Here's an amusing exchange between Bill O'Reilly and a guest on his show about this mythical war on Christmas at department stores:
O'REILLY: See, I think you're, I think you're crazy. And here's why. I think the backlash against stores that don't say "Merry Christmas" is enormous because now people are aware of the issue. There's going to be -- it's like the third or fourth year that we've reported it. I know everybody's hypersensitive about are they going to say "Merry Christmas"? Are they going to say "Happy Holidays"? What are they going to say? Are there decorations that say "Merry Christmas"? They're hypersensitive. And when you walk into a secular environment, most Christians are looking around, and they're really aware of it. Now, the other thing is, I don't believe most people who aren't Christian are offended by the words "Merry Christmas." I think those people are nuts. I think you're crazy if you're offended by the words "Merry Christmas."
NULMAN: Well --
O'REILLY: So you're basically only knocking out your nutty customers. And why do you want them anyway?
NULMAN: When businesses make decisions to be inclusionary as opposed to exclusionary, they do it on the basis of wanting to invite all customers in.
O'REILLY: But what --
NULMAN: They don't want to exclude customers --
O'REILLY: They are inviting all customers in --
NULMAN: What happens very often is that the message gets through to the customer that -- who is not Christian --
NULMAN: -- who is Muslim, who is Jewish, who's, who follows another faith, Buddhist, that they are not being invited in or catered to. When we counsel businesses, what we want to do is invite everyone in.
O'REILLY: Well, they --
NULMAN: "Season's Greetings" and "Happy Holidays," Bill, does not offend Christians.
O'REILLY: Yes, it does. It absolutely does. And I know that for a fact.
So let's see if I have this straight. O'Reilly admits that he's been beating this drum for 4 years now, and that has made Christians "hypersensitive" to being told "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas". And being told "Merry Christmas", in O'Reilly's view, isn't at all offensive to those of other religions who don't celebrate Christmas, but being told "Happy Holidays" is offensive to Christians even though Christmas is included in the holidays for which they are being given good wishes. If I was a Christian, I would be highly offended by O'Reilly's comments for the simple reason that he is painting an image of Christians as petulent drama queens who overreact to something this pointless and irrelevant.
I know lots of Christians and lots of non-Christians. None of the non-Christians I know are bothered by having someone say "Merry Christmas" because they are reasonable enough to know that Christmas is a prominent holiday that dominates the winter season in this country for Christians and non-Christians alike, and because they understand that the person who says it is wishing them merriment, regardless of particular holiday it's attached to. And quite frankly, anyone who reacts badly to being told "Merry Christmas" is just looking for something to get bothered about.
Likewise, none of the Christians I know, at least to my knowledge, would be the least bit offended at being told "Happy Holidays" or even "Happy Hannukah" by someone because, again, they're reasonable enough to understand that the person speaking is wishing them happiness and joy in whatever way they think is appropriate. And quite frankly, any Christian who is offended at being told "Happy Holidays" is just looking for something to get bothered about. And if they take it further than that and declare, as Pat Buchanan did last year, that department stores with signs saying "Happy Holidays" are a "hate crime against Christians", then they've simply lost their minds and have wandered off into a bizarro universe of irrationality.
Yet another great post. Happy Holidays!
A number of wingnuts who say they are Christian do claim to be offended by replacing "Merry Christmas" with "Happy Holidays" or "Seasons Greetings"--but these people engage in other unchristian behavior as well, so it's not a good gage of whether the greeting offends actual Christians.
My position on public professions of faith is "Don't tell me you're a christian, show me."