Atheist Sign Lost and Found

***Update***: Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote this to me in regards to the onslaught of publicity:

… we’re still processing paypals, emails, new members and prospects. We’ll have many more over the weekend so we’re too busy to know [how many new people have become FFRF members] right now. I’ve just spent 4 hours trying to get through today’s email pileup after hours, and I still haven’t finished, and [a staffer] held most of the “hate” mail to spare my inbox! The positive response has been phenomenal.

How come all the exciting news happens while I’m at work and not near my RSS feeds?

So, the Freedom From Religion Foundation poster was lost and found all within a couple hours — all due to a (currently unknown) thief.

My thoughts:

  • If the thief was trying to promote Christianity, he has one hell of an idiotic way of acting Christ-like.
  • Speaking of “Christian love,” check out how Rev. Ken Hutcherson handled the stealing of the atheist sign:

    The controversy over the anti-religion sign prompted Rev. Ken Hutcherson, pastor of the Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland, to post a pro-religion sign about 15 feet from where the athiest sign was located.

    It reads: “There is one God. There is one Devil. There are angels, a heaven and hell. There is more than our natural world. Atheism is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

    The sign is a toned-down version of his first draft, which, according to Hutcherson, was to read, ‘”Hey, I believe in Jesus Christ and if you don’t, that’s OK because you’re going to fry like a Jimmy Dean pure pork sausage on Judgment Day.”‘

    “But that would be just as derogatory as the atheist sign,” Hutcherson said.

    Makes you want to get baptized immediately, no?

  • I agree with PZ: There’s no reason for us to play the thief’s game and start stealing nativity scenes. Retaliating would be wrong. Let this person’s actions speak for him and his faith. It was during another incident just this year when we held the moral high ground before f@#&ing it all up. Let’s not go through that again.
  • Look at this image of the full display — FFRF’s sign, a bust of George Washington, and a Christian nativity scene — and you’ll see how “harmful” the sign appears to be:

    *Gasp* Not words! How anyone is getting worked up about either of these displays is incredible. Both displays are legal according to Washington law and more are coming. Let’s talk about the messages, not who should be allowed to have a display there.

  • Dan Barker used to be a fundamentalist Christian preacher before he became an atheist. Which is why it’s funny to read right-wing bloggers attack him:

    I have to wonder, has this guy ever even read the Bible?… You sir, are a sad little man who is ignorant about religion. Your dogma (ironic huh) blinds you to what it is that most Christians really believe.

  • Calling the Baby Jesus a “dictator” doesn’t win you points in the minds of religious Americans. Dan should know better than that:

    Barker: Christians basically stole this season from us human beings by using the hate speech of the nativity scene which damns all of us to hell if we don’t bow down before that little baby who became the dictator. What a horrible insult to what it means to be a human being!

    An explanation of why atheists need to be heard this time of year — especially this time of year — is much more likely to get some attention from the people who need to hear that message the most.

  • The “nativity-as-hate-speech” argument won’t have many supporters, either. As one reader wrote to me,

    … calling the nativity scene “hate speech” when NOT all xians believe in hell or damnation (or even that Christianity is the only way to heaven/happiness) is just shooting himself (and his organization) in the foot.

  • I don’t know the numbers, but I’d guess that FFRF’s membership has grown quite a bit in the past week. I’ll try to get an exact number on that from Dan.

All that said, my favorite exchange over this topic has to be the debate between FOXNews’ Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly over whether the sign should have been allowed to be placed in the Capitol building in the first place. O’Reilly wants to argue that FFRF’s placing of the atheist sign in a Christmas display is akin to KKK members putting up a racist sign on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday:

O’REILLY: Big picture of Martin Luther King in the state capitol in Olympia, Washington, right?

KELLY: Right.

O’REILLY: Honoring a federal holiday honoring Dr. King. Klan comes in says, “Hey, I want to put a sign there that says, ‘I hate blacks. We hate blacks. Blacks are bad.’” Are they allowed?

KELLY: That’s a closer case.

O’REILLY: Why?

KELLY: Because certain categories of speech are not protected by the First Amendment, including — let me finish — including fighting words. And if it would…

O’REILLY: See, they worded it just as the atheist worded it, just as they did. Black people are bad. They are hard-hearted. The same wording, just take out religion and put black people in.

KELLY: They didn’t say Christians are bad.

O’REILLY: They — but religion is bad.

