December 20, 2010
Christmas Traditions: Nonreligious?
Also, Focus on the Family shifts its list of Christmas-friendly stores.
Two new surveys that suggest that while most consider Christmas religious, their actions don't follow suit, Cathy Lynn Grossman reports for USA Today.
LifeWay's survey of 2,110 adults found 74% called Christmas "primarily" religious. And a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll of 1,000 adults found 51% say, for them, it's "strongly religious," up from 40% in 1989.
But what does "religious" mean? Not so much for a significant number of Americans, the data indicate. Most surveyed said they will give gifts (89%), dine with family or friends (86%), put up a Christmas tree (80%) and play holiday music (79%).
The percentages plummet when it comes to religious activities:
• 58% say they "encourage belief in Jesus Christ as savior."
• 47% attend church Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
• 34% watch "biblical Christmas movies."
• 28% read or tell the Christmas story from the Bible.
Ed Stetzer has more details on the survey Lifeway just released. In an accompanying story (where our Christianity Today International colleague Drew Dyck is quoted), Grossman writes about how Focus on the Family changed its emphasis on retailers.
Esther Fleece, 28, of Colorado Springs, who works as the link to Millennials for the evangelical Focus on the Family, has many friends less tied to faith.
"Black Friday has become a national holiday, and Christmas is like Valentine's Day with more presents," she says. Rather than hammer retailers for saying, "Happy holidays," Fleece was part of a group of under-30s who persuaded Focus to drop its "Naughty & Nice" list of stores that failed the "Merry Christmas" test. This year, the organization celebrates retailers who give back to their communities.
A few years ago, Religion News Service reported that the war on Christmas was becoming a lucrative fundraising opportunity for different advocacy groups. This year, Focus's Rising Voice website includes a map where stores such as Ten Thousand Villages and Heifer International are recommended by the map's users. The recommendations include "Organic, or Eco-friendly clothing and accessories" and "uplifting impoverished communities in the developing world through efforts in international tourism and trade," rather than Focus's previous emphasis on whether stores use generic phrases like "happy holidays" or "season's greetings."