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November 23, 2009

Debunking the AFA's Christmas Boycott

When the American Family Association singled out the Gap as a company that 'says no to Christmas' in an action alert a few weeks ago, I knew it was only the beginning. And sure enough, about a month later the AFA announced a two month boycott of Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic due to "the company’s censorship of the word 'Christmas.'"

For years, Gap has refused to use the word Christmas in its television commercials, newspaper ads and in-store promotions, despite tens of thousands of consumer requests to recognize Christmas and in spite of repeated requests from AFA to do the same.

Last year, Gap issued this politically-correct statement to Christmas shoppers: "Gap recognizes that many traditions are celebrated throughout this season and we feel it is important to display holiday signage that is inclusive to everyone."

Christmas is special because of Jesus. It's not just a "winter holiday." For millions of Americans the giving and receiving of gifts is in honor of the One who gave Himself. For the Gap to pretend that isn't the foundation of the Christmas season is political correctness at best and religious bigotry at worst.

The Gap is censoring the word Christmas, pure and simple. Yet the company wants all the people who celebrate Christmas to do their shopping at its stores? Until Gap proves it recognizes Christmas by using it in their newspaper, radio, television advertising or in-store signage, the boycott will be promoted.

Since I obviously totally trust the AFA's judgment when it comes to "culture war" issues like this, you can imagine my surprise when I recently saw a holiday commercial for Gap that did mention Christmas, along with several other winter holidays. Think Progress picked up on this as well, and shared my confusion:
AFA’s first shot in the war is a misfire, as Dan Neil of the LA Times points out today. In one of the first lines of Gap’s new holiday ad, the actors yell, “Go Christmas!” (as well as “Go Hanukkah! Go Kwanzaa! Go Solstice!”) Watch it:

ThinkProgress also checked out the websites of Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy and quickly found several items that feature Christmas items including several Christmas books, a pair of boxer shorts that says “Christmas” in several languages and pajama pants that also have “Christmas” written on them.
It took the AFA a few days to respond to this ad that seems to eliminate the foundation for their boycott, but they managed to find a way to spin the situation to their advantage. They're acknowledging the commercial but claiming that it's just not good enough.

Gap responds - Should the boycott end or not? You decide
Gap has responded to AFA's call for a Christmas boycott of their Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic stores with a commercial that takes a cavalier approach towards Christmas.

The video entitled Ready for Holiday Cheer features a group of people dancing and chanting:

Two, Four, Six, Eight, now's the time to liberate
Go Christmas, Go Hanukkah, Go Kwanza, Go Solstice.
Go classic tree, go plastic tree, go plant a tree, go add a tree,
You 86 the rules, you do what feels just right.
Happy do whatever you wanukkah, and to all a cheery night.

Go Christmas, Go Hanukkah, go whatever holiday you wanukkah.

Did you notice it? Gap compares Christmas to the pagan holiday called "Solstice." Solstice is celebrated by Wiccans who practice witchcraft!

Gap also encourages you to "86" or "dismiss" traditions and "do what feels just right."

First off, I really had to laugh at their attempt to claim that this commercial is in any way a "response" to their fabulous boycotting efforts. Also, I'm glad that they clarified that their issue is with Wiccans who practice witchcraft, as opposed to, say, Wiccans who practice Judaism. Of course, the word solstice isn't always a pagan reference and the term Winter Solstice is often used simply to refer to the start of the season, so the commercial could simply be celebrating the beginning of winter without specifically referencing a pagan holiday, which would mean that the AFA is freaking out over nothing. Although, if you think about it, they're freaking out over nothing either way, since there is nothing wrong or offensive (and plenty that was "borrowed" by early Christians) about the pagan/Wiccan celebration of the solstice, or Yule.

The AFA is currently taking a poll to help them decide whether to end the boycott. The poll is titled "Gap responds with ad disrespecting Christians", clearly to ensure that they don't influence the result in one way or the other. So, if you want to click here and vote yourself, I won't try to stop you.

