Up yours, Virginia

Dispatch from the War on Christmas: Atheists make fools of themselves in Olympia while violence breaks out at Wal-Mart. The sacred season is now a very, very sick season.

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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Comments:

Posted Tue, Dec 2, 7:30 a.m. Inappropriate

"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[...]"

This year, it's you. Congratulations!

Posted Tue, Dec 2, 10:04 a.m. Inappropriate

For a mult-denominational perspective on the sacrificing of goats, see this Pakistan/India conversation:

http://www.paktribune.com/pforums/posts.php?t=1102&start;=1

-Douglas Tooley
http://motleytools.com/blog

Posted Tue, Dec 2, 10:17 a.m. Inappropriate

The results of the war on Christ are outlined in your article.

The results of warring against the truth are always the same. Modern man thinks peace and love means tolerating lies and half-truths and giving all false opinions the same weight as facts. But tolerating wrong, i.e., evil, results in war and hatred.

Jesus Christ said "I am the way, the truth, and the life". And he meant it.

Lainie

Posted Tue, Dec 2, 10:43 a.m. Inappropriate

Knute,

I like this piece very much. It is getting pretty ridiculous. It's hard to shake your head and sadly chuckle at the same time, but that's what I found myself doing after hearing of both the Wal-Mart and Toys 'R Us fiascos. The absurdity of it all is overwhelming. The poor guy at the Wal-Mart was just a temporary worker. I mean how awful is that. Somebody should make a T-Shirt reading "I was a temp at Wal-Mart for the holidays and all I got was trampled to death by an angry, working-class mob". I'm thankful the mob won't even have me as a member, so I've got that going for me, which is nice.

Personally, as an economist, I have serious misgivings about giving gifts, but sometimes you've got to go with the flow. But don't give in to this idea that we're running out of PlayStations or whatever else is popular compelling people to act now. That, as noted in the Times Week in Review on Sunday, has been a great marketing coup.

The annual war-against-Christmas and its counterpart war against the against-Christmas-warriors is getting all to tiresome. I like the Jefferson quote very much; I hadn't heard it before. I'm not religious, I don't consider myself a believer, but every culture in the world has celebrations in the dark of winter, at least where there are dark winters. Even hot-as-hell Africa has one. Enjoy it for what it is and allows us to do.

I don't understand why certain people feel that if they don't identify with the religious aspect of a cultural tradition like Christmas that they refuse to enjoy any aspect of it. I do feel however, that those people are in the minority no matter what Bill O'Reilly or Lou Dobb's say about it. They have to go on air whether or not they have anything germane or informational. It is disheartening that "leaders" like Sims feel the need to fuel those false fires, but hey people voted for him, like I did, and we've got to live with repercussions.

Very nice and thoughtful article.

George

Posted Tue, Dec 2, 10:50 a.m. Inappropriate

3rd paragraph: "getting all too tiresome"

4th paragraph "Lou Dobbs"; not meant to be possessive.

My apologies.

George

Posted Tue, Dec 2, 11:27 a.m. Inappropriate

As a Pagan, I am not offended when someone wishes me a Merry Christmas. I cheerfully respond with 'Happy Solstice!' and we both move on. The bit that gets under my skin is when a retail establishment or government agency intends to include me by saying 'Happy Holidays' and they get criticized. Is it really so offensive to Christians that *anyone else* gets recognized at this time of year? After all, Pagans gave the world the tree-decorating, the feasting, and the gift-giving. You owe us a little recognition!

Posted Tue, Dec 2, 12:17 p.m. Inappropriate

Speaking from a warm house with a full pantry, we have decided this year to forego holiday gifts and contribute what we would have spent to the local charities that are decimated by the economy. Talk about a win-win: no visits to malls and a tax deduction besides!

Posted Tue, Dec 2, 12:30 p.m. Inappropriate

Knute,

Why so worked up? The wording on the placard, with its reference to the solstice, sounds more pagan than atheistic anyway. What’s the solstice anyway? Just a certain point in the earth’s orbit. Yes it’s “natural”, but to watch the KING 5 video of the group’s spokesman complain about the Christians “stealing” the winter solstice celebration belies either a nascent pagan agnostic or an incompetent atheist. The State is in a bind: one mans holy relic is another mans call to arms, and the State has to levy taxes on both. So light up the Menorah, plug in the Christmas Tree, throw a yule log on the fire, and lets have a Saturnalia of seasonal materialism.

