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War on Christmas? More Americans OK With “Happy Holidays”

PRRI’s latest survey, conducted in partnership with Religion News Service, finds nearly half (49 percent) of Americans agree that stores and businesses should, out of respect for people of different faiths, greet their customers with “happy holidays” or “season’s greetings” instead of “merry Christmas.” While a sizable minority (43 percent) currently prefer the specifically religious greeting, support for the more secular holiday greetings is up slightly since December 2010, when 44 percent preferred that businesses use the less religious greetings versus 49 percent who favored “merry Christmas.”

There is a wide gulf of opinion between the youngest and oldest Americans. Nearly two-thirds (66 percent) of young adults (ages 18 to 29) support stores and businesses using a non-religious greeting, a view shared by fewer than 4-in-10 (39 percent) of American seniors (ages 65 and older).

The political divisions are also stark. Roughly 6-in-10 (61 percent) Republicans favor using “merry Christmas” instead of “happy holidays,” while nearly as many (58 percent) Democrats say the opposite.

By religious affiliation, white evangelical Protestants are significantly more likely than other groups to say stores should use “merry Christmas” instead of “happy holidays,” while white mainline Protestants and Catholics are more divided. Sixty-two percent of white evangelical Protestants prefer that businesses use the more religious greeting, compared to only 46 percent of white mainline Protestants and 44 percent of Catholics who agree.  However, majorities of minority Protestants (55 percent) and the religiously unaffiliated (58 percent), as well as 43 percent of white mainline Protestants and 50 percent of Catholics, say stores should use the more generic greeting.

Be sure to check out the PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey’s findings in full, including the topline questionnaire, by clicking here!