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Old 12-16-2009, 04:05 PM   #76
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Christian Group Launches New Attack on Christmas Commercialism - Yahoo! News

By AMY SULLIVAN / WASHINGTON Amy Sullivan / Washington – Tue Dec 15, 3:10 am ET
If it's December, then there must be frost in the air, gingerbread in the oven, and ... right on time, Bill O'Reilly and the other defenders of Christmas bemoaning the prevalence of "Happy Holidays" - rather than "Merry Christmas" - greetings.


There's a war on Christmas, O'Reilly recently reminded viewers, driven by those who "loathe the baby Jesus." This season, a holiday-dÉcor company is marketing the CHRIST-mas Tree, a bushy artificial tree with a giant cross where the trunk should be. And the Colorado-based Focus on the Family is continuing its Stand for Christmas campaign to highlight the offenses of Christmas-denying retailers. The campaign was launched, according to its website, because "citizens across the nation were growing dissatisfied with the tendency of corporations to omit references to Christmas from holiday promotions." (See TIME's photoessay "Have a Very Ridiculous Christmas.")


But to a growing group of Christians, this focus on the commercial aspect of Christmas is itself the greatest threat to one of Christianity's holiest days. "It's the shopping, the going into debt, the worrying that if I don't spend enough money, someone will think I don't love them," says Portland pastor Rick McKinley. "Christians get all bent out of shape over the fact that someone didn't say 'Merry Christmas' when I walked into the store. But why are we expecting the store to tell our story? That's just ridiculous."


McKinley is one of the leaders of an effort to do away with the frenzied activity and extravagant gift-giving of a commercial Christmas. Through a savvy viral video and marketing effort, the so-called Advent Conspiracy movement has exploded. Hundreds of churches on four continents and in at least 17 countries have signed up to participate. The Advent Conspiracy video has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube and the movement boasts nearly 45,000 fans on Facebook. Baseball superstar Albert Pujols is a supporter - he spoke at a church event in St. Louis to endorse the effort. (See TIME's video "Bethlehem's Complicated Christmas.")


In the past four years, Advent Conspiracy churches have donated millions of dollars to dig wells in developing countries through Living Water International and other organizations. McKinley likes to point out that a fraction of the money Americans spend at retailers in the month of December could supply the entire world with clean water. If more Christians changed how they thought about giving at Christmas, he argues, the holiday could be transformative in a religious and practical sense.


The idea for their own war on Christmas came to McKinley four years ago, when he was sitting around with some of his pastor friends and they realized they were all dreading Christmas. "None of us like Christmas," he says, adding, "That's sort of bad if you're a pastor." Instead of helping their congregations focus on the season of Advent and prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, the pastors found themselves competing with a secular consumerism that made December the hardest time to make their message heard.


So McKinley and his friends decided to try a radical experiment. They urged congregants to spend less on presents for friends and family, and to consider donating some of the money they saved as a result. At first, church members weren't quite sure how to react. "Some people were terrified," remembers McKinley. "They said, 'My gosh, you're ruining Christmas. What do we tell our kids?'" The pastors had to reassure people that they weren't advocating a Grinchy no-gifts kind of Christmas, but rather one in which people spent a little less and thought a little more, expressing their love through something more meaningful than a gift card. Once church members adjusted to this new conception of Christmas, they found that they loved it. Many, in fact, seemed relieved to be given permission to slow down and buy less. (Read "A Brief History of 'The War on Christmas'")


In many ways, the Advent Conspiracy movement has appropriated some of the traditional arguments of the conservative Christians who see themselves as defenders of Christmas. A popular rallying cry of the foot soldiers in the war on Christmas is, "Jesus is the reason for the season." Often, however, it seems that being able to score a half-price Nintendo DSi and a "Merry Christmas" from the checkout clerk is the real prize. The Religious Right has spent decades casting secular culture as the enemy. And yet instead of critiquing the values of the consumer marketplace, many conservative Christians have embraced it as the battleground they seek to reclaim.


A movement like the Advent Conspiracy is countercultural on two fronts - not just fighting the secular idea that Christmas is a month-long shopping and decorating ritual, but the powerful conservative notion that the holiday requires acknowledgement from the nation's retailers to be truly meaningful. It's not easy, says one youth pastor whose church is part of the Advent Conspiracy. "When you start jacking with people's idea of what Christmas is and you start to go against this $450 billion machine of materialism and consumerism, it really messes with people," he explains. "It takes a lot of patience to say there's a different way - Christmas doesn't have to be like this."
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Old 12-16-2009, 05:18 PM   #77
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Thanks for the article nathan1977. I've always thought that consumerism was the one really destroying Christmas rather than secularism. It is those who celebrate Christmas who have turned it into a materialist holiday.
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Old 12-16-2009, 06:43 PM   #78
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Thanks for the article nathan1977. I've always thought that consumerism was the one really destroying Christmas rather than secularism. It is those who celebrate Christmas who have turned it into a materialist holiday.
Secularism is its own separate issue, but it seems foolish to me to shove Christmas down people's throats when the only thing it means is acquiring new junk.

