(Photo: AP Images / Al Grillo)
There's a war on Christmas and Christians are drawing up the battlelines.
Christian groups who feel that Christmas is slowly disappearing from the public square have launched a campaign against retailers who ban "Christmas" references from their holiday advertising.
Liberty Counsel, a conservative Christian legal group, this week announced its sixth annual "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign," pledging to be a "friend" to businesses that recognize Christmas and a "foe" to those that censor the Dec. 25 holiday.
The Fla.-based organization has compiled a "Naughty and Nice" list based on how "Christmas-friendly" retailers are. Christians are encouraged to shop at "nice" retailers that honor Christmas and shun "naughty" companies that don't.
The American Family Association, which reaches 2.5 million members, has also released a similar list to advise its supporters on where to shop this Christmas. The conservative organization combed through print ads, radio spots and websites by top retailers to make the list.
A few companies that made the "Nice" category on both lists included Bed Bath & Beyond, Family Dollar, Macy's and Wal-Mart.
The Office Depot, CVS Pharmacy and Gap were some stores that both lists had labeled as "Naughty."
But the two lists also categorized a few companies in opposite categories.
Liberty Counsel, which features a more extensive list, had placed Best Buy under the "Nice" group of retailers for featuring “Guaranteed Christmas Delivery" on its website and selling Gift cards for Christmas.
The pro-family group, on the other hand, had named Best Buy AFA's top SCROOGE Award winner for publishing a 2008 "Holiday Gift Guide" that reportedly avoids Christmas and refers to Christmas in an online survey as "this holiday."
Up until recently, both groups had considered Home Depot an enemy in the war on Christmas.
The Liberty Counsel list, last updated on Nov. 12, still names the home appliance company as "naughty" for not using Christmas on its website but "Holiday Gift Center,” “Holiday Décor,” “Home for the Holidays,” and “Holiday Trees," instead.
In late October, AFA had called on its supporters to contact Home Depot about its Christmas censorship. A day after the group urged its members to take action, Home Depot pledged to make changes, even though a spokesman said the company is not purposely trying to censor Christmas.
Home Depot spokesman Ron DeFeo said the company used the word "holiday" so that holiday marketing displays can remain in the store from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.
"With that said," wrote DeFeo in an e-mail to AFA, "we are adjusting our website to make 'Christmas' more prominent and to make our site more aligned with our advertising and point-of-sale in-store signage. Customers will start seeing the adjustments later this week."
The AFA is also selling "It's OK to say Merry Christmas" buttons to churches.
Meanwhile, as part of its "Friend or Foe" campaign, Liberty Counsel is also offering a "Help Save Christmas action pack that includes an "I ♥ CHRISTmas" button and sample ads that churches can place in local newspapers to promote Christmas and Liberty Counsel’s free assistance to those facing persecution for celebrating Christmas.
The examples of Christmas being replaced with generalized holiday terms are many, according to the law firm.
One Texas school told students they could not wear red and green because those were Christmas colors.
In Wisconsin, a teacher told the entire class that students must call Christmas “The Winter Festival” or another name so others will not be offended.
"Renaming a Christmas tree to a holiday tree, stopping students from wearing red and green, and censoring religious Christmas carols are absurd, but true, examples of the war against Christmas," said Mathew D. Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law.
He assured, however, that "over the past few years the 'Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign' has successfully put the 'grinches' on the run."
In the past, Concerned Women of America, a Christian-based public policy organization, has also released a similar list advising its supporters where to do their Christmas shopping.
On the Web:The Liberty Counsel "Naughty and Nice" list can be viewed here.
On the Web:The American Family Association "Naughty and Nice" list can be viewed here.