Really, Atheists? You can do better than this.

Earlier in the week I wrote a now viral post on the origins of the word “Xmas” and came to the defense of some of our atheist friends who often get incorrectly blamed for trying to take “Christ” out of “Christmas”. While I was correct in my explanation of the history of the term, this morning it seems that the folks over at American Atheists are seriously complicating my hopes at promoting inter-faith harmony and goodwill during the holidays.

As originally pointed out by my Patheos colleague, John Shore (thanks for the aneurysm, John), folks over at American Atheists have taken out a digital billboard in Times Square which appears to have no other purpose than to antagonize Christians. The press release from their website reads:

“American Atheists launched a major billboard display on Tuesday that declares Christmas is better without the Christ. The huge 40′x40′ digital billboard is located in Times Square in Midtown Manhattan. Using motion graphics, the billboard proclaims, “Who needs Christ during Christmas?” A hand crosses out the word “Christ” and the word “NOBODY” appears.”

The billboard animation can be seen here:

My only response to this is: really?

I can’t think of one positive reason to take out a billboard like this– it is no different than some of the obnoxious behavior that happens on our side of the fence, and only serves to stir up trouble. Don’t like over-the-top militant Christians? Well, this really isn’t the way to get them to be quiet— stuff like this is only going to make them louder.

While many of us are trying to promote goodwill during the holidays, signs like this simply play into the hands of those wanting to fight a culture war and remind me that we not only need less Christians like Robertson, we also need less atheists like Dawkins.

I would love to see my atheist friends denounce this unnecessarily antagonistic behavior with the same force that I critique loud voices in my own movement– because this, is not helpful.

I’m trying to help you guys, but I can’t in good conscience tell my people that there isn’t a “war on Christmas” when you guys are pulling stunts like this. If you guys think that your worldview is the correct view, there’s a better way to communicate it.

But stuff like this? This doesn’t accomplish anything positive, but only drives us further apart from the place where we can listen and reason with one another.

I work hard to encourage my side to do better, and I hope you’ll do the same.

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  • Johnathan

    The response is bound to be ‘we are reaching out to those asking the same question.’ Unfortunately demanding sensitivity to your cause then not returning the favor is poor form.

  • Terry Firma

    “I would love to see my atheist friends denounce this unnecessarily antagonistic behavior with the same force that I critique loud voices in my own movement– because this, is not helpful.”

    How’s this, Ben?

    “I think [the American Atheists ad] is lame in part because it’s untrue. Who needs Christ during Christmas? Lots of people. They’re called Christians. We may not like that, but I wouldn’t call them nobody / nobodies. It’s a needless provocation. The ad would have been more effective — an invitation to reflect — if AA only showed the second part.”

    Wrote that a couple of days ago. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/12/04/another-atheist-billboard-launches-in-times-square-who-needs-christ-during-christmas-nobody/#comment-1150268544 Lots of other godless commenters at that blog called out the ad too.

    Sorry ’bout the dicks. You’re right, we can do much better.

  • Instead of “Nobody” (which is simply untrue), they should’ve said “People with psychological disorder”. Offended? Who cares, it’s the truth. Being religious is the same as having psychological disorders. That’s pretty clear if you look at all relevant studies in the regard…

  • Karl Goldsmith

    Should just have Happy Saturnalia.

  • Victor Atkinson

    Did you read the article?

  • I’ll write an article on this if you do one on 1). Christians who use the No True Scotsman fallacy or 2). Christians who say ‘I don’t like religion, but Christianity is a relationship with God.’

  • I’m with Terry. For all the time we atheists have to spend defending ourselves against charges of being just another religion, or of trying to convert Christians…this doesn’t help. Just as there is no czar or Christianity, there is also no czar of atheism, including fundies like Dawkins. And as always, it’s not logical to judge the validity of an idea based on the behavior of its followers.

  • Hey look, someone took a Rush Limbaugh quote about liberals and transformed into an embarrassing ad hom against Christians. I don’t think I should have to apologize on behalf of the non-asshole atheists, but it’s getting close to that point.

  • Just Sayin’

    Maybe the “Friendly Atheist” will take up your cause.

  • See, you all feel offended. I didn’t attack any people, I simply stated the truth. It is irrefutable that religion hinders progress. Heck, have you people ever examined history? Have you people any knowledge in psychology? I do, and I tell you with full confidence: Religion is a huge problem, the biggest in fact. I’m not just talking about christianity, islam etc., I’m also talking about capitalism, socialism, communism. ALL of these are religions, as they have absolutely no scientific grounding in reality. They are decoupled from reality to serve the purpose of few. They glorify “opinions”, even though an opinion on itself has absolutely no value, and there is no reason to respect it, if it is not aligned to reality.

    Wake up… Science is the way to go. We need to stop defending this crazy notion of faith, otherwise we stop evolving and probably kill ourselfs because we’re too fucking stupid to realize that nature doesn’t give a damn about our opinions.

  • My opinion is that your immense certainty is unjustified, and your attitude is no different than a religious zealot. And if you’re offensive to me, a fellow atheist, you’re certainly not going to be persuasive to those with “crazy notions of faith.” That’s all I have to say on the matter.

  • Terry Firma has made a public statement against it, both here and on Friendly Atheist.

