A major conservative Christian group defending “family values” said Saturday, October 18, it has launched a campaign to counter attempts by companies and individuals to “ban” Merry Christmas greetings. The move comes shortly after at least five chaplains were fired for praying in “Jesus name,” adding to concerns among evangelical Christians that speaking about Jesus Christ outside church gatherings is becoming increasingly difficult in the United States.
“It’s hard to believe that there are companies and individuals who want to ban “Merry Christmas” and replace it with “Holiday Greetings” because, they say, they don’t want to offend anyone,” said Donald E. Wildmon, Chairman of the American Family Association (AFA).
He said his organization has launched ‘Project Merry Christmas’ which includes printing buttons and glossy stickers with the text: “It’s OK to say Merry Christmas !”
“Christians can take a stand and proclaim to our communities that Christmas is not just a winter holiday focused on materialism, but a “holy day” when we celebrate the birth of our Savior. We can do it in a gentle and effective way by wearing the ‘Itâ€™s OK to say Merry Christmas’ button,” Wildmon said.
The action seems part of a wider attempt to defend evangelism and open talk about Jesus Christ in America, following outrage among Christian groups that the governor of the American state of Virginia, Governor Tim Kaine accepted the allegedly forced resignation of five Virginia State Police Chaplains after they prayed publicly “in Jesus’ name.”
Police Superintendent W. Steven Flaherty reportedly enforced a strict “non-sectarian” prayer policy at all public gatherings, censoring and excluding Christian prayers. He then accepted the resignation of five chaplains who said thet refused to deny Jesus “or violate their conscienceâ€ by “watering down” their prayers.
House Republican Leader Morgan Griffith and Republican Delegate Charles W. Carrico issued statements defending the chaplains, questioning Governor Kaine’s role in terminating the chaplains. They vowed to introduce legislation â€œprotecting police chaplains’ rightâ€ to pray according to their own conscience.
Governor Kaine suggested he himself was being persecuted by the politicians. “It is disappointing that Delegate Griffith would make such a political attack on Governor Kaine about his faith,” his office said in published remarks.
AFA’s Wildmon said his group’s Project Merry Christmas may open doors for the Gospel. “Some might think simply wearing a button or displaying a Glossy Sticker is a small thing, but God can use small things to make a big point, and to create opportunities to share the Good News. And what a great time to do that at Christmas,” he said.