KELLY: They said religion — there are no gods, no devils, no angels. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens the heart and enslaves mind.

O’REILLY: OK, take out religion and put, “Dr. King is just a myth and superstition, and his words and ideas harden the heart and enslave minds.”

*sigh* That’s quite the orgy of stupidity in one sentence.

  • http://t3knomanser.livejournal.com t3knomanser

    Interesting to note, the guy over at RightPundits doesn’t seem to know that only two gospels contain the Beatitudes. Or that “Beatitudes” is a proper noun and should be capitalized.

    Has he ever even read the Bible?

  • Steve

    Atheism is as much a religion as any other. If atheists wants to celebrate their beliefs then why don’t they do so without trying to step on others’ beleifs. If I want to experience a nativity scene why can’t athiests respect my right to experience it without trying to subvert it. This seems very disrespectful to me.

    STEVE

  • llewelly

    Wait. Angels are real? I thought the Unidentified Flying Objects performing all those abductions were aliens. Suddenly I feel much better about being abducted and probed.

  • Lee

    I would like to know why atheists and agnostics continue to go to Fox News. You’re going to be scoffed at, your mic will be cut, you will be talked down and ridiculed by their pundits and guests. They are unflinching in their defiance of logic and reason in favor of sensationalism and right-wing propagandizing. It would be a benefit to the free-thinking community for its members to stop giving credibility to Fox News by appearing on its programs.

    Am I wrong in thinking this? I understand the need to make our voices heard, but I think it would make a bigger impression if Fox News couldn’t find a single atheist to appear on air talking to their pundits because their reporting practices are so unbalanced and unethical.

  • llewelly

    O’Reilly’s attempt to portray atheists as being like the rabidly Christian KKK is no different from the overwhelmingly common efforts to portray atheists as being like the Christian Adolf Hitler.
    Dishonest, ignorant, or ahistorical – take your pick. Typical O’Reilly.

  • http://www.EscapingChristianity.com/blog Jeff Mark

    llewelly, good catch on the beatitudes thing.

    That guy in the post asks if Dan Barker has read the Bible. As everyone here knows, Barker probably knows the Bible inside and out. My experience is that a much higher percentage of atheists than Christians have read the entire Bible…

  • TheDeadEye

    Atheism is as much a religion as any other. If atheists wants to celebrate their beliefs then why don’t they do so without trying to step on others’ beleifs. If I want to experience a nativity scene why can’t athiests respect my right to experience it without trying to subvert it. This seems very disrespectful to me.

    1) Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.

    2) Atheism and Theism are diametrically opposed, so it’d be pretty hard not to “step on” each others beliefs. The fact that Atheists exist puts most theists panties in a bunch, let alone if we announce it in public.

    3) You don’t have to read the sign. Ignore it and just look at the pretty nativity scene.

    4) Freedom of Speech does not mean that you have to respect my beliefs nor do I have to respect yours.

  • http://thebitchreport.blogspot.com/ Milena

    It would be a benefit to the free-thinking community for its members to stop giving credibility to Fox News by appearing on its programs.

    I completely agree. My journalism professor actually used Fox News as an example of the worst kind of editorializing pretending to be “fair and balanced” journalism there is. People need to stop giving Fox so much credibility. The problem is that Fox is known for hiring people to represent the point of view they want to discuss and if Fox is ideologically against that point of view, they tend to hire someone who is a bad/negative representation. OutFOXed is a good documentary discussing this.

  • llewelly

    Jeff Mark:

    llewelly, good catch on the beatitudes thing.

    That was t3knomanser , not me. Thank you, t3knomanser.

  • Raghu Mani

    Steve Says:

    Atheism is as much a religion as any other. If atheists wants to celebrate their beliefs then why don’t they do so without trying to step on others’ beleifs. If I want to experience a nativity scene why can’t athiests respect my right to experience it without trying to subvert it. This seems very disrespectful to me.

    Atheism is not a religion, it is the absence of religion. If you wish to experience a nativity scene without any non-Christian exhibits to sully it then go to a church.

    That said, I have to say that as an atheist, I do not approve of the FFRF sign. I don’t see what we gain by placing a sign that basically says “religion is bullshit.” A more positive message could have been chosen.

