Republicans and Democrats are completely divided on how stores should greet customers during the holiday season, according to a new poll.
Two-thirds of Democrats (66 percent) said stores or business should greet customers with “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” instead of “Merry Christmas” out of respect for people of different faiths. Two-thirds of Republicans (67 percent) said stores and business should not go with the religion-neutral sayings.
The poll was conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonprofit, independent research organization.
The divide also cuts across age groups and religious backgrounds. Two-thirds of young adults (ages 18-29) are in favor of “Happy Holidays,” while 54 percent of seniors favor “Merry Christmas.”
The poll found white evangelical Protestants (65 percent) and Catholics (58 percent) as the strongest proponents of businesses using “Merry Christmas.” Non-white Protestants (56 percent) and religiously unaffiliated (58 percent) favor stores using “Happy Holidays.”
Overall, Americans are split on the issue — with 47 percent saying stores should use “Happy Holidays” and 46 percent wanting “Merry Christmas.”
President-elect Donald Trump made saying “Merry Christmas” an issue in the 2016 election. At his latest post-election rally, Trump stood in front of 16 large Christmas trees and behind a sign that said “Merry Christmas USA.”
Trump’s 2015 holiday card said “Merry Christmas + Happy Holidays,” according to Yahoo. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is Jewish, and his daughter Ivanka converted to Judiasm before marrying Kushner. Both are influential advisers of the president-elect.
President Barack Obama’s holiday greeting card never said “Merry Christmas,” according to the Washington Times, which reports this year’s version said “Happy holidays” and said “we wish you and your loved ones a joyous holiday season and wonderful new year.”
The so-called “war on Christmas” is at least a decade old political battle, stemming at least in part from FOX News host John Gibson’s 2005 book “The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday is Worse Than You Thought.”
Time offers a good primer on the history behind the “war on Christmas.”