A NEW ‘TARGET’ FOR THE AFA….As religious right groups go, the American Family Association doesn’t the kind of money, members, or influence some of its better known competitors have, but when it comes to boycotts, nobody comes close to the AFA.

The AFA’s targets have included Disney, Ford, Crest toothpaste, Volkswagen, Tide detergent, Clorox bleach, Pampers, MTV, Abercrombie & Fitch, K-Mart, Burger King, American Airlines and S.C. Johnson & Son, makers of Windex, Ziploc, Pledge, Glade, and Edge, usually because of some perceived “anti-family” animus. Late last year, the AFA also went after the movie “Shark Tale,” because the group believed the movie was designed to brainwash children into accepting gay rights. This year, it was American Girl dolls. Not a single AFA target has ever caved to the group’s demands, but it doesn’t seem to matter.

And according to an alert issued yesterday by James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, the AFA is worked up about another alleged injustice. This time, it’s Target and its holiday-celebrating ways.

Target stores have continued to ban Salvation Army kettles from storefronts and the phrase “Merry Christmas” from advertising, which has prompted the American Family Association (AFA) to launch a boycott of the retail giant.

In just three days, more than 300,000 people pledged to steer clear of Target during the biggest shopping weekend of the year — the days following Thanksgiving.

Randy Sharp, director of special projects for AFA, said, on average, more than 4,000 people are signing on to the boycott every hour.

“Shoppers are growing disgruntled by companies that are choosing to do away with a simple greeting like ‘Merry Christmas,’” he said, “and they are showing it with their pocketbooks.”

First, as a factual matter, Target insists it has no policy against using the phrase “Merry Christmas.” Second, as a financial matter, Target shouldn’t worry too much about the AFA; the group’s targeted companies usually find their bottom line going up during an AFA boycott.

Regardless, the right’s perceived “war against Christmas” is getting pretty tiresome. Fox News’ John Gibson has a bizarre book out, while Bill O’Reilly, Charles Krauthammer, and the truly silly Committee to Save Merry Christmas will probably enjoy the holiday season by whining a lot.

And what’s truly annoying is to hear complainers lose sight of those who really suffer. Last year, armed police broke up a Christmas Mass at an underground Catholic church in eastern China, arresting the priest, demolishing a makeshift pulpit and scattering two thousand worshippers. Around the same time, some seasonal temp at the mall wished Bill O’Reilly a generic “Happy Holidays” and he felt like a victim.

A little perspective, people.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.