11/19/2014 12:58 pm ET Updated Jan 19, 2015

Denver Post Deflects War-on-Christmas Attack

In its annual "Friend or Foe of Christmas" campaign, the Liberty Counsel, a right-wing Florida-based organization, is targeting The Denver Post for allegedly banning newspaper carriers from writing "Marry Christmas" on holiday cards that they give to newspaper subscribers.

Liberty Counsel claimed that The Post, in a memo to staff, threatened to fire employees who use a Merry-Christmas card or any card other than the holiday card issued by The Post.

Brian Trujillo, The Post's Circulation Director, told me The Post did not issue a threatening memo on this topic to anyone, as alleged by Liberty Counsel.

He said that the newspaper's carriers are independent contractors, not employees, whose contract dictates that they can only communicate with customers once a year, during a three-week end-of-the-year window with a card supplied by The Post, to solicit a tip.

The Post supplies its carriers with a set number of cards, which last year stated "Happy Holidays," to protect customers from multiple solicitations and other hassles and to maintain control of the process.

"We try to stay as generic as possible," said Trujillo, when asked about what was printed on the card. Trujillo did not know for certain what greeting would appear on this year's card.

"These same rules have been in place for the last 20 years that I know of, probably longer," said Trujillo.

"It's a huge benefit to the carriers that they can use the cards to get a tip," said Trujillo. "Customers know the carriers are out there working in the snow and sleet and doing everything they can to deliver the newspaper."

Liberty Counsel alleged that it had been contacted by Post employees who were upset about the prescribed message on the cards.

Told about The Post's response to his allegations, Shaver told me that The Post should give its carriers the option of passing out religious and secular cards.

"It raises concerns when employees are told they can't give out anything that has a religious message," said Shaver, emphasizing that he did not advocate banning the distribution of cards to solicit tips. "To better address the concerns of the contractors, [The Post] could give them three different versions of cards. If they don't know their costumers, they could give out a holiday card. If they know they are Christians, they could give out Merry Christmas cards; if they are Jewish, a Chanukah card. They want to balance satisfying their customers with helping their employees, and one way to do it is to give them a little bit of discretion. And if someone is abusing it, they have to deal with that person."

Staver said he was unsure which Denver Post employees complained to his organization.

Staver's Liberty Counsel also distributes a "Naughty & Nice List" list of retailers it sees as friendly or hostile to Christmas. It includes TJ Maxx, which is deemed "naughty" for not mentioning Christmas on its website.

An evangelical pastor involved in many right-wing causes, Staver is probably best known for his flaming opposition to same-sex marriage, recently telling a radio station that such marriages could spell doom for western civilization.

"When less (sic) people get married and you have more children out of wedlock, when you destabilize the institution of marriage, you make the economy poorer and you make the society unstable," said Staver, as reported by Right Wing Watch. "That's exactly what we're having and that's what we're going to see here in America and around the world. When you tinker with the very basic foundation of family and you assume that gender doesn't matter, you ultimately affect the rest of society and the strength of civil government."