and that people accept them.

    They like it when someone is able to wish them a Merry Christmas. They like seeing ‘Christmas’ on products and in advertisement at times, and they don’t always regard it as some cynical signal that the person who made that decision is thinking of absolutely nothing but their bottom line. It’s a signal that – against a very real counter-Christian culture – a business is willing to still acknowledge that Christians exist, that cultural events that pertain to Christian culture exists, and that it’s okay to recognize and even celebrate all this.

    And Christians – much like LGBT groups, much like green groups, much like just about every other group – are willing to acknowledge when particular businesses happen to meet this bare standard, regardless of whatever other problems they have. A little like how Electronic Arts’ gets lauded for their supposed good treatment of gays and lesbians, and the LGBT doesn’t turn around and take a dump on them even though they are recognized as one of the worst companies by some standards. Nor does anyone call for them to do that, because they realize that the LGBT’s praise for EA in one area does not add up to a wholesale endorsement of all of EA’s practices and policies.

    Because what the LGBT wants, at least in part, is recognition and acceptance. They like being targeted by businesses, and with good reason. It secures some of their status in the culture, it helps to normalize their beliefs and even their actions. Oh Lord, someone may use that in the hopes – even in part – of attracting them to their business? That is, on the whole, regarded as a good sign.

    But in your special little presentation, the AFA’s recognition that Walmart (among many other businesses) is still willing to wish people a Merry Christmas and *gasp* maybe even play Christmas-themed tunes during shopping season is an endorsement of absolutely every area where you find Walmart lacking. I’m sure you start yelping about Mammon and manipulation when Electronic Arts or any other company starts targeting gays in their advertisements, right? A gay character featured in a comic book or a TV show? Pfeh – cynical marketing manipulation. Gays should reject that until the company in question is absolutely devoid of any and all flaws! And if they don’t, they are hypocrites and part of the problem!

    Anyway, I’m not sure whether your rant is the product of mere unreflective bias or active dishonesty. Either-or. Regardless, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy 2014 AD. (Yes, I still use AD, no doubt suckered by those eeeeevil historians who are attempting to appeal to my theistic biases in a shameless attempt to get me to buy more of their books, which no one should do until majoring in history is less likely than it is now to result in a less-than-living-wage job.)

  6. Ian

    I agree, many Christians just want to feel like they are being appealed to. I’m sure that they do love to see Christmas on all kinds of products and services. I am quite convinced that Christians want their consumption to be Christian-themed and Jesus-branded. Yes, you couldn’t be more right.

    But that you seem to think this is a good thing, or that Christ used in that way is no different from any other marketing tactic I might endorse, rather makes my point.

  7. Ian

    Crude, btw: Welcome to the blog. You should be able to comment without moderation now, as long as you don’t trip the spam filter.

    Just had a browse round your blog. You’re clearly a raving lunatic wingnut who opposes everything I hold dear and holy (and I mean that in the nicest possible way :). I very much enjoyed your post “Gnus and Skeptics, Gaps and Burdens”, the hypocrisy we have in the way we treat others views could fill volumes. Thanks for commenting and trying to point out the same at work here. You may be somewhat right, but this is polemic, so somewhat right or not, I still disagree with you.

  8. Dear Ian, I just wrote a new post on Bayesianism https://lotharlorraine.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/knowledge-dependent-frequentist-probabilities/
    and would be glad to learn your opinion on that.

    I argued that there is a frequentist interpretation of unique events but that if this concept turns out to be meaningless (in a given situation), there cannot be a degree of belief that every rational creature ought to have either .

    I would be very interested to learn your take on that, unlike you I have not read Carrier’s book.

    Best wishes from Lancashire.

  9. Ian

    I think the problem is that Carrier would agree with you, but he thinks his theories are frequentist (in fact, he thinks he’s solved the problem of unifying Bayesian and frequentist interpretations). There is a section of the book where he argues this. The problem is not his Bayesianism, but the errors in his estimates, I think.

  10. I think that Andy on my blog would probably be interested to interact with you, he asked questions you are more apt to answer.

    Cheers.

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