One of the Religious Right’s most idiotic yet enduring claims is that the tradition of saying “Happy Holidays” is not respectful and inclusive, but rather a sign of the ongoing “War on Christmas.” The Religious Right legal group Liberty Counsel has kicked off its annual Naughty & Nice List, which attacks retailers who “censor Christmas” by not using the word or Christmas-specific imagery often enough in their holiday advertisements and decorations.
This phony war has a new field marshal. Donald Trump, who promised the moon and the Supreme Court to Religious Right leaders during his campaign, has pledged to save Christmas from imagined threats. He promised, “If I become president, we’re gonna be saying Merry Christmas at every store … You can leave happy holidays at the corner.” Another time he said, “[Remember] the expression ‘Merry Christmas?’ You don’t see it anymore. You’re [going to] see it if I get elected, I can tell you right now. I can tell you right now.” Michele Bachmann even quoted him saying, “When I was growing up, everyone said merry Christmas, even my Jews would say merry Christmas.”
Trump pushed for a boycott of Starbucks because their cups weren’t Christmas-y enough, and his son Eric said that his father decided to run for president after he read that the White House replaced the Christmas tree with a “holiday tree,” a tree that does not exist.
Trump’s own companies, however, were part of this purported war.
Of course, it’s not clear how Trump thinks a president could force people and businesses to say “Merry Christmas” rather than “Happy Holidays.” And it’s even less clear how anyone who purports to be for religious liberty and limited government would think it’s any business of the president’s how people express their good wishes. But then again, this is the guy who told people on the campaign trail how great things will be when Americans are working together as “one people, under one God, saluting one flag.”