WHITE HOUSE AND LANDS’ END TRIGGER DISPUTES
Catalyst January/February Issue 2006, Front Page
On Friday, December 2, Bill Donohue received a Christmas card from the President and the First Lady (see below). He was pleased to get the card and was only slightly miffed to discover that it did not say “Merry Christmas.” But later in the day he found something out that made him perturbed.
Alan Cooperman, the senior religion reporter for the Washington Post, called Donohue at the end of the day on December 2 to learn of his reaction to the generic White House holiday card. Donohue said he was not disturbed by it because he assumed that all presidents issued these neutered holiday cards. But when Cooperman told him that this was incorrect—that every president from FDR to Bush’s father in 1992 had issued at least one card while in office that said “Merry Christmas”—that changed things.
When Donohue learned of this news, he told Cooperman the following: “This clearly demonstrates that the Bush administration has suffered a loss of will and that they have capitulated to the worst elements in our culture.” That quote wound up on the front page of the Washington Post on December 7, and with it came a barrage of media requests to interview the Catholic League president.
Donohue has met with President Bush on several occasions and considers him to be a good man. But the Catholic League is not a Republican Catholic organization anymore than it is a Democratic Catholic organization. It is a Catholic organization.
Meanwhile, Lands’ End did not anger the Catholic League the way Wal-Mart did (e.g. we never called for a boycott), but we were nonetheless not too happy with the way it handled Christmas. An employee in the store’s customer relations department e-mailed customers informing them that “we have adopted the ‘holiday’ terminology as a way to comply with one of the basic freedoms granted to all Americans: freedom of religion. We recognize that Christmas is a Christian holiday, and one of the foremost teachings of the Christian faith is a love for one’s fellowman—no matter what his race, religion or creed.”
We found this insulting and asked those who visited our webpage to register a complaint. One week after we complained, Lands’ End issued an apology and we immediately dropped the matter.
WHITE HOUSE “HOLIDAY” CARD…
In fairness, members should know that on December 20, the Catholic League received the following e-mail Christmas Greeting from President Bush:
‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel’ which means, God with us.
More than 2,000 years ago, a virgin gave birth to a Son, and the God of heaven came to Earth. Mankind had received its Savior, and to those who had dwelled in darkness, the light of hope had come. Each Christmas, we celebrate that first coming anew, and we rejoice in the knowledge that the God who came to Earth that night in Bethlehem is with us still and will remain with us forever.
Christmas is a season of hope and joy, a time to give thanks for the blessing of Christ’s birth and for the blessings that surround us every day of the year. We have much to be thankful for in this country, and we have a responsibility to help those in need. Jesus calls us to help others, and acts of kindness toward the less fortunate fulfill the spirit of the Christmas season.
On Christmas, we pray for freedom, justice and peace on Earth. We remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and for our freedom, and we ask for God’s blessing on their loved ones. We ask God to watch over all of our men and women in uniform. Many are serving in distant lands, helping to advance the cause of freedom and peace. Our entire Nation is grateful to them and prays for their safe return.
Laura and I send our best wishes for a blessed and merry Christmas.
GEORGE W. BUSH