To Any Christians Who Think There’s a War on Christmas…

Ray Garton at Atheist Oasis has a message for any Christians who think there’s actually a “War on Christmas”:

I don’t know anyone who genuinely hates Christmas. Oh, sure, people complain about it when it comes along — all the commercial hustle, the crowds, the pressure to buy, buy, buy. But ultimately, everyone I know enjoys the holiday and if asked seriously, I doubt they would change a thing. The people I know celebrate the holiday in different ways and for different reasons. Some celebrate it as a religious holiday, others as a secular holiday. There are many ways to celebrate in the Christmas season, and not all of them are Christmas…

… The last people on the planet who would want to destroy Christmas are those who benefit most from it — department stores, toy stores, retail chains of all kinds. These businesses depend on Christmas! Why would they want to do anything to alter the holiday in any way? All they’re doing is being inclusive, trying to bring in more people. American businesses have no interest in banishing Christianity, only in beefing up their profits. They’re doing that by broadening their appeal with more nonspecific acknowledgments of the season, like “happy holidays” and “season’s greetings.” If you think business in America is devoted to the Christian religion — or any religion at all — you haven’t been paying attention. Business worships only the dollar and always has.

It’s an excellent piece discussing the history of the “War” and debunking the claims of the Religious Right.

If you like it, use it when you respond to those family members sending you email forwards about the mythical “War”…

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  • Dan

    Been trying to email you, Hemant, but I’ve been getting return emails saying there is no mailbox by that name. So I figured I’d post this here in the comments as it is somewhat apropos to this post.

    I wanted to share with you what this Pastor in Dallas is doing.

    Reverend Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, has recently been drawing the ire of business owners in his area with his GrinchAlert.com website. The site urges the public to name and shame – anonymously, of course – local businesses that don’t openly celebrate Christmas, instead opting for the phrase “Happy Holidays”, an attempt to be inclusive of the 9 per cent of Americans who don’t celebrate the birth of Christ.

    http://www.news.com.au/features/christmasgiftguide/grinch-website-outs-businesses-that-dont-celebrate-christmas/story-fn77atzo-1225971285173

    – VIDEO: http://blackchristiannews.com/news/2010/12/watch-rev-robert-jeffress-talks-about-his-grinch-alert.html

    – At least this Christian website is arguing against his actions: http://www.brighterwalk.com/?tag=/Robert+Jeffress

    – BACKGROUND on the Pastor: http://www.firstdallas.org/about-us/our-pastor/

    – EVEN MORE (He’s anti-gay, anti-Muslim, and anti-Mormon): http://www.rightwingwatch.org/category/individuals/robert-jeffress

    – THE WEBSITE ITSELF: http://www.grinchalert.com/

  • Danielle

    Brilliant article. 🙂

  • Jim H

    Hey, let’s not forget the true reason for the season: the season!

    Christians made their “savior’s” birth on Dec 25 for a reason: it was already a holiday in the Roman Empire. And it was a holiday before the Romans, celebrating the winter solstice.

    How come nobody talks about the “war” on Saturnalia, which has been going on for 17 centuries?

    (rant over)

    I agree with Hemant and Danielle: brilliant article.

  • Chalk me up as one of those Atheists who abhors Christmas. Every last bit of it. The secular stuff too, because it all seems religious, not secular. Permanently and directly linked to the Christmas of today, regardless of the origin of Christmas – a long time ago.

    I can give a dozen reasons why I see Christmas as a scam and a lure to Christianity that seems to work on a lot of otherwise reasoning people, but I’m the positive one here. Seriously! :o)

    Honesty is always more positive, no matter how sweet the taste of the fiction in question. In my humble opinion anyway. :o)

  • Catinthewall

    The rainbow is not a war on black.

    Civ 4 is not a war on Solitaire.

    Roller blades are not a war on bikes.

    The Foundation series is not a war on The Lord of the Rings.

  • Bob

    I’ve often commented that the rush-rush-rush and non-stop commercialism has very little to do with celebrating the birth of Christ, but this article puts just the right touch on that.

    Beyond which, the word holiday originated as ‘holy day’ – so it’s really not offensive at all; it’s just that the hypocrites wanting glory and such from praising Christ aloud don’t find it to their liking.

    Me, I take Christmas greetings in the spirit in which they are offered. I don’t want ‘Merry Christmas’ to become a secret code phrase, the province of evangelicals or stars-upon-thars Christians.

  • cat

    Why the heck should it even matter to them if others opt out? Other people just doing something different does not constitute a war on you. I hate eating mayo and never do it, but do not interfere with others eating mayo privately, have I now started a ‘war on mayo’? These persecution complex christians see not having compulsory participation of others as a war on them. What bull.

  • Roger3

    What motivates all of this is the same sense of loss that motivates anti-gay, -woman and -Muslim bigotry: loss of priviliged status. These children really ARE feeling a sense of loss, they’re just not getting where that sense is coming from.

  • BlueRidgeLady

    I think whether or not anyone actually likes xmas is not at all a determining factor in the existence of the “war on xmas”.

