One country, many faiths

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We received this review for our Exaplan planner the other day:

Product: Exaplan

Rating: 1 stars

Review: I loved your planner until I started filling out my dates and saw Muslim holidays listed. I have nothing against another nationality/religion, but in all good conscience I can not keep this with so many Americans dying at the hands of radicals from this religion I am returning the book, and if it is not taken back by the store there will be several returned as being unsaleable due to damages. Sorry, as an American made product you should be more sensitive to something so horrendous the product is wonderful the choice of content really very despicable.

Since these comments were submitted as a product review, I was unable to respond directly to this person. They did not include a name, town, or any contact information. However, if I could, this is what I would have told them¦

Dear Customer,

Thank you for writing to us to express your views. We appreciate hearing from our customers whether they write or call to say we’re doing something wonderfully or awful. We pay attention to what each person has to say about our products or company.

As head of marketing, I was the executive who made the decision to include Muslim holidays in our planners. At the time of the change, only Jewish and Christian holidays appeared in our calendars. Given the changing demographics in the United States, especially in our urban areas, I decided to expand the list of holidays to include major Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu religious observances, and added additional Roman Catholic and Jewish holy days. We also included Chinese New Year and Cinco de Mayo, two holidays widely observed in the Chinese and Hispanic communities.

To date, I have received one other negative comment on the Muslim holidays; and one positive comment on including the Buddhist holidays.

While I understand your strong emotion surrounding all the Americans killed or wounded in the Iraqi conflict, and also victims of terrorism here at home, I cannot agree with your rationale to pull Muslim holidays from our date books because of the actions of some Islamic combatants overseas.

Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu holidays were added to our date books because an increasing number of American citizens and foreign nationals living, working or studying in our country belong to these faiths.

The Pew Research Center estimates the number of Muslims in the United States at 2.4 million. Of that number one-third are native born, the rest are immigrants. The native-born are mostly converts, many of whom are African-Americans.

Globalization, media, the internet and other influences have made us increasingly connected and sensitive to people beyond those we grew up knowing. Business people, parents, educators and others want to know all the major religious dates of their employees, students, and customers for scheduling meetings, travel, class work and testing, and other events and activities. Most people also appreciate being made aware of days important to friends, neighbors and extended family.

Finally, I relied on that old and honored American value: what is fair? What is fair, I believe, is to include everyone, rather than just one or two. I considered removing most religious references; but to do so would make a date book less meaningful and a much less useful tool for people who rely on it.

So I added holidays, hoping to make it a more useful tool for more people.

Sincerely,

Karen Doherty

Vice President, Marketing

15 thoughts on “One country, many faiths

  1. Ms. Doherty,

    You wrote a fantastic response letter.

    I was shocked to read this customer’s illogical comment. Perhaps we all should remember more often the atrocities that were committed under the name of Christianity, to this day!
    There are so many bigots like this hateful commentator. It sounded to me as if s/he planned to damage store property (inconspicuously whiting out holidays?) so that they’d be returned. If this was said/done in Germany (where I’m from), the perpetrators would be called Nazis.

    Christine

  2. I’m not familiar with your planners. Do they include moon phases, solstices and equinoxes? Many religions base their festivals on these dates, mine included.

  3. After reading this comment, it made me so sad to see how proud they are in insulting other religions but shameful enough not to disclaim who they are. I’m a Muslim by belief and the only thing I can say is that if you have not study the religion you SHOULD NEVER judge it. I condemn what ignorant believers have done to our country but I also keep in mind that ignorance rules anyone and everything in this world, so sad we still have it walking around us!

  4. I feel so sorry for that poster. How terrible to blame an entire faith for the actions of the few who pervert it. I buy Quo Vadis BECAUSE it contains multiple religious holidays. As an American, I celebrate the diversity and inclusion of all religions in our country. It’s freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion. I wish that poster had the courage to investigate further and overcome their fear of the unknown.

  5. I am in the market for a new planner, because the company I have used for so many years has discontinued the model I’ve been using. I will now be looking at buying a Quo Vadis planner expressly because of this action and the reasoned response to one of the voices of painful ignorance that drags our country down. Kudos to Ms. Doherty for her restraint; in her place, I probably would have ended up proposing the removal of Christian holidays completely so as not to remind anyone of the Inquisition or the Crusades…

  6. I appreciate your thoughtful decision to include, instead of exclude, the various holy and holidays in your calendars. And, I will change the wording used by Clarissa, and thank you for your thoughtful response to the anonymous comment left by an ignorant contributor, and it makes me happy that I can look at my stack of your pocket academic planners which I have collected, and fully utilized, over the years.

  7. Those who are opposed to “Muslim holy dates” being marked in calendars are far more radical, fanatical, and dangerous than the majority of Muslim Americans. Here enlies the irony of the situation.

