View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Wal-Mart bans Christmas?

I’m not a fan of Wal-Mart. The chain allegedly (avoiding lawsuits here!) destroys competition, bullies its small suppliers, has been accused repeatedly of mistreating employees (especially women), and sells shoddy merchandise that actually ends up costing customers more when they have to replace it sooner than if they’d bought the better quality stuff from a reputable source in the first place.

So I try to avoid shopping there.

This latest flap involving the Catholic League (which often goes overboard, but sometimes has a valid point), just adds a little more fuel to the fire.

The League accuses Wal-Mart of banning Christmas!

Hmm. I’m not sure about that, but part of an e-mail allegedly from Wal-Mart in response to a customer complaint about replacing “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays” is troubling:

“Walmart is a world wide organization and must remain conscious of this. The majority of the world still has different practices other than ‘christmas’ which is an ancient tradition that has its roots in Siberian shamanism. The colors associated with ‘christmas’ red and white are actually a representation of of the aminita mascera mushroom. Santa is also borrowed from the Caucuses, mistletoe from the Celts, yule log from the Goths, the time from the Visigoth and the tree from the worship of Baal. It is a wide wide world.”


If this is indeed from Wal-Mart, they need to educate their employees about the history of Christmas – and about sensitivity to customers.

Somehow I can’t imagine them saying to a Black customer about Kwanzaa that it’s really just a made-up holiday rising out of the Black consciousness movement of the 1960s and that it just pulls together a hodge-podge of symbols and themes.

The League release goes on to say:

… Now here is why I am asking the leaders of 126 religious organizations that span seven religious communities to boycott Wal-Mart. Go to its website and search for Hanukkah and up come 200 items. Click on Kwanzaa and up come 77. Click on Christmas, and here’s what you get: ‘We’ve brought you to our ‘Holiday’ page based on your search.’ In other words, Wal-Mart is practicing discrimination.”

Go to the Catholic League site ( for the full release, and related information.

Even if you don’t find the League’s reasons or reasoning compelling, I suggest we all avoid Wal-Mart anyway on principal.

And remember that a certain white-bearded, jolly fellow of Turkish origins is watching to see who’s naughty or nice.


Blogger LAmom said...

I (shudder) went to the Wal-Mart web site and it came up with 7967 items when I searched on Christmas. The numbers for Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are exactly what the League claimed.

12:09 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

I also checked the site and found Christmas listings.

Is the Catholic League blowing smoke again? (As I mentioned in my piece, I don't completely trust the League).

Or did the PR folks at Wal-Mart cover their tracks quickly when they heard about a potential boycott?

8:32 PM  
Anonymous Don Simmonds said...

Wal-mart caved after 24 hours and changed their web site. Otherwise, you would still get nothing on a (christmas) search at their web site.
By the way, they also fired the guy (Kirby) who wrote the original email.

11:36 AM  

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