Robert Jeffress and Nina Totenberg: On My Grinch List.

How many observe Christ's birthday! How few, his precepts!
O! 'tis easier to keep Holidays than Commandments.
  -Benjamin Franklin




Our good friend, Tom Rich, over at FBC Jax Watchdog, did a super job reviewing Robert Jeffress of FBC Dallas and his “Naughty or Nice list. Here is a link.


So we at TWW felt it would be overkill for us to do a similar post. However, last Sunday morning, as I was lying in bed and trying to wake up for church, my husband flipped on Fox News and there was Jeffress, doing his number, once again, on this naughty or nice list shtick. I was so embarrassed by his answers that I pulled the bedspread over my head and yelled, “I can’t take it anymore.”

Here is a compilation of a couple of interviews which I found at Media Matters (yes, yes, I know, but they had an embed code).


         Robert Jeffress Pontificates



Jeffress’ church provides the electronic “paper” for this list to exist. See it for yourself at However, attempting to slightly distance himself from the list, he claims that it is just random folks who post their supposed experiences at stores. So, get this, anyone who has a grudge about a store can write and claim that the store would not say “Merry Christmas.” Jeffress then makes the statement that this list features those businesses that “recognize the real reason for the season.”

Now, how does he know that these businesses “recognize” the real reason for Christmas? He also claimed that these businesses “celebrate Christmas.” Huh? Does he read minds?

Finally, one of the anchors asked a logical question. What would you do if a store wished you a Happy Hanukkah? Jeffress, for once, looked like a deer caught in the headlights. What he said next, I believed exposed the weakness of his approach. He said, “So long as they really mean it then it would be OK.” Please note the phrase “so long as they really mean it.”

One would assume that Jeffress wants people to mean what they say. So here are a  few questions and comments regarding, what I believe to be, his ill advised crusade.


1. Why does he think that everyone who says Merry Christmas really means it? Does he assume that they are implying that they are pleased about the birth of Jesus?

One of my relatives “celebrates” Christmas to the max: tons of presents, Christmas carols, Christmas candy, the Nutcracker ballet, Trans Siberian Orchestra (which, btw, I love) and a beautiful Christmas tree. She says Merry Christmas to one and all yet refuses to darken the door of a church and considers herself to be agnostic. To her Christmas is embodied by the song ,Frosty the Snowman, sung vigorously. So, if she said "Merry Christmas" to Jeffress , he would put her on the nice list and would then certify that her business recognizes the “real reason for the season.” These are his stated standards. And he would be dead wrong.


2. Why not say Happy Holidays?

Why do some Christians think that everyone who says “Happy Holidays” is a sellout? The word "holiday" is derived from the word “holy day” which, in this writer’s estimation, includes Christmas. In fact, when someone says Happy Holidays to me, I often respond, “It truly is a holy day. Same to you.”


3. Is this list, which demands a verbal “Merry Christmas,” the best way to witness to the birth of our Lord?

This question is the crux of the matter. Why not take this season as an opportunity to greet a harried checkout person who is desperately trying to ring up all the purchases and receiving a minimum wage for doing so? Can you imagine how tired he/she feels and, perhaps, a bit envious of all the gifts you can afford for your family? Why not show her/him some love and consideration? You could inquire how they are holding up. Why not smile, look in their eyes and call them by name (most wear a nametag)? How about buying a small gift card for a cup of coffee or a sandwich and give it to them, saying that Jesus makes this a wonderful time of year? Why not go up to the manager of the store and tell them how much you appreciate their establishment and compliment them on the decorations or flowers, whatever?

Or do you think they are really impressed with your blithe “Merry Christmas?” Can you imagine how he/she might feel about the war on Christmas if they read about the mean, minimum wage, overworked clerk who “refused” to wish them a Merry Christmas and instead said “Happy Holidays?” Wow, what a potent witness. I’m sure he/she will run to church on Sunday.


4. Do you understand the economics of supply and demand?

As it has been said, “We have met the enemy and it is us.” Here is a comment on the Grinchlist.


