Talk of the culture clash over the effort to cut Christ out of Christmas continues in Washington, with Target department stores buckling under pressure from right-wing groups, namely the American Family Association, and agreeing to start holding “Christmas” sales instead of merely having “holiday” sales. According to the AFA, some 700,000 fundamentalists had signed up online to boycott Target, and the retailer gave in.
(As a side note, the AFA tried a similar stunt with Ford Motor Co., which initially said it would dramatically reduce advertising in gay-specific publications and stop marketing to gay and lesbian consumers, but today’s Washington Post reports the company changed its mind after meeting with several gay organizations.)
Yesterday, when my co-workers and I were mentoring a group of middle school students, we had the girls writing end-of-semester “shout outs” to their friends for the school newspaper. The group itself is pretty diverse, with several girls whose families are from Ethiopia, plus one whose family came to America from El Salvador, another from Yemen and yet another from South Asia.
As they wrote, one girl would ask another, Is so-and-so Christian? If so, that girl would get a Merry Christmas wish. If the girl in question were something else, then she would get a message of Happy Holidays.
What struck me is that none of these 12- and 13-year-old girls were trying to purge Jesus from his birthday, but instead were showing respect for each other’s beliefs and traditions. So why, then, is it such an egregious act for a national retailer — a company that serves customers who are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, etc., etc., etc. — to try and do the same?
Moreover, why do some in America feel it is there right to force their beliefs on others? I’m not talking about Christian versus non-Christian or “Christmas” versus “holiday.”
No, it’s more a case of people who show respect for others versus people who don’t.