  • Theo

    I’m not going to lie, I felt a bit attacked with the title of this post, much as I’m sure you did when seeing the billboard. When I first saw this post I was pretty mad, not because of what American Atheists did (because, let’s be honest, even if the message were completely appropriate, it’s ridiculous), but because it felt like I, as an atheist, was being painted with the same brush as American Atheists, which is an organisation that I don’t know anything about. This is the same thing that you and a lot of christians try to work against; I often hear things such as ‘we’re not all like that’. I understand that you may have been angry, but your title definitely originally shut me down from wanting to have a conversation about this.

    And I think it’s important for you and other progressive christians to take a look at what American Atheists put on that billboard and what that says about their beliefs. They imply that ‘Christ’ and ‘charity, family, food, & friends’ among others, are mutually exclusive. And, again, noting that presenting it in such a manner was ridiculous, I can’t bring myself to completely disagree with that point that they’re making. Even before becoming an atheist, my family and friends stopped talking to me when I chose a different version of how to follow Christ. And I saw little charity being done by the churches in my area. These aren’t uncommon happenstances. I’m not expecting you to be able to have easy answers or stop such behaviour in others, but I think the point needs to be raised.

    So, yes, the billboard is ridiculous. But it does give us some interesting areas of conversation.

  • Theo– I apologize for the title; that is a really good point that I didn’t consider when I wrote it. Obviously, I hate being lumped together with some Christians and can see why I just made the same mistake with you. My apologies!

  • Terry Firma

    I think that headline’s quite all right. A post title is not the place to equivocate and try for nuance (unless nuance readily presents itself and can be expressed really succinctly). The fact that not all atheists think alike, and that the same is true for Christians, is enough of a truism that we don’t need to belabor it, especially in a headline, where brevity and ‘punch’ are important.

  • Terry Firma

    Michael, you write like you’re about 17. That’s a compliment if you are in fact 14 or so, and not a compliment if you’re 18 or older.

    Even if you’re right, the message will never come across when you package it with such antagonism and immaturity, especially here, on a Christian blog that oozes good will and frequently finds common ground with us atheists.

  • twinkie1cat

    I really feel sorry for atheists because they have nothing to celebrate at Christmas. I think they are pitiful, actually. I don’t make fun of them, however. Jesus says to love, not to make fun of or hate. And they have no business making fun of Christians either. Of course they have no basis not to because they have no higher power to guide them into what is right or wrong. They are all alone in deciding what is moral.
    On the other hand, there is a young girl, maybe 21 who comes to my church and participates very well who claims to be an atheist. She comes because our church does not push our religion on people and we are very accepting even though also very Christian. That’s not really an “even though” because real Christians don’t push and do accept. We have a lot of recovering Catholics and Pentecostals. ( It gets interesting when one person genuflects and the next holy rolls.) But that is Metropolitan Community Church for you. Our doors are open.

  • Ok, now my stomach hurts from laughing.

  • @disqus_vu1JXBatXw:disqus
    My certainty is substantiated with scientific evidence. My attitude is far from a religious zealot. I wouldn’t punish religious people, or bring hatred towards them (like religion). I would try to find a way around their cognitive dissonance and help them to understand the world and drop superstition.
    I honestly hate religion. I don’t hate religious people though… few of my best friends are religious. But EVERYTHING I learned about psychology points towards the notion that religion is hindering progress substantially, especially through the glorification of faith. Faith has to be ridiculed, because it is dangerous. Yes, people can do good things and justify them with the holy scripture. The problem is rather the ones who justify their hatred with it (which is just as valid in terms of holy scripture). You can justify so much hatred with religion.

    However, if you have good education and just understand how the world works, there is NO WAY you can justify hateful behavior. That’s my problem with religion. And don’t tell me “the people distort it”, or “it’s the people”. It’s NOT. We’re completely conditional. We’re all the same in that sense.

  • What is a real christian?

  • Terry Firma

    Funny, when I celebrate Christmas, I celebrate warmth, family, friends, community, plentiful food, festive accoutrements (oh look, there’s a decorated tree in the corner of my living room!), free time, and the return of longer days. Which of those things do you equate with “nothing”?

  • Lora Gorton

    Michael are you sure you stated the truth? It amazes me your so sure about how bad religion is. I would agree that religion is bad. But will science save us all? Make us better more loving less self centered more productive people? Remember all of us will someday face one thing. DEATH. When a person has been stripped of all their crutches, health, wealth, mind, talents loved ones then they discover what their real God is. Many it’s science/evolution or the goodness of mankind. Oh really. I’ve found that no matter what Hell I go through that I still have hope and a future in Christ that no one can take away from me so call me loony if you like. But my life has more meaning then anyone who think after they die they simply become worm fertilizer. Will anyone remember you 200 years from now. What hope is that? What purpose is a life like that? Even the fear of death has no sting for me because for me to live is Christ to die is gain. And it has nothing to do with keeping some moral code or appeasing God. How many people can say that? That’s religion. No thank you I’ve been there done that and it doesn’t work.

  • Lora Gorton

    Oh I did a no no. State, “I don’t like religion, but Christianity is a relationship with God.”

  • Guest

    I’m sorry that you lack knowledge to understand me. Maybe you should spend some time reading books. Although, you won’t find the answer in the bible ;-)

  • So, you are afraid of them, and comfort yourself with lies. Of course, that’s what almost all religious people do. I’m not judging you because of it… it’s the natural notion of it. And there you have it, proven for yourself. Religion is NOT based on “love”, but fear. This fear is abused to lure you in.

