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Who’s Attacking Whom in the “Attack on Christmas”?

I was hurrying through Reagan National Airport on the way to the United Synagogue convention last week when I passed an enormous Christmas tree on the lower concourse. I appreciated the beautiful decorations and automatically looked around to see if a menorah was also on display. There was not one in sight.

We have made some progress, though. “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” messages now fill the airways and even a few chain stores. The Christmas trees and glitter are still there, but at least there is an effort to show sensitivity and courtesy to those who of us who hold different beliefs.

As Jews, we are particularly aware of the importance of such sentiments, because our holiday, Hanukkah, usually falls around this time of year. However, my neighbors who are Hindu (and celebrate a different winter festival of light) similarly prefer a “Happy Holiday” to the exclusive Merry Christmas. At the very least, the secular New Year is around the corner, so everyone, technically at least, can feel part of a “Happy Holiday” greeting, regardless of religious affiliation or inclination.

That is why recent calls for a boycott against stores who have replaced their Merry Christmas signs with Happy Holiday signs strikes me as mean-spirited. These moves have been labeled as an “attack on Christmas.” Exactly who is attacking whom?

People become angry when they feel that their “rights” have been violated, often when what they were used to has changed. Our American culture is changing, as we begin to publicly acknowledge our diversity, and rightfully so. This is not a cultural minimalist position, just the opposite: When each religion and ethnicity deeply lives its own traditions, the mosaic of American society is enriched. The freedom to be different is a right constitutionally guaranteed by the separation of church and state and the disestablishment of religion. That calls for a little appreciation for and consideration of others, as well as making room in our public culture for those differences.

It is unfortunate that those who launched this “attack on Christmas” boycott feel their holiday cheer diminished by a simple Happy Holiday sign. However, that doesn’t give them the “right” to be totally inconsiderate of others who do not share their beliefs. Perhaps some self-proclaimed rights are really wrongs, which is why a just society must at times protect the rights of the minority from the demands of the majority.

Last I looked, Christmas is alive, well, and … everywhere. The real attack is not on Christmas by the Happy Holidayers, but on courtesy and kindness by the anti-Happy Holiday crowd.

“Love thy neighbor as thyself” is a cardinal virtue of both Judaism and Christianity, part of the Scripture we both share. That means showing the same courtesy to others that you would want for yourself.

That means when I know someone celebrates Christmas, I wish that person a Merry Christmas. However, when in doubt, or when greeting an ethnically or religiously mixed group, a Happy Holiday instead of a Merry Christmas becomes a basic act of kindness, a way of showing consideration and courtesy to others.

My minister friends tell me Christmas is supposed to be about showing kindness and generosity of spirit to others, not about whether a store sports a “Merry Christmas” or a “Happy Hanukkah” sign. That’s why my family will be making a special effort this year to shop at Target and the other stores being boycotted by the “attack on Christmas” crowd. On our way out, I’ll be sure to let the store managers know just how much I appreciate their “Happy Holiday” signs.



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Rev. Gene

posted December 22, 2005 at 12:06 pm


I could not agree more. This is the USA, the land of the free, and I will do as you but also say: “Merry Christmas”



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imma

posted December 22, 2005 at 2:39 pm


I live in the Bible Belt Buckle, and I have heard nothing during my shopping except “Did you find everything you were looking for?” It’s neutral, mature, and most importantly, sticks to the point of what I am doing there. If they can manage to stay on point here, where we are truly the minority, what the hell is going on in the city? From those merchants who we do business with regularly, we have received many wishes for a Happy Hanukkah, and in turn, can wish them the Happiest Christmas right back. As far as those stores who are doing the Happy Holiday signs here, as well as the commercials that use the same slogan, I feel like what they are really saying is “This company doesn’t care what faith you are – we just want as much of your yearly bonus as we can possibly get our hands on.” And the sales people themselves make, like, 6 bucks an hour. They have enough on their plates without petty drama like this. I personally don’t care what they say, as long as they are polite, my change is correct, and my latke tray is sufficiently wrapped so that it will make it home safely. Sometimes I think the racists are just making the whole “Attack on Xmas” thing up, because I really haven’t heard any of the other non Xtians in my community complaining about any of this.



