Is there really a war on Christmas and if so, who’s behind it?

A Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) PublicMind poll released Thursday asked Americans about that and about how we should greet one another during the holiday season. Do you say, “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays?”

Roman Milert, ThinkStock

“Is there a war on Christmas? Our new survey of adults nationwide finds that almost half of all Americans believe politicians are behind an effort to take ‘Christ’ out of Christmas,” said Krista Jenkins, professor of political science at FDU and director of PublicMind. “Right now, 47 percent believe there has been a concerted effort by politicians to take ‘Christ’ out of Christmas with 48 percent who believe otherwise.”

There was some partisanship evident in the survey:

  • 36 percent of Democrats said politicians were trying to take ‘Christ’ out of Christmas.
  • 64 percent of Republicans felt that way.
  • 48 percent of Democrats said schools should offer non-religious pageants and plays.
  • 22 percent of Republicans agreed with the above.
  • 87 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Republicans said the holidays are more about consumerism than religion.

The overall number has changed quite a bit is a very short period of time.

“These numbers are a big swing from just two years ago when we asked the same questions in 2013. Back then, only 28 percent agreed that politicians were trying to take ‘Christ’ out of Christmas, with 65 percent who said that they disagreed with the statement,” Jenkins said.

The survey suggested that it might be a good idea to avoid talking about the 2016 presidential election if you’re invited to a holiday party. Sixty percent said it’s bad to mix politics and parties. Only 35 percent said they would like to talk politics with friends and family.

“As for what greeting should prevail in the minds of Americans – Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays – when in doubt go Christmas, as Americans prefer that (65 percent) over the more generic version (25 percent) by more than two-to-one ratio,” Jenkins said.

The poll was conducted by telephone from Dec. 4 through 8 among a random national sample of 1009 registered voters. The margin of error is +/-3.8 percentage points.

Kevin McArdle has covered the State House for New Jersey 101.5 news since 2002. Contact him at Follow him on twitter at @kevinmcardle1.