“One customer who put Target on the Naughty list wrote: "I was looking for an ornament that reflected the reason for the season, and I could not find anything that said Merry Christmas. I'm tired of seeing ONLY snowmen, Santa Clauses, snowflakes, birds, glitter, etc. I could not find a gift bag, an ornament, or a gift box with a manger or the Holy Family on it.”

Let me dust off my MBA and briefly pontificate. Target is in the business of making money. So, if there is no ornament with the Hoy Family on it, its because all of these Christians, who are demanding everyone say “Merry Christmas”, are buying Frosty the Snowmen ornaments instead of manger ornaments. Its called supply and demand. If there is a demand, Target will sell it because they want to make a profit. So quit blaming Target and start looking at yourself.


5.Scripture is pretty clear that one is not to bear false witness against one's neighbor.

One way to really get this blog queen to fly off the handle is to send her some dumb “urban legend” email. Years ago, Christians were claiming that Proctor and Gamble worshipped Satan and I received multiple emails. I was furious that supposed Christians were so quick to believe nonsense and then to pass on rumors. (Memo to Sovereign Grace Ministries: This is what is really meant by gossip). This sort of thing has no place in the Christian community.

So, in this spirit, we have another Christian yahoo pulling a similar stunt on the Grinchlist. If you are going to throw all decency to the wind and write on that stupid list, at least get your facts right.

“A miscommunication appears to be behind a conflict at Wachovia bank in Florida. In the Tampa Bay area, a Fox affiliate reported that a customer closed her account at a Wachovia branch because she was told the company had a "No Christmas Tree" policy. Wachovia spokeswoman Christina Kolbjornsen said in a statement: "We respect the diversity of our customers and our team members, and we're decorating our stores with poinsettia plants so everyone can be included."

But Wells Fargo, which has taken over Wachovia banks, says there is no company policy on the issue and that decisions about displays are made at the local level. "There are no policies that say we can't have Christmas trees in banks," spokeswoman Mary Eshet said.”


6. In a typical example of Christian “unity” we find the same store getting on both the naughty and nice list.

The same Target store found on the naughty list above engendered the following comment on the nice list: "Went into Target and noticed Merry Christmas signs hanging from the ceiling around the store."


7. Even worse, a store may be excoriated for not verbally saying Merry Christmas and overlooked for doing wonderful things for the community.

Mi Cocina, a Tex Mex restaurant, made the Naughty list for not saying Merry Christmas. However, they had an event in which they fed and gave gifts to 600 children of fallen soldiers called The Snowball Express. I guess the Jeffress folks would rather have the words instead of actions. Can you imagine what a witness this is to the good folks of Mi Cocina who are actually doing something to help people? In case anyone from Mi Cocina is reading this, "Thank you for caring for these children. I will go out of my way to eat in one of your restaurants".

All the above examples can be found at this link at Fox News.



8.Could our insistence that a rote recitation of Merry Christmas actually be legalism poorly disguised in a jolly Santa hat?

Some Christians seemed inclined to believe that the proof of Christianity is found in certain outward actions. Is this any different than insisting that “real” Christians can only reading the King James Version of the Bible?

The longer that I have been writing this blog, the more aware I have become of the number of “rules” Christians have imposed upon the faith that have nothing to do with the Bible. This is a way to “cook the books” as Jim Abrahamson is wont to say. There are many supposed Christians who look really good on the outside who know really little of Jesus on the inside. There are many Christians who actually think they are “good” Christians if they say Merry Christmas and go to church. And this is an indictment on the church of America.


9. An insistence on outward expressions of faith on does not ensure practice or adherence to the faith. In fact, it often leads to traditionalism as opposed to true, heartfelt faith.

One only needs to look to countries that have state sponsored churches. Germany, Norway and Sweden, for example, have officially recognized the Christian faith, have state sponsored religion (Lutheranism), recognize all the religious holidays, have many special church services surrounding the church calendar, and have mandated lengthy state holidays surrounding religious dates. Yet fewer than 9 % of the people in the countries believe in God. But they do say “Merry Christmas, just like Jeffress wants.


