Thursday, December 15, 2005

Christmas Wars: The Final Salvo

Before we say goodbye to take some time off for the holidays, we at Holier Than Thou wanted to add one final word to the ongoing Christmas Wars.

While our friends on the Religious Right insist that, as a Christian nation, celebrating Christmas has been a central part of our history and our heritage, a true reading of history presents an alternative point of view.

Thus, we thought we’d leave you with a few questions about how our Christian forbearers celebrated December 25 in years past.

1) On the first Christmas Day in the New World, December 25, 1620, the Puritans spent the day:

A) Working
B) In church
C) Exchanging gifts
D) Burning witches at the stake

2) From 1659 to 1681, the colonists of Massachusetts made celebrating Christmas:

A) Mandatory
B) Traditional
C) Fun
D) Illegal

3) In 1827, an Episcopal bishop complained that the Devil had stolen Christmas and:

A) “Converted it into a day of worldly festivity, shooting and swearing.”
B) “Turned it over to the anti-Christian human secularists”
C) “Given it to The Grinch.”
D) “Auctioned it off to the highest bidder.”

4) And in 1855 New York, Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist churches were closed on Dec. 25 because:

A) They did not view Christmas Day to be holy.
B) It fell on a Sunday.
C) Their parishioners were too busy buying last-minute gifts.
D) The Giants were playing the Jets.


1) A: Working, and pretty much ignoring the fact that it was Christmas. The Puritans were lead to ignore Christmas by the fact that the date December 25 is not in the Bible. Instead, they insisted the date was derived by Saturnalia, a Roman wintertime celebration.
2) D: Celebrating Christmas was a crime.
3) A: It was considered to be a day full of shooting and swearing.
4) A: Christmas still wasn’t considered to be a holy day as late as 1855.

We at Holier Than Thou wanted to take this opportunity to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We’ll be back again on January 3 — assuming, of course, that the Religious Right keeps on keeping on well into the new year. Somehow, we’re sure they will.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Where Would Jesus Shop II?

The Christmas Wars took another interesting turn this week, when the United Food and Commercial Workers union launched a TV ad across several southern states using religion to support their case for better wages and health benefits.

So, can you fill in the blank?

“Our faith teaches us, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,’” the ad begins. “If these are our values, then ask yourself, should people of faith shop at _______ this holiday season?”

A) Wal-Mart
B) Toys-R-Us
C) Vons and Pavilions
D) Virgin Records


A) Wal-Mart. But lest you think this campaign was cooked up by a bunch of radical union leaders, 65 clergy members and religious figures signed a letter in support of the campaign, noting that Wal-Mart’s poor wages, crummy health coverage and other business practices aren’t very, well, Christianly, noting that “Jesus would not embrace Wal-Mart’s values of greed and profits at any cost, particularly when children suffer as a result of those misguided values.”

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Name That Denomination!

Least we ever be accused at focusing too much attention on the Catholic sexual abuse scandal, we want to make it clear that other denominations are equally guilty of sin. So today we want to play a little game of “Name that Denomination!”

1) Earl John Place was recently arrested in San Diego on charges of using the Internet in an attempt to lure a minor to have sex with him. The 61-year-old Place is also:

A) A Jewish Rabbi
B) A Franciscan Monk
C) A Presbyterian Minister
D) A Baptist Pastor

2) Willie Davis was recently indicted in Las Vegas on federal fraud charges for inappropriately using some $330,000 in U.S. Justice Department grants that were intended to fund a halfway house for prison inmates. The 68-year-old Davis is also:

A) A Jewish Rabbi
B) A Franciscan Monk
C) A Presbyterian Minister
D) A Baptist Pastor

3) Ariano Tiem was recently arrested after being caught red-handed raping an 84-year-old female Alzheimer’s patient in the nursing home in which he worked. The 64-year-old Tiem is also:

A) A Jewish Rabbi
B) A Franciscan Monk
C) A Presbyterian Minister
D) A Baptist Pastor


1) B: When he’s not allegedly being a pervert, he’s also a Franciscan monk.
2) D: When he’s not allegedly misappropriating funds, he’s a Baptist pastor.
3) C: When he’s not allegedly raping Alzheimer’s patients, Tiem is a Presbyterian minister.

