“But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
- Thomas Jefferson.
Every year, Right Winged Christians over the pond stir up an imaginary shit storm, by imagining that Atheist Godless moral-less heathens wish to see the total destruction of Christmas. It is what we Atheists do. We burn Christmas trees…. after we’ve eaten a baby…. and worshipped Satan for the day. They are angry if we say “Holidays” instead of “Christmas”. They are mad that we even celebrate Christmas at all. As if it is a holiday for Christians only. Christians are excellent at rewriting history, to suit themselves.
Christmas changes. The celebratory atmosphere around this time of year, was not a product of Christianity. It is now a glorious mix of Christianity, Paganism, and Secularism. This mix, is Christmas. We can all call it Christmas, and we can all celebrate Christmas. People from all different faiths and backgrounds celebrate it, because it is a time for family. Christmas has a mix of histories; those include pagan, Christian, and secular. Belief in the birth of Jesus isn’t necessary to celebrate or enjoy Christmas. It is similar to Christians adopting the day, from the Pagans. Gift giving, family feasts, and parties on December 25th existed in Babylon long before Jesus, as the celebration of the feast of the son of Isis. Kissing under mistletoe, is a Northern European Pagan tradition, considered a fertility ritual during “Yule” – a festival dedicated to Mithras (coincidentally, Mithras had twelve disciples, was born on Dec. 25th, rose three days after being buried in a tomb, believed in a final judgement, and his followers baptised, and had Eurcharist). Decorating, and Christmas tree’s existed in many different Pagan festivals. Christianity simply appropriated much of the traditions of Paganism, after pressure from the Romans. Christmas therefore evolves. It started Pagan, Christianity took it on (and really, didn’t add much to the pot), and now it is secular as well as Christian. It is a lovely melting pot, and everyone enjoys the day for what it is. We Atheists don’t want to get rid of it. We have no problem with Christians celebrating the birth of Jesus. We however, celebrate for sentimental reasons; for family tradition and the joy that Christmas uniquely brings. And that’s allowed, whether Christians like it or not. Apparently some don’t….
The only ‘war’ on Christmas, is from those who wish to ensure that Christmas is not celebrated by anyone other than the narrow band of fundamentalist Christians who believe it is “their” holiday. It is an attack on every other interpretation of the holiday. It is a denial of history; that being Christmas traditions take more from Pagan festivals than they do from Christianity. Also….. spending four hours shopping for shit no one needs, followed by an hour singing Silent Night in Church…… is not the Christian spirit of Christmas.
Here is what Atheists don’t do.
Allow me to tell you what the ‘war on christmas’ actually amounts to:
Walgreens has agreed to label all its Christmas decorations “Christmas” as opposed to “holiday decorations” or just “decorations”. Mad Christians who need constant reassurance that their religion is considered the most important system of belief (or….philosophy as Bill O’Reilly amusingly calls it) from about mid-October onwards, will be over joyed!
But Christian groups go one step further. Not only do they demand Federal recognition and validation of their religious convictions everywhere they go……. they also wish to impose this on the private property of others also. The American Family Association issued a sort of fatwa against The Gap and Banana Republic…. calling for a boycott. Effectively hurting business, thus hurting people who work for those businesses. Threatening, basically. Because, according the AFA:
The boycott is part of our ongoing campaign to encourage businesses, communities and individuals to put Christ back in Christmas. The boycott runs from November 1 through Christmas Day.
For years, Gap has refused to use the word Christmas in its television commercials, newspaper ads and in-store promotions, despite tens of thousands of consumer requests to recognize Christmas and in spite of repeated requests from AFA to do the same.
- Amusingly, it turns out the AFA issued this statement, a few weeks after The Gap’s advert which includes the phrase “GO CHRISTMAS!”
According to the AFA, The Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic are at war with Christmas. Now, not only does the Gap’s Advert feature “GO CHRISTMAS!”, if you type “Christmas” into the Old Navy search engine, you are presented with products that clearly say “Christmas” on them, and have Christmas symbols. In fact, one of the items is labelled “Christmas bodysuit for baby”. If you go onto Banana Republic’s website At the top, you will see “Get it by Christmas!”, just above a massive picture of a Christmas tree, and presents. Type ‘Santa’ into any of the search engines, and a plethora of Christmas products are displayed. The conclusion? The AFA, like Fox, is a mouthpiece for the manipulative Christian Right.
The First Baptist Church of Dallas, in 2010 launched a website designed to allow users to ‘name and shame’ companies who take ‘Christ’ away from the holiday period, in their ads and products. Christians are naturally very talented at forcing their views on others, and silencing dissent, so to harm businesses – small and large – to harm the employees who work at these businesses by shaming them simply for not re-affirming the Christian aspect of Christmas every single second of every day, is no big deal to these horrid little Theocrats.
My position is simply; a business is privately owned. The owner can do with it as he or she wishes. He/she is not under the control of a few fundamentalists trying to ruin his/her livelihood for such a ridiculous reason.
Students and parents at Sullivan High School in Sullivan, Indiana have decided they wish to have a prom in which gay couples are not allowed. One the special education teachers Diana Medley, rather disgustingly said:
“We don’t agree with it (homosexuality), and it’s offensive to us.”