On the other hand,

The vehement, politically correct yahoos exist to splash cold water on the holidays as well. As proof, I offer to you the following statement by well-known PBS commentator, Nina Totenberg. You can hear it here. Listen carefully and see if you catch it.


                Nina Totenberg's Politically Correct Mistake



In case you missed it, she said,  “And I was at – forgive the expression – a Christmas party at the Department of Justice.”


Can you imagine apologizing for using the phrase “Christmas party? Just remember, PBS is publicly supported radio and television. So we do have the right to ask Congress to, forgive the expression, “stop funding PBS” if this is the sort of nonsense that masquerades for intelligent, unbiased commentary." (Yes, I understand that the government does not directly fund PBS but does get money to them indirectly. Bah Humbug).


I leave you with a list of Christmas songs written by Jewish composers. I found this on Tony Jones blog. I wonder if Jeffress would think that they celebrated Christmas. Hmmmm?

▪ The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
▪ Do They Know It’s Christmas? (Feed the World)
▪ Holly Jolly Christmas
▪ I’ll Be Home for Christmas
▪ It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
▪ Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
▪ Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree
▪ Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
▪ Santa Baby
▪ Santa Claus is Coming to Town
▪ Silver Bells
▪ Sleigh Ride
▪ There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays
▪ White Christmas


Lydia's Corner: Exodus 35:10-36:38 Matthew 27:32-66 Psalm 34:1-10 Proverbs 9:7-8


Robert Jeffress and Nina Totenberg: On My Grinch List. — 24 Comments

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    I could not believe what Totenberg said. It’s so bad, it’s hard to even belief she said it. “A Christmas party at the Department of Justice?” What needs to be pardoned by that expression?

    That’s almost crazy Islamist type talk.

    Had she said, “pardon the expression, but I was at a Ramadan breakfast at the White House” or “I was at a Hanukah party at the Department of Justice”, or “I was at a Kwanza party at the Department of Mental Health”…, she would be fired.

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    “And I was at – forgive the expression – a Christmas party at the Department of Justice.”

    I don’t know. I’ve been to a few Christmas parties, especially those associated with the workplace, that someone should have apologized for calling “Christmas” parties! 🙁

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    I generally say “Merry Christmas” to everyone — and don’t mean any offense to anyone who doesn’t celebrate it. The way I see it, if someone says to me, “Happy Hannukah”, “Happy Kwanzaa”, “Happy Holidays” or whatever, they are being nice enough to include me in their celebration –and I’m honored they wish to extend that kindness to me.

    Merry Christmas, y’all!

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    It never ceases to amaze me the attention seeking strategies certain pastors will use to garner national attention through the news media. First Ed Young, now Robert Jeffress. Must be something about living in the Dallas metroplex…

    The Grinch List — what a great Christian witness to a lost and watching world. Naughty, naughty.

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    Sounds like a few people missed the fact that for a large number of American low-church protestants until the 19th century Christmas was expressly forbidden by their denominations (at least in church, not in the home) as being too high church. The celebration is not, after all, commanded in Scripture.

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    Exactly true!

    As an atheist, I do not find it offensive when someone wishes me a Merry Christmas…or sends me a Christmas card…or buys me a Christmas gift…or puts a Christmas tree on their front lawn.

    Typically, people are wishing me a good time. How can that possibly be offensive? Most folks want everyone around them to share in the festivities, regardless of which holiday they celebrate. Christmas has evolved to be far more about culture and tradition than religion, as have the other religious holidays this time of year.

    The only time it irritates me, is when someone wishes me a “Merry Christmas” and I get the direct impression that it’s being said..sort of like a holiday version of “I’ll be praying for you”.

    My gift to you all….(music)

    12 Days of Christmas

    Silent Night


    Christmas Can-Can

    A Merry Christmas to All!

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    I haven’t missed the fact. So, if it was 1799 then I would agree. But it’s 2010.

