The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Is the Gap ad anti-Christmas?

Some are starting to wonder — and they raise some good points.

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Cathleen Falsani has this to say about it:

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those paranoid religious folks who believes that there is an organized effort to take the Christ out of Christmas orchestrated by a clandestine cabal of secular humanist movie moguls, feminists and vegetarians who plot their nefarious attack on family values (and the Baby Jesus) in triannual meetings at a secret country mansion in Colorado, known as The Meadows, to paraphrase a brilliant line from the movie “So I Married an Axe Murderer.”


I am no proponent of the alleged “War on Christmas.”

And I’m all for inclusiveness and multiculturalism, as much as I am for inexpensive cotton T-shirts and reindeer-themed boxer shorts.

But this year’s Gap “holiday” ad campaign just rubs me the wrong way.

In its effort, I would surmise, to be inclusive and inoffensive, the Gap has made the mortal advertising (and cultural) error of being twee. Not to mention spiritually facile.

You can read the rest at the Sun-Times link.

Adding fuel to the Yule log fire: the American Family Association has now called for a boycott of the Gap. If you haven’t seen it yet — who with a TV set has missed it? — check it out below.


Comments read comments(36)
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Paula Gonzales Rohrbacher

posted November 21, 2009 at 4:54 pm

Oh, everybody just calm down. When someone says “Happy Holidays”, say “Merry Christmas” back. Go to church and celebrate the birth of Christ pn December 25th, be intentional about keeping the real meaning of Christmas for yourself and your families, pray for unbelievers, buy warm gloves and hats for the homeless and get over yourselves!

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posted November 21, 2009 at 6:26 pm

Why would anyone look to retail advertising campaigns for a meaningful and comprehensive tribute to a religious holiday? The holiday(s) to them are not about Jesus or Muhammad or Krishna or Sol Invictus or anyone else. The reason for the season for them is revenues. That is the sole reason for their existence as an entity in law and economy.
It’s part of the O’Reilly crowd’s fictional narrative in which Christians just can’t get a fair shake in the world because they have to share the civic space with anyone different from them. These folks draw their power from fear and a persecution complex, and I guess without Nero and the lions this is the best they can come up with. The greatest absudity of all is the notion that Christ’s birth ever was or should be the “real” meaning of the holiday. Dec. 25 has nothing whatever to do with any proven (or even likely) date of his birth.

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posted November 21, 2009 at 8:10 pm

*sigh* I agree with Kenneth above. Who in their right mind is going to look at a retailer for spiritual direction and meaning? Leave it to the AFA to go ballistic over something as trivial as a television ad.

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posted November 21, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Well said, Kenneth. If we are going to rely on commercial enterprises to express our faith, we might as well give up on the whole idea.

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posted November 21, 2009 at 8:35 pm

Paula, Kenneth, RJohnson and DC…
Did you even read the article???? It wasn’t about “Happy Holidays” vs “Merry Christmas”. As the writer of the piece said, “I’d much prefer a heartfelt “Happy Holidays” to this faux-inclusive, hodgepodge of treacly meaninglessness.”
Nobody is looking to this Gap ad (or any other) for “a meaningful and comprehensive tribute to a religious holiday.”
On second thought…maybe you are responding the the American Family Association and their boycott of The Gap. In any case, I don’t know what is worse – the complaining of people who insist on “Merry Christmas” or the complaining of the people who complain about the complainers.

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posted November 21, 2009 at 9:01 pm

i agree with all the above. it is a commercial and i think GAP did a great job trying to include everyone. they did not mention anything bad, how can this be “anti-Christmas”? it is an advertisement, they sell clothing, not spiritual direction and meaning. if you need that, then go to your own religious location and pray.

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Rob the Rev

posted November 21, 2009 at 9:51 pm

Much ado about nothing. We are a diverse society. Not everyone is a Christian. For genuine followers of Christ Christ will never be taken out of their Christmas.

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posted November 21, 2009 at 10:27 pm

I literally watch 30 minutes of television a week (one show with my kids, once a week) and I saw this ad last Monday, so I was fascinated with the Sun Times link. The ad is edgy – but frankly, the secular world is so far out of tune with my Roman Catholic liturgical calendar (Advent is coming, it’s weeks yet until the “Christmas season”) that this isn’t even a blip on it. My general sense is that the “winter holiday season” is roughly the equivalent of the Memorial Day/4th of July run. Two long holiday weekends celebrated about 5 to 6 weeks apart – utterly secular events. As it happens, various major Roman Catholic feasts appear in both of these secular seasons. It’s just coincidence.
My kids have for years matter of factly explained to their friends why our house is not decorated for Christmas until Christmas Eve – and seem to negotiatate the differences between secular and ecclesiastical calendars without effort. So I guess I’m in the camp of “whatever”….

