Spoiler alert: Don’t Read This if You Believe in Santa Claus (AKA if you are a member of American Atheists, turn around now)
I wasn’t home last night, and even when I am I rarely turn on Fox News for anything other than The Five or Red Eye, but when I got in it was to hear from my dad that Hannity had been talking to the President of American Atheists on his show, about a billboard they have put in in Times Square.
Apparently atheists are operating under the idea that Santa is a real person or something.
Technically I suppose they were trying to be witty and reference how the secular trappings of Christmas are a-okay with them, but cut out the religion right this very minute because they can’t stand one myth being talked about…but the other myth of the jolly fat man in a red suit is perfectly fine.
Can we just take a moment to recognize how utterly ridiculous this is?
No really, does American Atheist understand how stupid they are for implying that only one of those images is a myth?
Santa and Rudolph and the sleigh with all the toys are a myth. They know that right?
Last year I wrote a post about Nativity scenes on public property and this was part of it.
So why is it that a holiday that is based on some fictional account of a baby being born in a barn, is so offensive to an Athiest or Liberal’s sensibilities?
I know that Star Wars is just a story, completely fictional. However there is an entire religion based on The Force. There are huge groups of a devoted fan base that worship The Force and even those that don’t follow the religion still collect relics, dress in odd clothing, and attend huge gatherings to, essentially, worship the films. Do I ask that Star Wars conventions be shut down? No, absolutely not, because while I’m not a Star Wars fan (I’m a Trekkie okay) I know that it’s just a story, that some people enjoy and maybe put a little too much of their lives into.
So if I don’t demand that Star Wars conventions be shut down (which are both more physically and olfactory offensive than Christmas and probably much less healthy for the convention attendees) why is it that a bunch of plaster fictional characters on a lawn can invoke such irrationality?
Atheists reject one myth, because it’s more popular or believed by more people, but completely accept another myth as socially and politically acceptable in the public forum, simply because they believe it’s secular.
I have news for you. Nothing about Christmas, from it’s name right down to the elements of the celebration, is based on secular ideas.
Okay, possibly Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph are purely secular and capitalistic creations, but the core traditions are religious, whether they are Christian or not.
Let’s break this down shall we. What are some of the key ‘secular’ parts of Christmas.
Christmas Trees: Extreme pagan and Christian religious symbolism.
The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmastime.
The modern Christmas tree, though, originated in western Germany. The main prop of a popular medieval play about Adam and Eve was a “paradise tree,” a fir tree hung with apples, that represented the Garden of Eden. The Germans set up a paradise tree in their homes on December 24, the religious feast day of Adam and Eve. They hung wafers on it (symbolizing the host, the Christian sign of redemption); in a later tradition the wafers were replaced by cookies of various shapes.
Lights: Lights on the tree and elsewhere came from a Christian practice, as well as pagan practices.
Candles, symbolic of Christ, were often added [to the Christmas tree].
The Celtic fire festival of Yule was a time of renewal and rebirth, celebrated by lighting fires to welcome back the lengthening days. The remnants of this practice may be found in the charming tradition of the Yule log, still enjoyed by many people at Christmas even today.
The lighting of candles and modern Christmas lights is also a relic of this ancient need to bring light to the darkest time of the year, and even in this era of electric lights that dispel the gloom all year round, many people still enjoy the warming feeling of seeing a beautifully lit tree or an array of lighted candles.
The circle of the Yule or Christmas wreath represents the pagan “Wheel of the Year” or “Circle of Life” that marks the annual changes in the seasons at the Festivals celebrated at the solstices and equinoxes.The Germans set up a paradise tree in their homes on December 24, the religious feast day of Adam and Eve. They hung wafers on it (symbolizing the host, the Christian sign of redemption); in a later tradition the wafers were replaced by cookies of various shapes.
Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick: Literally a Catholic saint and the basis for the modern Santa Claus that was so wittily placed on a billboard mocking Christianity. Brilliant move American Atheists!
Santa Claus, legendary figure who is the traditional patron of Christmas in the United States and other countries, bringing gifts to children. His popular image is based on traditions associated with Saint Nicholas, a 4th-century Christian saint. Father Christmas fills the role in many European countries.
“The giving of presents at the midwinter feast almost certainly began as a magical more than as merely a social custom. Saturnalia presents included wax dolls, given to children. A charming custom, no doubt, by times of record, but with a macabre past: even contemporaries thought this probably a vestige of human sacrifice, of children, to aid the sowing.”
