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After a series of reports by WorldNetDaily, Wal-Mart officials have satisfied demands by the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, which had called for a national boycott after accusing the retail giant of discriminating against Christmas while promoting other seasonal holidays by name, such as Kwanzaa and Hanukkah.
Catholic League president Bill Donohue said Wal-Mart has apologized, withdrawn “its insane statement” on the origins of Christmas and revised its website.
“This is a sweet victory for the Catholic League, Christians in general, and people of all faiths,” Donohue said. “And it means that Wal-Mart can now enter the Christmas season without this cloud hanging over it.”
Donohue said a customer service employee named Kirby who touched off the controversy with an e-mail about the origins of Christmas has been fired.
Wal-Mart spokesman Dan Fogleman released a statement last night saying, “We sincerely apologize to any person or organization that was offended by the inappropriate and inflammatory comments made by this former associate.”
Donohue said Wal-Mart also has adjusted its website so that when a customer types “Christmas” in its search engine, he no longer gets, “We’ve brought you to our Holiday page based on your search.” Now the customer is taken directly to a site named “Christmas.”
Wal-Mart says it will not change its policy of encouraging employees to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” Donohue noted.
Catholic League president Bill Donohue
“This is dumb, but it was never part of the Catholic League’s complaint,” he said. “We only trigger boycotts when we’ve been grossly offended.”
The controversy was sparked when a woman recently complained to Wal-Mart that the store was replacing its “Merry Christmas” greeting with “Happy Holidays.”
The League says the woman received an e-mail response from a customer-service representative named Kirby, reading exactly as follows:
Walmart is a world wide organization and must remain conscious of this. The majority of the world still has different practices other than “christmas” which is an ancient tradition that has its roots in Siberian shamanism. The colors associated with “christmas” red and white are actually a representation of of the aminita mascera mushroom. Santa is also borrowed from the Caucuses, mistletoe from the Celts, yule log from the Goths, the time from the Visigoth and the tree from the worship of Baal. It is a wide wide world.
Fogleman confirmed the original note was written by a Wal-Mart representative and explained yesterday:
“We at Wal-Mart believe this e-mail between a temporary associate and one of our valued customers was entirely inappropriate. Its contents in no way represent the policies, practices or views of our company. This associate, who was hired less than three weeks ago, is no longer employed by our company.”
The Associated Press picked up on the story, more than 19 hours after first broken by WND.
Fogleman says the original e-mail from Kirby was taken out of context, and Wal-Mart’s use of the “Happy Holidays” theme was to be inclusive of celebrations from Thanksgiving to Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve in addition to Christmas.
On Wednesday, Wal-Mart spokeswoman Jolanda Stewart told WND her company was “absolutely not” banning Christmas as the Catholic League had been claiming.
To demonstrate an instance of discrimination, Donohue pointed out, and WND confirmed, that when using the company’s online search engine, if the word “Hanukkah” was entered, 200 items for sale were returned. The term “Kwanzaa” yielded 77. But when “Christmas” was entered, the message returned said: “We’ve brought you to our ‘Holiday’ page based on your search.”
WND screen capture of Wal-Mart website shows when ‘Christmas’ is entered in search engine, results are deferred to a ‘Holiday’ page
However, the search also brought up a secondary link on which to click, which revealed 7,970 items that matched the “Christmas” term.
When WND entered the name “Jesus,” 5,668 items were displayed.
The complaint was that only Christmas, and no other religion’s holiday, brought up the special holiday page.
“We already serve a diverse customer base, and we’re just trying to help them to celebrate their individual needs and wants,” Stewart said.
“Stewart’s remark is flatulent,” Donohue said. “If Wal-Mart had a ‘Holiday’ section on its website that directed customers to its Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa sites, that would not be objectionable.”
As WorldNetDaily has previously reported, the celebration of Christmas is a major cultural battleground in the U.S., dating back to colonial America when Christians in New England outlawed Christmas, saying it was based more on ancient pagan traditions than instruction from the Bible.
Today, followers of ancient paganism strive to remind the public about the heathen origins of traditions that many may never have questioned.
Wiccan high priestess Selena Fox
CircleSanctuary.org is among the Internet addresses run by nature-worshipping pagans. Wiccan high priestess Selena Fox discusses the state of being pagan and celebrating the lengthening of days during the Northern Hemisphere’s darkest time of year.
- “Yule, the winter solstice, is a festival of peace and a celebration of waxing solar light. I honor the new sun child by burning a[n] oaken yule log in a sacred fire. I honor the great goddess in her many great mother aspects, and the father god as Santa in his old sky god, father time, and holly king forms. I decorate my home with lights and with holly, ivy, mistletoe, evergreens and other herbs sacred to this season. I ring in the new solar year with bells.”
Fox even provides a list of suggestions on how 21st century citizens can take part in the ancient rituals, to “re-paganize” Christmastime:
- Have gift exchanges and feasts over the course of several days and nights as was done of old
- Adorn the home with sacred herbs and colors; decorate in druidic holiday colors of red, green and white
- Hang a sprig of mistletoe above a major threshold and leave it there until next yule as a charm for good luck throughout the year
- Have family/household members join together to make or purchase an evergreen wreath
- If you choose to have a living or a harvested evergreen tree as part of your holiday decorations, call it a solstice tree and decorate it with pagan symbols
- Reclaim Santa Claus as a pagan godform by decorating him with images that reflect his various heritages ranging from the Greek god Cronos (father time) to Odin, the Scandinavian all-father riding the sky on an eight-legged horse
- Place pagan mother-goddess images around your home, possibly including one with a sun child, such as Isis with Horus
- Honor the new solar year with light – light candles, burn a yule log and save a portion for the following year, put colored lights outside your home, and with the popularity of five-pointed stars, consider displaying a blue or white pentagram.