Pew Research: Fewer Americans Feel Strongly About Saying “Merry Christmas”

It’s no secret that President Donald Trump feels strongly about wishing people a Merry Christmas.

“I’m a good Christian. If I become president, we’re gonna be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ at every store,” he told Iowa voters back in 2015. “You can leave ‘Happy Holidays’ at the corner.”

Two weeks ago, he lit the White House Christmas tree with his wife Melania, then tweeted: “As the president of the United States, it’s my tremendous honor to finally wish America and the world a very merry Christmas.”

But fewer Americans feel as strongly about the greeting, according to a new survey released today by the Pew Research Center. Those who say it doesn’t matter what companies or organizations call the holiday season rose to 52 percent in 2017, up from 45 percent in 2005. At the same time, those who prefer “Merry Christmas” dropped to 32 percent in 2017, down from 43 percent in 2005.

The trend holds true among self-identified white evangelicals. Those who prefer “Merry Christmas” dropped to 61 percent in 2017 (down from 70 percent in 2012), while those who say it doesn’t matter rose to 33 percent in 2017 (up from 26 percent in 2012).

Pew didn’t break out black Protestants—two-thirds of whom identify as evangelical—in its earlier surveys, but in 2017 more than half said the holiday greeting didn’t matter (54%), while the remainder were split between “Merry Christmas” (23%) and something less religious such as “Season’s Greetings” (23%).

Predictably, those who attend church weekly would rather hear “Merry Christmas.” But even they are more ambivalent than they used to be. The 56 percent who preferred a religious greeting in 2012 dropped to 44 percent in 2017, while desire rose for both a nonreligious greeting (7% to 13%) or for either greeting (37% to 42%).

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Christianity Today