Why would anybody prank the baby Jesus?


It was a nativity lover's dream -- more than 1,000  angels, wise men and shepherds gathered around Mary, Joseph and the holy baby at a park in Provo, Utah. They set a new Guinness record for the largest live nativity scene. Incredibly, there were no Grinches demanding that everybody quit having fun.

Everywhere you looked, it was "Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, angels, shepherds... and a lot of angels really," organizer Austin Craig told CBS affiliate KUTV.

It could have been a scene out of Kirk Cameron's new movie "Saving Christmas." Originally scheduled for only a two-week release in a few select cities, the film has drawn crowds -- and been held over, prompting the addition of new theaters.

And just like the beloved, centuries-old tradition of displaying nativity scenes, the film has had its unexpected Scrooges -- such as activist atheists urging their social media followers to fill several public movie critique sites with scurrilous "reviews."

Similarly nationwide, nativity scenes have been under attack -- again by pranksters. Police are investigating "kidnappings" of the baby Jesus in Pennsylvania, Indiana and Florida.

In Fargo, North Dakota, manger scenes are displayed in stores -- without the infant Messiah.

"Because of frequent thefts, local stores selling nativity sets have taken to keeping the newborn king behind glass or in storerooms, out of reach of shoplifters," reports Archie Ingersoll in Fargo for the Forum News Service.

"They like to steal baby Jesus," said Susan Hendershott, manager of Lee's Hallmark in Fargo. "That will catch up with you someday."

While other figurines are stolen, too, baby Jesus is the most popular target of thieves, Hendershott said.

"I don't even put all my nativities on display anymore," she told Ingersoll. "We've had to lock them up."

At Scheels Home & Hardware in Fargo, the earthly father and virgin mother -- a holy family set for $74.99 -- sit on a shelf adoringly hovering over a small sign that says, "PLEASE ASK FOR BABY JESUS."

Hurley's Religious Goods, which may have North Dakota's largest selection of nativities, boasts 40 styles ranging in price from $20 to $5,000. "You usually sell the holy family and the stable, and people can add on to them," said store owner Jeaninne McAllister.

At her Sioux Falls, S.D., store, theft has prompted a change in policy, she said.

"We don't put the baby in the set anymore," she told Ingersoll, admitting she was at a loss to explain why someone would swipe the swaddled son of God.

"Baby Jesus theft, of course, is nothing new," writes Ingersoll. "It's a longstanding prank that continues to plague churches with holiday creches. Some churches have even gone so far as to plant GPS tracking devices in their baby Jesus figurines to catch thieves."

Back in Provo, the Daily Herald reports that a Guinness World Record judge determined there were 1,039 participants in their world's largest nativity -- along with a camel, donkey and sheep.

That tops the record of 898 people last year at a nativity scene in the United Kingdom.

Most of the Ogden volunteers showed up dressed in white, to play the part of angels, in a massive heavenly host lining a hillside behind the manger, reported CBS affiliate KUTV in Salt Lake City.

So, it just goes to show that there are angels out there -- even if the pranksters are louder and seem to get more media attention!

Most Americans prefer "Merry Christmas" over neutral holiday greetings


If you feel like proclaiming "Merry Christmas," you're not alone. In recent years, a popular campaign to promote traditional Christmas greetings has shamed those who proclaim "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings."

"It turns out a majority of Americans support the Christmas comeback trend," reports Husna Haq in the Christian Science Monitor.  Among them are Texas state legislators, who passed a special law declaring that schoolteachers may declare "Merry Christmas" without fear.

"When asked whether they prefer stores and businesses to greet their customers by saying 'Merry Christmas,' or less religious terms such as 'Happy Holidays' and 'Season’s Greetings,' 57 percent of Americans picked 'Merry Christmas,'" according to a Pew Research Center survey. Only 27 percent picked less religious terms.

For years, "Fox News host Bill O'Reilly has publicly and frequently railed against what he calls the 'War on Christmas,'" notes Haq, calling for an end to the "Happy Holidays Syndrome," which O'Reilly calls "an insult to Christian America." In 2013, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin published a book on the subject,  Happy Holiday IS a Merry Christmas.

And, of course, this year, TV and movie star Kirk Cameron has packed theaters with his surprise cinematic hit "Saving Christmas," which extols the merits of celebrating Christ's birthday without apology. The movie was scheduled for a limited, two-week run around Thanksgiving, but has been held over nationwide and extended into new theaters.

