(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
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
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
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.
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
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