    I don’t really see a reason to be afraid that I’ll die one day. In fact, if I didn’t, life wouldn’t even nearly be as valuable as it is. After all, when I’m dead, it’s over… nothing, no feelings, just over. No consciousness, which could fear.
    Of course, that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to enjoy the time I have. ;-)

    Also… regarding purpose of life. Being an atheist is wonderful, because you can make your own purpose.

    All what I have said comes from studying psychology, especially manipulation and indoctrination (for marketing). Isn’t it weird that I’m learning a lot from religion when it comes to hardcore manipulation?

    If it’s the “truth”, then why does it even require indoctrination? Shouldn’t it be completely natural? Why are we naturally atheists?

    Seriously, if you bring up a child, and never mention god in their entire lifetime… and give it a good education… they would never even ask the question if there is something like a god, because it is completely irrational.

  • Proof, my friends, that fundamentalism is not just a Christian problem.

  • spinkham

    American Atheists stated goal is to be offensive.

    Billboards that basically have said “Atheists exist and can be good people too” in various ways have caused outrage and often been defaced where they’ve even been allowed to go up. See for example this:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/09/18/least-offensive-atheist-ad-ever-leads-to-new-advertising-policy-in-pennsylvania-county/ or this https://www.google.com/search?q=atheist+defaced&tbm=isch

    American Atheists has decided on purpose to push the envelope with some actually offensive messages, in the hopes that messages just saying “we exist” will no longer be considered a militant attack. David Silverman, head of American Atheists, has said exactly this in quite a few talks.

    I can’t say I like their tactics, but I understand why they feel they need to use them. Think about it: how would you feel if an advert that said “Christians” and the website address of your church was deemed too offensive to be used?

    I’d personally rather play the long game of, you know, just actually being good and not going away, but I’m a more patient guy I guess…

  • I am frequently at philosophical odds with Mr. Corey, even going so far as to state that on a theological and intellectual level we are virtual opponents, even enemies.

    I have found, in half a year of reading his blog, that he is many things. Unintelligent is not among them. Not even close.

    To suggest that Mr. Corey needs to ‘read more books’ in order to converse with you is not only intellectual dishonesty, because the most cursory glance at this blog reveals that Mr. Corey does indeed read many, many books, but also intellectual cowardice. You refuse to address anyone here as an adult in an effort to sidestep addressing their points. There is a much ruder term for this level of intellectual immaturity, and it’s called ‘American high school.’

  • You’re not my enemy Irish– I actually like you :)

  • Dude Dan

    “they have nothing to celebrate at Christmas. I think they are pitiful, actually”… thank you for the warm Holiday wishes. Information for you though you and I celebrate the same thing at this time of the year, the love shared by family. The fact you’ve added mythological under-pinnings as a stocking stuffer for your celebrations doesn’t grant you superiority and definitely doesn’t put you any kind of position to demean “pity” on others Or do you feel the same “pitiful” attitude for every other branch of belief that doesn’t fit your peg hole of real Christianity? Mormons for instance… As for your pathetic “they have no higher power to guide them into what is right or wrong”.. buddy, if your higher power is the one who guided you into feeling justified with this kind of arrogant post.. keep it to yourself.

    NOTE for the original post.. THIS kind of crap is why the American Atheists put up the billboards they do. The “Our doors are open” but “I think atheists are pitiful” type of attitude hypocrisy is part and parcel to Christian dogma it’s not just the fundies.

  • I feel like I do have to make a couple of further points.

    You say that billboards like this are only going to make the more obnoxious side of Christianity louder. This is very true, but you say it as though the American Atheists don’t realise this. I would be prepared to bet on the fact that they do, and that’s what they’re counting on. You see, there’s nothing like a bit of passive aggressiveness to whip the Pat Robertson’s of the world into an almighty fury. That’s what many of the more aggressive atheists count on. There’s nothing like a steady stream of Christian anger to expose the hypocrisy of the entire fundementalist Christian movement. Atheist groups rely on that, and yes many are willing to stoke the fires.

    And a second point, more of a personal issue. You state, ‘Don’t like over-the-top militant Christians?’ at one point in the article. I take real issue when someone uses the word ‘militant’ in cases like these, whether referring to Christians or atheists. Militant really refers to anyone willing to push their beliefs on to others with force. Sometimes is force of law, but most often it’s force of martial arms. Bill O’Reilly complaining about the War on Christmas isn’t being a militant Christian, just a douchy one. It’s a word best left alone until you really mean all that it implies. There are obvious reasons I don’t like being called a militant atheist. I try to award Christians the same favour.

  • Both really good points, Irish. As for the latter, I suppose it was insensitive of me to use the term given what you’ve experienced. In the future, I’ll try to refrain from the term unless I mean it in a literal sense.

  • I firmly support every aspect of the relevant billboard animation.

    Well, this really isn’t the way to get them to be quiet— stuff like this is only going to make them louder.

    -Well, duh. Nobody ever expects the fundamentalists to shut up and the billboard is displayed to raise awareness of atheism, not give anesthesia to religionists.

    This doesn’t accomplish anything positive, but only drives us further apart from the place where we can listen and reason with one another.

    -Yes, it does accomplish something positive-it encourages the Christian viewer to cast off the chains of superstition and tradition and embrace reason&humanism as the bases for holidays.

    While many of us are trying to promote goodwill during the holidays, signs like this simply play into the hands of those wanting to fight a
    culture war and remind me that we not only need less Christians like
    Robertson, we also need less atheists like Dawkins.