    Nor do I buy Dan Barker’s assertion that this is a “natural holiday” for atheists. Huh? What’s no natural about December? Why not January or February when it is equally cold? Dan refers to the winter solstice – that has nothing to do with atheism. True, it was co-opted by the Christians but the original festival was hardly atheistic – it had religious implications (of a pagan nature) which atheists would find just as unacceptable as the Christian ones. Yes, we can enjoy the non-religious aspects of the holiday season but that’s only because we live in this society where Christmas has become more than the holy day of one religious group. In another society, say India, where I grew up, the festival isn’t nearly as big and you wouldn’t find non-Christians celebrating in any way.

    Raghu

  • http://www.purduenontheists.com Jennifurret

    I agree with Raghu Mani. The sign just seems like a big “FU, religious people! We have freedom of speech! Neener neener!” If nativity scenes are allowed, then we should definitely allowed to have something, but this was just kind of tactless. Couldn’t we have had a more positive message? I think the Be Good for Goodness sake campaign was right on the dot. The way this sign was worded was like it was just looking for attention from the media. This isn’t going to win over any people – if anything, it’ll piss off the questioning theists, agnostics, and non-militant type atheists. Who wants to be affiliated with a bunch of jerks?

  • Ron in Houston

    I’m really glad to see you making these points. Please keep it up.

    It’s all about civility.

  • mikespeir

    The theist says, “I believe in God or gods.” The atheist says, “I don’t believe in God or gods.”

    Is theism a religion? If so, the Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, and Zoroastrian are all a part of one grand religion. How many devotees of those differing opinions would allow that they’re part of the same religion? On the other hand, if theism, per se, isn’t a religion, then its antithesis, atheism, isn’t a religion, either.

  • Chas

    I think the FFRF, and many other atheist groups, confuses getting attention with getting the message out. Attention is easy; Fox will gladly give it to them, but for their own agenda.

    Atheism needs a spokesman who can transcend the bickering tit-for-tat. Theists won’t accept us because they think we are mean and evil. We won’t change that if these groups continue to poke jabs at the dominant theist group.

    My hope here is that Dan Barker has learned something about being a spokesman.

  • Nodster

    Atheism is as much a religion as any other

    You are correct, Steve! Atheism is absolutely no different than YOUR religion of simply not believing a being named Xenu existed. As well as the 8 billion other religions of simply not believing in others’ asinine extraordinary claims.

    So, as a fundamentalist A-Xenuist, do you ever hear from Travolta or Cruise? Does your religion have a center near theirs?

  • Nodster

    Jennifurret:

    Be Good for Goodness sake campaign was right on the dot. The way this sign was worded was like it was just looking for attention from the media. This isn’t going to win over any people – if anything, it’ll piss off the questioning theists, agnostics, and non-militant type atheists. Who wants to be affiliated with a bunch of jerks?

    Jenn, keep in the mind the “Be Good for Goodness Sake” campaign generated pretty much the same exact response as this one. Only Bill O’Reilly didn’t choose to blow it up in the same way. He easily could’ve gotten his sheep viewers foaming at the mouth with their phony outrage, organizing protests. Hell, he’s done it with two harmless words: “Happy Holidays”.

    That ad still got questioning theists and holier than thou, ass kissing agnostics to label us “Militant Atheists” and “A bunch of Jerks”.

    But with that said, I do agree. I wish this was more positive. But keep in mind, if it was positive, we wouldn’t be having this discussion right now.

    The incredibly positive “DON’T BELIEVE IN GOD? YOU’RE NOT ALONE” billboards are proof of that. They received absolutely no coverage in the oh so secular/liberal mainstream media, proving that atheists won’t get any coverage unless it looks as if we’re picking on the poor victimized Christians. Mysteriously, Bill O’Reilly didn’t touch that one.

    So basically, it boils down to this:

    Be blunt/rude, get coverage. And get labeled a bunch of militant jerks.

    Be polite/positve, remain non-existant. And get labeled a bunch of militant jerks.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    Lee: “I would like to know why atheists and agnostics continue to go to Fox News. You’re going to be scoffed at, your mic will be cut …”

    They didn’t cut Dan Barker’s mike, they just let him talk enough to hang himself. The nativity as hate speech? That’s just dumb, and it’s something that Christians who want to make atheists look dumb can repeat over and over.

    (BTW, IIRC, the “love and family” stuff doesn’t date from pagan times, but rather from the Victorian era, and before then Christmas was an often randy holiday somewhat like Mardi Gras.)