Monday, December 12, 2005

It's My Party

Welcome, dear reader. Today we’d like to play a little game we like to call, “Who the Hell Said That?”

After a recent speech at the Bill Clinton School of Public Service, a speaker raised some eyebrows by taking direct aim at the Christian Right’s takeover of the Republican Party. Who said the following?

“I think that the Republican Party fairly recently has been taken over by the Christian conservatives, by the Christian Right. I don’t think this is a permanent condition but I think this has happened, and that it’s divisive for the country.”

A) Hillary Clinton, Democratic Senator and potential 2008 presidential candidate
B) Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader
C) Teddy Kennedy, famously liberal democratic senator from Massachusetts
D) John Danforth, former Republican senator from Missouri, and an Episcopal priest.

D) John Danforth, a Republican whose conservative credentials include defending Clarence Thomas against sexual harassment charges during his confirmation hearing, and being appointed ambassador to the United Nations by the current President Bush.

Danforth, who is also an Episcopal priest, went on to say, “Nothing is more dangerous than religion in politics and government when it becomes divisive. I’ll give you examples: Iraq. Northern Ireland. Palestine.”

Friday, December 09, 2005

Spreading More Holiday…Um, We Mean CHRISTMAS, Cheer

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas — and don’t you forget it!

1) Which major department store recently caved into pressure from religious extremists and switched from using “Happy Holidays” in its ads and in-store promotions to “Merry Christmas”?

A) Macy’s
B) Sears
C) JC Penny
D) Nordstrom

2) Which home improvement chain recently caved into pressure from religious extremists and started selling “Christmas trees” instead of “holiday trees”?

A) Lowe’s
B) Home Depot
D) Ace Hardware

3) Which influential “good Christian” spread the warmth of the holiday season by saying: “Tough luck. This is an overwhelmingly Christian country,” about those non-Christians who might prefer to be greeted with “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

A) Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association
B) The Rev. Pat Robertson
C) Bill Donohue of the Catholic League
D) The Rev. Jerry Falwell

4) And which influential “good Christian” spread the warmth of the holiday season by saying: “We’re kicking their butts and they’re unhappy,” about those non-Christians who might prefer to be greeted with “happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

A) Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association
B) The Rev. Pat Robertson
C) Bill Donohue of the Catholic League
D) The Rev. Jerry Falwell


1) A: Macy’s
2) A: Lowe’s
3) A: Donald Wildmon
4) D: Jerry Falwell, no doubt harkening back to the beloved Jesus parable about kicking butts of the non-believers

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Christmas Civil Wars

First it was retailers. Then it was holiday trees. Now the Christmas Wars have taken on a while new target — other Evangelical Christians!

Drunk with power, and the ever-present knowledge that God must be on their side, it seems that the Evangelical movement has taken to turning on some of its most adamant supporters in defense of what it fervently believes to be a “War on Christmas.”

Can a Civil War between Focus on the Family and the American Family Association be far behind?

1) Which governmental institution has drawn fire from Religious Conservatives for sending out a Christmas card that includes a Bible quote, but fails to wish people a “Merry Christmas”?

A) The White House
B) The U.S. Senate
C) The U.S. Supreme Court
D) The Internal Revenue Service

2) Meanwhile, Evangelical groups are aghast to discover that many of these will NOT be open on Christmas, since the holiday also falls on a Sunday.

A) Emergency anti-abortion “counseling” hotlines
B) Soup kitchens for the homeless
C) Churches
D) Liquor stores


1) A: The White House, which included a quote from Psalms 28 in its holiday card, but not the words “Merry Christmas.” And, as any good Evangelical can tell you — and many have told the White House in protest — Psalms is from the Old Testament (meaning Jews and Muslims can use it too), while Jesus only appears in the New Testament, which is where they believe the White House should have drawn its inspirational Christmas quote from.