    -Wrong! As saith the great Yudkowsky, “If your beliefs are entangled with reality, they should be contagious among honest folk.”.

  • The partisan, divisive bickering isn’t a religious or non-religious phenomenon. It appears to just be a human cultural phenomenon. People bicker and sub-divide over any number of issues. In many cases, this leads to systemic injustice, violence, oppression, and war.

    What if there was a Way of living that worked against this phenomenon? What if a group of people, compelled by love, demonstrated indiscriminate love for all people? Then, what if those people formed communities, the purpose of which was to spread this love everywhere?

    Nah, that’d never work. ;)

  • I am a bit more charitable than you. I think nobody needs Jesus, not even the psychologically disordered.

  • Yes!

  • I firmly agree that’d never work.

  • Of course they have no basis not to because they have no higher power to
    guide them into what is right or wrong. They are all alone in deciding
    what is moral.

    -Not necessarily; the Maoists set up Mao as their higher power, and the Randists set up Rand.

  • Worthless Beast

    I’m sort of reluctant to reply, having skimmed some of the responses. I actually *have* a psychological disorder (a common depressive one) and, religion aside, I guess it just doesn’t do to assert that we’re actually people, and as far as “human progress” goes, my favorite History Channel mini-series was “Life After People,” so…

    I’m just going to give a link to the thing that I think of whenever I run into and bother to read posts about stuff like this; a years-old article on Cracked.com by David Wong that attempts to bring peace to the whole Christian/Atheist “war” with snarky humor and Interenet-images meant to be offensive to everybody.

    http://www.cracked.com/article_15759_10-things-christians-atheists-can-and-must-agree-on.html

    It’s one of my favorite articles on the site, perhaps taking a backseat to John Cheese’s articles on little things about living in poverty that I know to be true by experience.

  • Lora Gorton

    Who’s talking about FEAR? When I first believed in Christ it had nothing to do with fear and it still doesn’t. If it did I probably wouldn’t be a believer either. As for psychology and children being manipulated and indoctrinated well don’t you think we are all a bit indoctrinated? And this view that children are naturally atheists is debatable.

  • How is Dawkins a fundamentalist?

  • Lora Gorton

    So Micheal you hate the sin (the concept of God) but love the sinner (religious people)? And all we need is to be educated and that make us good little boys and girls. :) Do you think the concepts behind atheism has only created good and wonderful things? If God isn’t a real person but just a concept then that maybe right. I guess all of us will someday find out if he is a real person but most here believe the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork and we see Him as a loving God that we want to spend all eternity with. And someday we will meet others who know his love. I don’t think that’s so bad do you?

  • Lora Gorton

    Do atheist think they are smarter then anyone else? They seem to
    imply this often. So sad. I know I’m not that smart. Does being smarter
    because one reads allot make one a better person or more valuable?
    Sometimes I want to tell people “Who gives a rip about
    how smart a person is or how much of an eduction they have.” Ben I admire you for hanging in there but I just can’t. I can see you really want to be a peacemaker and I would too but I think it works best in person. I have a son and daugher-in-law that are Atheists. They seem to think all these same negative thoughts. But I love them both very very much and having a positive relationship with them is more important to me then what we think. Hopefully someday we will be able to talk about our differences peaceably without any of us getting upset with each other. I think these kinds of discussions on the internet are a waste of time. Christian have their little congregations and so do atheists, so to speak. I think I will do something
    better and more productive with my time. Like go play my guitar or make
    dinner.
    May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

  • Ignatz

    [ Being religious is the same as having psychological disorders.]

    Cite a mental health professional who agrees with you.

    Oh – sorry, you’re one of those atheists who thinks his opinion is objective truth simply because he’s an atheist.

    [ That’s pretty clear if you look at all relevant studies in the regard…]

    Name one.

  • Ignatz

    [, I’m also talking about capitalism, socialism, communism. ALL of these are religions,]

    “When I use a word,” said Humpty Dumpty, “I use it to mean what I want it to mean.”

  • He was being facetious.

  • Lora Gorton

    Thanks for sharing this article. It’s GREAT!!!!

  • Belle Chang

    http://www.eliyah.com/paganexp.html
    To all TRUE CHRISTIANS who thinks “Christmas” is a Christian holiday. We are the ones who are being duped!

  • Terry Firma

    Look, I’m a hardcore atheist and even I have problems with his approach and demeanor. I recently tried watching Dawkins’ BBC TV program “The Root of All Evil” and switched it off after he went to Ted Haggard’s New Life Church and told Haggard that the service reminded him of “a Nuremberg rally” and that “Dr. Goebels would have been proud.” Skip to 3:13. What in the actual fuck?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmMv0ceWTVQ

    Haggard is a real creep, but comparing him (and more importantly, the thousands of people at that service) to Nazis is so far beyond decency that words fail me.

    Dawkins has his moments, but his overall coldness, lack of humor, tone-deafness, and arrogance make him a really problematic spokesperson for atheism — and a pretty good approximation of religious fundies everywhere.

  • @loragorton:disqus
    I hate faith, because it has no value to society, it contradicts our education and it can be the cause/amplifier of extremely harmful behavior. If you are a christian who actually helps others, and don’t just pray for others (which is just as deluded and worthless), then you’re actually someone whom I’d admire!
    But most christians are far from that. They simply pray, and think they do anything positive. They don’t. It’s like jerking off, just that you actually believe it helps someone else. It doesn’t.

