$*^! Jesus Says: The Christmas Shopping Edition

An open letter (because the blogging world freakin LOVES open letters) to the American Family Association:

Dear Affluent Straight White (Mostly Male) Christians:

Nobody is persecuting you. And I mean, nobody.

Encouraging Christians to boycott Radio Shack because the retailer features a “holiday” greeting instead of ‘Christmas’ wishes, is like refusing to wear pants because it’s cold outside.

Or something.

Here’s the thing: Jesus never in his life said, “Merry Me-smas.” He never meant to drum up a following, he never tried to make a big lot of drama when he came to town, and he, himself, was not always public about his faith. He instructed his disciples to go someplace quiet when they prayed, and often, the gospel shows him literally sneaking off somewhere to have a moment to alone with God.

If you believe that being a Christian means seeking to be Christlike, then perhaps you should revisit the prayer practices of actual Jesus, before making a public display of shaming someone else’s interpretation of the holiday.

Furthermore, if you truly want to ‘put the Christ in Christmas,’ there are so many other retailers who deserve that public shaming more than the ‘seasons greetings’ offenders.

For instance: you could boycott the Hobby Lobby* for generally hating on the Jews. I mean—JESUS WAS JEWISH! If you would like to feel persecuted on someone’s behalf, there’s a swell place to start.

You could boycott Wal-Mart for basically destroying main street America, smothering small businesses, and  playing a dangerous game of monopoly with the global food supply. Not to mention the fact that they had to hold a canned food drive for their own employees (!)because their employees are so poorly paid. There’s that.

You could boycott JC Penny, Macy’s, Target, Best Buy, and many, many others for doing business on Thanksgiving Day this year and depriving employees of that sacred time with their families. (You hear that? Their FAMILIES!! I know y’all sure love you some good American families. What is more family-centric than pumpkin pie and football? And these guys are missing it to run the register at Kmart! Oh, the humanity!)

Of course, you could always boycott every American retailer whose goods come to us by way of sweatshop labor in developing countries; where women and children work inhumane hours in unthinkable conditions for a paycheck that wouldn’t buy a single one of the $10 items they’re making for us. I’m pretty sure Jesus would NOT be down with that action, and to tell you the truth, that sort of behavior offends my Christian sensibilities. But of course, you’d basically have to not go to the mall, or a single big box store, the whole season long.

And maybe that wouldn’t be the worst thing. Because maybe then you’d have some more time with your family. (Family! There’s that magic word again). Maybe then you could spend some more time with the Jesus who many of us know and love; the Jesus who would wish a happy whatever, to whomever, just so that he could meet them on the road to wherever they are; just so he might, for a moment, have a chance to show them what love and grace and mercy look like in the flesh.

Ultimately, I’d say that Radio Shack is probably guilty of many of the other sins mentioned here; but if you’re going to walk away in the name of Jesus, make sure you’re taking the right Jesus with you. Make sure you’re throwing that public tantrum in the name of justice and humanity. Otherwise, you are taking the Lord’s name in vain, and well, that just won’t do. Not at Christmas time.

Peace, Love, and Merry Christmas, from

a smart-ass lady preacher with hot pink hair who in no way meets your approval or standards for female behavior, but hopes you will encounter the living Christ in this season, anyway.

*point of clarification: since I wrote this, a friend has graciously pointed out to me that Hobby Lobby issued a formal apology for the employee’s “we don’t cater to you people” remark, and has pledged to make an effort to include a more diverse selection of holiday stuff in the future. You can read about it here. Way to go, Hobby Lobby. Un-shun!

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About Erin Wathen

Rev. Erin Wathen is the Senior Pastor of Saint Andrew Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Olathe, KS (www.sacchome.org). She's a Kentucky native, a long-time desert dweller, and she writes about the sacred thread that runs through pretty much everything. For more info, click the 'about' tab above...

  • Rev. Jean Rollin

    Amen, Sister! I totally agree. The moment they start really focusing on the things that truly matter, i.e., helping to create a better world with justice and mercy for all, I will start to have some respect. Until then, they are just spitting in the wind.

  • ub01

    Funny enough, there’s a Google ad for Walmart at the end…

    • Erin Smallwood Wathen

      isn’t that always the way. i’ve been told that more than a few ‘support traditional marriage’ ads have popped up in my space here too. Irony+God’s sense of humor…

  • LaShella

    AMEN GURL FRIEND!

  • Sunny Ridings

    Uh huh. Yes. C’mon now.

  • Eve Fisher

    LOVE IT!

  • Claudia Rollstin

    “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” – Gilbert K. Chesterton

  • Digger

    I don’t mean for this to take away from Erin’s point; I only mention it for accuracy’s sake–for the sake of Christ’s glory.
    Jesus “never meant to drum up a following”? He said, “follow me.”
    He “never tried to make a big lot of drama when he came to town”? What about that triumphal entry followed immediately by the ransacking of the temple business?
    And while I suppose technically you are correct about Jesus not making a big deal out of his birth, imagine an angel of the Lord appearing to the shepherds, the glory of the Lord shining around them, a great company of heavenly host appearing with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest…” It seems to me God meant for Jesus’ birth to be a big deal.

    • Erin Smallwood Wathen

      All fair points. I was thinking more of the messianic secret kinds of texts…”go and tell no one.” And “when you pray, pray in secret…” Also, Jesus asked people to follow him into a better way of life, that would lead more fully into the presence of God. I was just making the point that he didn’t want to be a rock star at the center of attention–his teachings all pointed to a truth about God, and not to himself. It makes a nice contrast to the whole “KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS!!” shouting match that certain folks in the fundamentalist camp have going on. But i’m with you…the whole angel bit and voice of God stuff points to it all being a pretty big deal.

      • Digger

        Yes, I guessed what you meant and tried to NOT argue against the point of your comment. Mine was more of a contrast that set your comment apart–at least that was the effort.
        Hey, if I was a genius at writing, I’d have a blog, right? :-)
        (Yes, I know–I’m a stinker. I’ve gotten used to the smell!)

  • thunder250

    Many good thoughts…. But… I would take issue with the “mostly male”. At least with the Christians I serve, the majority are female and their complaints about such things are actually even more common (perhaps because they outnumber men by large margins). Sorry, but without any research to support your off handed comment, it is just another expression of prejudice. It undermines an otherwise meaningful article.


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