In Somerville, Mass., Mayor Joe Curtatone's office issued a press release informing residents of the city's "Christmas Party." Shortly after its distribution, the mayor himself had to retract the statement and apologize "for the mistake and to anyone who was offended" by the reference to "Christmas." The city celebration, the mayor informed the people of Somerville, would now be called a "City Holiday Party."
In Denver, organizers of the Parade of Lights -- an event that has taken place for 30 years -- told the Faith Bible Church that they and their Christmas carols are not welcome because they might offend some along the parade route. Denver's mayor, John Hickenlooper stated that next year, the seasonal sign on the city offices will no longer bear the greeting "Merry Christmas." Instead, it will read "Happy Holidays."
Last year, the Denver City Council debated a ballot initiative demanding the local government "ensure public safety by increasing peacefulness ... by defusing political, religious and ethnic tension both locally and globally ... through stress-reducing techniques or programs."
They might feel less stress in Cuba, where dictator Fidel Castro has demanded that Christmas displays and symbols be removed from the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. The images are apparently offensive on Castro's island, where the holiday has been banned for nearly 30 years -- except when Pope John Paul II visited the island in 1997.
Some American businesses are following Castro's lead. Target, the giant department store, decided this year to ban volunteers from the Salvation Army from collecting donations outside its stores during the Christmas season. The merry bell-ringers from one of the oldest, most efficient and most respected charities in the world were causing too many problems for Target executives.
The nearly $9 million the Salvationists would have raised outside the Target stores was to be used to house the homeless, feed the hungry, comfort the sick and clothe the naked, among other needy projects. Target executives say they support such goals. Was it the fact that the Salvation Army does these things in the name of Christ that got to them?
Thankfully, not all the news is bad. Two other American corporations have stepped up to help the Salvation Army this Christmas season.
Books-A-Million, the third largest book retailer in America, has announced that they will match up to $10,000 in donations to the Salvation Army made outside each of their retail locations. With 200 stores across the country, it's a generous offer indeed.
Wal-Mart spokeswoman Betsy Reithemeyer announced: "The Salvation Army red kettles and the bell-ringers are truly a holiday tradition worth keeping. We hope our customers join us in donating what they can to benefit an organization that does so much in our communities to serve families in need." Wal-Mart has promised to match donations to the Salvation Army made outside its stores up to $1 million.
Hopefully, the American people will respond by giving these corporations their business. Those who work overtime to erase Christmas from the American landscape don't need our business; they need our prayers. O come all ye faithful. (And not so faithful.) Merry Christmas!
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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