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A Minor Defeat on the ‘War on Christmas’: Times Square Billboard Wishes ‘Happy Holidays’

As nearly one million gather Times Square to celebrate the arrival of 2014 on New Year’s Eve, a billboard sponsored by the Bank of America is quietly delivering a minor blow in the so-called ‘War on Christmas.’  The sign, prominently located in the shadow of the famous Times Square ball drop, reads ‘Happy Holidays!’

The greeting, which earlier this month was declared by Fox News Bill O’Reilly to be “insulting to Christian America,” has been at the center of a month-long debate, largely fueled by Fox News, that claims that Christianity is under attack by secular liberals in America.

Turning ‘Merry Christmas’ into a rally cry for conservatives, GOP pundits have even drafted legislation to stop ‘Merry Christmas’ from being replaced by ‘Happy Holidays’ and declaring the Christmas phrase protected under Congressional mandate. To make the battle lines clear, the once neutral ‘Happy Holidays’ has also been turned into a political statement this holiday season by the GOP which printed mugs and  t-shirts reading “Happy Holidays is what liberals say.”

In response to the t-shirt campaign, some liberals have been flooding GOP offices and twitter accounts with greetings of ‘Happy Holidays,’ while others have simply ignored the debate, calling it a piece of fiction created by the religious right to draw attention to themselves and turn the dominant Christian religion into victims of secular America.

“We now live in a country where some people wish each other Happy Holidays and others wish each other Merry Christmas,” Lincoln Mitchell wrote in a Huffington Post piece decrying the so-called ‘war’. “In a world where they are real wars, injustices, murders and poverty, how is this possibly news, let alone evidence of a war?”

Yet for Bill O’Reilly, and the Fox News team, the ‘War on Christmas’ is not only real, but is spreading across the nation.  “We have the “Happy holidays” syndrome,” he said earlier this month promising to uncover any acts of anti-Christmas sentiment wherever they may be found.

“It isn’t a mythical war on Christmas. It’s real, and we just won,” the Fox News host stressed later during a pre-Christmas broadcast. Ironically, a promo wishing viewers ‘Happy Holidays’ aired by the network ran during O’Reilly’s segment announcing victory for the Merry Christmas crowd.

Photo Credit: Tamar Auber

About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.