A White House spokeswoman noted that the cards included best wishes for the holiday season — rather than for a Merry Christmas — because they are sent to people of all faiths, a notion to which Bill Donohue of the Catholic League responded, “Spare me the diversity lecture.”

2) C: Churches. Seems such “Mega-Churches” as the North Point Community Church (Atlanta), the Fellowship Church (Dallas), the Southland Christian Church (Lexington) and Will Cheer Community Church (Illinois) will be closed on Christmas Day, meaning there will be no Sunday services. Apparently, the last time Christmas fell on Sunday (in 1994), few of the faithful managed to tear themselves away from their gifts and Christmas dinners to attend the services, making them more trouble than they were worth.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


We at Holier Than Thou have spent a lot of time in recent weeks examining Evangelical boycotts and PR campaigns against retailers who have replaced the phrase “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays.”

So today, we thought we’d take a closer look at another favorite tactic of the Religious Right — boycotts against companies that refuse to demonize the gay community.

1) Focus on the Family has pulled all of its assets out of WHICH bank because it made a $50,000 contribution to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation:

A) Citibank
B) Bank of America
C) Washington Mutual
D) Wells Fargo

2) And the American Family Association claimed victory and withdrew its threatened boycott against WHICH car company after it pulled its ads from gay publications:

A) Ford
B) General Motors
C) Toyota
D) Chrysler


1) D: Wells Fargo
2) A: Ford will no longer put ads for its Jaguar and Land Rover brands in gay publications. However, we think it only fair to note that Ford wasn’t placing ads in the gay magazines for such piece-of-crap cars as Fords, Lincolns and Mercurys (you know, the kinds of cars that rednecks put stickers of comic strip character Calvin praying at the cross and/or pissing on the Chevy logo in their back windows) anyway. A Ford spokesman also acknowledged that the company-owned Volvo will still advertise in gay publications — presumably because gays buy lots of Volvos, or the Evangelicals

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Rome If You Want To

The Christmas season is upon us, ushering in a season of peace on earth, good will towards men — and more weirdness from the Vatican.

Seems that the Church taped its annual Christmas concert at the Vatican this past weekend, but cancelled an appearance by Brazilian pop singer Daniela Mercury at the last minute.

Church officials said that Mercury was dropped from the concerts lineup because she had gone “against the moral doctrine of the church.”

1) So, just what immoral act had she committed?

A) Appeared nude during a Carnival parade.
B) Admitted to an adulterous affair with her business manager.
C) Promoted condom use in an anti-AIDS ad campaign.
D) Accused a Brazilian priest of molesting her when she was 14 years old.

2) Meanwhile, a Catholic commission has plans to petition Pope Benedict XVI to drop teachings about WHAT from the Catholic catechism?

A) Limbo
B) The Immaculate Conception
C) The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes
D) Jesus’ Kicking the Moneychangers Out of the Temple

3) At the same time, Dominican priest Rev. Thomas Doyle traveled from the United States to the Vatican to ask Pope Benedict XVI to do WHAT?

A) Drop the Church’s opposition to fertility treatments for infertile couples hoping to conceive.
B) Drop the Church’s opposition to stem cell research.
C) Drop the Church’s opposition to allowing priests to marry.
D) Apologize to all the victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy.

4) And finally, the Vatican recently declared WHAT to be “destabilizing people and society”?

A) The U.S.-lead war in Iraq
B) The Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal
C) Abortion
D) Homosexuality


1) C: Mercury was part of an anti-AIDS campaign where she encouraged people to use condoms.
2) A: Limbo — which teaches that babies who die before they can be baptized go to a place that is neither heaven nor hell.
3) D: Apologize for sexual abuse by priests.
4) D: Homosexuality, which is fast supplanting the money as the root of all evil in Catholic theology

Monday, December 05, 2005

States of Confusion

So much religious fanaticism, so little time…

Can you match the acts of evangelical extremism to the states that they occurred in?