    @ Ignatz
    I’m absolutely certain that I’m right with what I’ve said. For me, a religion is simply a dogma without any grounding in reality. If you’d actually study these topics, you’d know that neither capitalism, nor any other social system we had so far, is grounded in reality. They are all made up shit. They don’t deal with corruption, they don’t deal with proper use of technology, they don’t deal with optimal resource allocation, they don’t deal with ANYTHING that would actually elevate our progress.

  • Maybe, but I still think it’ll never work.

  • Haggard is a real creep, but comparing him (and more importantly, the thousands of people at that service) to Nazis is so far beyond decency that words fail me.

    -Which is why he did not compare him or his followers to Nazis. He compared the effectiveness of Haggard’s worship services to the effectiveness of the Nuremberg rallies.

    coldness, lack of humor,

    -I haven’t seen this from him.

    tone-deafness

    -Occasionally, this has happened. But your remark that Dawkins is “comparing him (and more importantly, the thousands of people at that service) to Nazis” shows equal tone-deafness.

    and arrogance

    -Any truth claim is seen by someone as arrogant.
    Is a fundamentalist merely someone with gravitas?

  • How is anything Michael said even remotely indicative of fundamentalism?

  • Terry Firma

    Re: “He did not compare him or his followers to Nazis.”

    That’s a interesting take, Clintonesque in its extraordinary parsing of language. Again, the scene is at 3:13. I invote everyone to have a look / listen. Is Dawkins comparing Ted Haggard’s flock to Goebels lovers and Nazis? Depends on what the meaning of “is” is, I suppose?

  • Ugh. That word again. Sir, kindly look up the actual definition of ‘militant’ and then defend your labelling as such. Here’s a hint. It’s not a synonym for douchebag.

  • (insert sigh) I use it, because I’m a theological scholar who loves biblical Greek, and this is a great short-hand way that also saves time but continues the historic, orthodox, Christian tradition. Labeling unbelievers as being “allergic” to God, isn’t helping what I’m trying to do here.

  • Ignatz

    [I’m absolutely certain that I’m right with what I’ve said.]

    That’s characteristic of fundamentalism.

    [ If you’d actually study these topics, you’d know that neither
    capitalism, nor any other social system we had so far, is grounded in
    reality.]

    You haven’t provided one ounce of evidence that you’ve studied anything. You just make assertions, and declare that your opinion is truth. Perhaps you should actually learn the difference between objectivity and subjectivity.

  • Incorrect. A militant is someone who seeks to spread their beliefs mainly through force of arms. Hence the word being derived from the Latin word for soldier. It’s a specific word with a powerful meaning and not to be bandied around lightly, especially towards people who are not violent, not armed, and not working through governmental or militaristic force.

  • No. I spent two hours writing an article. If you’re too lazy to read something in full, I’m not going to expend more time and energy summarising it for your convenience.

  • Belle Chang

    God cares. And if you’re a TRUE Christian, you wouldn’t be saying that. Who says you only need to celebrate Jesus at Christmas and Easter? Also, did you even read the article I posted? If you DID read it and you’re a TRUE Christian, then you’d understand. Christ wasn’t born during the winter season. Plus, if He wanted us to celebrate His birth, He would’ve included the date in the Bible now, wouldn’t He? Truth is, He doesn’t want us to celebrate dates, idols, material things but He wants us to celebrate HIM. Does celebrating Him include giving and/or exchanging gifts, giving to the poor and needy, etc., during only ONCE a year then forgetting Him for the rest? No. As TRUE Christians, we are called to celebrate Him DAILY, meaning we are to give to those who are poor and needy when we can and give to others just because, because in doing so, they will see and know that we are Christians by our love thus lead others to Him as well.

  • A militant feminist is someone who uses physical violence or terrorism or the threat of such to spread feminism. Just because you decide to call someone a militant does not make them so. What is it about the definition of militant that you don’t understand?

  • You are confusing observation with approval. I never said I approve of what the American Atheists were doing. Merely that I understand why.

  • Belle Chang

    I will pray for you and many others to come to understand that as Christians, we are not to merge God and pagan holidays together. For who are we really serving when we merge the two together? Take the Sabbath, for example. Most knows that the Sabbath is really on Saturday and that Sunday is really a pagan day, hence the name, “sun-day,” the day they worship the “sun.” As Christians, we know how much God despises idol and other god worshipping. Satan is the father of all lies, we all know that, and we know that they brought in pagan ways and merged them with Christianity way back then, to “bring” more ppl to Christ. Great idea, but God specifically states, “you cannot serve two Gods at once.” You either love one or the other. When you merge a pagan day with Christ, who are you really serving/worshipping? Like I said above, I will pray for you and many others to come to understand that fact.

  • ineffective ways of having a spiritual discussion, number 874: state that you are a “true Christian” and that everyone who disagrees with you must not be a “true Christian”.

  • Belle Chang

    Should we Celebrate Christmas?
    (updated 11/28/2013)

    Sometimes tradition is acceptable and perhaps even pleasing in the sight of Yahweh. But other times it is not acceptable and can even be hated by Him.

    The issue of traditions transgressing the commandment of Yahweh was a key teaching of Yahushua the Messiah:

    (NKJV) Matthew 15:1- Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Yahushua, saying,
    2 “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”

    I hear people ask me this, “Why do you not celebrate Christmas (transgress the traditions of our elders)?”

