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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 8:05 pm 
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And why exactly is it that the *left* is getting demonized over this?

Put more Christ into Christmas?

Allen G. Breed Associated Press
December 14, 2004

Emboldened by their Election Day successes, some Christian conservatives around the country are trying to put more Christ into Christmas this season.

In Terrebonne Parish, La., an organization is petitioning to add "Merry Christmas" to the red-lighted "Season's Greetings" sign on the main government building and is selling yard signs that read, "We believe in God. Merry Christmas." And a Raleigh, N.C., church recently paid $7,600 for a full-page newspaper ad urging Christians to spend their money only with merchants who include the greeting "Merry Christmas" in ads and displays.

"There is a revival taking place in our nation that is causing Christian and right-minded people to say, 'Wait a minute. We've gone too far,'" says the Rev. Patrick Wooden Sr., pastor of the Raleigh church. "We're not going to allow the country to continue this downward spiral to the left."

In California, a group called the Committee to Save Merry Christmas is boycotting Macy's and its corporate parent, Federated Department Stores, accusing them of replacing "Merry Christmas" signs with ones wishing shoppers "Season's Greetings" or "Happy Holidays." The organization cites "the recent presidential election showing political correctness is offending millions of Americans."

(Federated, for its part, says that is has no ban on such greetings and that its store divisions can advertise as they see fit and store clerks are free to wish any customer "Merry Christmas." Macy's says its ads commonly use the phrase.)

The push from the religious right troubles Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

"This mixing of secular and religious symbols ought to be seen as a bad thing, not a good thing, for Christian believers," he says. "Unfortunately, some of the Christian pressure groups seem to have it backwards." He adds: "I think it's fair to say it's a mistaken notion that they have a mandate to put more nativity scenes up because George Bush was elected."

The battle over the manger on the city hall lawn is nothing new. People expect the annual tussle over the separation of church and state.

But the "keep the Christ in Christmas" contingent is particularly agitated this year over what its members see as a troubling trend on Main Street: Target stores banning Salvation Army bell ringers; UPS drivers complaining to a free-speech group that they have been told not to wish people a "Merry Christmas" (an accusation UPS denies as "silly on its face and just not true"); and major corporations barring religious music from cubicles and renaming the office Christmas bash the "end of the year" party.

"I think it is part of a growing movement of people with more traditional values, which make up the majority of people in this country, saying enough is enough," says Greg Scott, a spokesman for the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund.

Amid stories of schools banning the singing of carols on buses, Scott's group has distributed to more than 5,000 schools a seven-point legal primer citing 40 years of case law that says it is OK to mention Christmas in public places. And the group has about 800 lawyers waiting in the wings in case that notion needs to be reinforced.

To that same end, the Virginia-based Rutherford Institute, which says it received the UPS driver complaints, has reissued its "12 Rules of Christmas" guide to celebrating the birth of Jesus.

"I think the businesses and the schools have just gone too far; this is the final straw," says Institute president John W. Whitehead. "It's supposed to be a time of, what, peace and freedom and fun. And they've kind of made it into a secular ... kind of gray day."

Conservative radio and TV talk show hosts have chortled over some recent incidents of what they consider political correctness run amok.

In Kansas, The Wichita Eagle ran a correction for a notice that mistakenly referred to the Community Tree at the Winterfest celebration as a "Christmas Tree." And the mayor of Somerville, Mass., apologized after a news release mistakenly referred to the Dec. 21 City Holiday Party as a "Christmas Party."

But to many, the threats and demands that stores put up "Merry Christmas" signs are no laughing matter.

"Why not simply require stores owned by Jews to put a gold star in their ads and on their storefronts?" the Rev. Jim Melnyk, associate rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Raleigh, wrote in a letter to the editor.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 8:06 pm 
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Published: Dec 11, 2004
Modified: Dec 11, 2004 12:10 AM
South Wire: Excerpts from letters to the editor in response to Christian Christmas ad

The Associated Press
Excerpts from letters to the editor of the News & Observer of Raleigh, written in response to a full-page ad urging Christians to buy gifts at merchants who include the greeting "Merry Christmas" in their promotional literature.

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"Why not simply require stores owned by Jews to put a gold star in their ads and on their storefronts?" -Rev. Jim Melnyk.

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"All the letter-writers complaining about the full-page ad run by the Upper Room Church of God in Christ are missing the point. Political correctness gone amok has taken the Christ out of Christmas.

"Christians of all sorts ... would do well to be reminded that Christ is the reason for Christmas. 'Happy Holidays' just doesn't begin to capture the reason for the season. Jesus Christ was born on Christmas and if wanting to celebrate that is 'intolerance' then I'm guilty as charged." -James Barrett.