The Economy could use it.

Posted Tue, Dec 2, 12:50 p.m. Inappropriate

Christmas is fine with me because it's also a non-religious holiday, and a lot of fun.

The right wing is shooting themselves in the foot too -- by insisting on public displays connecting christmas to religion. Their overreaching is fuel for the backlash.

mhays

Posted Tue, Dec 2, 1:13 p.m. Inappropriate

The holiday we today call Christmas was around long before Christianity and if past history is any guide, will continue long afterwards (if people find a successor religion). To rail against Christmas is to rail against the sweep of human cultural history. The people who put the sign in the Capitol rotunda aren't atheists. If they were, why would they bother to argue the point? They're antitheist militants who, just like most extremist religious militants, seem to be harboring a deep seated fear that somewhere, someone is having a good time; and they, by God (or by Science, as the otters say), are bound and determined to put an end to it. Well, pish-posh on that. Merry Christmas, Mister Potter!

dbreneman

Posted Tue, Dec 2, 5:57 p.m. Inappropriate

Another Jefferson quote - "Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever."

Lainie

Posted Tue, Dec 2, 7:10 p.m. Inappropriate

Loved this article. But am saddened by the reasons for writing it -- especially that outrageous trampling in New York.

As for those opposing this most blessed time of year, for goodness sake, what part of "Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men" could possibly be offensive to anyone?! Even Christ, Himself, knew that not everyone would believe in Him.

So, to each His own. Enjoy the Season . . . and find your own way to brighten the lives around you.

And to you, Lainie -- you go, girl! : )

ps9012

ps_90_12

Posted Tue, Dec 2, 11 p.m. Inappropriate

Someone's done an atheist parody of Adam Sandler's Hanukkah Song: http://www.boingboing.net/2008/12/02/atheism-song-adam-sa.html

Posted Wed, Dec 3, 10:51 a.m. Inappropriate

Please keep one thing in mind; the reason for Chritmas. It's to celebrate the birth of Christ. There is no getting around that fact. Reagrdless of your belief there is no denying that Christmas wouldn't exist if it weren't for the fact Christ was born a little over 2000 years ago. His birth is not a myth, it is a historical fact.

For those who can't understand why Christians get upset with issue like one at the Capitol building think about this for a minute. We celebrate Christmas in honor of the birth of Christ. We also honor MLK with a day, as well as Washington and Lincoln. If someone were to put on display a sign degenerating MLK, or if the St George's Cross Flag were displayed at the Washington Monument on Washinton's birthday, there would be little arguement those displays were in poor taste and there would be little tolerence for it. But Christians are easy targets because for the most part we tend to "turn the other check" and let others have their say.

In closing let me say Merry Christmas and Christ's blessing on all.

WxMan1

Posted Wed, Dec 3, 10:56 a.m. Inappropriate

Christmas wouldn't exist in its current form, but a solstice celebration of some sort certainly would.

And, of course, there is a difference between Christmas on the one hand and Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day on the other. Christmas is a religious holiday and the others aren't.

Posted Wed, Dec 3, 9:45 p.m. Inappropriate

The war on Christmas ended years ago, and consumerism won handily.

What's happening here is a war on atheism. Not at all in the spririt of the solstice.

Sean

Posted Tue, Dec 9, 12:55 p.m. Inappropriate

I'm a little late to this Berger piece, but want to point out that the "atheists" aren't stupid at all. They wanted to offend. They wanted to turn the whole thing into a circus. And they succeeded. Why did they want a circus? So they could achieve their goal -- make things so uncomforable that authorities would simply ban all religious displays from state buildings. They didn't succeed this year, but I predict they will in the future. (And if you're wondering, that would fine with me.)

alias

Posted Thu, Dec 11, 11:30 a.m. Inappropriate

"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."

Although I personally agree that religion has at times "hardened hearts..," that part of the last sentence is somewhat harsh and could have been deleted. I am not sure how many atheists there really are, but I suspect that more than a few atheists, agnostics and related non-believers are happy to let people celebrate Christmas with little fuss and that they do not necessarily want to wage a "war" against Christmas.