    First of all, nowhere in the pages of scripture do we find a command to keep the celebration of Christmas. Nowhere in the pages of scripture do we find an example of any disciple keeping Christmas. It was never celebrated by believers in Messiah until sometime after 300AD. The reality is, the only time Christmas is even mentioned in the pages of scripture is to declare how wrong it is to practice something like this.

    So likewise, my answer to this kind of question would be:

    Matt 15:3 – He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of Elohim because of your tradition?

    Messiah didn’t like the traditions of the Scribes and Pharisees because they transgressed Yahweh’s clear commandments. As I will share, Christmas is also transgressing the commandment of Yahweh in favor of tradition. But first, notice that He goes on to say:

    Matthew 15:7 – “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
    8 `These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with [their] lips, But their heart is far from Me.
    9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”

    So a tradition can honor him with the lips, but actually be a vain thing that displeases Him. I have found that Christmas is honoring with the lips but it is actually a vain tradition that has essentially become a doctrine and commandment of men.

    It is a tradition and commandment of men because there is no verse in the bible that tells us that we are to celebrate the birth nor the resurrection of Yahushua the Messiah—let alone in a way that imitates paganism and idolatry!

    So yes, I do believe we must question these traditions that have been handed down to this generation even though few dare to. Many Christians speak against the Catholic traditions of Lent, Ash Wednesday, etc. but fail to recognize that the same types of pagan elements exist in the celebration of Christmas and Easter. So how did the Christmas observance get its start?

    Origin of Christmas

    The following is a quote from the 2000 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 11 ; page 390.

    “During the later periods of Roman history, sun worship gained in importance and ultimately led to what has been called a ‘solar monotheism.’ Nearly all the gods of the period were possessed of Solar qualities, and both Christ and Mithra acquired the traits of solar deities. The feast of Sol and Victus (open unconquered Sun) on December 25th was celebrated with great joy, and eventually this date was taken over by the Christians as Christmas, the birthday of Christ.”
    Notice how it says “both Christ and Mithra acquired the traits of solar deities?” Pardon me, but do any alarm bells go off here?

    The Christians were apparently trying to get more converts so they tried to make the Messiah more like the idols found in sun worship—all under the guise of making Him more attractive to pagans.

    They even brought various elements of the December 25th “feast of the unconquered sun” into their worship by saying that December 25th was actually the Messiah’s birthday, which was simply not true. This is the origin of Christmas and this is why we have various pagan-rooted traditions accompanying this holiday.

    When it comes to things like this, the real question for me is “who converted who?” Do we imitate the world to bring the world to the Messiah? Absolutely not. You don’t win the world by imitating the world; you win the world by imitating Yahushua the Messiah!

    It seems to me that true believers should be teaching the unbelievers the true way of Yahweh rather than the unbelievers teaching believers these pagan customs and practices. But these Christians not only learned these heathen ways, they also incorporated them into their worship.

    When Paul was writing to the Ephesians, a group of believers who were surrounded by idol worship, he said:

    Ephesians 5:11 – And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

    So we shouldn’t be trying to copy idolatrous feasts. Rather, we should be exposing them for the fraud and lie that they are. Creating a new lie by saying the Messiah was born on Dec. 25th, the birthday of various sun gods, is preposterous. One of the last things our Savior would ever want is to “acquire the traits of solar deities.”

    So when was His birthday? We can learn by studying the timing of the priestly course of Zacharias (Luke 1:5), John the Baptist’s father, and adding six months to that time period (Luke 1:24-26). This would place Yahushua the Messiah’s birth in either the spring or fall. The scriptures do not supply us with an exact date of birth, but it certainly was not in the winter.

    We know the date of His death is on Passover. Scripture does tell us the time of many other important events in biblical history such as the founding of the temple (first day of the biblical year), the timing of the Exodus from Egypt, the date that the flood began and many other events. But the date of the Messiah’s birth? Scripture is silent.

    To me this speaks volumes. Even though Yahushua could look into the future and know that there would be billions of people who wanted to celebrate His birthday, He never told us when it was. If He wanted us to celebrate His birthday, He surely would have told us when it was.

    I realize that today, Christmas is a very popular holiday. However, as is often the case, what is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular. We can’t follow the masses if the masses are wrong. We should have no fellowship with those things, rather we should reprove them.

    Christmas means ‘mass for Christ,’ but the name of the holiday is much newer than the holiday itself. The customs associated with Christmas, in one form or another, have been celebrated for literally thousands of years. ‘Christmas’ is just a new name for an old holiday.

    So there is no doubt that the customs that are associated with Christmas, as well as the idea of a deity being born on December 25th are of pagan origin. One need only look to an encyclopedia or even many local newspapers in the 12th month of the year to find this “truth so I don’t need to spend much time establishing that. The real issue is whether or not we should walk in these customs.

    You may wonder what is so bad about it. You may say, “Oh but what about the children? They would feel left out if I didn’t celebrate Christmas.” But what should we be teaching our children? Truth or lies? Conformity to the world when the world is wrong or a rejection of worldly things that are rooted in idolatry?

    The “truth is that the Messiah was not born on December 25th. December 25th is the birthday of numerous pagan idols. Why would we want to put the holy Son of Yahweh in with them? He is holy, which means “set apart.” He is not like them at all! And He doesn’t want to be associated with them or the customs of those who worship them.

    In fact, the pagan customs associated with Christmas are clearly condemned in the scriptures. Here is one of them:

    Jeremiah 10:1-4 – Hear the word which Yahweh speaks to you, O house of Israel.
    2 Thus says Yahweh: “Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, For the Gentiles are dismayed at them.
    3 For the customs of the peoples are futile; For one cuts a tree from the forest, The work of the hands of the workman, with the ax.
    4 They decorate it with silver and gold; They fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple.

