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Political Divides Seen in Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays

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Political Divides Seen in Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays

WASHINGTON (CNS) — What’s in a name? Plenty, apparently depending on your political

A report issued Dec. 19 by the Public Religion Research Institute indicates that
Democrats and Republicans differ even on what they want cash-register clerks to
say in December.

Asked, “Do you think stores and businesses should greet their customers with ‘Happy Holidays’
or ‘Seasons Greetings’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas’ out of respect for people
of different faiths, or not?” self-identified Democrats by a margin of more
than 2 to 1, replied that they should. Republicans, by an even slightly
stronger margin, said no, they should not.

The actual numbers were 66 percent-30 percent yes for the Democrats, and 67
percent-28 percent no for Republicans. Independents said no by a much narrower
difference, 48 percent to 44 percent.

When all Americans are taken into account, the yeses have it by an eyelash, 47
percent to 46 percent, according to the report, “‘Merry
Christmas’ vs. ‘Happy Holidays’: Republicans and Democrats Are Polar Opposites,”
by PRRI president Robert Jones and its research director, Daniel Cox.

Fifty-eight percent of Catholics favored “Merry Christmas,” as did 65 percent of white
evangelical Protestants and 54 percent of senior citizens. Preferring a more
generic greeting were young adults ages 18-29, religiously unaffiliated
Americans (58 percent), nonwhite Protestants (56 percent) and mainline
Protestants (a plurality, at 48 percent).

“Attitudes on this question are largely unchanged over the last six years,” said the

Over the past decade, according to the survey, the degree of religiosity with which
Americans celebrate Christmas has slipped. The percentage of Americans who
personally celebrate Christmas as a “strongly religious” holiday has dipped
from 49 percent to 43 percent, and the percentage who celebrate it as a “somewhat
religious” holiday has ebbed from 32 percent to 29 percent. Those for whom
Christmas is “not too religious” a holiday has climbed from 19 percent in 2005
to 27 percent in 2016.

Fifty-one percent of Catholics told PRRI that Christmas is a strongly religious holiday
for them, lower than the 74 percent reported by white evangelical Protestants,
but higher than the 49 percent of nonwhite Protestants and 39 percent of
mainline Protestants — compared to 30 percent of young people and 10 percent
of religiously unaffiliated Americans.

“Christmas continues to be December’s dominant holiday in terms of number of Americans
celebrating it,” the report said. Of all respondents, 89 percent said they will
be celebrating Christmas this December. In second place was Advent with 4
percent, followed by 3 percent each for Hanukkah and the winter solstice and 1 percent
for Kwanzaa. Four percent said they would not celebrate any holiday in December.

Because many people spend time around Christmas with extended family, survey
respondents were asked whether they talk about politics with family when they
get together.

Those who said they talk with their families more often about politics are also more
likely to report disagreements. Over Thanksgiving, 19 percent of those who said
they talk about politics reporting having squabbled with kin over politics. By
comparison, only 8 percent of those who never talk about politics reported
disagreements. Eighteen percent of Democrats, and 12 percent of Republicans,
reported that political differences arose over Thanksgiving. Young people
reported more than twice as much family disagreement than seniors, 21 percent
to 10 percent.

While 5 percent of Americans say they plan to spend less time with certain family
members because of their political views, it is five times as prevalent among
Democrats (10 percent) than Republicans (2 percent).

The survey was taken by phone in Spanish and English Dec. 7-11, with 1,004 adults, 615 of
whom were on a cellphone. The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.6
percentage points.

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Follow Pattison on Twitter: @MeMarkPattison.


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