(254) Thu 19 Dec 96 17:07 By: Richard Smith Re: Das Uber Noel PREACHER THREATENS BOYCOTT:

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(254) Thu 19 Dec 96 17:07 By: Richard Smith Re: Das Uber Noel PREACHER THREATENS BOYCOTT: MERRY ''CHRISTMAS'' -- OR ELSE! Is "Christmas" going to be the next litmus test of theopolitical correctness? It may become just that if Pastor Jim Hagan of Colorado Springs, Co. has his way. The Assembly of God minister is threatening to begin organizing a boycott of merchants who don't openly acknowledge Christmas through store decorations and signage, or who wish customers a "Happy Holiday" instead of the more sectarian, religious message he considers appropriate. Last year, Hagan placed an ad in a local daily paper declaring that he was building a list of retailers who refused to comply. "There will be monitoring," Hagan has warned. "Should we, who consider ourselves Christians, spend our money at places that feel 'Christmas' is offensive? Aren't those retail stores offending us -- the majority -- by promoting Christmas spending but denying the origin and reason for Christmas... Christ? After 2,000 years, have we still not found room for him at the inn?" Hagan warns that the Colorado boycott will mushroom into a nationwide movement; the preacher told The Denver Post yesterday that he is currently compiling a list of offending merchants who do not wish holiday shoppers a "merry Christmas." But in Colorado, a state already polarized thanks to an influx of giant, religious right organizations which have established huge operations there, Hagan's black listing is encountering skepticism and concern. An assistant Rabbi in Denver told The Post that while it is "certainly appropriate" for Christians to wish each other a "merry Christmas," Jews often offer a salutation of "happy Hanukkah." Rabbi Sandra Cohen added that she would "love to see stores back off of sacred celebrations altogether." Hagan claims that many merchants have ordered their employees to wish the public a "happy holiday" ostensibly because it is what the minister described as "politically correct." But a spokesperson for the Ross department store told The Post that company policy is for employees to wish everyone a "happy holiday" because the greeting "covers all the bases." Other retailers expressed puzzlement about the entire issue, saying that they do not have a specific policy. Colonization, Attack The President of the Colorado Springs Association of Evangelicals declared that while he appreciated Pastor Hagan's concerns, "with all the culture wars to fight about, that (the greeting controversy) would probably be one I would probably be a conscientious objector to. Rev. Stephen Todd described the issue as one laden with "semantic land mines." But Hagan's campaign may resonate with the growing segment of fundamentalists and evangelicals who see Christianity -- and religion in general -- "under attack" by a wider and pluralistic secular culture. Boycotting merchants who do not pass muster on a religious litmus test like a holiday greeting is really not much different from the "Christian yellow pages" one finds in many communities, or the use of a fish logo on advertising to signify that the merchant is Christian. And there is Rev. Hagan's reference to "us -- the majority" (i.e. Christians), a telling remark in a wider debate about whether the United States is a secular nation, or one based up religious and specifically Christian beliefs. -- from AMERICAN ATHEISTS AANEWS #217 12/9/96 (Nightowl Edition) --- timEd 1.01 * Origin: Syr Undry BBS ):> Bendigaid };> (916) 922-9046 (1:203/9046)

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