I worked at a retail store the year that Bill O’Reilly started his “War on Christmas” nonsense. Among my regular customers were people that I knew were Jewish. I also had customers from Japan, China, Arab nations, India and a bunch of other places. My first inkling that some Xians were outraged that stores’ employees were saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” was when a very angry looking sixtyish woman came into the store, stomped past the Christmas trees, past the decorations that spelled out “Merry Christmas” and past the inflatable lawn ornaments with “Merry Christmas” printed across them, to the customer service desk, where she demanded to know whether the customer service rep greeted customers with “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”. The CSR responded that she preferred to say “Happy Holidays”, triggering a “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” tirade from the woman before she stormed back out of the store leaving puzzled employees and customers in her wake.
There was no store policy about holiday greetings. Staff members were free to address customers in any civil manner they liked and virtually all of us would respond to a customer’s “Merry Christmas” greeting with something like “and Merry Christmas to you”. It’s just that some of the employees, like me, realized that our customers were not exclusively Christians, and that there were other holidays to celebrate at that time of year. Coincidentally, that year Hanukah began on Dec. 25th. , but some of the employees were obviously Bill O’Reilly fans or attended the same church as fans and “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” discussions occurred in the break room as well as at customer service.
Ultimately, the “Jesus” people were sure that there was some kind of conspiracy to completely remove all reference to Christianity from the month of December and they seemed to feel that Xmas was the one and only legitimate holiday in Dec. The “holiday” people lived in the real world and were aware that other people have a right to exist too.
I don’t know what Bill O’Reilly’s motivation is. He may believe there’s a war on Xmas or he may get off on creating nationwide outrage among conservative Xians. It is clear, however, that conservative Xians, who seem to require an enemy in order to feel fulfilled, believe that their world is under attack from the usual suspects and that they need to gird their arms and join the crusade before society collapses into an orgy of abortions and godless communism. So, the Jesus people get to feel enraged and outraged and persecuted and at war with everyone whose views differ from theirs (and who are therefore EVIL). Of course, if they win the war (oops, I mean when they win, because god is on their side) the world will be a better place because salespeople will say “Merry Christmas” to everyone as they kill each other while fighting over the last got-to-have-it-now-toy, and maybe they’ll say “peace on earth, good will toward mankind” too.