    The commenter “Christian Nation” is not going anywhere in life with that kind of attitude, I can tell you this much.

  8. Ms. Doherty,

    Your decision to include the Muslim holidays in the Quo Vadis calendars and your thoughtful response to the ignorant comment left by an anonymous contributor makes me think highly of the company you work for.

    I cannot believe that in these modern times, and in a country that is founded foremost on FREEDOM FOR ALL, there still exist people who are so hateful and uninformed as to think Muslim holidays SHOULDN’T be included in the calendars. I am not coming from any religious leaning. Quite simply, Islam is one of the world’s major religions. Excluding Muslim holidays from your products would only further foster intolerance that the world does not need any more of.

    Thank you for making the decisions that you do.

    – Clarissa

  9. Dear Ms. Doherty,

    Thank you for this decision! I have been very discouraged to find people removing all religious references and have long thought it much better to just include more! I think most people in this country appreciate learning about others’ religions. Plus, you are not stating that you as a company hold to one religion or another. You are just providing useful information. It is very helpful. As far as some offended by Muslim holidays, while I am not a Muslim and do not agree with their beliefs, I respect them and have Muslim friends. I would like to point out that they are not all radical or violent! It is a misconception to think they are all out to attack Americans. The vast majority living here are here because they want to be here and appreciate this country’s values. They don’t want to attack us.
    As for America being founded on Christian beliefs, as stated above, while some of the founding fathers were Christian, several were Deists. Jefferson had his own version of the Bible in which several books had been removed. They held to widely accepted Judeo-Christian values, but they were not all Christian and they specifically founded a country with separation of church and state. This has been taken out of context and come to mean freedom from religion, rather than freedom OF religion in many cases these days, but I am happy to see that this company has, I believe, followed the original intent of the founding fathers. I hope the government will do so as well, rather than trying to remove religious references.

    Much appreciation,
    Melissa

  10. Dear Ms. Doherty,

    With the upcoming 2010 year, I have found myself searching for a suitable planner that will both organize my engagements and leave room for my idle list making and doodles. I have found that in the Space 24 planner and I was thankfully surprised to find all of the cultural holidays included in this calendar. As a recent college graduate, I have many friends from many different countries and practicing various religious faiths. I will also be a part of a non-profit organization working with people all over the world and I find it a strength to be reminded of different religious holidays to be accommodating to my friends and colleagues. This country was founded on the principles of being free from religious persecution, amongst many others, and it is very un-american to persecute others for reasons of which our founding fathers were against. I, for one, applaud this decision to keep all of these holidays included in the Quo Vadis planners.

    With appreciation,
    Raquel F.

  11. Ms. Doherty,

    Ignore the zealots. You did the right thing, and the majority of us appreciate your thought and attention.

  12. America was founded on Christian beliefs. You might as well post satanic holidays as well if you are going to include Muslim holidays. I agree they should be removed! I certainly won’t be buying this calendar.

    • It is appalling that people impose their prejudices on others in any context.

      But to demand that an international company such as this that provides utilitarian products for people of all orientations and backgrounds is absurd, both from a consumer/retail standpoint and ethical one.

      To oppose this or any product on the basis of inclusion of Muslim holidays & calendar demonstrates the PROFOUND ignorance of the critics. Muslims have not wrought terrorism on the Christian world, select MINORITY extremist groups have done so on people of all faiths and cultures, including other Muslims.

      As a point of precision, American was founded on the belief in freedom of religious practice and expression. In that particular historical contact, oppressed Christians were those at its core–and considered radicals a the time. The difference being that early Americans were aware of the dangers of extremism, where as today’s “Christian Nation” has departed radically from the origins of their embraced forefathers by going against the very beliefs they invoke as justification.

      Unbelievable that this would even be a point of contention in the context of a calendar, and that the small number of small-minded few would consider this just grounds for criticism of a product. If it doesn’t suit you, surely there is a company founded on narrow, prejudicial principles that suits your needs. Shame for trying to taint this longstanding company’s exemplary products with such self-serving, irrationally biased concerns.

      Ms. Douherty,
      Thank you for your thoughtful and measured response to such extremist criticism. I applaud your diplomacy and restraint.

  13. Dear Ms. Doherty:

    Thank you for your thoughtful response to this comment. I have used this calendar for years and was appalled to read Anonymous’ comment when I came to your website to get a refill.

    Our country is founded on a rich and glorious history of religious and cultural tolerance and it is that history that makes me the flag-waving patriot that I am. I applaud your company for embracing our astounding diversity and providing a product that serves these diverse communities and, more importantly, educates those of us from different communities about the celebrations and observances that we would otherwise be unaware of.

    Thank you, and please continue to expand the holidays you list in the calendar.

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