For more than a decade, the American Family Association has chided major retailers who omit the word "Christmas" from their December advertising, encouraging supporters to boycott stores on the "Companies Against Christmas" list.

This year, reports Haq, Lowe's, Walmart, and Hobby Lobby received the organization's 5-star rating for "promoting and celebrating Christmas on an exceptional basis." On the other hand, Barnes & Noble, Family Dollar and Pet Smart landed on the "naughty" list for using neutral language supposedly unoffensive to America's religious minorities.

"The organization's campaign has worked," notes Haq. "In the past five years, the group has seen the percentage of retailers recognizing Christmas in their advertising rise from 20 percent to 80 percent, according to Randy Sharp, director of special projects at the American Family Association. One clothing retailer that changed its policies – thanks in part to the organization's campaign – was Gap Inc., which sent a letter to the AFA explaining its new policy.

"Starting today, every Gap Outlet window will have signs that say “Merry Christmas” along with Christmas trees and wreaths throughout their stores," Bill Chandler, Gap Inc.’s vice-president for global corporate affairs, said in a personal letter to Buddy Smith, executive vice president of the AFA.

In Texas, "Merry Christmas" has special protection.

"Texas lawmakers sent notices to schools," writes Jim Forsyth for Reuters, the British news agency, "informing them that new legislation allows students and teachers to dress in festive garb and say 'Merry Christmas' all they want without fear."

"Legislators in Oklahoma and Louisiana have proposed similar bills," observes Haq.

The "Merry Christmas Law'" passed nearly unanimously, reports Forsyth, backed by lawmakers "who feel that seasonal religious festivities have come under attack because of political correctness. It also covers the Jewish celebration of Hanukah."

"We hope to see fewer school districts being naughty and more districts being nice," the president of a group called Texas Values, Jonathan Saenz, told Reuters.

"That allows parents, teachers, students and school administrators to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah in public schools without fear of censorship, litigation or persecution," the co-author of the bill, State Rep. Dwayne Bohac told a local Austin ABC affiliate.

Is the atheist campaign hurting "Saving Christmas"? On the contrary ...


“I don’t care what you say about me, just spell my name right,” declared famous showman P.T. Barnum -- founder of what today is "The Greatest Show on Earth," the Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Playwright Oscar Wilde put it another way: "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about."

To quote Barnum again: "There's no such thing as bad publicity." He knew that if his show featured a new attraction that drew no reviews at all, the public wouldn't know about it  -- and the show would be a failure. Obviously, he preferred good publicity. However, he knew that bad publicity also sells tickets.

That's a lesson militant atheists apparently have forgotten. In the last week, we've seen an unprecedented campaign against Christian moviemaker Kirk Cameron's film "Saving Christmas." But the ironic thing is they are inadvertently filling theaters with moviegoers wondering what all the fuss is about.

"Saving Christmas" was originally scheduled for a limited two-week run in a few selected cities. However, with all the publicity that atheists have generated denouncing the film, it has been held over -- and is expanding to new cities.

Atheists helped spread the word by urging non-believers to log onto the Internet Movie Database website and as well as the review site Rotten Tomatoes vote "Saving Christmas" the worst movie in history.

Here's a social media post by "religion is a parasite," urging readers to vote. Notice that one follower responded with a pang of conscience, wondering if only people who had seen the movie should vote.


The nationwide atheist campaign succeeded in stuffing the ballot box -- and suddenly all sorts of media which had ignored the film was announcing the news -- that "Saving Christmas" is the worst movie ever made.

For example, media gadfly Perez Hilton suddenly jumped into the discussion, telling his millions of followers:

perez However, the public isn't stupid. Here's a Facebook post that resulted: response Here's another response: facebook2


And so, something designed to hurt a godly cause has actually helped it. Interestingly enough 4,000 years ago, one of God's greatest prophets had thoughts on that topic:  Isaiah 54:17 -- "No weapon formed against you will prosper."

There's also "The day is coming when God will reckon with wicked men for their hard speeches" (Jude 1:15).

And: "You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you ... Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you'" (2 Chronicles 20:17).


So, why would anybody be so determined to keep you from enjoying Christmas?

Annually, they rage against Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus -- livid that they might be honored in school pageants, portrayed on the courthouse lawn or praised in public concerts. But why?

