posted by Josh Goodman
Claims by some conservatives that liberals are waging a "War on Christmas" have gotten a lot of attention lately. Some groups have criticized stores where cashiers say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas," and have used boycotts to pressure retailers to include Christmas in their marketing campaigns. Other commentators have responded that no War on Christmas exists.
With holiday-related terminology now a political hot potato, I looked on governors' official Web sites (just the main pages and recent press releases) for references to Christmas or the holiday season. Here are the highlights:
*Twenty governors mention either Christmas or the holiday season on their Web sites. Of these, 13 reference Christmas explicitly, while 7 refer to the holidays more generically.
*Republican governors are somewhat more likely to refer to Christmas than Democrats. Of the 28 Republican governors, 9 mention Christmas (32%), compared to 4 of the 22 Democrats (18%). Four of the seven governors who mention the holidays without mentioning Christmas are Democrats.
*One of the two Jewish governors in the country, Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, has his residence decorated in a "Twas the Night Before Christmas" theme. The other, Linda Lingle of Hawaii, does not mention Christmas or the holiday season on her Web site. The other 48 governors belong to various Christian denominations.
*Many governors mention Christmas in the context of a state Christmas tree. Vermont Governor Jim Douglas cut down a Christmas tree for his office, commenting, "There's nothing like the look and smell of a fresh-cut Vermont tree."
*Republican Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota mentions a state holiday tree, without referring to Christmas, as does Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Along the same lines, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm's site references tree decorations without explicitly mentioning Christmas, while Tennessee's Phil Bredesen accompanies a release about a holiday event for family members of homicide victims with a picture of a Christmas-like tree. At the federal level, House Speaker Dennis Hastert is pushing for the Capitol Holiday Tree to be called a Christmas tree.
*Governors that refer to Christmas often also mention other holidays or "the holidays" more broadly. For example, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's site has a release on the lighting of the state Christmas tree and Menorah.