"Christmas" no longer welcome? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

"Christmas" no longer welcome?

December 1, 2005

Albany-- If you go Christmas shopping at many of the nation's biggest retailers, you won't hear any mention of Christmas. You may hear "Seasons Greetings" or see "holiday" displays.

Christmas trees are going up all around south Georgia, but decorations that are clearly Christmas are harder to find in many stores.

"I guess it's going back to the political correctness of things," says Kirkland's store manager, Dawn Swanson.

Swanson says there's a reason why many retailers are dropping the word "Christmas."

"I have many friends who are Jehovah Witnesses, and Jewish, and they mean the world to me, so the last thing I would want to do is offend them," says Swanson.

Peggy Posnick says that's not a problem with her. "If you want to say Christmas and talk about Christ that's your prerogative. I don't have to talk about it," says Posnick.

She's Jewish, but she's not bothered with the signs and symbols of the Christmas season. "The whole country is basically Christian, why not let them enjoy their Christmas and say 'Merry Christmas' and what have you?" says Posnick.

Posnick says most of her Jewish friends feel the same way. "It's the atheists and the few people fighting with no prayer in school, they're the ones that's fighting this," says Posnick.

By focusing less on Christmas and more on the holiday season in general, many retailers say non-Christians no longer feel excluded from shopping at their store.

"It does seem like there is a real political movement to target Christian things in our society today," says Reverend Mike McAfee.

McAfee, with Albany First United Methodist doesn't understand why some people get upset by the word. "I don't get offended because another religious group celebrates their season," says McAfee.

Back at Kirkland's, Dawn Swanson is careful not to offend, but she's generous with her wishes for a Merry Christmas. "If I know I go to church with you, or I know that you're a Christian, that's what I'm going to say to you anyway, but if I'm not sure, it's Happy holidays," says Swanson.

And for many stores, it's better safe than sorry.

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