...[T]o a growing group of Christians, the focus on the commercial aspect of Christmas is the greatest threat to one of Christianity's holiest days. "It's the shopping, the going into debt, the worrying that 'If I don't spend enough money, someone will think I don't love them,' " says Portland, Ore., pastor Rick McKinley. "Christians get all bent out of shape over the fact that someone didn't say 'Merry Christmas' when I walked into the store. But why are we expecting the store to tell our story? That's just ridiculous."
McKinley is one of the leaders of an effort to do away with the frenzied activity and extravagant gift-giving of a commercial Christmas. Through a savvy viral video and marketing effort, the so-called Advent Conspiracy movement has exploded. Hundreds of churches on four continents and in at least 17 countries have signed up to participate. The Advent Conspiracy video has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube, and the movement boasts nearly 45,000 fans on Facebook. Baseball superstar Albert Pujols is a supporter — he spoke at a church event in St. Louis, Mo., to endorse the effort.
Over the past four years, churches that support Advent Conspiracy have donated millions of dollars to dig wells in developing countries through Living Water International and other organizations. McKinley likes to point out that a fraction of the money Americans spend at retailers in the month of December could supply the entire world with clean water. If more Christians changed how they thought about giving at Christmas, he says, the holiday could be transformative in a religious and practical sense [Amy Sullivan, "Church Group Attacks Christmas Commercialism," Time, 2009.12.15].
Need a justification not to go to the mall this weekend for that last round of shopping? There you go. Do Christmas right: skip Wal-Mart. Stay home from the commercial war on Christmas. Donate online to the Advent Conspiracy.