    First of all, Yahweh is telling us in this verse “Do not learn the way of the Gentiles” Don’t even learn it, let alone practice it and incorporate it into the worship of Yahweh! After all, shouldn’t the roots of our worship be in the scriptures, rather than paganism?
    Secondly, it says that the Gentiles were dismayed at the signs of heaven. History tells us that when the sun began to go further away from the earth and the days grew shorter in the winter, the sun worshipping Gentiles were “dismayed”, and feared that the sun would not return. So they held certain festivals just after the time of the Winter Solstice when it did begin to return. This return of the sun is why December 25th is the birthday of so many solar deities/gods.

    One of the customs the pagans had was to decorate a tree that they had cut down and fasten it so that would not topple. The evergreen tree seemed to not be bothered by the winter so it would have been a logical choice. We see this same copycat custom existing even today–called the Christmas tree.

    Yahweh tells us not to learn the way of the heathen. And here He even goes so far as describe a custom that is a way of the heathen. Since He tells us that this is a heathen custom and He clearly condemned the practice of it, shouldn’t we avoid it? How can we delight in something that He despises? The placing of gifts under the tree is much like the heathen who offered various gifts to their idols, and then kneeling before the tree to receive them back again.

    Think about it though—if this had never been done before, have you ever wondered why in the world someone would do something as strange as cut down a tree and put it in their house and then decorate it with all different types of ornaments? Not only is it odd, it is a custom that is clearly condemned in the scriptures. We don’t need a prophet to come and tell us today that this custom is wrong. Jeremiah said so a long time ago!

    This is one of many other such customs, including the gift giving. Why on earth would we give each other gifts when it’s supposed to be the Messiah’s birthday? It isn’t our birthday, is it?

    All of this has led to ridiculous commercialism, with various “Black Friday” sales in corporate America. But “Black Friday” sales are only a smokescreen. It may be the day when corporate America goes in the black, but most other Americans end up going in the red.

    Because of this, credit card companies will get even richer and the poor man even poorer. All to buy gifts for people on a birthday that is neither theirs or the Messiah’s.

    Santa Claus

    All over the world, Santa Claus is God to the children of the world (move the n to the end of Santa). Others say ‘Father Christmas’.

    Parents purposely and deliberately lie to their children and tell them that they should fear Santa Claus because “he knows if you’ve been bad or good”. These same parents also lie to their children about the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy. Then they wonder why their children become liars and don’t believe the Messiah is real later on in life.

    This is clearly a total abomination to Yahweh. You don’t have to look very far in the word of Yahweh to find out how much he loathes idolatry and lies. Yahweh is the only true Mighty One!

    Our children look to us and believe every word we say. Don’t they deserve the “truth? How abominable it is for a believer to teach their children to fear Santa Claus, and in so doing, creep an idol into the conscience of a child!

    Lies, lies everything is lies

    The very foundation of the Christmas holiday is a lie. The Messiah was not born December 25th. He did not ask us to celebrate his birthday. He did not say to set up a tree in our house and decorate it and our houses with anything. Santa Claus does not exist. He doesn’t have reindeer that fly and he isn’t going to come down anyone’s chimney on December 25th and leave any gifts. Everything is a lie. Is Yahweh the originator of this holiday? Or is it the father of lies? Yahushua condemned the leaders of that generation for teaching lies:

    John 8:44 – “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the “truth, because there is no “truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

    If satan is the father of lies, and this observance of Christmas is marked with all kinds of lies, who is the author of this ‘holiday?’ It seems to me that with all the lies and the pagan roots, satan’s fingerprints are all over this observance.

    It’s high time that we forsake these lies and abide in the “truth! Let’s forsake this foolish practice of yoking the Messiah (who said “I am the TRUTH”) together with lies, for He has nothing to do with lies.

    Revelation 22:14 – Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
    5 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

    If we want to practice a lie, we need only celebrate Christmas and we will be doing just that. But if we want to abide in the “truth, we will avoid all lies.

    The book of Revelation also predicts a future time when those who hate Yahweh rejoice at the death of His two witnesses, for they will make merry and have a gift exchange:

    Revelation 11:9 – And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
    10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.

    Sound familiar? I don’t know for sure, but it sounds a lot like one day the two witnesses will die and the whole world will rejoice that they can keep Christmas again. I think it’s time we make sure we are on the side of “truth and righteousness.

    Mixed worship forbidden in scripture

    Not only is it wrong to practice these lying traditions, it is also a sin to take these traditions of pagans and try apply them to the worship of Yahweh. Proof of this is in how Yahweh dealt with the children of Israel when they were about to enter into the promised land:

    Deut 12:29 – “When Yahweh your Elohim cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land,
    30 “take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, `How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’

    Notice that it doesn’t say, “Let us serve their elohim (gods)” but “HOW did these nations serve their elohim/gods”

    31 “You shall not worship Yahweh your Elohim in that way; for every abomination to Yahweh which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. 32 “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.

    “You shall not worship Yahweh your Elohim in that way.” Do not worship Yahweh in that way, the way of the heathen! Don’t take heathen customs and try to honor Him with it. He is not honored by them. Do not add to His commandments and do not take away from His commandments.
    Both Christmas and Easter take pagan festivals and traditions and apply them to the worship of Yahweh. This practice is clearly condemned here.

