Monday, December 19, 2005

Who Doesn’t Like “Christmas?”

From the Pew Research Center, a poll on the “War on Christmas.” Specifically, respondents were asked:
Would you prefer if [sic] stores and businesses greet their customers by saying “Merry Christmas,” OR ... if [sic] stores and businesses use less religious terms like “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings?”
The results, of course, are pretty lopsided. Sixty percent said they would prefer “Merry Christmas” while only 23% preferred a less religious greeting. Seventeen percent volunteered that it didn’t matter to them.

Pew also asked an alternative version identical to the first, which added “or doesn’t it matter to you?” as an explicit choice given respondents.

The pollster is here showing a bias, and apparently trying to drive down the percentage who favor “Christmas.” It works, and asked this way, only 42% of the sample says it would prefer “Christmas.” Pew notes:
. . . the public is largely unconcerned about how they are greeted as they enter stores and businesses this season. By a substantial 60%-23% margin the public does prefer “Merry Christmas” to non-religious welcomes such as “Season’s Greetings.” But given the choice, a 45% plurality says it does not matter much either way.
What Pew fails to notice is that, given the “doesn’t matter” alternative, only twelve percent of the sample would prefer the secular greeting!

Thus, any way you slice it, the number of people who would prefer “Merry Christmas” greatly exceeds the number who want the secular greeting.

Pew is visibly desperate to minimize the preference for a religious Christmas. The poll establishes that the vast majority have no problem with the public display of Christian Christmas symbols. So Pew asks:
As I read a few things about the Christmas holiday season, tell me how much, if at all, each bothers you. First does [INSERT ITEM; RANDOMIZE] bother you a lot, some, not much, or not at all?
The three choices people were offered were “The commercialization of Christmas,” “Opposition to religious symbols in public places” and “The playing of Christmas music in stores and public places.”

Pew was pleased with the result:
Despite their support for allowing Christmas displays on government property and media attention to the controversies over such displays, most Americans are unconcerned by opposition to religious symbols in public places. Indeed, far more Americans say they are bothered at least to some extent by the commercialization of Christmas (52%) than say they are bothered by opposition to religious symbols in public places (35%).
Of course, this about like asking people whether they would prefer a ban on assault weapons in the United States and whether they want world peace, and then, when “world peace” proves to be more popular, reporting that people don’t really care about a ban on assault weapons.

Indeed, as the table shows, even the more conservative Evangelical Christians worry more about commercialization of the holiday. But then, even liberals doubtless want world peace more than an assault weapons ban.

But in spite off all the attempted manipulation, one message comes through clearly: many more people prefer to be greeted with “Merry Christmas” than prefer some insipid politically correct alternative.


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