Bill O’Reilly’s War on Christmas and Keith Olbermann’s Rebuttal

A couple nights ago, Bill O’Reilly attacked the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s atheist display in the state of Washington.

Last night, Keith Olbermann had an excellent rebuttal:

Let’s be clear: There is no War.

If the government gives space to one religious display, it must offer that space to everyone — plain and simple. I would prefer they didn’t offer that space to any religious (or non-religious) group.

I support FFRF’s decision to put a display in the Capitol building even though I question whether religious people will reconsider their belief in God as a result.

The sign will, however, send a sign to closeted atheists: there are people out there who are not afraid to say what you are thinking. That is the mindset behind the current trend in atheist marketing — billboards, bus campaigns, and scarlet letters.

Now’s the time to be proud of your atheism.

(Thanks to Sam for the link!)

  • http://godlessliberalhomo.blogspot.com/ libhomo

    I think that some religionists will reconsider their beliefs at least in part due to that sign, though not immediately. Atheism is a completely foreign idea to many people, or at least a taboo topic. A somewhat “in your face” approach will force some believers viewing the sign to acknowledge that atheism exists and is an option.

    That gives people something to wonder about over time.

  • Lindsey

    I believe O’Reilley is not pronouncing Gov. Gregoire’s name right. Double disrespect! I don’t think he’s heard of the whole “separation of church and state” thing either. He must have missed the memo.

  • Pingback: Billo strikes back! « Perpetual Dissent

  • strikefighter

    Yeah, Olbermann is always good for ripping Bill a new one when necessary.

  • Joe

    I suspect most Christians would also object to a Christian display which said, “believe in Jesus or burn eternally in hell, sinners!”

    That belief, of course, is implicit in an endorsement of Christian theology, but its explicit expression, as inflammatory as it would be, is properly restricted from public display in the Capitol building. Is it unfair to expect that all displays, religious or atheistic, would refrain from such explicit combativeness (ie, “religion is myth and superstition which hardens hearts and enslaves minds”)?

    Atheists do their cause a disservice by ignoring this obvious aspect of the FFR Display issue. Atheists’ points would be more appropriately made if the objected-to display showed the same rhetorical restraint as accompanying displays, and expressed more “uplifting” aspects of atheistic/humanist beliefs:

    “This Winter Solstice, let us celebrate our human existence; let us marvel at this awesome cosmos, which, without the guiding force of transcendent, divine will or power, produced the humblingly beautiful world in which we live, and the incomparable gift of our own humanity and self-awareness. Let us celebrate our capacity to learn, to love, and to improve the world around us. May reason guide us into a bright new age. Let us all make the most of our lives–it’s the only one we’ll get.”

    Poor plurality agreement in that last sentence, and I’m no great propagandist, but I trust my drift is gotten.

  • Aj

    Atheists do their cause a disservice by ignoring this obvious aspect of the FFR Display issue. Atheists’ points would be more appropriately made if the objected-to display showed the same rhetorical restraint as accompanying displays, and expressed more “uplifting” aspects of atheistic/humanist beliefs:

    a) The only thing connecting atheists is a lack of belief.
    b) The goal should not be parity but separation of church and state.
    c) Do you seriously think that atheists really really want a sign?

  • Joe

    a) The only thing connecting atheists is a lack of belief.

    a) Atheists are also connected by Common Descent–but your point is taken. The belief, though, that the world would be better off without religion does seem to be held by a significant enough majority of atheists that making the generalization isn’t criminally unfair. But perhaps I misperceive this. At any rate, it’s to that seeming preference that I refer when speaking of the atheist “cause”. My apologies for any misguided overgeneralizations. To amend, then, the beginning of the paragraph you quoted: “Those who find objections to the sign’s inclusion unreasonable and/or unwarranted undermine the propagation of theistic non-belief (and this may very well be their goal, since “the only thing connecting atheists is a lack of belief”, and many atheists may very well yearn for the universal dominance of theism)…”

    b) The goal should not be parity but separation of church and state.

    b) I only hope you can find other atheists who feel the same way; as far as I know, you’re all connected only by lack of belief, so you might have quite a search on your hands. At any rate, that’s a Constitutional discussion for another time.

    c) Do you seriously think that atheists really really want a sign?

    c) Do you seriously think that I really really said that? I was simply addressing Mr. Mehta’s discusson of the issue of parity (and the implication that objections made to the FFR display constitute a double-standard). I assumed it was appropriate to address the primary assertion made in the initial blog post, but I have been known to be presumptuous (see “a)”).

  • garrick

    The “uplifting” sign is also part of the larger strategy. This is just one of many public messages like the bus signs and billboards. Some are pleasant, some are challenging, and some are humorous.

    It takes all kinds of signs and messages because there are all kinds of people out there. We (meaning the FFRF) needs to target the theists that care about the separation of church and state, the seldom-theists that need some intellectual provocation, the closeted non-theists that need support, the atheists that don’t get involved, and they also need to poke journalists to talk about the message.

    All kinds of people need all kinds of signs.

  • Joe

    Okay, my snark level might have been a couple notches too high on that last post–I blame an essentially deterministic universe (yeah, yeah, quantum blah blah) for any off-putting discourse.

    But snark aside, I do of course realize that not all atheists are, for example, humanists. The “Humanist Winter Solstice Not-So-Holi-Day Creed o’ Nauseating Optimism” was merely a quickly churned-out example, and seemed to reflect closely enough sign-maker Dan Barker’s self-proclaimed beliefs.

  • sc0tt

    Just read the sign has mysteriously disappeared! (probably stolen)

  • GullWatcher

    Yes, it has disappeared, and now it has turned up at the studio of KMPS, a country music station in Seattle. It’s a perfect example of what we expect (and often receive) from the religious – dishonesty, arrogance, and poor taste.

  • Richard Wade

    The sign must have been stolen by someone who devoutly believes in the Nine Commandments.

    We must now kidnap the Holy Family from the nativity scene and hold them hostage until the sign is returned unharmed. We can exchange them in a suspenseful scene with two people approaching each other on a bridge, unarmed and carrying the sign and the figurines.

  • Joe

    It’s a perfect example of what we expect (and often receive) from the religious – dishonesty, arrogance, and poor taste.

    You know what else I hate about religious people? Their pathetic, forensically bankrupt tendency to resort to broad, sweeping, polemical generalizations about their ideological opponents. Dishonest, arrogant, and in poor taste indeed.

    Also, they have no sense of irony.

  • Awesomesauce

    Also, they have no sense of irony.

    …I see what you did there.

  • GullWatcher

    Calling something a generalization does not mean it’s false. Irony fail….

  • Joe

    You know, you’re right. I withdraw my objection to the theists’ tendency to polemically generalize. And it does seem like a much more fun method of discourse. Maybe atheists DO eat babies.

    At any rate, I didn’t say making sweeping, polemical generalizations made them false. I said it was pathetic and forensically bankrupt.

    Oh, wait–I didn’t see your “get out of burden-of-proof free” card. Boy, is my face red…


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