- History Today
We have many recorded events in history that show the giving and receiving of gifts dates back at least to the 4th century. St. Nicholas, a Christian Bishop, was known for his generosity in giving to those less fortunate than he, as well as giving to children of all backgrounds simply because he felt they needed to savor their childrood, and have joyous times to remember.
These really aren’t that secular after all then. So I guess what your real problem is, is that Christianity is involved (in which case, no Santa for you either, he’s a Catholic Saint).
If you have a problem with religion in general, then keep in mind that those lights you are hanging, that tree you are decorating while singing secular x-mas carols, and those gifts you are giving out, all have religious connotations.
So you should probably ask your job if you can come in on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, to let other non-Scrooges enjoy a day with their family, since you can’t stand any religions at all. Since you totally reject all religions that believe in “magical sky daddy’s” or whatever mocking phrase atheists are referring to god by these days.
Fresh from her high school prayer banner victory, Jessica Ahlquist throws her hat into another ring.
I would like to start this post by saying two things.
First, I absolutely hate the cruel and violent words that have been used against Jessica Ahlquist. You will not find me on friendly terms with anyone who I find have insulted her.
Secondly, I would like to note that I have read her blog and it reads like the blog I kept at the age of 16.* I was also a very adamant atheist at the age of 16 and I believed I would never change my mind on the subject. I regularly sought out Christians to argue with and reading over the old posts I offered in arguments with Christians is actually an embarrassment to myself. I give age and overabundance of zeal, though not knowledge, as an excuse for my words at the time.** I did not remain in my atheism, not that I claim Ahlquist will change her mind on that, and my ignorance and need to change other people’s minds or even to police the public expressions of religion.
Now I want to address what this post is actually about.
Jessica Ahlquist and her fellow atheists who are extremely talented at making mountains out of molehills.
I will admit that, constitutionally, she had a case when it came to the school prayer at her school in Rhode Island. This isn’t about that.
I can empathize with some of what Atheist’s do, especially when it comes to say…the Ten Commandments being placed on courthouses. After all, I’m not a Christian and I don’t want to be judged by the Ten Commandments in court, neither does anyone else of other religions in this country.
But then there are things like this. Where atheists, who Jessica Ahlquist has thrown her hat in with, are protesting the existence of a WWI/WWII memorial in Woonsocket, R.I. which has a cross on top of it.
As previously reported, the Christian cross, which was built in Woonsocket back in 1921, is causing a great deal of angst among secularists who stand firmly opposed to its presence on public property. Taking on even more significance beyond WWI, the monument was re-dedicated back in 1952 to honor three fallen WWII soldiers who lived in the area and has since been a public statement of remembrance.
In a April 13 letter sent from the FFRF to Leo Fontaine, the city’s mayor, FFRF staff attorney Rebecca Markert called the presence of the cross “unconstitutional” and claimed that a concerned citizen made the group aware of its presence.
- The Blaze
Jessica threw in her hat by tweeting, recently, that she supported the removal.
My question is…why?
Sure it’s on public property.
Sure, it’s a war memorial.
But it’s not like they are using current tax money to put the memorial up.*** In fact, I’m quite sure that if the issue was that the state was using tax money for upkeep of the statue, that the more than 1,000 people who have gathered to support it would be willing to pay for the cleaning and upkeep of the memorial.
But that isn’t what the Atheist organizations want. They want the monument gone.
Is it causing them undue emotional distress to even see a cross or walk past one? In which case, why aren’t they trying to sue every church they walk past for pain and suffering?
Is it uncomfortable for them to have to explain what that strange T shaped object on top of that stone is to their children?
Does the idea of Christianity just offend them so much that historical monuments and memorials to our service men just have to go?
There are crosses and religious symbols on many of the historic monuments in this country. Should we tear down every single one of those as well, because atheist just can’t handle the stress.
I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that cross on a historic monument is creating a situation where you can’t live comfortably. Nor do I think it is making you a second class citizen, nor do I honestly believe it is constitutionally wrong.
There are many issues in this country that you could be starting useful fights about, but this is not one of them.
Jessica, I fully believe that, no matter what your religious beliefs in the future, you will regret getting involved in this fight at such a young age. No matter how mature you think you are, or you actually are, you will not keep the same 16 year old beliefs, all your life.
*No, I can’t show it to you. I cleaned out the old posts on my old blog a long time ago…because most of them, quite frankly, embarrassed me.
**Though I must admit that the Christians I debated often had an overabundance of zeal and an underabundance of knowledge on their side.