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posted November 21, 2009 at 10:52 pm

I think it’s a perfectly legitimate question to ask whether or not GAP is looking to profit off of religious holidays (people shopping for Christmas and Hanukkah gifts) while also being purposefully flippant about the meaning of those holidays and the faith of the shoppers they are looking to attract. I think the answer is clearly ‘yes’ – they are looking to profit from, while being dismissive of, these religious festivals.
No one is looking to GAP for sound theology – they’re asking for respect from the people they do business with, as consumers who are also believers. And that’s why these holiday wars have become an annual tradition . . . people of faith are tired of increasingly being the object of scorn and derision in our popular culture.

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Holly Hansen

posted November 22, 2009 at 7:45 am

My God when did we Christians become so thin skinned ?

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posted November 22, 2009 at 8:16 am

I am of the opinion that the Gap is riding the fence and can’t stand that there is anyone out there that would believe that the Gap has a preference. Just Gimmie the Money is what this ad says to me.

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posted November 22, 2009 at 10:09 am

i agree with what most everyone has written. the GAP is in the business of making money so why shouldn’t they have a fast-paced, edgy campaign ad? i wasn’t offended in the least.

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posted November 22, 2009 at 10:39 am

At least everyone was fully clothed in this ad.
Is this ad anti-Christian? Only in the sense of being essentially clueless. They’d be much better off to make separate ads for Christmas, Hanukkah, etc., that actually take seriously people’s claims about why they find their particular holidays worth celebrating. Assuming that it’s all about “do whatever you like” shows that they just don’t get it.

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posted November 22, 2009 at 11:03 am

Like most of your complaints, zzzzz…….

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Jeffrey L Miller

posted November 22, 2009 at 11:57 am

I don’t see many commercials, but I did see that one and it certainly struck me as the antithesis of Christmas. Trying to be inoffensive they became offensive.

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Blake Helgoth

posted November 22, 2009 at 12:20 pm

If it was not for GAP and their prior inappropriate adds, one would think they were simple making fun of the whole multi-cultural, do what ever you want, the season is really about money thing. Maybe a great writer slipped one past the powers that be with a tongue in cheek rip on the ridiculous. Taken in that light, it is hilarious! On can hope, can’t he?

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posted November 22, 2009 at 1:07 pm

I didn’t see the ad as specifically anti-Christmas (nor do I think did the author of this thought provoking article), more like anti-anthing that means anything. This attempt at showcasing diversity just comes off as celebrating superficiality.

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posted November 22, 2009 at 2:06 pm

You put your finger on it!!

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posted November 22, 2009 at 2:28 pm

I don’t see this as anti-christian, maybe just the same lame “believe whatever you want, it’s all good” line. I really think it hurts good groups like American Family to boycott over this ad. I didn’t like it just because they are says there is no Truth.

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posted November 22, 2009 at 3:56 pm

They advocate in the song that we 86 the rules, we all just do what feels right. So why don’t we organize a Gap shoplifting campaign?

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posted November 22, 2009 at 4:11 pm

This is one more thing that makes me happy that we do not have cable or satellite.
This silly ad is offensive in its banality towards Christmas. I feel it is on the par with the countdown to Christmas in “shopping days”.
The GAP knows their demographic; that is obvious.
“Tolerance” has crossed over into being synonymous with support. Can we all say, “moral relativism”?
I don’t want to be inundated with the secular view of Christmas as just a time to visit friends and family, play and give gifts — it is hard enough even with NO tv!

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posted November 22, 2009 at 6:45 pm

If Christians want others to respect Christmas as a sacred holiday, it must once again become sacred to Christians. Here is an opportunity to see the holiday as others see it, irrelevant or at least not important enough to live what we profess. We could start by celebrating it, first of all in our Churches, and in our families without the commercialism.
We cannot be mocked by society any more than we are mocked by the mirror.

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posted November 22, 2009 at 8:58 pm

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

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posted November 23, 2009 at 12:02 am

This ad is offensive.
It’s also incredibly stupid and annoying.
I think it’s a mistake to politicize this.
Think of this commercial as trolling. Ignore it and the company will pull it and adopt a different ad campaign that gets people in their store. Pay attention to it, and the people who otherwise would care will shop at Gap just to be contrary.

