The Common Good

Ryan Beiler: Conservatives Cash in on the War on Christmas

We've all heard the tired sermon cliches about the real meaning of Christmas being overshadowed by the materialism and commercialism of holiday shopping. Blah Blah Blah. Well, here's another layer of crass holiday exploitation for you: The very people claiming to be putting the "Christ" back in "Christmas" are cashing in big time on buttons, magnets, and bumper stickers. Take a deep breath, and then exhale a long exasperated sigh with me as you read this RNS report on Christianity Today's Web site:

The Mississippi-based American Family Association says it has sold more than 500,000 buttons and 125,000 bumper stickers bearing the slogan "Merry Christmas: It's Worth Saying."

The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal aid group that boasts a network of some 900 lawyers standing ready to "defend Christmas," says it has moved about 20,000 "Christmas packs." The packs, available for a suggested $29 donation, include a three-page legal memo and two lapel pins.

And Liberty Counsel, a conservative law firm affiliated with the Rev. Jerry Falwell, says it has sold 12,500 legal memos on celebrating Christmas and 8,000 of its own buttons and bumper stickers.

...

AFA raised the flag in the "Christmas wars" in August by criticizing "holiday" catalogues. Benefiting from the early start, the association sold more than 500,000 buttons and 100,000 magnets encouraging supporters to "be an unspoken witness for Christ's birthday." The "Merry CHRISTmas" magnets were available for a $3 suggested donation; the buttons were $7 for a pack of 10. Bulk rates also were offered.

August?! It seems like the pre-emptive defensive attack against the War on Christmas just gets earlier each year. And what says "Happy Birthday Jesus" like in-your-face magnets and buttons? But wait - there's more:

The project was so successful, [Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association] said, he plans to make Easter buttons this year. ...

"I'm telling you, if you put these in the stores they could sell a ton of them," he said. "But I don't want them to do that because they'll take it away from us."

Do you think by "they'll take it away from us" he means the sacred meaning of the Christian holidays, or the cash? I'm pretty sure he means the cash.

Now, please pray with me: Dear Baby Jesus, please forgive your children for finding new and creative ways to utterly profane the meaning of your incarnation. And please, remind us all of how when you grew up you fashioned a whip of cords and drove from the temple all who tried to cash in on the sacred, saying, "Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father's house a marketplace!"

Amen.

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