- This bigotry and a belief in apartheid should be offensive to us all. It should be fought at every opportunity. When Christians ask “Why do Atheists keep attacking Christianity”….. it is people like Diana Medley that drive us. Sexuality, as pointed out in a previous entry, has a genetic element. So, exchange the word “homosexuality” for “black” or “people with brown hair” or “women” and you will notice just how bigoted it becomes. Cloaking your bigotry behind outdated myths that have no basis in reality, and are refuted by genetics, does not make you any less of a disgusting human being. You are a bigot. And how does a woman like this get to be a teacher, when a percentage of people who have done nothing to cause her any harm, she finds ‘offensive’? You wouldn’t put a KKK leader in charge of a school in a black community.
One study found that a majority of religious people, when asked, would place an Atheist lower down the list of priorities for a kidney transplant, than people who believe.
1. Atheists disqualified from holding office or testifying as witness.
No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this
State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court.
Maryland Constitution, Article 37:
That no religious test ought ever to be required as a qualification for any office of profit or trust in this State, other than a declaration of belief in the existence of God; nor shall the Legislature prescribe any other oath of office than the oath prescribed by this Constitution.
Mississippi Constitution, Article 14, Section 265:
No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this State.
South Carolina Constitution, Article 17, Section 4:
No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office under this Constitution.
Tennessee Constitution, Article 9, Section 2:
No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this State.
Texas Constitution, Article 1, Section 4:
No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.
When Asheville City Councilman Cecil Bothwell declared that he does not believe in a God, the Christian Right of North Carolina took great offence. H.K. Edgerton, a board member for the Southern Legal Resource Center – an organisation that apparently stands to protect the rights of all, threatened to file a law suit against Bothwell, claiming he is unfit to serve, and his appointment violates North Carolina’s anti-Atheist Constitutional provision. Whilst barring an Atheist from public office would certainly be struck down by the Supreme Court as a violation of the Federal Constitution; it doesn’t stop the Christian Right from trying, which often leads to long battles for an Atheist to serve publicly. For example, Herb Silverman ran for the post of Governor of South Carolina in 1992, but was discarded from the race for refusing to swear an oath to God. A whole five years later, the courts ruled in his favour.
In 1996, at the age of 6, Michael Bristor was denied an Honour Roll, because he refused to believe in God. He was ridiculed at school, and it took his parents three years and a legal battle to get the Honour Roll award. When describing his treatment from his clearly fundamentalist teacher, Michael said:
“She gave me time outs for not praying. Kids were calling me a devil worshipper.”
The Boy Scouts of America, which exists through a Congressional Charter, currently does not allow Atheists to be a part of it. It states:
“The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. In the first part of the Scout Oath or Promise the member declares, ‘On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.’ The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members.”
- That final sentence, is a disgrace, and goes against every rational basis for the Constituting of the United States of America. It is a dangerous sentence, it is a Theocratic principle, and it is massively unconstitutional.
The rewriting of history to suit Christian America is a regular occurrence from the 1950s until the present day. Somehow, it has managed to convince a Nation that “One Nation, under God” was always a part of the Pledge, or that “In God We Trust” always appeared on the dollar bill. Both of which are a product of the rise of the Christian Right in the 1950s. Jefferson and Franklin would have reacted with anger at the inclusion of “One Nation, under God” on any public institution.
The Christian Right are experts at rewriting merging their prejudices with Christianity, and using it to attack the secular nature of the Constitution. Anti-social liberalism is a key ingredient in the making of the Christian Right, and this social liberalism extends to homosexuality. We see the influence of the Christian Right in the passing of the ‘Defence of Marriage Act’ – using ‘defence’ to hide the fact that they are slowly breaking down the barrier between Church and State, slowly eroding individual rights, replacing them with Christian theocratic ‘values’. The ‘Defence of Marriage Act’ states:
“In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”
-If this isn’t a restriction of human rights, by a bunch of homophobic anti-constitutional theocrats, I don’t know what is. This is the ultimate in Government power over individual rights. It is a restriction on ‘love’.
A recent study out of the University of Minnesota found that 47.6% of people polled said they would disapprove if their child married an Atheist.
Christianity isn’t under attack. It has eroded Constitutional secularism; the achievements of the Enlightenment to break the link between the State and Religion, and it isn’t finished. It is like a cancer, slowly making its way across all sections of public life. Schools, public office, science, love. The ‘values’ that they push for, that they insist on forcing upon the rest of society, are vastly incompatible with the Founding documents. Secularists and Atheists have an absolute duty, to resist it, to fight it, and to stand up for the secularism that took so long to achieve. We do not wish to destroy Christmas. I have a Christmas tree. I will be sharing gifts, and celebrating with the family.
So, sit back, and allow Fox to wage a non-existent war myth that it created, in an attempt to boost ratings. And remember, Christmas; which started off as pressure placed on Christians in Rome to join in the Pagan festivities… is for everyone.
Call it Christmas, call it winter festival, call it the holiday season, call it winter solstice, call it anything you wish. The vocabulary is irrelevant. Spend the time loving, smiling, and making memories, whatever your beliefs.