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The Christmas Controversy. By Brenton, Sam, Damon, & Danny. Description. 1 st amendment rights have allowed the growth and evolution of many religions within the U.S. In recent years, these freedoms have led to confrontations between religious factions on several topics

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the christmas controversy

The Christmas Controversy

By Brenton, Sam, Damon, & Danny

  • 1st amendment rights have allowed the growth and evolution of many religions within the U.S.
  • In recent years, these freedoms have led to confrontations between religious factions on several topics
  • One of the prevalent religious debates in society is the protest against using “Merry Christmas” in favor of the more universal “Happy Holidays” in public.
  • relatively new controversy, taking root in 1984 when the Supreme Court in Lynch v. Donnelly ruledpermission of religious themes in government-funded Christmas displays that had "legitimate secular purposes”.
  • Despite the strong agreement that it is OK to say "Merry Christmas", the American public does not strongly agree that the tendency to substitute a more secular greeting has been a bad thing for society
  • 41percent of people prefer to say “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas”
  • Still, Gallup polls conducted in 1994 and 2000 found that the overwhelming majority of Americans celebrated Christmas, 96 percent celebrating and only 4 percent not celebrating
  • Pundits argue over whether the use “Happy Holidays” is either a more inclusive approach to dealing with the multicultural public, or a deliberate slight against Christianity
  • When advertisers began to use the term “Xmas” to shorten the word “Christmas”, many Christians opposed this change, claiming that it was taking the “Christ” out of “Christmas” and therefore was lessening the true reason for the holiday
  • Only 3 percent of people say it bothers them when retailers refer to Christmas in their displays and no other holidays.
  • Governor Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Islands decided that he would have the Christmas tree in the State Capital referred to as a “holiday tree”, which was met with much controversy and a strong backlash from the Christian community in Providence, who say that the decision was “too politically correct”
subgroup a
Subgroup A
  • Race: Hispanic
  • Religious affiliation: Catholic
  • Age: 15-30 years old
  • Educational Level: High school education
subgroup b
Subgroup B
  • Race: Mixed
  • Religious affiliation: Judaism
  • Age: 15-30 years old
  • Educational Level: High school education
subgroup c
Subgroup C
  • Race: Caucasian
  • Religious affiliation: Protestant Christian
  • Age: 15-30 years old
  • Educational Level: High school education
survey questions
Survey Questions
  • Would you have a problem if someone you knew called the traditional “Christmas tree” a “holiday tree”? Yes, No, or Unsure
  • What is your opinion concerning whether a parade that takes place during the winter season should be called a “Christmas” parade, or a “Holiday” parade? Christmas Parade, Holiday Parade, or Wouldn’t care
  • Do you consider the modern Christmas to be a religious holiday or a commercial holiday? Religious or Commercial
  • If your school decided to change the name of “Winter Break” to “Christmas Break”, how would you react? Strongly supportive, Somewhat supportive, Somewhat offended, Strongly offended, or No opinion
  • Do you have preferences with what the Winter Season is called? Christmas Season, Holiday Season, or other
  • Would you feel more strongly towards a controversy concerning Christmas or one around Easter? Christmas or Easter
  • How would you feel if you saw a sign that said “Merry Christmas!” instead of “Happy Holidays!”? Very Offended, Somewhat Offended, A Little Offended, or not offended
  • If you are a Christian, would you feel offended if a random person said "Happy Hanukkah" (or any other Holiday greeting) as opposed to "Merry Christmas!"? Yes, No, or I wouldn’t car either way
expected responses subgroup a
Expected Responses: Subgroup A
  • “Yes” or “Not Sure”
  • It should be called a “Christmas Parade”
  • Christmas is a “Religious Holiday”
  • “Somewhat Supportive”
  • “Christmas Season”
  • “a controversy around Christmas”
  • “Not offended at all”
  • “Yes, I would feel offended”
expected responses subgroup b
Expected Responses: Subgroup B
  • “No” or “Not Sure”
  • It should be called a “Holiday Parade”
  • “Commercial” or “unsure”
  • “Strongly oppose” or “somewhat oppose”
  • “Holiday Season” or “other (their choice)”
  • “Controversy around Christmas” or “Controversy around Easter”
  • “Somewhat offended”
  • “No” or “Not a Christian”
expected responses subgroup c
Expected Responses: Subgroup C
  • “No”
  • “Christmas Parade”

