Focus dusts off ‘Merry Tossmas’ campaign in time for layoffs

Maybe Focus on the Family commentator Stuart Shepard should have just kept his “Merry Tossmas” campaign to one year — last year — and put a lid on this year’s efforts to threaten retailers who don’t wish him a Merry Christmas in a satisfactory enough way. His Merry Tossmas threat, coming just as hundreds of his colleagues were laid off, doesn’t help much by way of public opinion for the guy who got his last whiff of fame for a video praying to God for Noah and the Ark-like rain to drown Barack Obama’s speech at INVESCO Field during the Democratic National Convention.

Shepard, a former weatherman, kicked off Focus on the Family’s second “Merry Tossmas” event last week in a video commentary in which he goes through a list of retailers that are called “Christmas-friendly,” “Christmas-negligent” and “Christmas-offensive” for varying degrees of sticking to the more generic term “Happy Holidays” when trying to appeal to a broad audience of shoppers.

Apparently — even though the word “holiday” is a derivative of “holy day” — just saying it is enough for Shepard to throw a retailers’ shopping catalog into the trash can.

The whole “Say Merry Christmas or Else” campaign actually started many years ago in Colorado when a pastor named Jim Hagan started fuming when he went shopping with his wife at the mall and no one would say Merry Christmas to him. He subsequently took an ad out in the newspaper threatening to boycott stores whose employees opted for the more generic “Happy Holidays.”

Since then the movement has grown into a litigious army, with high-paid lawyers from the Liberty Council and the Alliance Defense fund warning that the ACLU was out to destroy Christmas and filing lawsuits against schools who wouldn’t let children hand out candy canes (ostensibly because they are shaped like shepherd’s crooks.)

This year, Focus on the Family is urging supporters to check out its Merry Tossmas campaign “and then e-mail it to your friends and family, and post it on Facebook or your blog.”

“Focus on the Family Action is seeking tens of thousands of Christians to stand with us as we send a message to retailers that we care about Christmas.”

Great, except for the timing. As we reported yesterday, the Colorado Springs ministry has laid off 202 employees — some 20 percent of its workforce — just in time for Merry Tossmas.

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Cara Degette

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