It’s almost Halloween, so you know what that means: It’s time for the Religious Right to start carping about the “war on Christmas.”

Actually, Religious Right groups are getting a bit of a late start this year. In previous years, they’ve actually started their seasonal whine-fest as early as August.

But no fear – things are on track for another lucrative year for the Religious Right’s “Christmas police” who obsess over what we say and how we celebrate the December holiday.

I received an e-mail from the American Family Association (AFA) today informing me that I can buy buttons from them reading “Merry Christmas. God with us.” (Act now! Quantities are limited!) The AFA also wanted to remind me that soon I can start harassing store clerks who dare to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

Tim Wildmon, now president of the AFA, urged me to buy a whole slew of buttons. “Hand them to bank tellers, fast food workers, cashiers at the supermarket, toll-booth workers, letter carriers, store clerks...the list is endless!”

Yes, Tim, the list is endless – as is your crankiness.

As it so happens, I like Christmas. But my family and I celebrate it in a way that I’m sure differs from the Wildmon clan. We do our thing, and they do theirs. Isn’t it great that in America, we have the right to choose?

I’m not interested in pushing my version of Christmas onto the Wildmons. Why are they so obsessed with how I celebrate the day? And who really cares if someone wishes you “Happy Holidays”? After all, there are other holidays celebrated in December.

As for harassing harried clerks at the Target, I’m just not interested. They can say, “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Holidays” or even “Fabulous Festivus.” When I’m out shopping, my main interest is in what type of bargains I can get.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Christmas is supposed to be a season of peace and love. Hectoring a hapless, minimum-wage-earning clerk in a store or a fare collector at a toll booth because he or she failed to use the proper religiously correct terminology is the antithesis of that. It’s just rude, and it makes a mockery of what the season is supposed to be about.

I’ve said this before too: This year, what I’d really like to see is Santa bringing Religious Right leaders like Wildmon a life. Heaven knows they need one if this is how they spend their time.

Merry Christmas, Tim!