  • SarahH

    They didn’t cut Dan Barker’s mike, they just let him talk enough to hang himself. The nativity as hate speech? That’s just dumb, and it’s something that Christians who want to make atheists look dumb can repeat over and over.

    I’d much rather not be represented on Fox News than be represented like this. Having said that, it’s not realistic to expect all atheists to refuse to come on their shows. Trying to get atheists to cooperate in a boycott or a protest or anything, really, is like herding cats. We’re not members of a religion and we totally disagree with one another on pretty much every subject except whether a god exists.

    If the rational, calm atheists (like Hemant!) got on Fox, the network and their pundits look like bigger idiots for blowing up, but if atheists go on and call the nativity ‘hate speech’ then they look much more justified in being angry. Either way, atheists are getting attention and being blown up at. It’s just a question of whether that reaction seems justified to a discerning viewer. As for the non-discerning viewers who’ve already made up their minds, who cares?

  • Nodster

    If the rational, calm atheists (like Hemant!) got on Fox, the network and their pundits look like bigger idiots for blowing up, but if atheists go on and call the nativity ‘hate speech’ then they look much more justified in being angry.

    But there’s never a need for calm atheists like Hemant in the media, because it’s all about controversy and the persecution of Christians. It’s the only way an atheist can get coverage. History proves that.

    That’s why the so-called “New Atheism” has taken off. Because it’s the big bad meanies picking on the poor victimized Christians.

    South Park didn’t do Bertrand Russell for a reason.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    Nodster, the “Be Good for Goodness’ Sake” did get attention, and even brought out the foamies like Bill Donahue. And your claims about “ass kissing agnostics” are inflated.

  • Eliza

    I would use different words than FFRF (on the sign & in the interview, Zeus forbid anyone should stick a camera in my face), but I do want to support the effort.

    Sorry to add to your workload, Annie Laurie Gaylor, but I’ve just joined FFRF via a link from Hemant’s site :)

  • Nodster

    Nodster, the “Be Good for Goodness’ Sake” did get attention, and even brought out the foamies like Bill Donahue. And your claims about “ass kissing agnostics” are inflated.

    No shit, I didn’t say it didn’t. That’s my entire point. Jenn implied it was much more positive, yet it still generated the same “militant bunch of jerks” comments. It just didn’t blow up like this one did.

    And if there is any group of people who have been indoctrinated with the ridiculous notion that religion is immune from criticism, it is the ass-kissing agnostics. It isn’t inflated in the slightest. I can’t go a day without some agnostic floating in on their imaginary moral highground criticizing atheists for even the most civil, constructive criticism.

  • RobL

    Letter I just sent to Fox management. Waste-0-time but it feels good to get it out:

    I would like to express my contempt for Bill O’Reilly, his show, and your network for airing him Unfortunately over time his show has degenerated from being amusing to just a hate filled xenophobic rant. He has a spectacularly ignorant view of constitutional law, separation of church and state, and his arguments are won on the basis of bullying, not intellect. Take this comment relating to a sign in the Washington State Capitol which was installed as a counterpoint to a religious display:

    O’REILLY: OK, take out religion and put, “Dr. King is just a myth and superstition, and his words and ideas harden the heart and enslave minds.”

    What a dishonest response. That is not what the sign said and it has nothing to do with the argument at all. It’s just bullying.

    It seems that Bill is advocating rule by Christian Caliphate – the same kind of system that is prevalent in the middle east. The laughable thing about this is that even Christians cannot agree on what being a Christian is. If you think the Sunni and Shia fight a lot think what would happen if we truly did become a “Christian Nation” and all the different sects of Christianity started battling for dominance. The United States is a country made up mostly of Christians but it is not a Christian Nation. What makes this country great and strong is the fact that there is no state religion.

    When our country is finally led by ignorant and intolerant disciples of Bill O’Reilly we will be no better than the Islamic Caliphates we are currently doing battle with.

    You do not have a legal obligation to muzzle O’Reilly however you do have a moral obligation. He is making himself and your network wealthy by appealing to the worst aspects of human nature. He is like the little man with the mustache stirring up the hate filled hearts of his followers. Do what you know is the right thing and pull the plug on his show.

  • SarahH

    And if there is any group of people who have been indoctrinated with the ridiculous notion that religion is immune from criticism, it is the ass-kissing agnostics. It isn’t inflated in the slightest. I can’t go a day without some agnostic floating in on their imaginary moral highground criticizing atheists for even the most civil, constructive criticism.