    Think about it though: Would it be right to take a Satanic holiday that Satanists have invented and then incorporate that holiday along with its customs into the worship of Yahweh? Surely not. We need to realize that all paganism is Satanism. Satan is the one behind all pagan worship. And whatever god the idolaters worship, they are actually worshipping Satan.

    1 Corinthians 10:20 – Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to Elohim, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.

    Now consider this next verse:

    1Corinthians 10:21 – You cannot drink the cup of Yahweh and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of Yahweh’s table and of the table of demons.

    We cannot mix the profane with the holy, and we cannot mix lies with “truth, and we cannot mix the table of Yahweh with the table of demons. We must choose one, or the other.

    Which table will you choose?

  • guest

    The friendly atheist wrote a post about this billboard a couple of days ago and there was a lot of criticism from the atheist commentators there. I don’t like it personally as an atheist; I think a friendly message like ‘enjoy your days off, we plan to!’ would have been better. I agree the ‘who needs Christ’ thing is too agressive and also incorrect, because a lot of people do feel they need Christ for one reason or other. This orginasation doesn’t speak for me, I’ve never given my money to them and have no plans to. I hope everyone has a merry Christmas, happy hanukkah or just some time off relaxing with your friends and family.

    This is the Friendly Atheist post:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/12/04/another-atheist-billboard-launches-in-times-square-who-needs-christ-during-christmas-nobody/

  • guest

    Don’t feel sorry for us. I’ve always enjoyed Christmas. This year, it’s my little niece’s first Christmas and we’re all going round to my sister’s house to eat delicious food, give each other presents and enjoy each other’s company. I’m looking forward to seeing my niece’s reaction to the tree and to her presents. She has the most adorable smile when she gets excited! I’m going to enjoy seeing my family. Everyone is very busy so it’s rare for us all to be together. And that’s what we’ll celebrate- being together, especially with the newest member of our family.

  • guest

    It’s not the same. I’ve yet to see religion listed in the DSMV.

    This post helps nobody. It insults religious people, it trivialises mental illness and it makes atheists look like assholes. Please, knock it off.

  • Which is exactly my point. The word has a powerful meaning. When it’s used in hyperbole, it loses its potency and is thereby less effective when its use is warranted.

  • R Vogel

    Hi Ben – just some friendly feedback. I think it is counter-productive to post how something like this criticizing THEM for how they communicate when, as you noted, WE have some pretty large planks in our own eyes. This will just break down into a battle of “You started It” and that produces no valuable dialogue (and, frankly, they have the upper hand on that one). I am a pretty regular reader of several Atheist blogs on this site and I found those bloggers at least to be very willing to self-critique. I don’t recall any significant self-criticism over Ken Ham’s Times Square billboards which this is likely a reaction to (there may have been, I just don’t recall). Criticism such as this, I fear, leads to perpetuating the US/THEM paradigm and painting the Atheist community with a broad brush, similar to the way they risk painting religion with the Pat Robertson brush.

  • gimpi1

    And this isn’t an over-the-top generalization. No sir, no way.

  • Just as you can’t fight evil with more evil, you can’t fight obnoxiousness with more obnoxiousness, despite some delusional “noble design”.
    At the end of the day, you’ll find you’re just as big an asshole as the ones you are antagonizing.

  • SeekerLancer

    Well don’t feel sorry for us because most of us who do celebrate are quite happy celebrating Christmas pretty much the same way as everyone else just without going to church on Christmas eve or putting up manger displays.

    Peace on Earth and good will to all is a good enough reason on its own.

    And don’t worry, I think a quick look at statistics shows we also on average do a pretty decent job managing our own moral compasses.

  • ToEllandBack

    If you think “Atheists exist and can be good people too” is offensive then surely you should forgive them?

  • ToEllandBack

    “I really feel sorry for atheists because they have nothing to celebrate at Christmas” – except Saturnalia, Winter Solstice and a hundred other pagan festivals worldwide. Or maybe like me you just like a couple of week’s off work where you meet family and friends and celebrate each other’s company. Religion doesn’t need to play a piece in my celebrations.

  • I have little use for fundamentalists in their religious and secularist flavors. If the primary goal of your worldview is to antagonize another worldview, I’m not interested in what you have to say.

    I’d rather you demonstrate, mainly through actions, how your worldview can make the world better.

  • ToEllandBack

    When people read comments like ” They know something is missing and many are bothered by inner demons and so they sneer at mostly happy and purpose-filled lives of people of faith.” they can very quickly work out that they are smarter than anyone who ever spouts such nonsense

  • gimpi1

    You might want to do the same thing, DD. You are pretty good at sneering at everyone else. And, no, I don’t feel empty. Why do you think you can read minds over the internet?

  • ToEllandBack

    Why do you presume it’s going to be back and forth insults? I would describe myself as a non militant secularist atheist and trust me there is NOTHING missing from my life nor do I feel any emptiness – why would you assume I do?

  • You make a reasonable point. Here’s an alternate point of view: In the “war against Christmas,” the atheists are finally waking up and fighting back.

    Christmas has been waging a war against all other belief systems. Atheists are not declaring war with this billboard; they’re declaring that they have noticed the war.

    “I can’t in good conscience tell my people that there isn’t a “war on Christmas” when you guys are pulling stunts like this.” — You have, presumably, been saying there’s no war on Christmas for years now, and every year they ignore you and find something to rail against anyway.