AFA Suggests Donating to Charities Instead of Personal Gift Giving in '06

In a move to focus on Jesus Christ as the reason for Christmas, the head of the American Family Association is suggesting that adults sharply curtail their spending on gifts in 2006, giving their cash to charitable causes instead.

AFA President Tim Wildmon didn’t rule out some presents for the kids but said adults should focus on making their own gifts or donating their own time and money. He suggested contributing to organizations such as The Salvation Army. Leaders of other conservative groups expressed reservations, saying that the gift giving tradition was part of the joy of the season and that the Christmas should not be linked with punishing retailers.

“We want people to get back to what Christmas should be about,” said Wildmon according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

In an e-mail to supporters, AFA chairman Donald Wildmon, expanded upon the message focusing on the economic impact it could have.

“Such an effort will remind all of us, including retailers, what Christmas is all about,” the chairman said. “I very much believe that you will see retailers get on board promoting Christmas instead of Happy Holidays.”

"If they miss us shopping next Christmas, maybe they will respect us more,” he added.

In 2005, AFA led boycotts of several large companies and retailers for their policies. It started and ended a campaign against Ford Motor Company for advertising in gay publication, although it may renew its boycott of the company since it decided to continue advertising. AFA also focused on of its boycotts on nationwide retailer Target for omitting references to “Christmas” or “Merry Christmas” from its advertising and indoor displays.

Some conservative groups said that the AFA’s suggestion for the new year was well-intentioned, but takes the joy out of the holiday.

"I certainly understand Tim Wildmon's concern to focus on the true meaning of Christmas," said Mathew Staver, president of Liberty Counsel whose conservative legal group took part in “The War on Christmas” this year. The group promised to pursue legal action against violations of religious freedom during the Christmas season or efforts to remove Christmas unlawfully from the public square.

"But I fail to see how that (not buying gifts) would bring back the essence of Christmas," Staver added. "And I don't think it would affect retailers. Besides, that's part of the joy of Christmas – to give someone a gift to show your appreciation for them."

Jan LaRue, Chief Counsel at Concerned Women for America told the Chronicle that the call to donate to the poor was good but shouldn't involve retailers.

“I don’t know if it has to be linked to punishing retailers,” she said. “A lot of believers, Christians and Jews, own small businesses that would be punished by the loss of income during the Christmas season."