This morning, I received via email a link to this video.

In case you’re too lazy to click on that link, I’ll explain it for you:
Stuart Shepard, a mouthpiece for the ultra-conservative Focus on the Family group, gets a video spot series hosted through Citizenlink, Focus on the Family’s “Action Center.” His video series is called Stoplight, and Shepard tackles all sorts of fun ideas in his sort-of-weekly-but-sort-of-not video blogging: global warming, poverty, Live Earth, and my personal favorite, ENDA.

The video I linked above challenges the idea of retailers sending out “Holiday” catalogs. Why, Shepard wants to know, can’t they just call it Christmas? After all, who else is going to buy those Christmas decorations, except Christians? To a certain extent, he has a point – a lot of the catalogs contain a large number of items specifically associated with Christmas, and anyone who objects to the word Christmas is likely not going to be celebrating it. Besides, Shepard says, retailers are aiming not to offend by broadening the season to “holiday” rather than “Christmas,” but they’re managing to offend Christians in doing so.

Apparently Mr. Shepard fails to realize that while December is host to one of the most instantly recognizable holidays in our culture, it’s also host to plenty of other religious (and non-religious) observances, some of which are also pretty damn recognizable. Some examples:

  • Hannukah, the Festival of Lights
  • Eid al Adha, celebrated by Muslims to commemorate Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice Ismael for Allah.
  • Bodhi Day, a Buddhist celebration of Guatama Buddha’s enlightenment
  • Kwanzaa, which honors African-American heritage
  • Yule, a celebration among neopaganists of the Winter Solstice (open to interpretation, of course)

At least three of those observances are considered “gift-giving holidays.” So really, although Christmas may be the most advertised and catered to, it’s certainly not the only holiday from which retailers are profiting. And there’s no reason not to acknowledge – by using “all inclusive” words like “holiday” – that these other holiday traditions exist, and are currently practiced.

In my experience, groups like Focus on the Family spend a lot of time saying, “But what about us?” when pointing out how retailers, corporations, advertisers and even Congress try to include or protect people who don’t subscribe to the same belief structure and values system. I find it particularly frustrating and hypocritical that FotF and their brethren will expend so much energy and effort “educating” their followers on the inherent evils of holiday advertising, when the actual teachings of Christ ranged so far from the messages they’re trying to put forth. The things they choose to be offended about (being inclusive rather than exclusive? Really?) show how small-minded an organization they really are. And how willing they are to waste money on preaching to the already-brainwashed, when there are Much. Bigger. Issues. at hand.

I could go on forever about Focus on the Family and its associated organizations (like the American Family Association), but it would be a waste of time. If you already know about them, you’ll either support them or you won’t. If you didn’t know about them before, now you do – and again, you’ll either support them, or you won’t.

I think, though, what upset me most about the email I received with this link is that it came from someone with whom I am friendly, though we are not close. She knows me well enough to know about my relationship with Donna, and I would have thought she would have been aware of some of my more liberal social and political viewpoints. And yet, she included me on the forwarding list for a video created by one of the most homophobic, intolerant and repressive organizations in the country.

I suppose I wish people with think a bit harder before blindly sending things on because it seems like an innocuously “good point of view.”

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