If this whole Gap boycott does happen to fall through, the AFA will still be able to have a busy boycotting season thanks to their Naughty or Nice Christmas List. They've compiled a list of national retailers and organized them into color-coded categories for easy boycotting.
Criteria - AFA reviewed up to four areas to determine if a company was "Christmas-friendly" in their advertising: print media (newspaper inserts), broadcast media (radio/television), website and/or personal visits to the store. If a company's ad has references to items associated with Christmas (trees, wreaths, lights, etc.), it was considered as an attempt to reach "Christmas" shoppers.
If a company has items associated with Christmas, but did not use the word "Christmas," then the company is considered as censoring "Christmas."

Color Code:

Company uses the term "Christmas" on a regular basis, we consider that company Christmas-friendly.

Company refers to Christmas infrequently, or in a single advertising medium, but not in others.

Company may use "Christmas" sparingly in a single or unique product description, but as a company, does not recognize it.

They also promise that they're going to "continually update the list", and I'm guessing that's because it seems to be about as well-researched as the Gap boycott was. Here's one example - they've listed Victoria's Secret on the red list of anti-Christmas companies. Now, I could understand the AFA not loving Victoria's Secret for other reasons, but they're off base on this one.

Let's start by taking a look at their website:

Check it out, everyone! A whole section of Christmas lingerie. Not Kwanzaa lingerie or Solstice lingerie. And if that's not anti-Christmas enough for you, check out the ridiculous censoring of Christmas happening on this Victoria's Secret publication that I received just a few days ago.

I took a closeup shot too in case anyone couldn't make out that one word right there in the center of the cover.

Or maybe you got this catalogue instead:

So they've got an entire section of Christmas-themed products on their website, which they do use the word Christmas to describe, and they've put out not one but two catalogues with the word Christmas in big letters on the cover of each one, but they're still classified as a company that "may" use the word "sparingly" but "does not recognize" Christmas overall. Based on the fact that this makes no sense at all, I'm forced to ask the burning question...WTF, AFA?

We're going to keep an eye on this Naughty or Nice list as the holiday season continues. If the AFA is going to take the step of calling for some of these companies to be boycotted, we don't think it's too much to ask that they at least get their research right before they do. So, in the spirit of the holidays, we're happy to help them out.


PMS Rhino said...


Which is about every conversation you can have with these people. Because Jesus wasn't a Jew who probably celebrated Hanukkah or anything like that. -_- Seriously, I hate the entitlement. My dad goes on about this shit to show me how Christians are prosecuted or some bullshit like that. I'm like "Really? I don't see the Jews getting all worked up by the fact that no one EVER says Happy Hanukkah. Or people going on about no Merry Kwanzaa." I guess it's because they're not religious celebrations at all, right? Or they are not religious enough or something. Plus I see Christmas written and said EVERYWHERE. Even when stores tell employees to not say Merry Christmas they do anyway. Which I have no problem with, but getting all bent outta shape because not EVERYONE believes in your precious baby Jesus is ridiculous. You can do your Christmas but you don't gotta make everyone else do it too to make your Christmas mean something.

And I actually really liked that GAP commercial. It makes me happy they mentioned everything INCLUDING Solstice.

Also OMG WITCHES!!!1!!!!11! *foams at mouth*

Anonymous said...

I think it's kind of hilarious that in the AFA "should we boycott" poll, you can vote either:

Yes. Any reference to Christmas is good enough to me.

No. Gap has taken a disrespectful attitude towards Christians with its ad.

Yeah, they're really aiming for a scientifically objective study here by suggesting "yes" voters are apathetic and "no" voters have a higher standard of...I don't even know what...Christmas spirit?

Dollface said...

This is hilarious on many levels. You'd think they'd be happy with less Christmas references in advertisements...aren't some Christians concerned with the rampant commercialization of their holiday?


P.S. On a slightly unrelated note...That Gap commercial is annoying!

Megan said...

It's so hilarious that they would be offended at the mere mention of "solstice", considering that Christmas itself is just a takeover of older pagan holidays.

Anna said...

I wonder if they even realise that the whole Biblical witchcraft thing doesn't at all relate to Wicca or earth based Paganism...you know, not just in its context, but linguistically.

Everything the AFA does convinces me that they are completely insane. Really, with so much sin and vice in this country, why are they still here? Isn't that irresponsible in that it gives their children the chance to not be Christians due to American religious diversity...and, by their construing, doesn't that mean that they are part of the group in this scripture:

Mark 9:42 "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea."

Oy veh.

Happy whatever you celebrate, have fun with family and friends, and peace out!