    The celebration is not commanded in Scripture. But it is a wonderful celebration in many ways. The fact that commericalism has entered in, and that some don’t celebrate as we think they ought to, is irrelevant to our celebration.

    Christmas time is a wonderful time for the church to proclaim the message of the coming of Christ. People are receptive at this time of year. The message can be proclaimed in a season where it seems quite natural. It’s a great thing.

    The thing that Jeffries and others have put their fingers on is the continued attempt to de-Christianize the United States. And one of the ways this is done is to make efforts to strip Christian symbols and celebrations from the public square.

    We should not be naive to this trend. We do not have to start a cultural war over it. But bringing it up for discussion is a good thing.

    Why would a store that has traditionally said “Merry Christmas” to customers slowly or suddenly instruct their employees not to say that? It is to placate people whom have complained or might complain.

    This is the Christmas season. Stores and businesses do more business during this time of year because people buy presents and have celebrations to celebrate Christmas.

    I am not offended at all by Hanukah or Kwanza celebrations or any well wishes that I might receive related to that. I am not trying to shut down or stifle the public celebration of those holidays.

    But there is a concerted effort to shut down the public mention and celebration of Christmas. Christians ignore this trend at their peril.

    What to do about it is another thing. Jeffries approach is not mine.

    I think that actually calling a store manager where they used to say “Merry Christmas” and now they no longer do would be a good thing. Have that person articulate why the change. And if they reference higher ups, call the higher up.

    You certainly can tell them that you enjoy being wished a Merry Christmas, and that you would prefer that.

    You can also make an extra effort to patronize businesses where Christmas is celebrated.

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    anonymous, thanks for your thoughtful reply.

    I, however, remain unconvinced that America needs to be a place that is “Christianized.” It needs to be a place where all can say to all, “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to your death the right to say it” in expressions of religion as in all other things. That Americans of all faiths or none need to uphold.

    Christians themselves should work to create an atmosphere where the Gospel is welcomed and also where the Gospel makes sense to people. If the concepts in justification, substitution, atonement, resurrection, grace, justice, mercy, punishment, and so on are not understood in our culture, the church’s task becomes that much harder. If these concepts are understood, the church can rely on some commonalities that are helpful.

    Beyond working towards a culture where the Gospel can be received and doing our best as citizens to continue to uphold freedom of religion including but not limited to our own, I don’t think Christians have to be concerned with “Christian” America. Certainly the Bible was part of the culture which founded our country, but beyond that historians have proved it is controversial to state how explicitly Christian our founding was.

    I think, anonymous, we’ll disagree here. However I trust that your goals in associating Christ’s birth with this season as publicly as possible are loving and caring. My goal is to be as biblical as possible in how I engage the people who make up the culture around me.

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    We are not that far apart.

    I have not argued that America needs to be “Christianized.”

    The right of free speech is precious, and we all affirm it.

    But that right is not in play here, as there is no government action involved.

    We are talking about private enteprise and businesses, which are also free to express themselves under the First Amendment, just as individuals are.

    America has been overwhemlingly Christian since its founding. America does not need to be “Chrsitianized”. We are really just talking about American society reflecting what it is.

    And there is nothing inconsistent with having a society with free speech and open inquiry and at the same time having the majority religion expressed openly in commercial enterprises that are selling goods and services during a holiday season that is celebrated by the proponents of that same religion.

    In fact, it would really be a strained and manufactured situation if that were not the case.

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    Lemme get this straight, NPR fired Juan Williams for what? And Totenberg sez what and gets a pass? I guess Newspeak (political correctness) rules the roost now. Orwell must be rolling over in his grave. By the way, are we still at war with Afgh… oops! East Asia???

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    I’m going to refer you all to this site for some… interesting takes on Christians and Christmas.

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    I loved the articles at the link you provided. I think you’ll like today’s post, which will be published soon.

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    Many years ago, about 1996, one of my kids came home from their 2nd grade
    holiday party. They did five different crafts and projects that day including Kwanzaa and Hanukkah.

