(Photo: REUTERS/Andrew Burton)
The American Family Association recently released its 2013 Naughty or Nice List, which rates some of the nation's top retailers based on how "Christmas-friendly" they are in their advertising.
AFA's rating for each company is based on a review of up-to four areas: print media, broadcast media, company websites and store visits. Companies that make reference to Christmas items without using the word "Christmas" are considered to be censoring the word.
"We've become a society that is overly concerned that something we say, even when true or right, might offend someone," said AFA President Tim Wildmon in a statement. "The truth is that America was built on Christian principles and our nation has enjoyed much of our economic success because of the tenets of our founding fathers. When stores try to be politically correct by pushing Christ out of Christmas, it's time to shop somewhere else."
The companies on the list are categorized by whether they use the word "Christmas" regularly, infrequently or sparingly. Among those on the "nice" side of the list are Macy's, Amazon.com, Target, Toys "R" Us and others. On the "naughty" side are companies like Barnes & Noble, Radio Shack, Foot Locker and Victoria's Secret.
A handful of retailers – Walmart, Lowe's, Belk, Sears, Hobby Lobby and the AFA Online Store – have also been given a superior "5-Star" rating for promoting and celebrating Christmas in an "exceptional" way.
Bryan Fischer, AFA's director of issue analysis for government and public policy, told The Christian Post that when the organization began publishing the Naughty or Nice list several years ago, about 80 percent of the companies they evaluated were not Christmas-friendly. Today the opposite is true.
"I believe that our list had a significant impact on that, because the people in our network are motivated citizens and they repeatedly contacted these merchandisers to express their concern about how they were disrespecting Christmas," said Fischer.
One company whose rating has changed drastically since last year is Gap Inc., which is over the Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic brands, among others. Last year AFA called for a boycott of Gap Inc. stores and accused the company of censoring the word "Christmas," but this year the company is listed as Christmas-friendly.
"They have virtually become the most Christmas-friendly retailer in the country overnight," said Fischer.
When asked why AFA publishes the list each year, Fischer said the association believes there is a "culture war" over the Judeo-Christian tradition taking place in America. "Secular fundamentalists," he says, are trying to remove from the public square all references to God or Jesus Christ.
"We believe that people who oppose Christmas do so because of the first six letters in that word," he said. "This is really not a war on Christmas. It's a war on Christ."
AFA's list only includes companies that are nationally recognized, so no local or regional businesses are listed. The organization says a company's position on the list is based solely on its Christmas advertising and does not take into account other policies AFA may disagree with.