A Dallas church tired of the political correctness surrounding Christmas has launched a website to report "naughty" businesses that fail to acknowledge the religious meaning of the holiday. But the site has received some negative feedback from Christians who say the church should instead be focused on preaching the Gospel.
"I realize saying 'Merry Christmas' isn't going to get anyone into heaven," said Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church of Dallas after his sermon on Sunday. "But I believe our nation overall is going to be healthier as a nation with a public acknowledgment of God than we are if we allow the secularists, the atheists, the infidels to remove any mention of God from our public arena and that's why I'm doing this."
Jeffress recently started GrinchAlert.com to help keep Christ in Christmas.
The site, which has received wide media attention, asks users to place companies that celebrate Christmas in their public interaction, marketing or advertising on the nice list. Businesses that act like a "Grinch" or "use misplaced political correctness to halt the celebration of Christmas" are called out in the naughty list.
People from around the nation, not just in Texas, can report their experiences.
So far, users have listed about five times more nice businesses than naughty ones. About 100 businesses have been commended for their public expressions of Christmas while 18 left customers disappointed.
Walmart made the nice list. One married couple from Hickory, N.C., was pleased that a man wished them "Merry Christmas" as they walked through the produce section.
Nordstrom's policy to say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" did not impress one shopper who placed it on the naughty list.
Target appeared on both the nice and naught lists. One shopper in Appleton, Wis., liked that the store had large "Merry Christmas" signs and that the photo clerk vocalized a "Merry Christmas" greeting. Another disliked that one Target didn't carry Christmas items with the Holy Family on it but instead those with snowmen, Santa Clauses, snowflakes, birds and glitter.
Website users are invited to post a rebuttal to any listings they find inaccurate.
Recent reports from Rasmussen find that 69 percent of Americans prefer to be greeted by signs that read "Merry Christmas" over "Happy Holidays." However, the polling company also found that 58 percent of people are more likely to wish a casual acquaintance "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas."
In launching GrinchAlert.com, Jeffress said he simply wanted to recognize businesses that are recognizing Christmas and those that are bowing to the pressure of political correctness. He thought the website would be a "a fun way to make a serious point that Christmas is unique."
But he has been surprised by critical comments coming from those who consider themselves conservative Christians.
The pastor agreed that the primary mission of Christians is to share Christ but he noted, "To do that effectively we've got to be sure that this culture does not self destruct ... [or] rot prematurely."
"Jesus said you are the salt of the world," he said Sunday. "Salt was a preservative."
"That's what Christians are to be in this society," he added, noting that believers need to keep the world from rotting in order to be able to have the time to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
"I am not willing to wave the white flag of surrender and give the country over to the atheists," he said to applause from his congregation.
Other Christian organizations have been known to produce similar lists to that on GrinchAlert.com.
Liberty Counsel releases a naughty and nice list during its annual "Friend or Foe" Christmas campaign.
Unlike pastor Jeffress's campaign, the Fla.-based Christian legal group encourages supporters to tell businesses that they will shop elsewhere if the stores don't change their ways.
The group has reported several successes from this year's campaign, saying it has switched Best Buy and Disney.com to the nice list after the companies started embracing Christmas.