1) The Newton Correctional Facility here is accused of giving preferential treatment to inmates who subscribe to a Christian prison ministry’s evangelical teachings.
2) The Catholic Church in this state urged its flock to fight against a proposed constitutional amendment that would continue to allow embryonic stem cell research here.
3) The sale of Bibles is exempted from state sales tax here, prompting the American Civil Liberties Union to sue, claiming discrimination against the holy books of other religions.
4) Evangelicals threatened to sue Walgreens here after the drug store chain fired four pharmacists for failing to uphold the laws of this state by not filling prescriptions for emergency contraceptives.

A) Georgia
B) Illinois
C) Missouri
D) Iowa


1) D: In court testimony, the Iowa-based prison is accused of allowing an evangelical ministry to take over “an entire unit of a state prison and turned it into an evangelical church.”
2) C: The Catholic Church in Missouri opposes the stem cell research drive, likening the experimentation with human embryos to experiments performed on Jews in Nazi concentration camps.
3) A: Bibles can be bought tax free in Georgia
4) B: Illinois has a law barring pharmacists from refusing to fill prescriptions for contraceptives, prompting Walgreens to fire the four pharmacists. But let’s not pat Walgreens on the back for its brave stance it in the face of evangelical extremism here — the company is trying to save the licenses of its pharmacies there. In fact, the company, which allows pharmacists not to fill the prescriptions so long as it doesn’t violate the laws of an individual state, has offered to move the four to Missouri, where they can deny women access to federally-approved medication in Walgreens stores all they want.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Sticks and Stones

What’s in a name?

Let’s ask Michael Scanlon, a lobbyist (and former aide to Republican Rep. Tom DeLay), who recently plead guilty to bribery charges stemming from his lobbying efforts.

As part of the Scanlon investigation, a memo was uncovered in which Scanlon discussed with a lobbying client his plans for a “get out the vote” effort targeting Evangelical Christians.

So, what did Scanlon call the Evangelicals he was planning to rely on to support his cause?

A) Our Loyal Supporters
B) God’s Army
C) Warriors for Christ
C) The Bible Thumpers
E) The Wackos

E) The Wackos, as in “The wackos get their information through the Christian right, Christian radio…Simply put, we want to bring out the wackos to vote against something and make sure the rest of the public lets the whole thing slip past them.”

Could it be that these Evangelicals are seen by many Republicans as a political tool to be exploited? Or is “wackos” merely a term of endearment?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

If a Holiday Tree Fell in the Woods...

Thank God (or, at least, the Christian God) that the Republican leadership in Congress has finally found an issue to unite the country and revitalize the party — Christmas trees!

The first salvo was fired this week when House Speaker Dennis Hastert took a break from defending the president’s failed Iraq war policy and dodging ethical violations by a growing list of GOP officials by boldly renaming the “Holiday Tree” on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol the newly christened “Capitol Christmas Tree.”

Said a spokesman for Hastert, “The speaker believes a Christmas tree is a Christmas tree, and it is as simple as that.”

Of course, the move mirrors the effort by the Christian Right to kick the word “holiday” out of the holidays and remind everybody that its really all about their interpretation of Christ — hence the word “Christmas” after all.

In fact, the speaker’s tree renaming came just days after Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Liberty Counsel threatened to sue WHAT city for referring to its own tree as a “holiday tree” on the city’s website:

A) San Francisco
B) Detroit
C) Boston
D) Washington DC
E) Miami


C) Boston: Said a spokesman for Falwell’s Liberty Counsel about the “Holiday Tree” on the Boston Common, “To rename a Christmas tree as a holiday tree is as offensive as renaming a Jewish menorah a candlestick.” For his part, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said he would refer to the tree as a “Christmas tree” during the lighting ceremonies later today. The city’s website, meanwhile, has changed the designation of the 48-foot-tall white spruce in question back to a “Christmas” tree as well.