Wal-Mart Wanders, Then Awakens

Posted: Feb 13, 2006 12:49 PM

The other evening my favorite radio talk show host, Chris Core (on WMAL and WMAL.com), discussed the Wal-Mart decision to remove references to Christmas from its internal and external promotions. It seems a lady wrote to Wal-Mart and complained that “Merry Christmas” had become “Happy Holidays.” She received a bizarre reply from a Wal-Mart employee claiming that Christmas basically was a holiday borrowed from pagan tradition and nothing about Christmas really was authentic. The Wal-Mart communication stated that Wal-Mart is an international company which does business in some places where shoppers are not Christians. Moreover, some shoppers in this country buy gifts for Hanukkah and Kwanza and Wal-Mart doesn’t want them to feel uncomfortable. Wal-Mart pointed out that it closes its stores on Christmas (which is a legal holiday, by the way).

The Catholic League for Civil and Religious Liberty sent the Wal-Mart employee’s communication to Wal-Mart Public Relations because the League thought this reply was the work of some demented employee. Wal-Mart issued an apology for insulting Christians, fired the employee who wrote the reply and revised its policies and its website. As a result the Catholic League called off its proposed Wal-Mart boycott.

Core, with whom I most often agree, said the Wal-Mart policy was not enough of a provocation to justify a boycott. Core said he was disappointed in Wal-Mart but if he could buy a product cheaper there he still would shop at Wal-Mart.

That precisely is the problem. We Christians have permitted the enemies of Christmas to eliminate this Holy Day from the public square. A Rabbi told me that he makes it a point to wish “Merry Christmas” to Christians he knows because he understands that if Christmas is not publicly acknowledged neither will be the Jewish Holy Days, which are treated like Christmas.

Let us face it, the enemies of Christmas have gone so far that people now avoid wishing their co-workers, their friends and neighbors, even in some cases fellow parishioners, a Merry Christmas. They are embarrassed to proudly declare that they are Christians. They wouldn’t want to offend anyone, would they? This is political correctness gone mad.

Fox News anchor John Gibson has written a book on the war against Christmas. A California school board, which was asked by some Muslims to treat their Holy Days as Jewish and Christian Holy Days are treated, agreed not to recognize any religious holiday. There was so great a protest that the holidays were re-instated and the Muslims will get their Holy Days off as well. Mind you, the Muslims had not asked the California school board to ban symbols of Christmas or Yom Kippur in public places. Not at all. The Muslims merely wanted their religion to be recognized in the public square. One could argue whether that is or is not a good idea without eliminating Christmas.

In my discussions with Christian friends more and more say that there are no longer Christmas parties at their places of employment. There are holiday parties. There are no longer Christmas bonuses. There are year-end bonuses. Shopping malls now fear perceived association with the real meaning of Christmas. Many malls would display a Nativity Scene in a corner. Not any more. Choirs would be invited to sing Christmas hymns. Now they sing holiday songs. I like “Winter Wonderland” but it is not an adequate substitute for “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”

Yes, in and of itself the original Wal-Mart policy was as Core put it “No big deal.” But taken in the context of what else is happening in America it is a big deal. And had Wal-Mart not revised its policy Wal-Mart would have been worthy of a boycott.

I don’t understand why some Christians feel they must apologize for their faith. Or is it that many Christians really have ceased to believe what the Christian Faith teaches? Maybe those anti-Christian jokes told by late-night talk show hosts, and the anti-Christian routines by comedians on those shows, and the ridicule of Christians and our beliefs in most sitcoms have taken their toll. Maybe in this era of science it is not possible for some to believe that God, through the Holy Spirit, touched Mary and she brought forth a son without losing her virginity. And maybe that Son, who grew up to be a prophet mighty in word and deed, merely was a myth. Maybe Christ never raised people from the dead, despite many, many witnesses. Maybe He never caused the blind to see. Maybe He never drove out devils from the possessed. Maybe the idea that He was crucified and hung on that cross until He died, and on the third day rose again and appeared before many witnesses, is too much to believe in this age of secularization.

Maybe people have stopped saying “Merry Christmas” because they really have stopped believing that Jesus Christ was God’s gift to us. That is why we give gifts at Christmastime. We celebrate the fact that as God gave us His only begotten Son to save us, we give presents in celebration of what God Himself did.

Maybe some really were happy when Christmas came to mean Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red- Nosed Reindeer. That way we didn’t have to explain to our secular friends what Christmas means. The Incarnation just is too much to swallow these days.

How else could we explain what we have allowed the enemies of Christmas to do? There always have been such enemies. The problem for enemies in the past was that many Christians took the real meaning of Christmas so seriously that if they dared not display symbols of Christmas in the public square they would have been run out of town. But now when the secularists push further and further we Christians retreat more and more.

That is why I am angry and was willing to do something about Wal-Mart. It is time for Christians of all denominations, Protestants, Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Mormons, you name it, to unite and stop the complete secularization of this country. Why is it offensive to wish me well on a day I consider sacred? What utter and complete nonsense.

A board member of American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC), the prominent lobby for Israel, said that if I were a sensitive Christian I would want to suppress Christmas because it makes Jews feel badly when the whole country doesn’t light up for Jewish Holy Days. So I should give up a season which is both religious and secular because some people feel badly? I was too polite and I didn’t say “Lady, grow up!”

I suspect that the drive to do away with Christmas emanates from multiple sources. There are those God-haters who can’t stand to see a nation celebrate a religious holiday. There are those who adhere to political correctness and don’t want to offend non-Christians by behaving like Christians. And then there are those secularists who want a society void of any religious symbolism.

I am sorry, Chris. I think you are just plain wrong on this one. I think a boycott would have been in order. As my good friend Reverend Don Wildmon, President of the American Family Association, told me recently, boycotts work. He ought to know. He has organized more boycotts than I can count. All but one or two achieved their objective. Had Wal-Mart not issued an apology I would have hoped that Reverend Wildmon and others would have joined me in not patronizing Wal-Mart. If enough of us found it necessary to shop elsewhere Wal-Mart would have gotten the message. The bottom line is near and dear to the heart of Wal-Mart.

Is standing up for Christ not worth paying a little more for a hammer or a jacket or a camera at another store? Are we Christians really serious about our faith or are we embarrassed by it? The Lord made it clear that those who stand by Him will be recognized at the time of the final judgment. Those who do not recognize and stand by Him will not have the keys to Eternal Life. I believe with my whole heart that what He said will come true. Isn’t eternity in Heaven worth a higher priced can of paint?