Monday, December 6, 2010

Do you really care?

Posted By on Mon, Dec 6, 2010 at 9:00 AM

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Do you judge the quality of your banking institution by their holiday decorations? Do you even care if they put up Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa or other decorations at all?

The American Family Association (AFA) apparently thinks you should and is waging a campaign against JP Morgan Chase for what it calls an “anti-Christmas policy” on the decorations allowed in their bank branches. It seems an ill-conceived campaign, especially since Chase has not banned holiday decorations, but has simply called on branches to put up only decorations provided by the parent company.

Here’s the news release Gambit received from the AFA:

AFA targets Chase for anti-Christmas policy on bank decorations

JP Morgan Chase has strictly ordered all of its banks to take down any and all Christmas decorations that have not been supplied by company headquarters. This includes the mandatory removal of all Christmas trees from bank lobbies.

According to internal Chase documents the American Family Association has received, every bank has “received approved holiday decorations in your December One Box. These are the only (emphasis in original) decorations that may be displayed in the public areas of your branch. If you have any other decorations...please take them down.”

This draconian policy led to the forced removal of a Christmas tree in the lobby of a Chase Bank branch in Southlake, Texas, this week. This particular tree had been supplied to the bank at no cost to the branch.
The stated purpose of this anti-Christmas policy, again according to internal Chase documents, is that, “We don’t want to lose somebody’s business because of seasonal decorations,” and to “ensure that everyone who visits our branches is made to feel completely welcome and comfortable.” The official “Guidelines on Decorating for the Holidays” from Chase makes no mention of the word Christmas at all.

AFA president Tim Wildmon said, “This is an absurd policy. According to Advertising Age, 91 percent of the American people celebrate Christmas. The most welcoming, inclusive thing you can do this time of year is wish people a merry Christmas.”

Wildmon added, “In fact, Chase’s policy will actually be offensive to many people who bank there. When customers find out that Chase is deliberating disregarding Christmas, they may just be inclined to take their banking business to a Christmas-friendly institution. Christmas is a holiday we’ve set aside as a nation to honor the birth of Christ because of his impact on American and world history. It’s just bad business for any company to show this kind of disregard for our Judeo-Christian heritage.”

Randy Sharp, AFA’s director of special projects, added, “Chase is hurting the ability of local branches to nurture a connection with the members of their own communities. If Americans are offended by anything, it’s the disrespect that corporations are showing to Christmas as a holiday. We urge Chase to amend its policy and allow branches to freely celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.”

American Family Association is a pro-family advocacy organization with over 2.5 million online supporters.

The tenor of the release begs the question: Would the AFA be up in arms if JP Morgan Chase has just banned holiday decorations altogether, or if it had banned only Hannukah or Kwanzaa decorations?

Another question that comes to mind is: Doesn’t the AFA have more important battles to fight than what a private business puts up in its lobby?

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