Hoping for peace on Earth, and a break from the Christmas wars

Here’s hoping we all get this Happy Holidays-versus-Christmas thing, as well as the atheists’ agitations to “imagine no religion” thing, out of our systems before Thanksgiving, so we can all have some peace on Earth.

As many of you have been reading, Focus on the Family has dusted off its “Merry Tossmas” campaign of last year to punish retailers whose employees wish customers the more generic and inclusive “Happy Holidays” during December, rather than “Merry Christmas.”

In truth, more people have been focusing on the Colorado Springs ministry’s layoff of 202 employees, around 20 percent of its workforce, just weeks before Christmas. But in a column this week, The Colorado Springs Gazette’s Barry Noreen takes issue with the notion that wishing someone “Happy Holidays” is somehow pernicious.

Noreen also spanks the Freedom from Religion Foundation for buying up billboards, including one as near to Focus on the Family’s northern Colorado Springs headquarters as they could get, urging people to “imagine no religion.”

“When the Freedom from Religion Foundation uses one bit of [John] Lennon lyrics to make its case, it sounds a bit like Christian sophistry that uses one piece of convenient scripture to support a political stance,” Noreen writes. “Perhaps the Freedom from Religion Foundation and Focus on the Family are more alike than either of them would like us to believe.”

Really, what would Jesus do?

The whole “Say Merry Christmas or Else” thing came up back in 1995, way before Focus on the Family was paying attention to this particular crusade. It was really Pastor Jim Hogan who, yes, is from Colorado Springs, who got offended and took out ads in the local newspaper urging a boycott of offending businesses.

At the time, the local shopping boycott didn’t pan out, and for good reason. Commonsense prevailed — as did goodwill.

As the Rev. Stephen Todd, then the president of the Colorado Springs Association of Evangelicals, so shared his take: “With all the culture wars to fight about, that would be one I would probably be a conscientious objector to,” he said at the time. “That’s just not a hill I would choose to die on.”

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