Or worse, Jesus junk.
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Old 12-16-2009, 08:27 PM   #79
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i think the secularization and commercialization of Christmas makes everything so much prettier.

i love all the lights and wreaths and trees this time of year.

and that's what Christmas means to me.
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Old 12-16-2009, 09:29 PM   #80
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i love all the lights and wreaths and trees this time of year.
I like them, too.

But I also despise how the holiday season can be about waiting outside of Best Buy at 5am after Thanksgiving to get the sales or rushing into Walmart and trampling people to death. Some people seem to forget that Christmas is about celebrating something religious and/or spiritual. Instead, they are worshiping materialism.
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Old 12-17-2009, 12:27 AM   #81
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I like everything about Christmas except going to mass, oddly enough.

But the most important thing is being able to, on back to back days, see the members of both sides of my large extended family due to everyone getting off of work, including my father, who works 12 hour days and is rarely ever off of work.

I don't buy things, so the material aspect of Christmas means little to me.
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Old 12-17-2009, 07:45 PM   #82
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Updated December 10, 2009


By Todd Starnes

- FOXNews.com

A Republican lawmaker with a mission to save Christmas is aiming his latest salvo at President and first lady Obama, who've followed in a recent tradition to eliminate the mention of Christmas in the White House holiday cards.

The card selected by the Obamas announces: "Season's Greetings." Inside, it reads: "May your family have a joyous holiday season and a new year blessed with hope and happiness."

But Rep. Henry Brown, R-S.C., said abandoning Christmas at Christmas is just plain wrong. On Tuesday, he introduced a resolution calling for the protection of the sanctity of Christmas. So far, 44 lawmakers, Democrat and Republican, have co-signed the bill.

"I believe that sending a Christmas card without referencing a holiday and its purpose limits the Christmas celebration in favor of a more 'politically correct' holiday," Brown told Fox News Radio on Thursday.

"This kind of reproach is exactly what my Christmas resolution, introduced to the House of Representatives earlier this week, is against as the resolution expresses support for the use of Christmas symbols and traditions and disapproval of all attempts to ban or limit references to Christmas," he added.

Presidents have been sending holiday cards since 1953. The White House told Fox News Radio that the Obamas are celebrating Christmas this year but they recognize that other Americans are celebrating other holidays this time of year and their holiday card reflects that idea.

The president is not breaking new ground. In 2008, President George W. Bush's card made no reference to Christmas. However, the president did include a passage from the New Testament, Matthew 5:16.

"Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

Democratic National Committee spokesman Hari Sevugan said the White House card aims to be inclusive.

"Like previous administrations, including President George W. Bush's, their holiday card offers the season's greetings to everyone who receives it," he said.

Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State added that it's unfair to target the president for not offering Christmas-specific greetings.

"People who somehow think Barack Obama is part of the so-called 'War against Christmas' ought to realize that for the past few years it was George Bush leading the charge against it," Lynn said.

"It makes perfectly good sense for a president of all the people, all the 2,000 different religions and the 20 million non-believers in this country, to send out a card that says this is a good, happy time of year but without referring to any one specific religion."

The Obamas' Christmas card was paid for and distributed by the DNC -- and the cards are now in the mail.
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Old 12-17-2009, 07:53 PM   #83
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He wants to control the kind of cards the president sends out? For fuck sake, I thought Republicans were for freedom? Hypocrisy at it's finest...
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Old 12-22-2009, 06:58 PM   #84
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Festivus is tomorrow-so prepare your grievances
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Old 12-22-2009, 11:03 PM   #85
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A holiday we can all get behind. I've been preparing my grievances all year.
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Old 12-23-2009, 08:38 AM   #86
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merry christmas, everyone.

and if anyone has a problem with that, i'll be happy to perform a living autopsy on them with a pitchfork... use their kidneys for cufflinks.

and a happy new year, too. a religious new year, i mean.
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Old 12-23-2009, 09:24 AM   #87
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Well a happy Christmas to you too
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Old 12-25-2009, 03:05 AM   #88
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This headline made me chuckle. Some sort of tradition that I've never heard of?

Woman knocks down pope at Mass; Christmas celebrations begin
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