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posted November 23, 2009 at 12:54 am

I haven’t had a TV for about 15 years so I hadn’t seen this dumb ad. With the rap beat, I didn’t really catch the words, but it doesn’t appear I am missing much.
Something that really bothers me is that there are signs on our busses with Santa saying, Yes, Virginia, there is no God. It makes me sick every time I see one.

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posted November 23, 2009 at 1:03 pm

I think the ad is cute, but when/how did American men become so … uh … twee. As an American woman, I’m begging you guys to grow a set (no offense and please ignore if you are not a metrosexual.)
As a Christian, I’m more offended that millions of Christians seem to think the appropriate response to our Savior’s birth is to go out and spend billions on cheap knicknacks made by slave labor. Also, Santa Claus was not present at the Nativity, so you all need to get him out of the Christmas narrative. Somebody else said it here: Christians treat Christmas like a shopping spree with a decorated tree. We need to observe the season like Christians — that means Advent, (the little Lent), Christmas, and the Epiphany, and simplicity with the gift giving/shopping etc.

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posted November 23, 2009 at 1:54 pm

This commercial is postmodernist, self-indulged capitalist claptrap.

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Your Name

posted November 23, 2009 at 3:02 pm

The Gap ad is not anti-Christmas. It’s pro-business.

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posted November 27, 2009 at 6:21 am

What is wrong with the ad?
Don’t like it don;t watch it…
No rules just do what you wanna do.
That is how I feel also…
I like it!

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Paul the Cab Driver

posted November 27, 2009 at 7:30 am

Actually, I rather liked the ad. It was quite well choreographed. As to the “do whatever you like” part, I think it was referring to how we celebrate the holidays, since it was in the context of Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, buy a real tree, or an artificial one, or plant a tree. Come on people get over it. If Christians spent as much time and energy fighting REAL injustices in this country as they do whining about how offended they are, maybe, just maybe, we would see some positive changes in our culture.

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posted November 27, 2009 at 4:35 pm

This columnist said it succinctly.
I’m printing exurpts with a link back to the source at the bottom
Be a good Christian: Say ‘Happy Holidays’
By Ruth Ann Dailey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Here’s a fun mind game just in time for the year’s biggest shopping season: If Jesus were a clerk ringing up your purchase at The Gap, would he wish you “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”? What would Jesus do?..
…Faith matters. If yours is so weak that you are offended by someone else’s — or need their two words of approval (“Merry Christmas!”) — you’ve got growing to do….

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posted November 28, 2009 at 6:25 pm

It is just a commercial people! I do not see anything wrong with it. I actually think it is pretty cool.

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posted November 30, 2009 at 10:19 pm

The columnist put it very well and I have to agree with much of what he says. Though there is no defined conspiracy against Christmas there has been an unfortunate line drawn in the sand between our political parties and Christmas is caught in the crossfire. As some folks have been successful in making Christians out to be secularists and ignorant it has made many Christians stand up and take notice and some take action. Gap put out a Christmas ad for Old Navy today and the AFA called off the wolves.
I am not saying that everyone on one side of the aisle has a particular point of view either. But it is apparent that there are liberals out there that scream for tolerance and hate Christians.

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posted December 3, 2009 at 11:30 pm

“Here’s a fun mind game just in time for the year’s biggest shopping season: If Jesus were a clerk ringing up your purchase at The Gap, would he wish you “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”? What would Jesus do?..”
Sorry to “shout” but some of you are just plain simple minded. And I don’t mean simple as in plain, either!

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Cassie C

posted December 12, 2009 at 7:57 pm

I find it ironic when people who say that people who are offended by Christmas (or any other thing not mainstream) should get over themselves then turn around and say they are offended by a sweet ad that tries to celebrate all paths. Who is being too sensitive?
I like the ad. I much prefer celebrating diversity over washing it out.

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posted December 16, 2009 at 11:25 pm

A little late to this discussion but there is an effort to keep Christ out of Christmas. It may not be with secret meetings, but from publics schools to public places, there is a concerted effort to minimize Christmas and the religious aspect. A menorah has to be displayed with a “Tree”- a tree isn’t even a religious symbol; it should be a creche or manger.
As for the Old Navy commercial- how about Navy only sell to people celebrating solstics- please.
Take a look at American Express gift Cards- there’s a Hanukka card with a manorah but only a holiday cards no Christmas card or Christmas religious symbols.
Why in America, where we be bend over backwards to embrace every culture & religion, we can’t embrace the Christian celebration of Christmas.

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