"Why do some atheists embarrass themselves year after year trying to eradicate Christmas from American culture?" asks Doug Giles for Clash Daily. "Is it because they are crusaders for equality, secularism’s saviors and humanism’s heroes? I’m sure that’s what they tell themselves when they’re pouting on their couches all alone on Christmas Eve after every single one of their friends has dumped them?"

"Why is Christmas such a big deal?" asks author Jerry Newcombe for the Christian Post. "Let's put it this way: why do groups like the ACLU, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Americans United for Separation of Church and State invest time, money and energy to fight any vestige of religious meaning to the holiday?"

"Why do some people hate Christmas today? Why is it that some people are aggressively opposed to the message of God becoming man?" writes Bruce Goettsche  on the Union Church website.

Well, this isn't exactly the first time in history that it's happened.

"In Matthew 2 we see the first example of this hostility," writes Goettsche. "The Magi arrived in Jerusalem and asked King Herod, 'Where is He who is born the King of the Jews?' Herod had already executed his favorite wife, her two sons, and one of his other sons. Herod was not a nice man!" Threatened that a new king had been born, he "gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under." He was enraged at the idea of God sending a deliverer, a Messiah -- particularly one that threatened his status.

And now, today, "people don’t like this message that they need a 'Savior,'” observes Goettsche. "They feel they are doing just fine on their own.  They don’t want to be told that their life is unacceptable before God.  They are offended by the truth. "

But it's that truth which must be proclaimed, says movie-maker and film star Kirk Cameron. His film "Saving Christmas" has touched a nerve in the American psyche this Yuletide. Scheduled for a short, two-week run in theaters nationwide, the film has been held over in major cities -- and expanded to even more cinemaplexes across America.

In it, Cameron, a frequent focus of irked atheists, says that Christmas is a wonderful time of the year in which we all pause to celebrate the birth of the King of kings, the savior who changed human history more than anyone else.

That message enrages atheists -- who have targeted Cameron for attack and mockery.

"The reason some rage," writes Newcombe, "is that they hate God and love their sin, and bringing up Jesus in December is not the way they wanted to finish off the year. Indeed, Christ really rains on their parade — and they love their parade."

"Christmas, if you really get down to the brass tacks of it," writes Giles, "isn’t about reindeer, elves and iPhones, but about mankind’s sin problem and what God did to remedy it by sending His Son.

"When you see the atheist attack manger scenes," notes author Janice Crouse, "you might think, 'this is an innocuous kind of thing. What do they have against a manger scene for crying out loud?'

"It gives you some idea of how powerful Jesus Christ is. If He were not powerful, what would they care?" writes  Newcombe.  "So why the opposition to Jesus, at Christmastime or otherwise? Jesus summed it up in one sentence: 'Light has come into the world, but men prefer darkness because their deeds are evil.'"

What if small towns fought back to save Christmas?


Officials in the Ozark Mountains of northern Arkansas are defying atheist grinches trying to shut down a Christmas display on the county courthouse lawn. Baxter County officials "rebuffed atheists’ efforts to seek the removal of a nativity scene from a courthouse lawn," reports Billy Hallowell for the Blaze.

And they're not the only ones. "Nativity scenes will appear in nine State Capitols this Christmas—five of them due to the work of the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm," reports Tom Ciesielka for Charisma News. 

And of course, there's film and TV superstar Kirk Cameron, whose movie "Saving Christmas" expanded into more cities this weekend and is being held over past its planned two-week limited run nationwide. In it, the star of Fireproof and the original Left Behind films stands up with those who would attack any celebration of Christ's birth.

Standing up to out-of-town Scrooges, officials in rural Mountain Home, Arkansas, are telling complaining atheists to leave their creche alone. "The nativity scene," reports Hallowell, "is erected each year on the Baxter County Courthouse lawn  in memory of Coralee Faith Spencer, a deceased local woman."

Following court guidelines, the display includes secular elements as well, including a Santa Claus and a Christmas tree, the Associated Press reported.

And it includes a disclaimer proclaiming local citizens' right to express their religious beliefs: “During the Holiday Season," reads the plaque, "the County of Baxter salutes liberty. Let these festive lights and times remind us that we are keepers of the flame of liberty and our legacy of freedom. Whatever your religion or beliefs, enjoy the holidays. This display is owned and erected by private citizens of Baxter County.”

