I’ve been trying to blog more positively this month, but I can’t resist taking a shot at this one. Focus on the Family’s “keep the Christ in Christmas” initiative. You get to rate retailers on how christmas-friendly they are (aka whether they say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” when you walk in the door). Stores can be rated as friendly, negligent, or offensive in terms of their Christmas spirit. That way you can be sure your holiday spending gluttony goes to the retailers who are appropriately catering to your view of how secular retailers are supposed to celebrate a christian holiday, at least while they are selling you christmas crap.

Really? The thing Christians are supposed to care about is whether or not a secular retail chain says the word “christmas”?

The last time I checked, spending lots of money at christmas wasn’t a big priority of Christ. Neither was all of the hoohaw about saying/doing/looking holy from the “religious” people in his day. Christ cared a lot about the oppressed, poor, neglected, and rejected. He didn’t give a shit what the most religious people of the day said was important; in fact, he called them a bunch of hypocrites (and got killed for it).

One thing I’ve been reading about a lot lately is modern-day slavery. (This blog is a good start). There is a lot of slavery in our world. Slave-made products are everywhere, and as many as 27 million people are enslaved in various industries world-wide.

If we’re wondering what Christ would have cared about, let’s start there. Let’s start rating companies on whether they DO Christ-like things, rather than on whether the under-paid clerk says “Merry Christmas” as you’re checking out.

Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.
~ Amos 5:23-24

The godly care about the rights of the poor; the wicked don’t care at all.
~ Proverbs 5:7

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
~James 1:27

You know what offends me? It’s not whether someone says “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas”. It’s when I read that L.L. Bean, Pier 1, and Walmart are known to be actively and intentionally using slave labor in their products. I don’t give a shit how many “Merry Christmas” signs they have in their store, as if that makes one flying fuck’s worth of difference when they are participating in the enslavement of women, men, and children who are created in the image of God. Focus on the Family gives them 12-14% offensive ratings, and 52-71% friendly ratings. No mention of child slavery. No mention of beating or firing workers trying to unionize to protect themselves. No mention of the workers who have died at the factory making the cheap furniture you bought at Ikea. How does “Standing for Christmas” have ANYTHING to do with Christ?

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and his gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
and in his name all oppression shall cease.
~ “O Holy Night”, Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure, 1847

2010 Sweatshop Hall of Shame
Jason Boyett’s blog on this same topic
Petition for the Association of Christian Retailers to adopt anti-slavery standards
Where to find Fair Trade gifts
Department of Labor list of slave-made goods

Merry Christmas, everyone.