Follow Up on the Local Nativity Scene

The local Fox News channel did a story on the situation in Dorr, Michigan, where my friend Jeremiah Bannister has been asking uncomfortable questions about a nativity scene that just showed up in a public park. The station did the usual lazy job of covering the story:

“West Michigan Man Outraged Over Public Nativity Scene,” the headline screams. And this is pretty much the only narrative any mainstream news outlet ever offers in such situations. The person questioning the display is always “outraged” or “furious” or terribly offended. They simply cannot conceive of any other reason why someone would challenge these examples of Christian privilege. No atheist can ever just be calm and rational, they must be livid and enraged and terribly negative. That’s the easiest thing to report so that’s what gets reported.

The truth is that Jeremiah is not enraged over this. He’s perfectly calm and reasonable about it. And he is not demanding that it be taken down. He’s merely asking how it came to be there — the city initially said it had no idea — because that determines what set of rules it must comply with legally. Turns out an elderly woman in the community got a permit to put it up a few years ago and has just been putting it up every year since then without anyone ever complaining. But since it is a private individual doing it, the city has to treat it as a limited public forum and allow all individuals, not just Christian ones, to put up similar displays. And that is what he plans to do, ask to put up his own display (likely the one that the Springfield Area Freethinkers came up with, which is very positive and respectful).

Now if you want angry and unhinged, just look at the comments on the Fox station’s website, which are about equal parts idiotic and aggressive.

Shame on him. I’m so tired of this nonsense. If he d does not like it stay away and if you do like it enjoy. What if it was somebody’s personal property? Would he complain then?

No, he wouldn’t. There’s a pretty obvious difference there, don’t you think?

Where is tolerance when it comes to Atheists towards Christianity. If they weren’t afraid of the power of God and His son Jesus, they would be able to ignore and let us enjoy freedom of speech and religion.

Right. I’m not the least bit afraid of the power of things I don’t believe exist. And I’ll be the first one to defend your freedom of speech and religion. But this situation has nothing at all to do with either of those things.

This moron is outraged? Maybe there lies the problem? Outraged over a nativity scene?

He is a grown man and has never seen a nativity scene until now?

Can we say control issues?

Go ahead spoiled brat, Stomp your feet and then head back to your room and sit in the corner!

These Hitler types really need to simmer down and evaporate!

Oh yes, but it’s the atheist who is enraged and being irrational, right?

someone should show him the road runs east out of dorr then he can take 131 north or south and never look back. what a sorry pice of s— to waste time in life crying about a nativity scene go get a hobby or a woman in your life so ya have something to find fault with ill bet on if you were in a war and beening shot at you would say help me god

Bow to our Christian privilege or be run out of time, you piece of shit! And they’ll know we are Christians by our love…

go join ms O’Hair in hell jeremiah. you won’t be missed here.

Yep, that’s what Jesus would do.

This dude Bannister should have his picture taken and then place on telephone poles around his town listing his shameful attitude he is displaying. If this is the case then all church’s must take down the scenes they put up for Christmas no matter what it depicts.

Another halfwit who doesn’t grasp the difference between a display on church property and a display on government property. It’s really not that difficult a concept, is it? And this same halfwit came back, armed with a caps lock key:

AND BTW WE LIVE IN A FREE COUNTRY IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT LOOK AWAY IF YOU DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT WALK AWAY OR PLUG YOUR EARS YOU DON’T HAVE TO STAND AND LOOK AND LISTEN IF YOU DON’T LIKE THOSE RULES TAKE YOUR CRY BABY ASS SOMEWHERE ELSE CAUSE WE ARE SICK OF HEARING IT

These militant atheists have an agenda.

Its time to stop these an atheists from infringing on our civil rights.

Time to stop playing nice, and take our country back.

push these bastards back in the closet where they belong

Exactly who is being angry and intolerant here?

We live in a beautiful community that is based on Christian love.

These comments would tend to suggest otherwise.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • http://www.jafafahots.com Jafafa Hots

    I am TOTALLY terrified of the omnipotent God who created everything and can send me to be tortured for eternity, so I know the only way to defeat that and prevent my horrible fate is to get some tacky decorations taken down.

  • raven

    But since it is a private individual doing it, the city has to treat it as a limited public forum and allow all individuals, not just Christian ones, to put up similar displays. And that is what he plans to do,

    Which will likely be vandalized shortly afterwards.

    Someone needs to sell all all dinosaur or all cephalopod nativity scene. They do sell all cat ones which are OK and all Zombie ones which never seem too seasonal.

  • Sastra

    Another halfwit who doesn’t grasp the difference between a display on church property and a display on government property. It’s really not that difficult a concept, is it?

    Apparently it is. Countries are like houses, and majorities are like the Daddy. My house, my rules. If you don’t like it you can leave.

    Very small thinking.

    I suspect that part of the reason Christians are so eager to assume that atheists are always personally offended by government endorsement of religion is that they tend to translate the reasons for atheism in line with the familiar narrative of Christianity. Deep down, everyone knows there is a God and — if everyone is honest with themselves and open to what God is telling them — then they also know Christianity is true. Atheists, therefore, have a rebellious spirit. They’re contrarians by nature, bitter, angry, and looking for ways to ruin the happiness of others.