The American Humanist Association is livid and demanded the nativity scene be removed. Their protests have been ignored.

The county’s new resolution, which was adopted by all 11 quorum court members, cited a 1994 Supreme Court Case under which nativities are permitted so long as they include a disclaimer. Officials also noted that no public workers were involved in erecting, funding or taking down the Arkansas courthouse display.

Meanwhile in Chicago, Thomas More Society is celebrating the eighth year that statues of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus have resided in a small stable at the Illinois State Capitol. The Christian law firm has also helped secure permits for Nativity scenes to be displayed this year in the state capitols of Florida, Georgia, Rhode Island, Texas and on the Governor's Mansion lawn in Oklahoma.

"These Nativity displays represent classic free speech and the free exercise of faith by private citizens in the public square," explained Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society. "However, the issue has not been without controversy," he added. "Nativity displays represent a constitutionally protected expression by private citizens in traditional or designated public forums, where the sole role of the government must be that of a viewpoint-neutral gatekeeper assuring open access for all citizens to have their 'say.' Such private expressions of religious belief in the public squares of our nation are not merely tolerable but fully deserving of robust legal protection."

Kinda cool to know that lots of people are working together to save Christmas -- or at least preserve our right to celebrate it!

Signs of the "war on Christmas" popping up right on cue


Like a four-year-old bouncing on the coffee table and shouting naughty words, atheists nationwide are doing their best to offend anyone who loves the reason for the season. "The most reliable annual 'war on Christmas' fodder in all the land has arrived," reports Abby Ohlheiser for the Washington Post. "A billboard, released by an atheist group."

“Dear Santa,” the billboard reads. “All I want for Christmas is to skip church! I’m too old for fairy tales.”

The American Atheists organization posted the billboards in Memphis, Nashville, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Arkansas. The signs are aimed at "in-the-closet atheists who are pressured to observe religious traditions during the holidays," reports Lauren Squires for ABC News in Memphis.  "While previous billboards have been located in urban settings like New York City's Times Square, this year billboards are located in more residential areas near schools and churches."

"Atheists in Illinois are taking direct aim at Christmas," reports Billy Hallowell of the Blaze, "by posting numerous public displays in an effort to combat nativity scenes and other religious sentiment.

“Once again this year, the non-religious will have a voice in the Chicago area countering the religious symbolism widely present on public property during the the month of December,” reads a press release from the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Metropolitan Chicago Chapter. "The group has posted a large, illuminated scarlet 'A' along with banners celebrating the winter solstice" in Chicago’s Daley Center Plaza.

The organization is also collaborating with the Chicago Coalition of Reason "to unveil a separate set of messages over the weekend inside North School Park in Arlington Heights, Illinois," reports Hallowell.

The atheist plan is to "outnumber religious symbols" commemorating Christmas, according to the press release from the the secular group’s Metropolitan Chicago Chapter. Among the messages will be a banner that asks, “Are you good without God? Millions are!”

But a few folks are fighting back -- including the thousands packing out theaters featuring Kirk Cameron's movie "Saving Christmas." It had been scheduled for a limited two-week run in select theaters -- but instead has has been held over nationwide. And more theaters are picking up the movie each week.

In fact, Cameron has unofficially put out the word that the only way to see "Saving Christmas" this year will be in theaters -- that no DVD will be released this Christmas season.

And in Redmond, Washington, signs proclaiming “It's OK to say 'Merry Christmas'” are popping up all over for the third consecutive year.

No one seems to know who’s responsible for posting the placards, according to the Redmond Reporter. The green signs include two Bible verses — one from Romans and another from Luke.

The text from Romans 1:16 reads, ”For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes; first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”

"The signs," reports Hallowell, "which are placed near the library, police department and a local church, appear to be an attempt to encourage citizens to abandon more generic season’s greetings like 'Happy Holidays.'”

“We live in a pluralistic society and I'm grateful that we have freedom of expression,” said Suzanne Aviles, a spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Memphis.

According to a Pew poll, many of the states targeted by the atheists this year have a smaller-than-average percentage of people who responded that they do not believe in God. In Tennessee, for instance, just 2 percent of respondents said they do not believe in God. But American Atheists told the Post it is bringing the campaign to the South not because of the quantity of atheists there, but because “discrimination and mistrust of atheists is especially pronounced” in the region.