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"I was disheartened to open the ... paper to see that The N&O would be a willing participant in taking money for a full-page ad that would close doors of merchants who celebrate their African ancestry through Kwanzaa, or Jewish faith traditions through Hanukkah.

"Open doors and open hearts, respect for diversity, tolerance for differences and peace on earth - that is the message of Christmas Night when the doors of that Bethlehem Inn were closed!" - Fr. Mark G. Reamer, Pastor, Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi.

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"Since when is shopping an inherent part of a Christian celebration of Christmas? ...

"It costs many thousands of dollars to place such an ad. That's a lot of warm socks and underwear for children who don't have them. It could even buy some food for their tables. Perhaps some of that money could help keep scores of families' homes warm this winter. I bet there might even be something left for a toy or two.

"I think Wooden missed a chance to re-Christianize Christmas. What a shame." -Robby Merritt.

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"In this society of weak and silent Christians, I find it admirable (and pleasing) that there are still some of us willing to make a strong Christian stand and promote Christ at any and all costs." -Reggie Harper.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 8:10 pm 
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One more.

Posted on Sun, Dec. 12, 2004

Church ad starts 'Merry Christmas' debate
Readers respond to boycott message
By Margaret Lillard
The Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. - A pastor's newspaper ad urging Christians to spend their money at retailers wishing them a "Merry Christmas" - and not the more generic "happy holidays" - has meant a little less goodwill this Christmas season.

"People have called me intolerant and exclusionary, despite the fact that what is being excluded is Christmas," said Patrick Wooden Sr., who heads Raleigh's Upper Room Church of God in Christ. The church is a conservative, 3,000-member black congregation known for its outspoken opposition to homosexuality.

Although plenty of preachers give sermons urging congregants to "put Christ back in Christmas," Wooden decided to speak to a wider audience - and in characteristically brazen fashion.

"Attention Christians!" read the full-page ad that ran Nov. 24 in the News & Observer.

"Have you noticed you don't hear Silent Night? Where has Noel Gone? ... Had It Not Been for Christ ... There Would Be No Christmas!"

The ad went on to urge "all Christians to spend their hard-earned dollars with merchants who include the greeting 'Merry Christmas' in their holiday advertising promotions this Christmas."

Since it ran, the ad has inspired a chain of back-and-forth letters to the newspaper's editor and untold numbers of discussions around office water coolers and kitchen breakfast tables.

"You're hard-pressed now to go in any department store anywhere in America and see the word 'Christmas,'" Wooden said in an interview this week. "Christmas is a significant christocentric term because it signifies or brings to attention that this particular holiday is about Jesus Christ. So I think it's important that 'Merry Christmas' be displayed or included or used in some manner, in some way."

The part of the ad that seems to have stirred the most consternation is an almost parenthetical bit of data halfway down the page.

"Did you know? 96 [percent] of American consumers celebrate Christmas," the ad advises in bold type.

Then, in letters about half as large, it adds, "5 [percent] celebrate Hanukkah, [and] 2 [percent] celebrate Kwanzaa."

That sentence, attributed to a Fox News report, drew a strong rebuke from the Rev. Jim Melnyk, associate rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church.

"Why not simply require stores owned by Jews to put a gold star in their ads and on their storefronts?" Melnyk wrote in a letter to the editor published the following day. "Wooden and his church have put away their anti-homosexual rhetoric for the holidays so they can focus their discrimination on non-Christians. Who will be next?"

In an interview, Melnyk said he agrees with Wooden that the main focus of Christmas should be on its religious meaning. But he said he was alarmed by the way the ad made its point.

"I reacted to ... the implicit approval of boycotting people who are different. I don't think that's what they intended, but I think that's the message some people could take," Melnyk said.

"There was a move in pre-World War II Germany to not support Jewish merchants and Jewish businesses. That was the beginning of how Jews were separated out, and it later became something much more heinous."


Wooden said he isn't advocating boycotts or discrimination.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 11:23 pm 
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This is the sort of thing that makes me embarassed to be a Christian.

Christmas isn't even a true Christian holiday, for gosh sakes. Not only does it have pagan origins, but Jesus Himself told us that we should remember and celebrate His resurrection (Easter).

Don't we have already have enough issues that divide Christians and Jews? Whenever anyone starts making a big deal about attaching the "Christmas" label to the holidays, the Jewish/Christian thing rears its ugly head. It's almost as if some Christians feel that proclaiming a "Merry Christmas" is the price of admission for Jewish merchants that want to benefit from Christmas shopping. And then these same Christians are shocked -- shocked -- if someone suggests that sort of thinking can be interpreted as anti-Semitism.