3. “Commercial”

4. “No opinion”

5. “Christmas Season”

6. “A controversy around Christmas”

7. “Not offended at all”

8. “No” or “Wouldn’t care either way”

predictions subgroup a
Predictions: Subgroup A
  • Question #1:CORRECT– we thought people would have a problem with a Christmas tree being referred to as a “Holiday” tree
  • Question #2: INCORRECT– we predicted most would say “Christmas Parade”, but more of them actually preferred “Holiday Parade”
  • Question #3: CORRECT – everyone in this subgroups believed that Christmas is more religious than commercial.
  • Question #4: INCORRECT–we predicted that more people would want it to be called “Christmas break”, but there was little to no support for it
  • Question#5 : CORRECT – all of them preferred to call it the “Christmas Season”.
  • Question#6 : CORRECT – people within this subgroup have a stronger opinion on the Controversy around the Christmas season
  • Question #7: CORRECT – everyone said they would not feel offended it a sign said “Merry Christmas”
  • Question#8 : INCORRECT–only one said they would feel offended, the rest said that they wouldn’t or wouldn’t care with
predictions subgroup b
Predictions: Subgroup B
  • Question #1: CORRECT– we said no one would have a problem with it being called a Holiday tree in this group.
  • Question #2: CORRECT–all preferred it to be called the Holiday Parade.
  • Question #3: INCORRECT– we thought they would consider it a commercial holiday, but all agreed that Christmas should be considered a religious holiday.
  • Question #4: CORRECT– most opposed the idea of changing the name Winter break to Christmas break.
  • Question#5 : CORRECT– Preferred it to be called the Christmas season
  • Question#6 : CORRECT– Everyone felt that there was more controversy around Christmas
  • Question #7: INCORRECT–
  • Question#8 : CORRECT– All said either “No” or “Not A Christian”
predictions subgroup c
Predictions: Subgroup C
  • Question #1: INCORRECT– we thought most would say no, but the response was mixed, half said Yes, half said No
  • Question #2: INCORRECT– We thought that people would want it to be called the Christmas parade, but the response was again mixed.
  • Question #3: INCORRECT– We thought people would consider it commercial, but the majority considered it a religious holiday
  • Question #4: INCORRECT– we thought people wouldn’t have an opinion on it, but most were opposed to the idea, only 1 was in support of it.
  • Question#5 : INCORRECT– most people we thought would prefer to call it the Christmas season, but most preferred it to be called the Holiday season.
  • Question#6 : CORRECT– most people said they would feel more strongly towards a Christmas controversy
  • Question #7: CORRECT– All responded they would feel “not offended at all”
  • Question#8 : CORRECT– All of the responses were either “No” or “ I wouldn’t care either way
  • This controversy demonstrates how social issues and public opinion can effect the actions of politicians and government officials
  • This issue is quite widespread within society. Debate is not only occurring in the local spectrum, but statewide and countrywide as well
  • Amongst teenagers, opinion on this issue is less extreme, but for adults and the elderly, it is more extreme
  • Most opinions of kids and teenagers are transmitted to them from their parent’s beliefs, but as they become older, they start to form independent opinions.
  • Purely conservative-minded individuals are more likely to disagree with the use of generic “Happy Holidays” than pure liberals
  • People who strictly adhere to a secular religion are likely to have a stronger opinion than those not tied to a religion.
  • The people that were surveyed constitutes only a sample of the population. Asking a whole other sample of people may breed different results
  • As long as political socialization occurs, this debate will continue through to future generations.