    The only good atheist is a quiet atheist.

    Jeremiah Bannister wasn’t quiet. That automatically makes him outraged, shrill, and abrasive — like a drunken guest who needs to be taught manners.

  • matty1

    “IF YOU DON’T LIKE THOSE RULES TAKE YOUR CRY BABY ASS SOMEWHERE ELSE”

    Someone should send this guy copies of the relevant court rulings with this excerpt of his own comment attached.

  • raven

    I wouldn’t worry about the usual incoherent frothing-at-the-mouth xian hate fest known as…xmas.

    Price of Jeremiah’s complaint = a few dollars.

    Fundie xians ranting, raving, and threatening = priceless

    One of the main drivers behind the decline of US xianity is the incredible ugliness of the fundie xian perversion. And their main strategy is get even uglier. More ugliness = more ex-xians. Worked for me. They are powerful helpers for the atheists.

  • cgm3

    AND BTW WE LIVE IN A FREE COUNTRY IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT LOOK AWAY IF YOU DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT WALK AWAY OR PLUG YOUR EARS YOU DON’T HAVE TO STAND AND LOOK AND LISTEN IF YOU DON’T LIKE THOSE RULES TAKE YOUR CRY BABY ASS SOMEWHERE ELSE CAUSE WE ARE SICK OF HEARING IT

    So as far as this guy is concerned, people can fornicate in the public square and he’s okay with that ’cause he and others can just “look away”? Somehow, I doubt it.

  • http://polrant@blogspot.com democommie

    “The station did the usual lazy job of covering the story”

    Ed, how dare you!*. This is FuckTheNew’sCorpse we’re talkin’bout here. If they are just reporting the facts that IS lazy. It takes a lot more energy (although not much intelligence) to just make shit up.

    “all Zombie ones which never seem too seasonal”

    Put on your creative thinking cap. If one of the zombies was eating the brains of, say, THE CHRIST CHILD!, that there, that would seem seasonal.

    * A query for the pedantic quibblers. Is it proper to end the sentence with a (!) a (?), (!?) or (?!) ?

  • busterggi

    Somehow I’d bet all these outraged Christians would be even more outraged if the baby Jesus has been depicted as anything other than pure Aryan.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000263140906 Donovan

    TAKE YOUR CRY BABY ASS SOMEWHERE ELSE CAUSE WE ARE SICK OF HEARING IT

    You know what? I have a better idea:

    IF YOU DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT WALK AWAY OR PLUG YOUR EARS YOU DON’T HAVE TO STAND AND LOOK AND LISTEN

    And the irony anvil drops on another head.

  • culuriel

    He’s putting up a Festivus pole, right?

  • tuibguy

    I wonder if this is really his dad:

    I am Jeremiah’s father and currently living in California. Jeremiah had an undeniable encounter with God some 15 years ago while at his grandmothers home and was brought to salvation by the grace and mercy of a loving God. Due to my failings over the years his Mother and I divorced and struggle with what we see and hear from our son today. As Christians (yes we fail, yet are held in the hand of God) his Mother, myself, his sister, and younger brother have prayed and released his life to the will of God. Seeing this and reading the comments is painful yet full of hope. People (whether Christian or not) are starting to stand up to this type of intimidation and are now pushing back. The principal of the Christian School Jeremiah attended said something to me one day that I have always held onto. Referring to students, He stated “I have never lost one yet” and it reminds me of John 17:12 where that baby in the manger later says “those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost …. Please pray that God does what is necessary to bring Jeremiah to his knees and do not turn away when passing him along the streets of Dorr. He is my son who I love, and although I struggle with his choices right now, I know that God has a plan for his life and will bring him back at the appointed time. To Rusty Dutkiewicz, let me say I appreciate your kind response in what must be a solemn moment at the time of year.

  • alwayscurious

    I was thinking of a large Muslim display to go alongside that Nativity–Gabriel’s appearance to Mohammed at the beginning of his calling might make a great story. Maybe setup a Zoroastrian exhibit and a Gnostic exhibit. And none of this would be complete without the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    @Ed, I think you have a quote fail in the opening piece.

  • Ichthyic

    AND BTW WE LIVE IN A FREE COUNTRY IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT LOOK AWAY IF YOU DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT WALK AWAY OR PLUG YOUR EARS YOU DON’T HAVE TO STAND AND LOOK AND LISTEN IF YOU DON’T LIKE THOSE RULES TAKE YOUR CRY BABY ASS SOMEWHERE ELSE CAUSE WE ARE SICK OF HEARING IT

    Modus… was that you, moonlighting? be honest now. 😉

  • Ichthyic

    Someone needs to sell all all dinosaur or all cephalopod nativity scene. They do sell all cat ones which are OK and all Zombie ones which never seem too seasonal

    This year, instead ask yourself:

    What does the fox say?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/dispatches Ed Brayton

    Tuibguy: Yes, that is really Jeremiah’s dad.

  • dingojack

    Modus (#7) – Yes!

    : Dingo

    ———-

    Ichthyic – this.