    I’m not an agnostic, I definitely think the world would be better off without religion, and I agree that being controversial and blunt is often the best strategy to push for change.

    I don’t think it’s ass-kissing to criticize Barker for calling the nativity scene hate speech though. It was a stupid, stupid comment and reading way too far in to the display. The display shouldn’t be up, and there are tons of great arguments for taking it down, plenty of which are blunt and attention-grabbing. (“You’re so upset about atheist displays – well, Satanists and Wiccans have the same rights too, and unless you recognize this nonsense for what it is, you could end up with pentagrams next! Then how offensive will our sign look to the average American?”)

    It’s possible to aim for shock and awe and tons of press-coverage without sawing your foot off with a chainsaw in the process.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    Nodster: “Jenn implied it was much more positive, yet it still generated the same ‘militant bunch of jerks’ comments.”

    But not from nearly as many people. The people who tended to criticize atheists for acting like jerks when they really do act like jerks had no problems with the display. Obviously, any campaign to make atheists more visible is going to be protested. The trick is to make sure that the protests have no validity.

    I’d revise your false dichotomy into a spectrum, and here are some cases on the spectrum:

    * Be rude, get coverage. And get deservedly labeled a bunch of militant jerks. Some people on the fence will use the jerkiness to not take your side, and some atheists will be embarrassed about your jerkiness and either be less inclined to speak out or preface their speaking out with “I’m an atheist, but ….”

    * Be blunt but fair. And get undeservedly labeled a bunch of militant jerks. You’ll still have some of the problems above, but to a lesser extent. Also, some will come to notice the cognitive dissonance that froms grasping at straws to find excuse to bash the blunt but fair atheists, and rethink their beliefs.

    * Be polite/positive, remain invisible.

    There is a middle ground of sanity, however much you refuse to see it.

  • Josh

    I agree with everyone that thinks this sign was the wrong idea. My problem is mostly with the words: it’s simply too confrontational.

    On the other hand, I’m not sure how putting a nativity scene in a public building is constitutional? I mean, obviously they didn’t pass a law to put there, but it seems quite questionable…

  • Nodster

    Sarah H: I didn’t call you an agnostic. My “ass kissing” comment was made before you even showed up. It was just a little jab at agnostics in general for still objecting to a pretty innocuous sign.

    I also don’t think it’s ass-kissing to criticize Barker. I think the sign sucks and that he’s making a fool out of himself.

    J.J.:

    But not from nearly as many people.

    Yes, I’m well aware of that. Because O’Reilly didn’t choose to blow it up. Probably due to the fact that it was on the side of a bus, and fully paid for by atheists. Although technically government property, it’s legit advertising. Had it been on government property like the current one, O’Reilly would’ve went nuts, and we’d be in the same situation. I guarantee it.

    To a Christian “Why Believe in God” is just as much of an attack as the current sign is. And yes, from my own personal experiences on a daily basis, ass-kissing agnostics as well. The ones who think atheists should shut up — OVER EVERYTHING! I encounter them more often than not. It’s 100% Kumbaya with them.

    The people who tended to criticize atheists for acting like jerks when they really do act like jerks had no problems with the display

    Are you kidding me? Yes, I’m sorry, they most certainly did. If I had a dollar for every “fundamentalist atheist” and “Two sides of the same coin” comments by self described, holier than thou agnostics, I’d be able to pay off Andrea Mackris for the O’Reilly sex tapes.

    I’d revise your false dichotomy into a spectrum

    For crying out loud, J.J., all I did was sum up the gist of it, hence the use of the word “basically”. We’re actually on the same page, as I agree with your breakdown. But an honest look at recent events show that there is a certain black and whiteness proving that my “dichotomy” is anything but “false”, “however much you refuse to see it”.

  • http://www.secularplanet.org Secular Planet

    … calling the nativity scene “hate speech” when NOT all xians believe in hell or damnation (or even that Christianity is the only way to heaven/happiness) is just shooting himself (and his organization) in the foot.

    The whole point of the nativity is so that Jesus can be born and then die and save us from hell. Jesus threatened to damn his listeners to hell with every other breath in the gospels, so if people don’t believe in hell, then the nativity was completely pointless and so is calling yourself a Christian.

    If I don’t believe in God, think Jesus never existed, never go to church, never pray, have never read the bible and think all the ideas in the gospels are evil nonsense (from what I’ve heard) and still call myself a Christian, am I Christian or not? I know all about the True Scotsman fallacy, but it seems you have to draw the line somewhere.

