As Predicted

Ken AshfordGodstuffLeave a Comment

Last week, I made brief mention that the White House Christmas Card this year avoids the use of the word "Christmas", and merely says "best wishes for a holiday season of hope and happiness".   I predicted that the wingers would go nuts.

I was right.  WaPo covers the story:

This month, as in every December since he took office, President Bush sent out cards with a generic end-of-the-year message, wishing 1.4 million of his close friends and supporters a happy "holiday season."

Many people are thrilled to get a White House Christmas card, no matter what the greeting inside. But some conservative Christians are reacting as if Bush stuck coal in their stockings.

"This clearly demonstrates that the Bush administration has suffered a loss of will and that they have capitulated to the worst elements in our culture," said William A. Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

He’s referring to the tolerant part of our culture. [NOTE: The link for William A. Donahue was provided by me.  Check this guy out]

Bush "claims to be a born-again, evangelical Christian. But he sure doesn’t act like one," said Joseph Farah, editor of the conservative Web site "I threw out my White House card as soon as I got it."

That’ll show ’em.

Religious conservatives are miffed because they have been pressuring stores to advertise Christmas sales rather than "holiday specials" and urging schools to let students out for Christmas vacation rather than for "winter break." They celebrated when House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) insisted that the sparkling spectacle on the Capitol lawn should be called the Capitol Christmas Tree, not a holiday spruce.

Then along comes a generic season’s greeting from the White House, paid for by the Republican National Committee. The cover art is also secular, if not humanist: It shows the presidential pets — two dogs and a cat — frolicking on a snowy White House lawn.

"Certainly President and Mrs. Bush, because of their faith, celebrate Christmas," said Susan Whitson, Laura Bush’s press secretary. "Their cards in recent years have included best wishes for a holiday season, rather than Christmas wishes, because they are sent to people of all faiths."

It shows you how far off the ranch these conservative Christians are, when Laura Bush’s press secretary even understands.  The cards are sent to people of all faiths.  How hard is that to comprehend?

That is the same rationale offered by major retailers for generic holiday catalogues, and it is accepted by groups such as the National Council of Churches. "I think it’s more important to put Christ back into our war planning than into our Christmas cards," said the council’s general secretary, the Rev. Bob Edgar, a former Democratic congressman.

Wow!  Put Christ back into our war planning?  It’s an awkward segue, but I agree . . . and I’m not even sure I know what he means!

But the White House’s explanation does not satisfy the groups — which have grown in number in recent years — that believe there is, in the words of the Heritage Foundation, a "war on Christmas" involving an "ever-stronger push toward a neutered ‘holiday’ season so that non-Christians won’t be even the slightest bit offended."

It’s not about being "offended".  It’s about being inclusive.  The only ones "offended" are people and groups like the Heritage Foundation.

One of the generals on the pro-Christmas side is Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association in Tupelo, Miss. "Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether this is sinister — it’s the purging of Christ from Christmas — or whether it’s just political correctness run amok," he said. "I think in the case of the White House, it’s just political correctness."

Wildmon does not give retailers the same benefit of the doubt. This year, he has called for a consumer boycott of Target stores because the chain issued a holiday advertising circular that did not mention Christmas. Last year, he aimed a similar boycott at Macy’s Inc., which averted a repeat this December by proclaiming "Merry Christmas" in its advertising and in-store displays.

"It bothers me that the White House card leaves off any reference to Jesus, while we’ve got Ramadan celebrations in the White House," Wildmon said. "What’s going on there?"

What’s going on is a recognition that, during this time of year, there are many religious holidays celebrated by people of many religious faiths.

At the Catholic League, Donohue had just announced a boycott of the Lands’ End catalogue when he received his White House holiday card. True, he said, the Bushes included a verse from Psalm 28, but Psalms are in the Old Testament and do not mention Jesus’ birth.

"They’d better address this, because they’re no better than the retailers who have lost the will to say ‘Merry Christmas,’ " he said.

Donohue said that Wal-Mart, facing a threatened boycott, added a Christmas page to its Web site and fired a customer relations employee who wrote a letter linking Christmas to "Siberian shamanism." He was not mollified by a letter from Lands’ End saying it "adopted the ‘holiday’ terminology as a way to comply with one of the basic freedoms granted to all Americans: freedom of religion."

"Ninety-six percent of Americans celebrate Christmas," Donohue said. "Spare me the diversity lecture."

"While we’re at it", Donahue continued, "let’s put these minority people back on plantations.  This is America, where majority rules.  Majority rules — I’m sure that’s in the Constitution somewhere.  Or the Bible.  Take my word for it — it’s there."   He then hollered into the kitchen to his wife, "Woman, I told you wanted more pie!  Get your sorry ass moving and bring me my damn vittles!"

RELATED:  Apparently, some megachurches hate Christmas, too.  Many of them are closing their doors on Christmas (which falls on a Sunday this year), anticipating low attendance.  Conservative Captain Ed doesn’t get it either: "Given that the ‘war on Christmas’ has been pushed by churches such as these, I find these decisions rather stunning. . . If Christian churches want to reclaim Christmas for themselves, then they need to literally show up to do so. Closing the doors is nothing less than surrender."