The War on Christmas is going full force on two fronts. First, the atheists are making fools of themselves. Second, Christmas' most enthusiastic boosters — insane shoppers — are disgracing the holidays by murdering each other.
Usually, the war on Christmas is headlined by some boob making an asinine declaration in the name of inclusiveness or separation of church and state — for example the Port of Seattle pulling down a Christmas tree at Sea-Tac so as not to have to also put up a menorah. Or King County Executive Ron Sims banning "Merry Christmas." These guys are the usual PC pinatas that pop up every year.
Now the state of Washington and Gov. Christine Gregoire have come up with a new way to celebrate the season: Let anyone set up a religious display in the state Capitol (no sacrificing goats, though!). Since you can't selectively use public property to endorse a long-standing religious tradition anymore, the pendulum has swung wide and now anyone with an axe to grind on a Christmas, excuse me, "holiday" tree, is welcome.
The Capitol has had a "holiday" tree for years, part of an Association of Washington Business fundraiser that's raised $300,000 for rural poor kids. And there will be a nativity scene too. But this year joining the fun will be atheists posting a state-permitted placard pissing on religion in general.
According to the Spokane Spokesman-Review, which highlighted the controversy over Thanksgiving weekend with page one, above the fold play, the atheists' sign will read:
"At this season of the winter solstice, may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."
Yes, and there's no Santa either, so up yours, Virginia.
Atheists are their own worst enemy — and I speak as an atheist-sympathizer. One of my beefs is the obnoxious, counter-productive ways many atheists find to express themselves. One would think that independent-minded atheists could live and let live, or offer their views with respect or persuasiveness. At the very least atheists should be sensitive to the dangers of proselytizing. But no. During the Christmas and Hanukkah their PR strategy is to call Christian celebrants brainwashed slaves. Myth and superstition themselves do not harden hearts, but here's what does: The inability to respect the beliefs of others or treat anything as sacred.
The same edition of the Spokesman-Review, a guest columnist, Donald Clegg, wrote a piece for the "Faith and Values" page titled "Biblical passages at times contradict Christian message." Clegg wondered just "how 'Christian' was Jesus himself." I have no doubt some readers found this provocative, but it was a polite doubter's case for reading the Bible as myth. But more important is Clegg's final quote:
I don't read the Bible any differently than I do The Iliad or The Odyssey, and if you feel otherwise, I'll just go with Thomas Jefferson on this one: "But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket not breaks my leg."
This, I think, is a good attitude for people of all faiths, atheists included, to keep in mind. Don't pick thy neighbors pocket, don't break thy neighbors leg in the name of religion or anything else.
Unfortunately, those who worship at the shrine of Christmas commerce aren't following those rules. I've been disgusted for years by the grotesque spectacle of Black Friday. Media coverage has turned holiday shopping into a nasty, competitive sport that promotes destructive consumerism. This year, as we face the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, things turned even uglier.
On Long Island, a Wal-Mart clerk was trampled to death by unrepentant bargain hunters who turned sullen when asked to leave the store after his death. I repeat: holiday shoppers murdered a clerk to get at holiday bargains.
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