By Patrick B. Craine

November 13, 2009 ( – With the Christmas season fast approaching, and the commercial machine gearing up as usual, the annual 'war on Christmas' has started, with numerous stores refusing to recognize the very celebration by which they profit.  In response, Christian groups are again calling for a boycott of such stores who censor references to Christmas in their Christmas promotions.

“It's not just a 'winter holiday,'” said Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association (AFA).  “For millions of Americans the giving and receiving of gifts is in honor of the One who gave Himself.”

AFA, which boasts 2.3 million subscribers to their weekly e-mail update, has initiated a two-month boycott of the clothing retailer Gap, and its subsidiaries Old Navy, Banana Republic, Piperlime, and Athleta.

They are focusing their campaign on Gap this year, said AFA director of special projects Randy Sharp, because their research over the last several years has shown that “Gap continues to be the one company which is most defiant when it comes to recognizing the reason that people shop in December – and that is they Christmas shop.”

The boycott, running from November 1st to December 25th, is part of the Christian pro-family organization's “ongoing campaign to encourage businesses, communities and individuals to put Christ back in Christmas,” says a press release.

“For Gap to pretend that isn't the foundation of the Christmas season is political correctness at best and religious bigotry at worst,” said Wildmon. “Until Gap proves it recognizes Christmas by using it in their newspaper, radio, television advertising or in-store signage, the boycott will be promoted.”

Gap e-mailed AFA last night to point out their new ad, which Sharp says he guessed was meant to appease them.  The ad's jingle does mention Christmas, but according to Sharp it is “offensive,” and “almost … mocking of people of faith.”

The jingle goes, in part: “Two, four, six, eight, 'tis the time to liberate.  Go Christmas, go Hannukah, go Kwanza, go solstice. … You eighty-six the rules, you do what just feels right.  Happy do-whatever-you-want-ukah and to all a cheery night.”

Sharp says that in the three days they've been running their boycott, the AFA has received 50,000 online pledges.

In addition to their boycott of Gap, the AFA has published its 2009 Naughty or Nice Christmas List based on their research of America's top 100 retailers.  They classify those that have any kind of 'holiday' advertising according to whether they make explicit reference to Christmas.

The AFA's efforts have proved successful in the past.  In the last few years, their campaigns have convinced four major corporations to uncensor Christmas: Lowe's, Wal-Mart, Sears, and Home Depot.

“Three years ago, [they] were not recognizing the term Christmas in their advertising,” said Sharp, “but … this year, all four companies have personally contacted the AFA, invited us to look at their advertising program, and it is chock-full of Christmas.”

Liberty Counsel (LC), a pro-life and pro-family litigation group, has launched their seventh annual “Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign” focusing on the censorship of Christmas in the public square as well as in retail.  They have developed their own “Naughty and Nice” list of retailers based on information from consumers.

According to Mathew D. Staver, founder and chairman of LC, “Renaming a Christmas tree to a holiday tree, stopping students from wearing red and green, and censoring religious Christmas carols are absurd, but true, examples of the war against Christmas.”

“If a government entity censors Christmas in violation of the Constitution, then we will first seek to educate but, if necessary, we will litigate,” he continued.  “If retailers choose to profit from Christmas while pretending it does not exist, then we will patronize their competitors.”

See related coverage:

Christmas Wars Begin: UK Postal Service Bans Christ Stamps; Wal-Mart OKs “Merry Christmas” 

95% of Shoppers Happy with 'Merry Christmas' 46% Ticked by 'Happy Holidays' 

The Naughty And Nice List – Which Companies are Allowing a “Merry Christmas”