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Pastor

posted December 22, 2005 at 2:53 pm


As a Christian pastor (LC-MS), I have no problem with Happy Holidays. But if you represent the specific holidays, it is important to use true symbols for the belief. For Christians that would be a creche, not a tree (the tree is a recent German tradition) and not Santa. My son’s preschool at the YMCA had two parties, one for Hanukkah with a dreidal and candles and one with Santa. I would have preferred no party. On a side note. We will have some very close friends join us on Christmas Eve for our Candlelite Service. They happen to be Conservative Jews. We will join them later in the week for Hanukkah. Pax, Pastor



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Marcguyver

posted December 23, 2005 at 2:40 am


I wonder if the Jewish community in Israel would be concerned if all of the sudden a small minority of Christians started demanding that the Torah not be displayed publically and that Hanukkah not be celebrated. We already know what the Muslim countries would do, cause they are already doing it; they’ll kill you.



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Marcguyver

posted December 23, 2005 at 2:46 am


Okay, maybe this is said better this way: Okay, so in America these small minority groups can try and stop us from saying the Pledge, take down displays of the Ten Commandments, the Cross, any sign that has the word Jesus in it period, and from praying in school. I wonder what would happen if I moved to Israel and got some other Christians to join me in trying to force their society and government to take down displays of the Menorah, Stars of David, no more public prayer at the wailing wall, etc.???? I wonder what would happen in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, if we tried to get them to stop reading the Koran, no more public praying to Allah, etc; oh wait ..I d be killed, that s right.



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senlin

posted December 24, 2005 at 11:46 pm


Marcguyver: The U.S. was not set up as a “Christian nation,” and the founding fathers emphasized freedom of religion (even though they themselves were at least nominally Christian). This is totally different from Israel, which was explicitly set up as a Jewish state.



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Marcguyver

posted December 25, 2005 at 7:43 am


Senlin, that is true, but does it have anymore merit for allowing others to try and remove a culture or heritage? The U.S. is a Christian influenced nation that has a strong rich heritage tied with all things Christian as well. I just think it is wrong that we are supposed to somehow throw out our beliefs, ideas, or culture just to appease the minority; many of whom who don’t appear to have any allegiance to the United States anyway. Israel being a very ‘religous’ country only adds weight to my point; how successful do you think i’d be in trying to persuade them to change their governmental system into adopting a more ‘open’ system like ours? I don’t mind that we have many backgrounds, ethnicities, etc; I just don’t want to have to coddle to these other “groups” for the sake of diversity and at the cost of giving up my own “diversity”.



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Elizabeth

posted December 25, 2005 at 5:02 pm


I got into a good-natured “jab-fest” with a dear friend over this issue. I happened to be on his automatic forwarding list,and received a copy of the “boycott Target” email that was circulating. I responded to him, saying that “happy holidays” does not offend me, but the prickly intolerance displayed by some Christians does. He then responded to me saying I had better start wearing an aluminum hat, because I was probably going to be struck by lightening. I told him that was a good idea, and I would pick up some foil the next time I was at Target :) Seriously, when you are one of millions, how is it that you can feel so much like a persecuted minority? I agree that it is a political ploy, an attempt at fear and hate mongering that I pray will be unsuccessful. I think that the majority in this country would do well to take on the mantle of benevolent ruler, rather than the “bully as victim” stance that this fraction group is trying to promote.



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L.Warren

posted December 26, 2005 at 1:45 am


There is more to be upset about in this world as a whole that being upset about stating “happy holidays” or “merry Christmas”. No one should be dictated as to what they have to say, but be given a choice of what they would like to say for whatever reason. If you are truly in the spirit of a greater being, the statement made should not be an issue, but the love, compassion and sincerity to our fellow mankind.



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John Turner

posted December 26, 2005 at 5:50 pm


I am a pastor of a Pentecostal Church. I understand that there are many people of various faiths. I am for people saying Happy Holidays. I am also for people saying Happy Hannakak (please excuse the spelling) or Happy whatever. My concern is that there seems to be censure against Christians. Christians are being told they cannot display or say Merry Christmas at the work place. This is unamerican! We should not forfeit our freedom of speech or religion because we live in a diverse society.



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Marcguyver

posted December 26, 2005 at 6:42 pm


Precisely John, and that’s my point as well. Tolerance, tolerance, tolerance….. Everyone has to be accepted, all views are equal, no one should be silenced! EXCEPT OF COURSE IF YOU’RE A CHRISTIAN, OR YOU’RE VERBALIZING CHRISTIAN VIEWS!!!