Plenty of Christians feel that December is "their" month and resent other religions and their "me too" holidays. Yeah, the nerve of them, wanting to join Christians and celebrate the holiday spirit in their own way.

The guy who asked "Since when is shopping an inherent part of a Christian celebration of Christmas?" is right on with his attitude...although the depressing answer to his question is "Been that way for decades, man. Where have you been?"

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2004 12:21 am 
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I'd like to know what these same people would do if Jews insisted on making sure everyone acknowledged Yom Kippur or Muslims did the same for Ramadan.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2004 2:03 am 
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I'm always amazed at the willingness of the clear majority in this country to feel constantly persecuted. "Oooh wah wah nobody mentions that our fake-but-entrenched-holiday is about the savior in which they don't necessarily believe. Boo hoo!"

I'm glad they're finally taking Mark Lindsay's advice.

(I'm going to be shocked if anybody knows what the heck I'm talking about)

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2004 10:04 am 
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Xenu wrote:
I'm glad they're finally taking Mark Lindsay's advice.

(I'm going to be shocked if anybody knows what the heck I'm talking about)


Are they...

cutting off their Indian braids?
taking off their rainbow shades?
taking off their hobo shoes?

:?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2004 10:38 am 
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I look forward to these yahoos supporting their case by citing Biblical references for the proper celebration of Christmas on December 25.

Oh, wait...

I hate it when Christians in this country act like some persecuted minority. It's as though white people were complaining that black people don't call them "massuh" anymore, therefore not showing sufficient respect. "Dammit, we're dominant, and if you don't explicitly acknowledge that at every real or imagined opportunity, you're oppressing us!"

There's actually an ultra-fundamentalist church around here that takes out ads around Christmas and Easter telling everyone that they are evil pagan holidays and true Christians shouldn't celebrate them, since nothing is said about either in the Bible. I love those guys. I'll bet they confuse the heck out of the local Southern Baptists.

Ryan

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2004 10:45 am 
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Rspaight wrote:
There's actually an ultra-fundamentalist church around here that takes out ads around Christmas and Easter telling everyone that they are evil pagan holidays and true Christians shouldn't celebrate them, since nothing is said about either in the Bible. I love those guys. I'll bet they confuse the heck out of the local Southern Baptists.


That's one of the good things that can be said about Jehovah's Witnesses. They don't celebrate any of those holidays either. I still think they're extremely odd, but at least they "talk the talk and walk the walk" so to speak. I have to give them props for that.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2004 11:41 am 
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Rspaight wrote:
I look forward to these yahoos supporting their case by citing Biblical references for the proper celebration of Christmas on December 25.

There aren't any Biblical references.
Quote:
There's actually an ultra-fundamentalist church around here that takes out ads around Christmas and Easter telling everyone that they are evil pagan holidays and true Christians shouldn't celebrate them, since nothing is said about either in the Bible.

After doing a bit of research, I have to take back my earlier (mis)statement regarding what the Bible says about Easter (I'll blame it on my extensive Catholic indoctrination).

Jesus instructed his followers to remember His death ("Do this in remembrance of Me"), and this remembrance is tied to the traditional Jewish holy day of Passover (Jesus becomes the sacrificial lamb). There is no evidence of the early Christians (or Jesus) observing anything but the traditional Jewish holy days, and a fundamentalist reading of the Bible would indicate that modern day Christians should do the same.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2004 12:43 pm 
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Dob wrote:
Jesus instructed his followers to remember His death ("Do this in remembrance of Me"), and this remembrance is tied to the traditional Jewish holy day of Passover (Jesus becomes the sacrificial lamb). There is no evidence of the early Christians (or Jesus) observing anything but the traditional Jewish holy days, and a fundamentalist reading of the Bible would indicate that modern day Christians should do the same.


This illuminates the fact that early Christianity latched on to any kind of pagan ritual it could find to legitimize its beliefs to a skeptical audience. As crazy as they are, the Jehovah's Witnesses really do have a reasonable claim to their brand of Christian theology. Their below the surface disgust for other denominations must run deeper than I could ever have imagined. The problem with their theology, from what I understand, is that they don't believe in the celebration of any holidays, which means that they don't observe Jewish holidays either, antithetical to a fundamentalist reading of the bible.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2004 2:11 pm 
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Well, holiday "observance" has a lot of different connotations. "Recognition" might be the better term. If they acknowledge they exist, well...

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2004 2:30 pm 
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Do they recognize the biblical existence of these holidays, but choose not to participate in them? That's one possibility I didn't consider.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2004 3:54 pm 
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Holidays aren't always biblical; the form of most of 'em is based on subsequent tradition, not godly revelation.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2004 4:21 pm 
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