Church's Grinch Alert list garners spotlight

DALLAS (BP)--At the time of year when "Happy Holidays" supplants the traditional "Merry Christmas" at various businesses, a website -- GrinchAlert.com -- is giving consumers an opportunity to register their compliments or complaints about which seasonal greeting they see or hear at stores or in their advertising.

Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, announced the website's launch by saying that "naughty" and "nice" lists would be broadcast every morning at 7:40 until Christmas Day on the 100,000-watt church-affiliated KCBI-FM (90.9).

"I wanted to do something positive to encourage businesses to acknowledge Christmas and not bow to the strident voices of a minority who object to the holiday," Jeffress said in a news release Dec. 6 recounting how several businesses nationwide reportedly have removed Christmas trees and are avoiding the traditional Merry Christmas verbiage.

Jeffress subsequently appeared on Fox News Channel's "Fox and Friends" and CNN's "American Morning" to discuss the website.

"People around the country are tired of political correctness," Jeffress told the Southern Baptist TEXAN in a telephone interview. "The website is a positive effort to encourage businesses that it's OK to say Merry Christmas."

GrinchAlert.com's tabs allow the public to submit reports for the "nice" list of businesses that use "Merry Christmas" alongside those that employ "Happy Holidays" for the "naughty" list. All submissions are screened before being posted on the site.

With dozens of "Grinch Alert" reports posted, the ratio between nice and naughty is 10/1, respectively. Businesses throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and across Texas are listed on the site, with entries also from Minnesota, Michigan, Oklahoma and Washington, D.C.

Alaska Airlines made the nice list as one site visitor posted the following: "I flew Alaska Airlines on my way back to Dallas after Thanksgiving. When they served me my meal, I was really impressed to see a small card on my meal tray that had a Bible verse on it. Not sure if they do this just around Christmas and Thanksgiving time, but I was really impressed!"

Businesses on the site's naughty list include Macy's, Nordstrom's, Target and Barnes & Noble. The city hall of Crowley, Texas, is listed as naughty for a sign on the building that reads, "Happy Holidays." Another site visitor reported that the city council of Tulsa, Okla., voted to substitute the word "Holiday" for "Christmas" in the title of its annual "Christmas Parade of Lights."

"I realize we live in a pluralistic society, where everyone doesn't recognize the spiritual value of Christmas the way Christians understand it," Jeffress said.

"But the world as a whole does recognize the significance of the coming of Christ," he continued, noting that the world's calendar is based on the birth of Christ. "That's one reason why Christmas is a unique season and deserves everyone's recognition."

Citing the popular children's book by Dr. Seuss, Jeffress said the title "is not 'How the Grinch stole Kwanzaa or Hanukkah,' but 'How the Grinch stole Christmas.'"

GrinchAlert.com also has a Facebook fan page.


Norm Miller is a writer based in Richmond, Va.

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