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Dianna

posted December 27, 2005 at 1:34 am


I think the “Merry Christmas” folks (like me) have seen and heard so much in the news from the few people who want to remove crosses and words like “In God We Trust” from our government buildings and money that we have become overly sensitive. The USA was BUILT on religious freedom. When I read the article by Rabbi Susan Grossman, I realized that not all of the “happy holiday” people are THAT minority group I spoke of, but the various religions wanting to embrace their own religious ways, and not have the Christian expression pressed upon them. I respect you for this. But… (one example) I have Jewish friends and I always wish them a Happy Hanukkah (whatever December day it might be) – I DO NOT say happy holidays. I must admit, for me anyway, “Merry CHRISTmas” is very important. Saying happy holidays to a person who keeps CHRIST in CHRISTMAS is like saying “way to go – you made it another year” to someone instead of saying “Happy Birthday”. We are a very diversified nation – many religions. We were built on religious freedom. But December 25th and the 25 days prior to the 25th have been associated with CHRISTmas for more years than I have been alive; and I personally intend to keep CHRIST in MY Merry CHRISTmas and the Happy Hanukkah in the Jewish religion and NOT give in to the “happy holiday” folks.



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dev

posted December 27, 2005 at 2:31 am


First of all I just want to say that no one is trying to TAKE Christmas out of the United States. Second of all, it’s simple: if you know the person celebrates Christmas, say “Merry Christmas,” if you know they celebrate Chanukah, say “Happy Chanukah,” if you know they celebrate Kwanzaa, etc…. and if you don’t know, just say Happy Holidays, or Happy New Year, or for goodness sake just don’t say anything if it’s going to bother you that much.



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S

posted December 27, 2005 at 2:08 pm


No holiday good will there … Mark Guyver … I don’t think your example helped prove your point, we don’t want to follow the example of muslims if that’s what they’re doing … oh, and another thing the US is NOT to Christianity what Israel is to the Jews. We are a secular nation where Jews, Hindus, and others should feel free to come as they are wherever they go. Do Christians expect non-Christians to convert before they start shopping? Censure at work is ridiculous, everyone should feel free to come as they are. It’s another entirely different issue when people are censured for their beliefs. I have a small icon of Lord Krishna at my desk, and no one better have a problem with that! However, when a mean spirited Christian tries to tell people at TARGET that they HAVE TO say merry xmas instead of happy holidays … well, there goes the holiday cheer.



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A Christian Pastor who loves I

posted December 31, 2005 at 2:25 pm


Is there a Christmas tree in the airport at Tel Aviv? Do my Jewish friends in Israel greet each other with with Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukah? Just wondering!



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Frank Woo

posted January 1, 2006 at 7:34 am


S: We are not a “SECULAR NATION”. We are 1 nation under God. And everyone is free to worship their God. But some seem to be confusing their right to worship with how they would like to feel. Two different things. If i were to live in a Jewish or Muslim state and they allowed my individual worship, why would I care what they said to me at the checkout line? Christmas is about “the Christ.” As a Christian, I have watched as many of my traditions were shoved out of the way for many who seem to belive that this is a secular nation. It is a Judeo- Christian nation in its conception and our laws and society are based on that. It is what has been our foundation to greatness. Why would anyone come to America based on that greatness and then want to change the very things that made us so?



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Earl L. Eskridge

posted January 1, 2006 at 7:34 pm


It is funny to watch those who wish to destroy what the United States is all about in the name of minority…..it is the Christians in this great country that allow others of different faiths to come here to start it…..Check other countries that would allow people of different faiths to change the rules of their state.The way I see it and so do many others…if people do not like the way the citizen of the United States has lived…then they should go back to their native country and see if they can get away with what they disagree with…Americans sons, daughters,fathers and mothers have died in the service of their country only to see the foreigners bring conquest against the people of the United States all in the name of being offended.Why are they(foreigners) in the United States to begin with. Many are here for wealth, few because their country condem them to how they can believe. Now they war against the citizens of the United States because we are christians… As far as I am concern, I think we should throw them all out and let them see how it would be if they had stayed in their own country…they are not willing to change inorder to become americans, but rather change the United States to be like their old country with views they like. I fought in a war and see combat and death….I didnot fight for the reason of the foreigner to change my countries views… Here is to those who are offended…WELCOME TO AMERICA…..the only country where you can be that way for in America everone is offended and can live together as one nation without war……but if those who wish to change the values of America… If you do not like the Christians values of Americans..then leave our nation for you are not welcome anymore……



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eastcoastlady

posted January 3, 2006 at 3:03 pm


Earl, this country is NOT built on so-called Christian values, and as far as I am concerned, you can take your very UNAmerican attitude of “Amercica, love it or leave it”, and leave yourself. You’d do the rest of us a huge favor.



