Target, Walgreens named to ‘naughty’ list of companies accused of ‘censoring’ Christmas

Target, Gap and Walgreens are among 13 companies that have been placed on a Christian conservative legal nonprofit’s “Naughty List” for failing to spotlight Christmas during the holiday season.

Last Friday, the Liberty Counsel released its annual “Naughty and Nice Retail List” of businesses that either “recognize and celebrate Christmas” or “silence and censor Christmas.”

The compilation criticizes companies that the organization believes are not doing a good enough job of spotlighting the true meaning of Christmas in their holiday-themed branding. 

According to the list, Target is “naughty” because the retail corporation “has surprisingly few mentions of ‘Christmas,’” though it does have “references to ‘pack your season full of merry’ and offers ‘seasonal ugly sweaters’ and a ‘secret gifting room.’”

The pharmacy chain Walgreens “refers to the term ‘holiday’ frequently and only one reference to the term ‘Christmas’ on the website.”

Meanwhile, Gap has “no references to ‘Christmas’ or any biblical elements within product associations and advertisements.”

Other businesses named on the “Naughty List” include Academy Sports + Outdoors, Barnes & Noble, Burlington Coat Factory, Dick’s Sporting Goods, J. Crew Outfitters, The Limited, The Loft, Lord and Taylor, Rite Aid Pharmacy and TJ Maxx.

“Christmas is not the main focus of the holiday season at Rite Aid,” the list states. “The company uses phrases such as, ‘Holiday shop,’ the ‘destination for all your holiday needs’
and ‘shop Rite-Aid for the best holiday offers’ without any mention of the real
Reason for the season.”

Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the Liberty Counsel, told The Christian Post on Monday that the goal is “to inform consumers of which retailers censor Christmas so they can make informed choices about where to spend their money.”

“Each year, we begin with the prior year’s list and then modify it as the Christmas season progresses,” he explained. “Consumers are encouraged to communicate with the retailers their matters of concern or compliments.”

Walmart is an example of a company that has softened its omission of Christmas during the winter shopping season, going from the “Naughty List” to the “Nice List.”

“For example, when we first launched this campaign, Walmart censored the word ‘Christmas,’” Staver said. “Christmas trees were called ‘Holiday trees’ and so forth. Cashiers were instructed to never say ‘Merry Christmas’ even when a customer initiated the greeting.”

“Our campaign urged consumers to register complaints, and they did. The following year, Walmart stated it would say ‘Merry Christmas’ early and often. The effectiveness of this campaign was demonstrated in this retailer’s decision to change its behavior. We have seen many retailers make similar changes.”

Liberty Counsel listed 24 companies that “recognize and celebrate Christmas.” Those include Sears, JC Penny, Nordstrom, Bath & Body Works, Macy’s, Lowe’s, Kmart, The Home Depot, Hobby Lobby, Bealls, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Loews, and Belk.

“Belk’s website uses the word ‘Christmas’ often when labeling products,” the “Nice List” states. “There are several Nativity scene decorations and those that have ‘Merry Christmas’ on them. However, only a few of the garlands and trees were actually labeled ‘Christmas’ greenery. Overall, Belk does a good job of celebrating the season.”

The legal group praised Bath & Body Works’ website for greeting shoppers “with Christmas cheer.”

“The website is decorated for Christmas and shoppers are encouraged to find out ‘What Christmas Smells Like,'” the “Nice List” states. “This company is clearly not afraid to say the word!”

Best Buy received praise for its wide selection of Christmas movies and for selling Christmas sheet music. Home Depot, which sells Christmas trees, lights and decorations, was thanked for labeling holiday-themed decorations as “Christmas” instead of “holiday.”

The Liberty Counsel also announced the launch of its 19th annual “Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign,” which seeks to “educate and, when necessary, litigate to ensure that religious viewpoints are not censored from Christmas and holiday themes.”

“It is intentionally discriminatory to exclude Christmas from marketing when Christmas is by far the primary celebration of the season,” said Staver.

“Censoring Christmas during the Christmas season sends a terrible message that Christian viewpoints are unwelcome and must be excluded from the marketplace. The Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign is designed with the goal of stopping the censorship of Christmas.”

According to a 2018 YouGov poll, 64% of Americans prefer to say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays,” while 45% of respondents said they were more likely to patron a business if it has overtly Christian seasonal branding.