Poll: Season’s greeters still making ‘merry’

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Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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The company wants to ensure that decorations include only what “everyone is comfortable with, regardless of how they celebrate the season,” JPMorgan Chase spokesman Greg Hassell told the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram.

• Also this month, the Federal Reserve told Payne County Bank, as part of its quadrennial inspection, that the Oklahoma bank could not display religious signs and symbols that included a daily Bible verse, buttons with the phrase “Merry Christmas, God With Us,” and crosses on public counters.

They said the “discouragement clause” in bank regulations meant that these symbols indicated offense and discrimination to Muslims, Jews or others. After a public outcry, the Fed regulators backed down and allowed the Christmas decorations to stay until the legal matters can be clarified.

Unlike the Marist survey, the PRRI and Rasmussen polls asked questions about political and religious affiliation and found sharp divides.

“Ninety-one percent of Republicans … like store signs that wish them a ‘Merry Christmas,’ compared to just 58 percent of Democrats,” Rasmussen wrote.

The PRRI survey found that while 43 percent of Americans had a family tradition involving the Gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ birth, nearly as many (40 percent) read the Clement Clarke Moore poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (better known by its first line, “Twas the Night before Christmas“).

“Celebrations of the birth of Jesus in Christianity have always blended the explicitly religious with elements of the contemporary culture,” said Robert P. Jones, PRRI’s chief executive. “That roughly equal numbers of Americans both read the story of the birth of Jesus from the Bible and the story of Santa Claus in ‘Twas the Night before Christmas is a continuation of that tradition.”

The coexistence of religion-specific and generic greetings was on display Wednesday at President Obama’s news conference.

Jake Tapper of ABC News and Mike Emanuel of Fox News greeted Mr. Obama with a “Merry Christmas,” which the president reciprocated. When Mr. Obama turned to Dan Lothian and the CNN reporter wished him “Happy holidays,” the president repeated those words back. Later, Juan Carlos Lopez of CNN en Espanol prefaced his question with “Feliz Navidad,” and Mr. Obama said the same words, Spanish for “Happy Christmas.”

When it came time to end the conference with a parting greeting of his own, what did Mr. Obama say?

“So with that, everybody, I want to wish you all a merry Christmas, happy holidays, happy new year.”

And in the final words as he walked out, Mr. Obama got in one more language, Hawaiian, in telling the press, “Mele kalikimaka.”

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