Are companies caught in “war” over holiday?
From shopping malls to office cubicles, the religious tradition of the Christmas season is steadily disappearing as businesses try to avoid alienating customers or employees. Companies are caught in a cross fire between those on both sides of what some have called a “war on Christmas.” Civil libertarians, atheists, evangelicals and others are battling over nativity scenes, seasonal decorations and what constitutes an acceptable holiday greeting, and even President-elect Donald Trump has weighed in. The weapons wielded in the conflict include boycotts, public pressure campaigns and lawsuits.
Amid the clamor, some of the key takeaways include:
A growing number of businesses view the prospect of being pressured over Christmas-related issues as a potential threat.
Even seasonal traditions such as the company holiday party and year-end bonuses have been caught up in the controversy.
Although some retailers are pushing back against the frenzy of “Black Friday,” most consumers still like the day-after-Thanksgiving kickoff to the holiday shopping season.
Bowler, Gerry, “Christmas in the Crosshairs: Two Thousand Years of Denouncing and Defending the World’s Most Celebrated Holiday,” Oxford University Press, 2017. The author of “Santa Claus: A Biography” and “The World Encyclopedia of Christmas” chronicles the tug-of-war over Christmas by tracing the holiday’s history from the original Christmas Eve to the present day.
Gibson, John, “The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought,” Penguin Books, 2006. Conservative Fox News Radio host John Gibson warns readers that the so-called war on Christmas is heating up and blames secular liberals for prolonging it through litigation, protests and threats.
Harvey, Robin and Meyers, Stephanie (editors), “The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas,” Harper Perennial, 2010 Forty-two atheist scientists, comedians, philosophers and writers contributed to this collection of essays about how nonbelievers can enjoy the holiday season.
Palin, Sarah, “Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas,” Broadside Books, 2013. The former Republican vice presidential candidate calls for putting Christian values back into the Christmas season and stresses the importance of acknowledging the birth of Jesus in public displays and school concerts.
“An employers’ guide to Christmas: office parties, religious discrimination and bonuses,” Personnel Today, Dec. 2, 2010, http://tinyurl.com/
Friedersdorf, Conor, “Christmas Is Kicking Ass in the War on Christmas,” The Atlantic, Dec. 20, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/
Henninger, Daniel, “The Year Christmas Died,” The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 23, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Honan, Daniel, “Penn Jillette: There’s No War on Christmas. Let’s Just Spread the Joy, Man!” Big Think, November 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Thornton, Bruce, “The Stakes In The War On Christmas,” Hoover Institution, Dec. 16, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Reports and Studies
“America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” Pew Research Center, http://tinyurl.com/
“Celebrating Christmas and the Holidays, Then and Now,” Pew Research Center, http://tinyurl.com/
“Holiday Bonus Survey: 78% Will Offer Some Sort of Year-End Gift,” Challenger, Gray & Christmas, http://tinyurl.com/
“National Retail Federation Forecasts Holiday Sales to Increase 3.6%,” National Retail Federation, Oct. 4, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
“SHRM Survey Findings: 2015 End-of-Year Holiday Activities,” Society for Human Resource Management, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
“2016 Holiday Party Survey: 80% Having Parties, Scaling Down,” Challenger, Gray & Christmas, http://tinyurl.com/
The Next Step
Coles, Sarah, “The average person spends £1,500 on Christmas – how can we afford it?” AOL, Nov. 21, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Koehle, Angie, “WalletHub: Holiday spending to hit $656 billion this year, up 3.6 percent from last year,” ABC 15 Arizona, Nov. 14, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Wahba, Phil, “About 10 Million More Americans Shopped Online Than In Stores Over Black Friday Weekend,” Fortune, Nov. 27, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Coffee, Patrick, “Amazon’s Touching Interfaith Ad Appeals to the Better Angels of a Divided World,” AdWeek, Nov. 18, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Dillet, Romain, “Apple’s holiday ad is all about inclusion,” Tech Crunch, Nov. 21, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Halzack, Sarah, “Target’s plan to win Christmas: ‘10 days of deals,’ more Spanish-language ads, and a musical with John Legend,” The Washington Post, Oct. 25, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
“Starbucks brings back traditional Christmas designs,” The Associated Press, CBS News, Nov. 9, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Rowe, Dominique, “Why Starbucks’ Christmas Cups Are Special This Year,” Fortune, Nov. 10, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Taylor, Kate, “Furious customers are accusing Starbucks of ‘political brainwashing’ over green cups,” Business Insider, Nov. 3, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
War on Christmas
“Christmas Day declared public holiday in Victoria after Government backflip,” Australian Broadcasting Corp., Nov. 24, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Huriash, Lisa J., “Plantation loses lawsuit against family over massive Christmas display,” Sun Sentinel, Oct. 28, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Steingart, Jon, “Jehovah’s Witness Says Firing Was for Not Saying ‘Merry Christmas,’” Bloomberg, Nov. 16, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Alliance Defending Freedom
15100 N. 90th St., Scottsdale, AZ 85260
A Christian legal organization that advocates for religious freedom, the sanctity of life and marriage and family by funding cases and training attorneys.
PO Box 158, Cranford, NJ 07016
An organization that defends the civil liberties of atheists and advocates for the absolute separation of government and religion.
American Center for Law and Justice
PO Box 90555, Washington, DC 20090
An international organization that litigates cases involving the free-speech rights of abortion foes and the constitutional rights of religious groups to have equal access to public facilities.
American Civil Liberties Union
125 Broad St., 18th Floor, New York, NY 10004
Nearly 100 years old, the ACLU defends and seeks to preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and U.S. law.
American Family Association
P.O. Drawer 2440, Tupelo, MS 33803
A pro-family Christian organization promoting a culture based on biblical teachings.
Freedom From Religion Foundation
P.O. Box 750, Madison, WI 53701
A nonprofit organization that promotes the separation of church and state and seeks to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.
National Retail Federation
1101 New York Ave., N.W., Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20005
The world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and internet retailers in 45 countries.
Society for Human Resource Management
1800 Duke St., Alexandria, VA 22314
The world’s largest association for human resource professionals, representing 285,000 members in more than 165 countries.
14040 N. Northsight Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ 85260
A membership organization for human resources professionals that bills itself as “the total rewards association.” Its focus is compensation, benefits and work/life effectiveness.