The War on the "War on Christmas"

Reposted from: Freethought Café by J.C. Samuelson

As the holiday season approaches, many businesses are beginning to put up signs, decorations, and displays in preparation for the inevitable feeding frenzy that precedes the venerated Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Many begin to roll out their holiday products as well. One such company is Mrs. Fields, purveyor of cookies for a variety of occasions.

It seems that an apparent failure by Mrs. Fields to offer products explicitly catering to the "Merry Christmas" crowd - by October - has drawn the scrutiny of those invested in the idea that there is a "War on Christmas."

Many Americans have felt in recent years that there is a war on Christmas, a holiday with mixed roots in paganism and Christianity. Propelled by pundits such as Bill O'Reilly, John Gibson, and several Evangelical groups, including the American Family Association, this component of the culture war has descended to new depths of absurdity.

In an email posted at, the fact that Mrs. Fields doesn't presently have any explicitly Christian products ready for sale online is suggested as being an indication that the company "has become the first company to ban Christmas from their products and promotion for this year." Several (presumably Christian) posters also weighed in on the issue, vowing to boycott the company due to its apparent capitulation to the secularization of America.

The email also suggests that interested parties should "[t]ake a look at Mrs. Fields Holiday Gift Preview by clicking here. In the "search" bar, type in the word "Christmas." But don't expect to find any reference to Christmas." Good advice. It's always best to investigate for yourself.

A visit to the site proves unremarkable and hardly indicative of Mrs. Fields having joined any war on Christmas. In fact, typing any name for a religious or secular holiday, including Yom Kippur, Ramadan, Chanukah, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Solstice, and Christmas, yields the same result: "Sorry, no records were found with the search parameters you provided." Typing in Easter yields one result, a rather innocuous-looking box of cookies adorned with flowers and bow.

Although it's not necessary to do so, provisionally granting their complaint some degree of validity, it seems a wee bit premature for the AFA to be throwing accusations at a company that doesn't seem to be discriminating in the first place. In fact, since the brouhaha began, Mrs. Fields put up a notice (rather too quickly for it to have been the result of AFA's email) on their home page that acknowledges that some are concerned by the absence of explicitly Christmas-oriented gifts. Yet it also notes that their Christmas product line is to be rolled out November 1st. Had the AFA waited, might they have had nothing to complain about?

Removing the grant of provisional validity, it's clear that AFA has set its sights on a company that doesn't favor any holiday over the other; i.e., they remain neutral. This is good business policy, nothing more. In other words, plainly AFA wants preferential treatment for its members' beliefs from a public company with no apparent theological axe to grind.

It's also worth pointing out that this knee-jerk reaction on the part of Christians to any perceived slight of their faith - even when it doesn't have anything directly to do with actually practicing their faith - shows them to be among the most thin-skinned and shallow of people. Sadly, organizations such as AFA feed off such people, manipulating them to direct their resources toward chasing the ghost of illusory persecution.

The AFA is hereby notified that, in a memo from the North Pole obtained by the Freethought Café, Santa Clause expressed his outrage over this sort of mealy-mouthed, reactionary, knee-jerk, hypersensitive whining, and that everyone contributing to this tempest-in-a-tea-cup has officially been placed on his "Naughty" list.

The "War on Christmas" is a myth, folks. Get over it.

Have a happy weekend.

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