In Mississippi, no billboard company would rent the atheists a sign.

"Overall, American attitudes towards atheists are not positive," noted the Post. "In a poll earlier this year, a majority of Americans said that a belief in God is necessary for individual morality. And a temperature-based rating system from Pew measuring how people in the United States feel about different faith groups found that Americans, by a wide margin, have the 'coldest' feelings for atheists."

This is nuts! They thought what Christmas tradition was too religious?


Of all the nutty reports we hear every Yuletide, this one cracked us up. "Officials at a Massachusetts elementary school have reportedly reversed course after considering canceling a trip to see 'The Nutcracker,'" writes Billy Hallowell of The Blaze.

Butler Elementary School in Belmont, Massachusetts, has long sent its second-grade students to see the Tchaikovsky children's ballet. However, that tradition came under fire amid local atheists' complaints over the musical presentation's religious themes, WHDH-TV reported.

It's one thing to have to come to the rescue of Christmas every year -- a task moviemaker and superstar Kirk Cameron has undertaken in his new film "Saving Christmas" showing nationwide -- but now we have to defend the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy?

What exactly is religious about "The Nutcracker?" As the curtain opens in the musical extravaganza, family and friends have gathered to decorate a beautiful Christmas tree. Darling kids are summoned  -- and stand in awe of the sparkling lights and decorations. But nothing religious has happened yet!

A party begins on stage and the young actors -- traditionally local amateurs in tights and tutus debuting with professional ballerinas and danseurs -- show off their dance moves, then march in step. Adults show off their toe-dancing skills and amid much music, presents are given out to the children. (Nothing religious yet!)

An owl-topped grandmother clock strikes eight and a mysterious toymaker shows up with four lifelike dolls who dance to the delight of all.

Sweet little Clara is delighted with the toymaker's wooden nutcracker. Naughty little boy Fritz breaks it. Clara is heartbroken. That night, she slips downstairs to check on it as the clock strikes midnight! Dancing mice fill the room. The Christmas tree grows to dizzying heights. A battle breaks out between gingerbread soldiers, dolls and mice. The nutcracker is transformed into a handsome prince who leads Clara through a forest with dancing snowflakes. (Have you spotted anything religious yet?)

Enter a lot of dancing candy and waltzing flowers as Clara twirls happily with the prince before the curtain falls.

The play is a December tradition -- much like making a fuss over Christmas has become. That's so absurd, Cameron notes in "Saving Christmas" -- after all, this should be a wonderful time of celebration!

In Massachusetts, the bickering broke out after the school’s PTA debated canceling this year's field trip to watch the ballet -- after complaints about the ballet's religious messages. Parents supportive of the musical drama protested, baffled that anybody would confuse "The Nutcracker" with a nativity scene.

The emergency meeting was called, dramatic speeches were given. It was decided “The Nutcracker” will continue after all.

But nobody ever managed to explain what is religious about Tchaikovsky's magical ballet.

More than Christmas is saved in San Jose


Saving Christmas took on a joyful new meaning in San Jose, California, the morning after a devastating fire turned historic Holy Cross Church into a burned-out shell. "The Rev. Firmo Mantovani and bleary-eyed members of his parish were stunned," writes Jose Rodriguez for the San Jose Mercury News,  by a "wondrous sight."

"I can't believe what I'm seeing," said 86-year-old parishioner Sam Arlotta.

"Milagro!" added Cecilia Calderon, using the Spanish word for miracle. "God loves us very much."

With Christmas only weeks away and Kirk Cameron's movie "Saving Christmas" playing only 15 minutes away at the Century 20 Oakridge theater on Blossom Hill Road, parishioners had wondered what the Yuletide had in store for them.

"Standing on Jackson Street in the city's Northside neighborhood, they gazed through a fence and the open front doors at the heavy, 10-foot-tall, Italian-made gilded wooden crucifix that somehow survived the four-alarm fire Sunday afternoon," writes Rodriguez.

"Like Arlotta and Calderon, Mantovani figured the crucifix and everything else inside the century-old church had been incinerated.

To see photos, CLICK HERE. 

San Jose fire Battalion Chief Richard Toledo couldn't explain it either. "I wish I could tell you," he told Rodriguez. "It was open to all of the elements -- the fire and smoke and the collapsing roof, and yet it's there in almost perfect shape."

