- The Washington Times - Friday, November 11, 2005

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A Roman Catholic civil rights group called off a boycott of Wal-Mart yesterday after the world’s largest retailer apologized for an employee’s e-mail that called Christmas a mix of world religions.

“This is a sweet victory for the Catholic League, Christians in general and people of all faiths,” Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, said on the group’s Web site.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Thursday that a customer-service employee named Kirby had written an inappropriate e-mail to a woman who complained that the retailer had replaced a “Merry Christmas” greeting with “Happy Holidays.” It also said Kirby no longer worked for Wal-Mart.

Kirby wrote that Christmas resulted from traditions ranging from Siberian shamanism to Visigoth calendars.

“Santa is also borrowed from the Caucuses, mistletoe from the Celts, yule log from the Goths, the time from the Visigoth and the tree from the worship of Baal. It is a wide, wide world,” Kirby wrote.

Wal-Mart spokesman Dan Fogleman said Kirby’s e-mail — sent without review by other employees — did not represent Wal-Mart’s policies.

“We sincerely apologize to any person or organization that was offended by the inappropriate and inflammatory comments made by this former associate,” Mr. Fogleman said.

Mr. Fogleman said employees will continue to wish people “Happy Holidays” because the greeting is more inclusive.

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