Kamille

Posted Mon, Sep 7, 2:43 p.m. Inappropriate

As a Native American I can say we are not dumb enough to allow communist to separate our lives from spirituality. Our governments are connected to spirituality and beliefs and will remain that way forever.

Frugie

Posted Sat, Dec 29, 4:34 a.m. Inappropriate

The solution to the problem lies not in the answer, but in asking the correct question. And that question is always Why until one runs out of whys. And when one gets there, 'why' again. Then redefine the problem that has no answer (yet)since it cannot be expressed as nothing more than a hamster in a cage spinning on the wheel year after year after year repeating itself like history has for centuries only redefining it instead, it just takes another form. We go by what one sees, thinks, knows, or thinks they know based on assumptions, presumptions, opinions, what only 'seems' logical, what only 'seems' like reason, and what only 'seems' conclusive, The reality is, everyone has a different reality in their own minds based on their past casting a shadow over the present and obscuring the future because what 'seems' to one does not 'seem' to another. There's no way out of it unless one is, as written, that centered in self to think one has all the answers to questions like Why Does Man Exist? What is the Purpose of Life? What is the Meaning of Life? How do I Effect Others in Total Full out Honesty, when the mind cannot think its way out of a paper bag. Try it and see. Ask, what doesn't exist? How does one know something doesn't exist such as another strain of bacteria or another species (100s are found constantly..or quite frequently..) until it is found. So what wasn't now is. Endless Science Arise! (like Alexander Pope wrote in the "Critique of Man").No one is innocent, not no one. . If one thinks they are man's (or Heaven forbid, "God's") gift to the world because they can just say, "haha, that's not true". That's not an answer no matter how much intellect they can come up with to prove a logical fallacy stemming from a seed that has no basis other than "that's what I think because....forever" Logic is illogical forevereness. P.S. - no theories allowed. Those stem from the head too. So then Virginia what is Christmas? It's not what anyone is commenting on,but why spoil the fun ? Happy New Year, ..oh wait, is that okay? After-all, that's just made up to. Right? Like the calendar is man-made, the concept of time is man made too...science is man made too, as is what the vast majority think that (there's the word again) 'religion' is man made without even bothering to know what it really even means. Spirituality is man made too. Since this subject title is about Christmas though and it is about Christ regardless of what illogical reductionists say by thinking backward based on false premises and long standing compiled assumptions by like minded individuals to support a sect's case...the words of Christ Eoshoa (Yeshua) Life Giver... "Will I find Faith on earth?". Nearly 2000 years ago. Not bad, for a myth. A rhetorical question and a loaded statement, and human beings have fallen right into the trap by creating something with their minds. The mind that creates the problem can't be the same mind to resolve it. Beyond that, it takes a new mind altogether sum total. We can't even be sure all about the first president let alone make 'intelligence' of something 1000 years ago, yet, He was Discussed 1000 years before His existence, and it is documented clearly that he would exist and die before anyone even knew what their own words meant as they were not the words of their own mind. What 'seems' to be reality needs to get distorted a little bit in order to get out of ones head since the Big Answers are not there, otherwise, the world wouldn't be what it is today, 3 steps forward 4 steps back. Outside the head it's 3 steps forward 2 steps back. Such is the Reality of the Evolution of the Beingness of Hu-man evolution for those who decide to venture in to their own darkness which few seem to be willing to do, let alone think about or consider it. The only way to be Perfectly Sane is to be totally out of your mind. Funny how that works, yet, that word insane implies such out of your mind, that is just it Out of Your Mind since, well, look around, who is really sane these days? people feast on other peoples thought, yet the thoughts we love the most are our own. And they are all distorted. So use the old myth reasoning which is known to be false and venture into the questions what does not think to ask. Therein lies the next problem, if one is in their own mind how can one think of questions not to ask? (funny, the spam Captcha is 'know itbesti". What is Know? What one will find, 'what is it that is lost that hasn't be found"? What is it that is not known that is yet to be known? What was lost but is then found after the fact to have already been? What 'myth' would desire us to "Be Perfect"? That's a pretty tall order for a myth that cannot speak or think to ask the questions. Is someone the Apple of your Eye?

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