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Lisa Nelson

posted January 4, 2006 at 2:44 am


It’s about censorship, really. If you want to acknowledge all holidays, then put up more signs, recognizing each one. “Happy Holidays” is like a generic label. Bland and insulting. The First Amendment doesn’t exist so we can censor beliefs.



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Anonymousisawoman

posted January 4, 2006 at 9:05 pm


The Rabbi who wrote this blog was so right about wishing those whose faith tradition you don’t know a happy holiday rather than Merry Christmas or Happy Hannukah. What has truly happened to this country when so-called Christians resent common courtesy? If you are a salesperson in a Target perhaps you simply don’t want to offend your customers. How can you tell who is Christian or Jewish or Hindu or Muslim or Buddhist? Why should you have to try to parse a “politically correct” greeting to avoid offending somebody? Wishing a customer a happy holiday is simply thoughtfulness and common courtesy during a season that is supposed to be about peace on earth and goodwill to man (and woman). How did this nation’s 80 to 90 percent Christian population get to think of itself as an aggrieved minority and victim of a conspiracy to rob them of their cultural and religious heritage simply because we’ve become more aware of, and sensitive to, the cultural and faith traditions of minorities? A plot to steal Christmas? I don’t believe it because this holiday season Christmas trees, decorations and music have been on abundant and welcome display. In fact, I would venture to guess that many non-Christians do enjoy the pageantry and beauty of the Christmas season. But what is so wrong about being courteous and recognizing that others too have sacred holidays at this same season? It’s not about religious or political correctness. It’s about common courtesy, civility, thoughtfulness, and yes good will toward man and woman – exactly what Christians are supposed to encourage.



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Marcguyver

posted January 11, 2006 at 8:15 pm


Hey eastcoast lady, I”m not sure what country you are referring to when you say, “America” but to suggest that this country doesn’t have a strong Christian Heritage is just down right ludicrous; it’s a fact. Some don’t like it, but you can’t change history.



