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In a mid-season turnabout, Target stores have pledged to re-introduce Christmas themes into marketing efforts, prompting the American Family Association to officially drop its boycott.

“We are pleased to learn that Target has heard our concerns and decided to use Christmas in their advertising and marketing efforts,” said AFA Chairman Donald E. Wildmon. “Since the company has responded positively, we see no need to continue the boycott.”

AFA also called off a boycott on Sears after the chain decided to include Christmas in its stores this season. Sears notified AFA that “Merry Christmas” signs have been shipped and are now on display in all of its stores. The Sears website now includes a Christmas greeting.

A Target boycott petition at afa.net was signed by nearly 700,000 people, noted Wildmon, who said many companies have dropped bans on the term Christmas.

Target said, in its official statement: “Over the course of the next few weeks, our advertising, marketing and merchandising will become more specific to the holiday that is approaching – referring directly to holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah. For example, you will see reference to Christmas in select television commercials, circulars and in-store signage.

“We do not have a policy or intention of excluding the word ‘Christmas’ from our holiday advertising or marketing. Christmas images and themes have been used in our advertising and marketing in the past and you will continue to see these images and themes in the future.”

Wildmon concluded: “We think you will see a different approach next year.”

Another group taking action over the “banning of Christmas,” Concerned Women for America, has compiled three lists of businesses, categorized by their recognition of Christmas as the “reason for the season.”

Stores dubbed “nice” are described as “honoring the reason for the season”; “scrooges,” meanwhile, “have removed the mention of Christmas from their business”; and stores branded “somewhat naughty” have straddled the middle.

Macy’s made CWA’s “nice list” because it brought back mention of Christmas in stores and ads. However, L.L. Bean received middle-ground rating because it’s first seasonal catalog read “Christmas 2005,” while subsequent catalogs were titled “Holiday 2005.”

Robert Knight, director of CWA’s Culture and Family Institute, said, “More and more retailers are realizing, too late, that Christian consumers now understand that the constant use of ‘happy holidays’ and ‘holiday’ is grating and insulting.”

Knight said that “when something is clearly about Christmas itself, it is dishonest to ban the very mention of Christmas on the grounds that it might offend a handful of people. This is a nation where surveys show 96 percent of the population celebrates Christmas. There is no survey showing that people of other faiths are insulted when the majority celebrate Christmas or wish anyone a ‘Merry Christmas.’

“The tyranny of a tiny minority of Grinches to veto any mention of Christmas must stop,” Knight concluded. “We are very encouraged that some major retailers like Macy’s are starting to get it and hope that more will join them.”

Here is CWA’s list, compiled prior to changes by Sears and Target.

“NICE”

Macy’s
Chick-fil-A
Kroger
IHOP
Saks Off Fifth Avenue
Kay Jewelers
Capital One
Hobby Lobby
In-N-Out Burger

“SOMEWHAT NAUGHTY”

Walgreens
Wal-Mart
L.L. Bean
Sears
Lowe’s

“SCROOGES”

Target
Office Max
Kmart
Staples
Home Depot
Best Buy
Kohl’s
BJ’s
SC Johnson
Verizon
Radio Shack
Zales
Outback
Lexus
Old Navy
Cingular
Reckitt Benckiser
Pier 1
Red Lobster
Office Depot
Gillette
Applebee’s
Burlington Coat
Dell
Milton-Bradley
U.S. Postal Service
Costco

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Related story:

Bracelets urge: ‘Just say Merry Christmas’

Previous stories:

Boycott of Target over next Christmas

‘Merry Christmas’ boycott targets Sears

Dreaming of a White House ‘Christmas’

Lowe’s listens: ‘Christmas trees’

‘Christmas’ trees vs. ‘Holiday’ trees

Target petition passes quarter million

Target boycott urged for Thanksgiving weekend

Wal-Mart boycott ends with apology

Wal-Mart worker ‘history’ after ‘origin’ of Christmas

Wal-Mart faces boycott for ‘banning’ Christmas

Target extends ban on Salvation Army

Clergy extend Target boycott

Homosexuals behind Target action?

Church leaders threatens Target boycott

Christmas in America becomes battleground

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