I got my annual AFA “Would you boycott non-Christmas stores this holiday season” email today. I took the poll and said, “No” that I would not be willing to boycott stores that don’t use Christmas in their advertising. Turns out there were 22,471 “Yes” votes (98.7%) and 298 “No” votes (1.3%) at the time. Ouch. That made me feel like a Christmas Grinch. Can you believe that I would actually be willing to buy from a retailer that was out to make a profit and run their business in the way that seemed best to them. Obviously I would rather support a Christian organization more than a non-Christian one but it begs the question, “Is a business ‘Christian’ because they put Christmas in their advertising? or are they just marketing to the masses in order to make a buck? It also begs the follow up question of “How appropriate is it of Christian organizations to force pagan businesses to slap Christ on all their merchandise? Doesn’t that actually cheapen our savior to have pagans give lip service to him in order to get Christians off their backs?
In a post from 2006 I mentioned a few points I wanted to bring up again because I think they still apply to this situation today:
1) We don’t boycott stores the other 11 months out of the year when they don’t promote Christ. We waltz in and buy whatever we want without a second thought.
2) Does God want us to use our money to leverage others or twist their arm? I am not saying we should support immorality with our money.
3) I am just not certain why we expect pagan run businesses to act like Christians one month and then go back to business as usual the rest of the year. Are we really just asking them to be phony and hypocritical?
4) Is it a sin not to promote Christmas? Why not boycott stores with employees who steal or executives who abuse their workers, etc. It seems silly to me to limit boycotts to whether or not a company gives lipservice to our religion when they can totally live against God and Christ and we don’t bat an eye.
Regarding Statistics and online polls:
Another question this raised for me is what exactly do these numbers mean? I am sure to get an email in a week or so from the AFA that says “99% of American’s are willing to boycott stores that don’t use the word ‘Christmas.'” To be fair, I haven’t gotten that email and may never see one but it really wouldn’t surprise me at all. Any time you have an online poll asking people to respond you don’t have a random sample. You are most likely to get responses from people who feel strongly about the issue. Out of all their emails, forwards, and spam they have to filter through, click on the poll and take time to answer it. That takes some time. This is not random and appeals to a certain subset of the target population. What is more, who is on the AFA email list? The only way the results = “all Americans” is if the email list is representative of American demographics. I am sure it is not even close. So if I get the “99% of Americans would…” email in a week or two I will be disappointed. They should at least say, “99% of people on the AFA email list who responded to a solicitation to take a poll would…” because that would be accurate.
So who’s the Grinch here? People like me who think there is more to what is going on than whehter or not a business flashes the word “Christmas” around when in their heart they are an atheist…or Christians who arm twist and leverage pagan companies to use a word they don’t believe in anyway and basically force them to do it for the wrong reasons? I will end in saying the AFA does a lot of good things and things I agree with but this is one area they would be better to do without. It just makes Christians looks creepy and manipulative.