***In which case I would understand their upset and even support their case.
Christopher Hitchens, ‘bloodthirsty barbarian and a club-carrying primitive’. All the more reason to like him I say.
Never let it be said that following Pharyngula on twitter isn’t a blood pressure raising experience…at least for a conservative.
For the past day I’ve been discussing Christopher Hitchens with various conservative friends of mine, plus seeing numerous tweets from conservatives (Christian conservatives at that) like Ann Coulter, Dinesh D’Souza, and Andy Levy (…okay, I don’t know his religion and he’s actually a libertarian) confessing regret that Hitchens had shuffled off this mortal coil. Conservatives liked him and he was proof that, like gay people are not constrained to the political left for their sexuality, atheists are not bound to liberal ideals (like cultural and moral relativism) because of their lack of belief in god.
So it was no surprise to me to read a post on Pharyngula entitled “The dark side of Hitchens”. His atheism may have been a common thread uniting Hitchens and PZ Myers together, but his political beliefs about war, terrorism, and his beliefs that Islam is not a peaceful religion, but a religion of hate, was enough for Myers to say that Hitchens was a “bloodthirsty barbarian and a club-carrying primitave”. Myers proof that anything Hitchens claimed about Islam, war, or terrorism was false?
But that won’t stop liberals from believing him.
F0r myself, I liked Hitchens. His death is a blow to reason, intelligence, and the truth. Not a crippling blow of course, but a terribly sad one. He did not care what people said about him, he unapologetically stood for what he believed and backed up his beliefs with proof and eloquence. He refused to bend to political correctness and sought the truth. We could all stand to learn a few lessons from Hitchens. Not the least of which is, that when liberals are calling you a barbarian, you are probably doing something right.
Of course I didn’t always agree with that man, but I did agree with him on a lot of major points.
Hitchens on Islam
Hitchens on war on Terror
Hitchens hating on Michael Moore
Of course he isn’t the only one who sees the truth of Islam…and these are big names for Atheism. What does Myers have to say to that?
I say Merry Christmas.
I don’t do it to offend people.
You are perfectly welcome to say Happy Chanukah, Happy Holidays, Happy Kwanzah, Merry Festivus, Happy Wintereenmas, or Happy Winter Solstice depending on your religion, political leanings, etc.
I say Merry Christmas for two very simple reasons.
The first being obviously that I was raised celebrating Christmas and I have an impressive number of happy memories and feelings from all those years of family Christmases. I put up a Christmas tree, I give Christmas presents, I put up Christmas lights and Christmas decorations. I’m fully aware of the pagan background of many of these traditions and I accept them. However they are part of what I call ‘Christmas’. That’s my family tradition. I don’t see Christmas as some sort of political piece in a power struggle between Christians and Atheists, I just see it as a time for my family to come together and be happy. I get to buy presents for people and see their face when they open it.
I love Christmas.
I know, I’ve already said that, but it will probably get repeated several more times between now and December 25th, so you might as well get used to it.
The second reason is one that I know a couple of my readers will disagree with. They know who they are.
Have you ever had someone of a different faith tell you that are going to pray for you? Not in that condescending way where they are clearly insulting you as they say it (i.e. ‘I will pray that you stop being an idiot, come to your senses and become a Christian’ or ‘I will pray for you to stop sinning and become straight instead of gay’). I’m talking about the sort of prayer where someone is trying to bring you goodwill and happiness in the best way they know how. The kind of prayer that someone makes when they find out you are sick and they want you get better, or when you’ve lost your job and they want you to find a new one. It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in their religions, they believe it and that’s what matters. “It’s the thought that counts” as they say.
I’ll never get upset with someone who is only trying to bring a little good will into my life.
That’s how I feel about wishing people Merry Christmas at this time of year. It’s also how I feel when someone wishes me Happy Chanukah or any of the others I mentioned.
Because when I say ‘Merry Christmas’ I’m wishing that they will have good fortune, a happy family get together, good food, good presents, and everything else that I associate with Christmas. I’m not telling them how to live their lives, what god to worship, or how they should celebrate. I’m just wishing them what I would want them to wish me, even if they would phrase it differently.
So yes, I say Merry Christmas.
And if you have a problem with that, I hope Santa leaves nothing but coal in your stocking because you, sir or ma’am, have no Christmas/Chanuka/Kwanzaa/Festivus/Wintereenmas/Solstice spirit.
Thanks to Rechabite for inspiring me to write this post with his own post on why he says Merry Christmas.