Cause of the fire remains unknown, but removing the historic crucifix, the fire chief called in a crew trained to use ropes in human rescue situations.

As a grateful pastor and prayerful parishioners watched, "firefighters carefully probed the charred beams holding up the cross," reports Rodriguez. "A lone firefighter lowered a special rope from a tall fire engine ladder into the gaping hole above the altar and crucifix. Firefighters below carefully fastened the rope around the arms of the image of Jesus."

And they lowered the antique cross to the ground.

Parishioner Tino Quinones was astonished. "It doesn't look like he has any damage. It's amazing!"

The church was founded more than a century ago to serve Italian immigrants.

"The dollar amount for damages to the church -- which was insured -- was anybody's guess Monday," reported Rodriguez.

In joyful tears, parishioner Dorothy Bua approached Mantovani.

"Is there anything we can do you for you, Father?"

He answered, "I am fine.

"Just keep up the spirit."

And that's exactly the message of Cameron's movie -- now playing in theaters nationwide.  CLICK HERE for times and theaters near you. 

Wisemen at the U.S. Postal Service!


In a joyous seasonal surprise, the post office unveiled this year's Christmas stamp -- and it's "an image that features a biblical scene that is ingrained in the traditional story of Jesus Christ’s birth," reports Billy Hallowell at the Blaze. United States Postal Service

Do you suppose somebody at the U.S. Postal Service took Kirk Cameron to heart -- particularly his appeal in the movie "Saving Christmas" to remember the real reason for the season?

"Saving Christmas" is now playing in select theaters nationwide.

The stamp, which the U.S. Postal Service says features a scene from “one of the most beloved stories of the Nativity,” is available for purchase on USPS.com.

"The Christmas Magi Limited Edition Forever stamp, which was released on Wednesday, features the three Magi riding on camels and following a bright star as they make their way to visit the Christian savior. The word “Christmas” is displayed in the lower lefthand corner, as USA Today reported.

“The stamp art illustrates the traditional tale of the Magi, who came bearing gifts for Jesus. The three regal figures sit atop a trio of bedecked and harnessed camels, the animals almost at the summit of a small hill,” reads the stamp’s official description. “Guiding them is a large, dazzling star shining in the sky … The star, located in the upper left-hand corner of the picture, is a brilliant white.”

"The Christmas Magi stamp isn’t the only holiday-themed design to be unveiled this year," writes Hallowell, "as a new Rudolf-inspired option was also newly added to the postal service’s website — and other more secular designs are available as well, including stamps featuring snowmen and wreaths.

"Other holidays like Kwanzaa and Hanukkah are also represented."

The wisemen-themed stamp is only the latest Christ-centered emblem to come from the U.S. Postal Service. Here are two of the other options from past years:

United States Postal Service

See all of the holiday stamps here.

They're making a list and checking it twice!

Accepting the challenge of "Saving Christmas," a well-known Christian outreach has made a list so you can decide where you want to do your checking out! "The American Family Association has released its 'Naughty-or-Nice 2014 Retailer List,' an annual report that offers Christian consumers information about how companies market their products during the holiday season," writes Billy Hallowell for the Blaze.

In the same spirit, actor and producer Kirk Cameron has released a movie "Saving Christmas" now showing nationwide. Meanwhile the AFA has rated retailers, writes Hallowell, "on a color-coded scale, with the highest marks going to '5-star rated' businesses that both 'promote and celebrate Christmas on an exceptional basis.' This year, some of the companies that fall under that category are Lowe’s, Sears, Hobby Lobby and Wal-Mart."

"On the lower end, are companies that the American Family Association claims 'use Christmas sparingly in a single or unique product description' and that, overall, purportedly do not adequately recognize the holiday in newspaper advertisements and TV and radio spots.

"Some of these so-called 'naughty' companies are: Barnes & Noble, Family Dollar, Foot Locker, Limited Brands, Office Depot, Office Max, Pet Smart, Staples, Victoria’s Secret and Maurice’s, according to a list published on the organization’s website."

Here's the AFA's color-coded list:

American Family Association

“If a company’s ad has references to items associated with Christmas (trees, wreaths, lights, etc.), it was considered as an attempt to reach ‘Christmas’ shoppers,” the website explains. “If a company has items associated with Christmas, but did not use the word ‘Christmas,’ then the company is considered as censoring ‘Christmas.’”