Gladys Kravitz’s Spirit At FBC Dallas!

When most people are getting into the Christmas spirit, leave it to one of Southern Baptist’s premier mega-churches to keep the spirit of Gladys Kravitz alive and well.  Gladys and her husband, Abner, were the across-the-street neighbors to Darrin and Samantha Stephens on the classic 1960’s sitcom, Bewitched. (For the record, I’ll take Darrin #1, played by the late Dick York.)

Poor Gladys — busy-body extraordinaire — was always on the look-out for strange happenings at the Stephens’ home.  Although Gladys Kravitz was a relatively minor fictional character during Bewitched’s eight year run,  her name has become synonymous with a “nosy neighbor or colleague.”  And, that’s not meant as a compliment!

During a time in our country where almost 10% of the population is unemployed and many hard-working Americans are just trying to make ends meet for their families, along comes First Baptist Church Dallas to contribute some holiday (oops, sorry) Christmas cheer.  It seems that this historic church, under the leadership of Senior Pastor Robert Jeffress, has decided that one of the best ways to proclaim the message of Christ to their neighbors this Christmas is by labeling businesses “naughty” or “nice.”

In what has to be one of the most interesting (read bizarre) ideas in the ongoing culture wars and battle over Christmas, FBC Dallas created a website — www.grinchalert.com — which encourages its members (and others) to act as the Christmas police when out and about shopping:

Have you encountered a “Grinch” this Christmas season? Share your experiences here at GrinchAlert.com! Here, you can nominate businesses and organizations that shut-out expressions of Christmas in their interactions with the public via marketing, advertising and public relations. When companies use misplaced political correctness to halt the celebration of Christmas, they belong on the “Naughty List.”

When an employee of a store or business (either in person or on the phone) refuses to say “Merry Christmas” or otherwise acknowledge that the only holiday between the fourth Thursday in November and the first day of January is Christmas, then an appropriate citation online comment should be post forthwith on the Grinch Alert website.  You just can’t make up stuff like this.

Already, naughty citations are pouring in from all over the country.  Well, not really pouring.  Maybe just trickling — only 18 listed as “naughty” businesses so far, including Delta and American Airlines.  (I can’t really argue about the label for American Airlines being naughty after they sent me a form letter denying my request to waive $150 (x5) change fees when our family had to reschedule flights because of a doctor-ordered, must-have MRI for my son, who has Perthes Disease in his right hip — Merry Christmas AA!)

Why is FBC Dallas encouraging folks to look for ways to be easily offended this Christmas season?  We should not be surprised when secular businesses — whose bottom line is making money by serving Christians and non-Christians — instruct their employees to offer a generic greeting such as “Happy Holidays” instead of Merry Christmas.    

Contrary to the stated purpose of Grinch Alert, there is no business or company in this country that has the power to “use misplaced political correctness to halt the celebration of Christmas.”  Does anyone honestly think that because employees at the Sonic in Wichita Falls, TX (the first one listed as “naughty” — Gladys Kravitz would certainly agree, especially in a town with that name) refuse to say “Merry Christmas,” but will only utter those intentionally evil words, “Happy Holidays,” that somehow the Christmas celebrations in this Texas town will come to a halt?

And, why limit the Grinch Alert to just businesses?  Why not open it up for individuals to be labeled naughty or nice?  I’ll nominate myself for the naughty list.  I have already wished some of my friends and fraternity brothers a “Happy Hanukkah.”  Drats!  I could have avoided the naughty list and wished them a “Merry Christmas” instead.  After all, why let the obvious fact that they are Jewish and they and their families celebrate the holiday of Hanukkah and not Christmas disqualify me from the nice list?

Maybe if we were really concerned about keeping Christ in Christmas, we would do more to reflect His love, peace and joy in our lives, not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.  People in our communities, including Dallas, need neighbors who shine the light of Jesus Christ, not channel the spirit of Gladys Kravitz!

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About Howell Scott

I have been a Southern Baptist pastor for the last fourteen years. Before entering the ministry, I was a practicing attorney in my homestate of Florida. I have been married to my wife, Brenda, for 18 years and we have three sons, Stephen, Jacob, and Andrew.
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4 Responses to Gladys Kravitz’s Spirit At FBC Dallas!

  1. Dave Miller says:

    C’mon, Howell. Tell us what you really think. Don’t hold back!

    You asked, “Why is FBC Dallas encouraging folks to look for ways to be easily offended this Christmas season?”

    That is, I believe, the question! Christians should never run from a fight, but we should not pick them either.

    • Howell Scott says:

      Dave,

      I think you said it well. The Gospel and the Cross will be offensive, but we should never be intentionally offensive in how we present it or in how we live out our Christian faith. Would we rather have someone be forced to say “Merry Christmas” or have their hearts truly changed by the Christ of Christmas? Thanks and God bless,

      Howell

  2. Lydia says:

    Gladys Kravitiz! Flashback! You hit the nail on the head. I commented over at SBC Voices about this. I think this is similar to the Ophraization of our Faith. And example of how shallow and pedantic we can make of something so Holy as our Savior.

    Why can he not use his gravitas and bully pulpit with the media to beg for the release of persecuted Christians in China, for example?

    And now I am reading he spoke of the criticism he is receiving and declared he would not give in and got a standing O at FBC Dallas. The pew sitters are just as guilty.

    But through all of this, we are forgetting this is a man who declared the new state of the art facility they are building, complete with computerized fountain, would attract people to Christ.

    For this our Savior hung on a cross?

    • Howell Scott says:

      Lydia,

      When I first read about the Grinch Alert a few days ago, my immediate thoughts were that this was a silly idea. Once I read more, especially the actual Grinch Alert website, I thought that this had to be someone’s idea of satire. Surely no one, much less the smart people at FBC Dallas, would create such a website. I was wrong. This is such a caricature of the poor, mistreated Christians within our culture. As far as I know, there is no business in my community that can prevent my family or my church from celebrating the birth (and life, death, and resurrection for that matter) of Jesus. I’m generally not going to go out of my way to look for offenses, especially at Christmas time. I will usually say “Merry Christmas” when I leave Walmart or some other business. However, if I’m talking on Facebook to one of my Jewish fraternity brothers, I’m going to wish them a “Happy Hanukkah.”

      As for Jeffress responding to the criticism he has received, that is par for the course for how some large church pastors and others within the SBC establishment seem to react when anyone dares question their actions. Not too surprising. Thanks for reading and commenting her and at Voices. God bless,

      Howell

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