In an early iteration of the ginned-up “War on Christmas” narrative, an email forward that was turned into a social media rumor pushed the claim that the Salvation Army had barred people volunteering as bell-ringers seeking donations for the group to say “Merry Christmas” during their shifts.
In reality, the Salvation Army’s instructions for bell-ringers do not give a specific order on the matter; a tutorial video by the group allows volunteers to telling donors “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.”
However, the “debate” over the proper holiday greeting has spilled over from online claims to alleged real-world incidents. In December 2013, a volunteer in Phoenix, Kristina Vindiola, said that she was attacked for saying “Happy holidays.”
“She came up to me and said, ‘Do you believe in God?,'” Vindiola told reporters. “And she says, ‘You’re supposed to say Merry Christmas,’ and that’s when she hit me.”
Four years later, Rev. Jamie Wolfe was volunteering for the organization in Roseville, California, when he said he was attacked for saying “Merry Christmas.”
“He haymakered me, hit me, got me down on the ground and we started wrestling,” Wolfe told KOVR-TV. “At that point I’m fighting for my life.”
Update 12/16/2019, 10:17am: This article has been revamped and updated. You can review the original here. -ag