    I politely asked the teacher why Christmas was not included. Her response was that the other days were cultural, where as Christmas was part of a religion.

    My Mom, who is Jewish, sent a letter to the school board, insulted that her
    faith was reduced to a cultural tradition.

    I wrote one as a Christian, noting that the singular omission of Christmas from the list of Holiday “traditions” was a defacto admission, and perhaps a Government proclamation that Christianity was the one true religion. (Even though backwards in application.

    My Mom got a call, as they were shocked that she would be offended,
    (as a grandmother of a student), with the inclusion of her Faith.

    I got a form letter, as a Dad, stating their policy.

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    Totenberg is reportedly saying that the party was a “holiday” party and she was trying to, in a gentle and joking way, point out that calling it a Christmas party was an OK thing.

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    Sounds to me like Nina T. was being very tongue-in-cheek, as noted by Watcher.

    Totenburg is known for having a dry sense of humor. Please cut her a break.

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    Nina T is known for tongue in cheek, I’ll give you that but it is not usually to the benefit to those who do not toe a somewhat, OK, I shall be kind, politically correct bent. To me, she is just another ho hum, knee jerk commentator who gets away with some of her nonsense because she is working for people who think lockstep just like her. I shall always remember Juan Williams when I think of PBS.

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    That is exactly the excuse I would give if I had said what she said. I’m afraid that I don’t buy it but I can’t be sure. We can never really know someone’s motives even if they explain them to us. I can only surmise based on her track record and that, to be sure, is not usually in favor of those who take a slightly more conservative bent. Remember Juan Williams when you think PBS.

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    I had a similar experience in Dallas when my daughter was in kindergarten. The entire year consisted of celebrations around the world. However, Christmas came and it wasn’t mentioned. I asked the teacher why. She told me that Christmas was too controversial to bring up. My response? I told her that she and the school had better be glad that I had a newborn baby and another child who was sick with a brain tumor because I would sue them for such nonsense. What, and Kwanzaa ain’t controversial?

    It was due to this event, coupled with the fact I had precious little energy to waste on fighting that war that I yanked my kids and put her in a Christian school. If I didn’t have such a difficult family situation, I would have had fun causing a ruckus about this foolishness as exhibited by this blog.

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    @ Dee: without getting into the political aspect of things, I just want to note that (as a former federal employee), I know how intensely the whole “holiday party” thing got pushed by some in the agency where I worked.

    So… I do believe she’s making fun of the way in which everyone refuses to refer to Christmas parties as, well – Christmas parties. (Given the fact that the commenter in question is Jewish, I think it gives the remark more bite, i.e., makes it more ironic.)

    all the best,

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    In the interest of good will to all men/women during this season, I’ll concede your point.

    Merry Christmas with no apology sought.

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    @ Dee: Hey, I really hadn’t intended to comment on this post at all, though as a longtime fan of both NPR and Nina T., I felt like another perspective might be… helpful, maybe?

    At any rate, I do want to thank you folks for the excellent series of posts on abusive church tactics (etc.), both re. SGM and in general. I’ve had my own difficulties that way (though they didn’t occur at an SGM church; however, I do have friends who are members of CLC and the NoVA church and I get concerned about them… )

    peace in earth, goodwill toward all men – and women, and children!
    (Not really a fan of the PC-ness foisted the English language back in the 90s, myself… ;))

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    oops – should be “foisted upon the English language.”

    My bad.

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    OK- true confessions. I like to read Christopher Hitchens-especially his latest series on Tumortown. You get NIna, I get Christopher and God bless us everyone.

    Stay tuned-more to come on abuse in the new year

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    I like some of Hitchens’ stuff, too. 😉

    Looking forward to the upcoming posts in your series on abusive churches, etc.

    The more people who are honest and upfront about how things really are (in all too many churches), the more people who are going through this junk will have places to go to that provide help *and* let them (well, us) know that we’re not imagining it all – and that we *do* have a voice. (Should be “voices,” I guess.)

    God bless us everyone – indeed! 🙂