    I agree with Dan Barker and I don’t blame him for getting upset and saying something like this. Jesus does blackmail us with hell! Bill Donohue called Dan the devil for crying out loud!

  • SarahH

    If I don’t believe in God, think Jesus never existed, never go to church, never pray, have never read the bible and think all the ideas in the gospels are evil nonsense (from what I’ve heard) and still call myself a Christian, am I Christian or not?

    The first two (belief in God and Jesus) are the only two many American Christians really think about. There’s a divide between cultural Christians and religious Christians almost, and the cultural Christians still put up nativity scenes and perhaps pray before meals, etc. They’re a big group, and they’re going to keep identifying as “Christian” in surveys and polls, and personally I’m glad that they don’t all believe in hell.

  • Diane G.

    The whole point of the nativity is so that Jesus can be born and then die and save us from hell. Jesus threatened to damn his listeners to hell with every other breath in the gospels, so if people don’t believe in hell, then the nativity was completely pointless and so is calling yourself a Christian.

    If I don’t believe in God, think Jesus never existed, never go to church, never pray, have never read the bible and think all the ideas in the gospels are evil nonsense (from what I’ve heard) and still call myself a Christian, am I Christian or not? I know all about the True Scotsman fallacy, but it seems you have to draw the line somewhere.

    I agree with Dan Barker and I don’t blame him for getting upset and saying something like this. Jesus does blackmail us with hell! Bill Donohue called Dan the devil for crying out loud!

    Hear, hear. FFRF is my fav secularist organization ATM. Annie Laurie Gaylor & Dan Barker are wonderful antidotes to all the christian crap out there. Their monthly “Freethought Today” newspaper is always a delight. I recommend Dan’s book Godless to everyone.

    Atheists don’t & shouldn’t all speak in one voice. There are plenty of softer-speaking, more appeasement-minded voices out there, and they’re getting attention, too (witness the AHA bus campaign, the Harvard Humanist “Chaplain,” Hemant). It takes all kinds. We waste way too much time arguing over just which voice is the “atheistically correct” (AC?) one to use.

  • GullWatcher

    On the other hand, I’m not sure how putting a nativity scene in a public building is constitutional? I mean, obviously they didn’t pass a law to put there, but it seems quite questionable…

    There was always a christmas tree, which is now officially a holiday tree. Then a menorah got added. Then a real estate agent wanted to add a nativity scene and was denied, and so he sued (of course). The case was settled and he was allowed to put it up. So no, not a law, but it did involve a lawsuit. As long as there is no favoritism, it’s constitutional.

    Now bunches of people are making requests to add all sorts of things, including a Festivus pole. We could have a very interesting capitol by the time this is finished.

  • Josh

    There was always a christmas tree, which is now officially a holiday tree. Then a menorah got added. Then a real estate agent wanted to add a nativity scene and was denied, and so he sued (of course). The case was settled and he was allowed to put it up. So no, not a law, but it did involve a lawsuit. As long as there is no favoritism, it’s constitutional.

    Now bunches of people are making requests to add all sorts of things, including a Festivus pole. We could have a very interesting capitol by the time this is finished.

    It’s just weird because while a Christmas tree is just a co-opted pagan symbol, and the menorah is arguably “just a candelabra” (despite the mythology of the Maccabee story), while the nativity scene is an explicit recreation of the birth of a man-god. I mean, no one would say “Eh, the nativity scene is just the birth of some dude who happened to be pretty awesome!” The nativity was the birth of GOD in human form. It’s explicitly religious in my opinion. Now I personally have no real problem with a Christmas tree, but a nativity scene? There is simply no way to remove the religion from it!

  • Joe

    Sort of a side comment: though O’Reilly does tend to tackle certain cultural issues with relative unsophistication, I find him on the whole to be quite reasonable, and sometimes even incisive. I find him comparable in tone and reasonableness to arguable center-left counterpart Chris Matthews, whom I also watch.

    Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, on the other hand, are myopically ideological, and would find a way to criticize Obama for saving a baby from a burning building.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    There are plenty of softer-speaking, more appeasement-minded voices out there, and they’re getting attention, too (witness the AHA bus campaign, the Harvard Humanist “Chaplain,” Hemant).

    If you think that a billboard reading “Why believe in God?” is “appeasement-minded,” then you don’t know what appeasement means.

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