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Marcguyver

posted January 17, 2006 at 2:14 am


What if a battalion from overseas landed in this country intent on abolishing our heritage, traditions, and the rituals dear to us — all of which make our lives worthwhile? No doubt, we would call them an enemy and fight with all we have. Simply because those now doing so are citizens within our own country, living among us, makes them no less an adversary, requiring from us no less a counter-offensive. For decades the American public has been snookered by the Left into believing that in the name of inclusion and multiculturalism public symbols of Christmas and expressions of Christianity needed to be scaled back. In fact, we are discovering that those forces actually wish to bury Christmas, placing outside the pale of diversity only one religion: Christianity. Those calling always for a separation of church and state do so only regarding Christianity; not other religions. From Hollywood and the media come snide and disparaging remarks about Christianity that would bring total ostracism if made regarding Islam, Judaism, Hinduism or Kwanzaaism. We are living in a new era. Gone are the days when what divided liberals from conservatives were the softer issues of taxes and labor unions. Today s Left strives to change completely the nature and essence of America. It is working to transform America radically from what it has been since our very Founding. Many abhor the historic America we love, are embarrassed by it, see it as a predatory force of evil, and wish to remake it into a Euro/socialist country such as France or Sweden. As internationalists, they yearn not for America as is but the neutered secular utopia it can become — that they will lead. Only one institution stands in the way of their hoped-for silent revolution. It is the Judeo-Christian ethic, that uniquely American Christianity which links itself with the Old Testament. From that Judeo-Christian ethic derive all of the historically conservative rules of economics, politics and the social order that have made America great. Through the notion of man created in the image of God this ethic has infused the American individual with the virtues of self-reliance, accountability, individuality, risk-taking, heroism, courage, and idealism. The well-known goodwill of the American people, with their penchant for accommodation, has been exploited by those whose ultimate goal is the slow but inexorable dissolution here of Christianity and, ultimately, Americanism. The removal of the nativity scene is the first step toward their real goal of abolishing the most special of American governing features: local control — where people in their localities decide how they will live and which values they wish reflected, not bureaucrats in D.C., elitists in New York, celebrities in Hollywood, or judicial tyrants on the Ninth Circuit. Our domestic internationalists know that to transform America, they must first mute its Judeo-Christian foundations. Our secularists realize that to erase Judeo-Christianity, they must first de-legitimize the America that spawned and refreshes it. Being well-heeled and wealthy, today s leftist revolutionaries from within are not economic Marxists but cultural Marxists . Their revolution is happening not through guns but lawyers, sociologists, academia and media. Their tool is political correctness . The ACLU and its lawyers, for example, are not so much anti-religious as they are anti-Christian, as evidenced by their relentless search and destroy mission against any outwardly Christian signs while advocating in behalf of Islamic religious needs, Jewish ones, and even rights of those publicly practicing witchcraft religion . While liberal lawyers rail against Silent Night, they have no problem with the noise emanating from call-to-prayer wails from mosques in Michigan and elsewhere everyday! Crosses and Bibles on work desks are unconstitutional, they contend, but wearing a burka that covers one s face on a driver s license is just fine, though it is an evasion of the purpose of the law. Hypocritical? Not when one realizes that it is not religion per se but Christianity they are against, knowing that the way to supplant America is by uprooting the specifically Christian values that have given America its strength. In their quest to appear noble, the destructive ACLU and the wily war machine on the Left have camouflaged their campaign against Christmas, claiming they are protecting minority rights . They are wrong, for, protecting minorities means not coercing them to practice what they do not believe. It does not, however, grant minorities a veto power to tell the majority how they should live nor provide the minority the right to stop people in a given locale from expressing themselves and displaying their values. Minorities have no right to make the majority feel like strangers in their own land. The demand by minorities that while the majority must be inclusive of everyone, the Christian majority must hide in a cave bespeaks not only hypocrisy but also a lack of decency and civil graciousness. To be offended by a Christmas tree or a Merry Christmas reflects the accuser s own emotional stinginess. It is a desire to dampen a neighbor s joy, a form of bigotry. Such lack of good citizenship should be seen for the character flaw that it is. Self-respecting people should ignore such misers. A new dimension to our struggle has arisen now that we live in the Jihadist Era. Western Europe is showing how secularization and lack of nationalism is paving the way for Islam to acculturate Europe slowly to Islamism, a Eurabia. The zeal of Islam s religious and ethnic imperialism can be held back only by an equally strong, countervailing assertion of a population s indigenous religion and self-identity. Maddeningly, Europe s secular elites are outlawing and denigrating Christian motifs at the very moment it is welcoming, under multiculturalism Islamic manifestations and religious norms. It is an act of national suicide, akin to dismantling the gunneries atop the cliffs the moment the foe begins its bombardment — when it is precisely most needed. We, too, are allowing those from the trendy liberal salons, who find it chic to be sour on America and bored by its historic ideals and values, to shape our laws, culture and social policies — indeed our very own destiny, our children s America. Some are possessed by that old liberal Western ailment called self-hate. Others, while wildly successful here still retain the sense of being outsiders — and rightly so, since they inhere a moral value system totally at odds with mainstream America. Continued placating and accommodation will not relieve their continued criticism and indictment of America. It is time Americans realized that the professional prosecutors of America, within, are not seeking peace but never-ending domestic agitation. Do they love America? Not the America as presently constituted, for at every opportunity they criticize American society as racist, homophobic, misogynist, anti-Semitic, unfair and imperialist. In every confrontation with a foreign power or with the War on Terror, they Blame America First, and only. These are not the actions of people who love that something. Normally in life, we try hard as we can to justify and understand the actions of those we love and reserve our constant condemnation for those and that which we do not love. Why should America s destiny and our national culture be determined by those who daily telegraph their dislike for America and who pathologically work to sink the very ship that has transported them to prosperity and unparalleled freedom? Though less than 10% of the population, they will continue to hold sway if the other 90% refuse to fight back. We are that 90%. Whatever one s opinion of Darwin s Survival of the Fittest, beyond question survival goes to those willing to fight, not to those too fine , timid, confused, or lazy. Survival goes to those who fight hardest.



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