    Christians very clearly have privilege (at least here in the US) and each time I hear about this nonexistent bullshit war on xmas it makes me actually dislike xmas- because of the Christians. What an entitled and delusional bunch. Over their boo-hooing. They make me misanthropic!!!

  • Christian

    As a Christian myself, I think the problem is, if there’s a war, most Christians have directed their anger in the wrong direction.

    You can’t really say that we need the Christ back in Christmas, and then support gouging yourself to no end on HDTVs, the latest gadgets, etc. That is, as long as they don’t say those evil words “Happy Holidays!” Really, what’s the difference?

  • Garton makes some great points. Really, the entire claim about there being a War on Christmas is just ridiculous.

  • pansies4me

    “Over their boo-hooing. They make me misanthropic!!!”
    I laughed out loud at that, thank you BlueRidgeLady 😀

    Roger3 I think you are spot on about the loss of privileged status as the cause of all this. I’ve said it myself as well.

  • I don’t know, I apparently declared jihad on Christmas – http://goodwolve.blogs.com/moxielife/2010/12/i-declared-jihad-on-christmas.html

  • Robert W.

    For all of those who claim that there isn’t a war on Christmas, explain why all of the signs and billboards lamasting the navitiy and claiming there is no God come out at this time of year?

    Of course you use this time of year to get your message out because this is recognized as an important Christian holiday.

  • One of my UU friends makes similar points here.

    (Since I’m not particularly known here I should also disclose that I do endorse his little paragraph on the Four Horsemen…)

  • Michael

    One of the greatest things I’ve ever read.

    Robert W.,

    Most of the ads you see aren’t attacking Christmas, they’re letting atheists know that they aren’t alone and that holidays don’t have to be something that they’re not allowed to participate in. That they can have community and fellowship, even if they can’t believe.

  • Nakor

    Man, I am getting so tired of those chain emails that are all “Don’t forget Jesus is the reason for the season! Political correctness is evil!” It just makes me FJIEOWHFOEW. JEFWOFJ.

    *ahem*

    But seriously. I like Christmas, and I know very few people who don’t. If someone overheard me wishing a Jewish friend a happy Hannukah, would that get their ire up too? If I say “happy holidays,” it is not because I am trying to attack Christmas, it’s because there are multiple holidays!

    The most annoying part is that I get most of those chain emails from my father, who I can only imagine is sending them along because my mother or sister is urging him to. *sigh*

    Edit: Wait, isn’t 9% low? On a quick search I pulled up a 2001 estimate that showed only 84% of Americans were Christian.

  • Nine percent is almost surely radically low, given the negative “social desirability” effects of outing oneself as a non-believer, much less an atheist. There’s a huge body of literature (Fishbein, et. al.) on how people respond to surveys that ask them questions to which they think an honest answer would bring them disapproval. Religion is one of the most touchy areas of statistical polling where Social Desirability effects kick in and make measurement extremely difficult. Most frank atheists who commented on this blog can probably remember a time in the early going (particularly if they were once religious) in which they would not admit to being an unbeliever on any sort of survey. The percentage of people in America who, in their heart of hearts do not believe in god is probably far higher than the most inclusive estimates to date. Pollsters usually delude themselves that they have neutralized the SD effects by some strategy or the other, such as “lie scales” in which alternate forms of the question are posed. These are notoriously transparent to people being surveyed, so one should be very skeptical at buying that they’ve increased the validity.

    Richard Dawkins has remarked on the concept of a “tipping point,” which, when reached, will result in a sudden apparent upsurge of people willing to say “I don’t believe in the imaginary guy in the sky.” If and when that day comes, what will really have happened is not a sudden rush of people out of religion but a sense of it being safe to admit to being unpersuaded of something for which no proof has ever been offered. As people begin to reflect more and think more about their own attitudes, and to see how easy it would be for god to prove his own existence to the satisfaction of an intellectually-honest skeptic, that tipping point will be reached. Ray Garton’s excellent, well-reasoned and carefully-documented work in this area, (this blog is only one example) is helping bring nearer the day when people will not feel afraid to stand up for rationality over delusion. Three Christmas cheers for Ray!

  • Jim [different Jim]

    @Robert W; Show me where in the bible it explicitly or implicitly says that you are supposed to celebrate the birth of christ. Nowhere in the bible are you expected to celebrate his birth. Nowhere in the bible is his birthday mentioned or even implied, other than the original event. Xmas has never been an Xian holiday, never ever!!! The catholic church created this bogus holiday by hijacking an ancient Pagan celebration. This isn’t a newsflash. I happen to like the Pagan celebration.

  • Lazarus Long

    I hate Christmas. Hate it with a passion that would make Hate itself take a sudden interest in its hateful shoes. The whole thing is fueled by the obvious commercialism, not to mention guilt and feelings of inadequacy.
    But I’m a bitter, cynical old bastard. Just because I want nothing more than 12/25 to just be a plain old Saturday doesn’t mean I don’t think other people should have fun with it.
    Say “Merry Christmas” all you like. Put up a nativity scene. In your own damn yard, thank you. Just don’t be surprised when I groan and roll my eyes at hearing “Silent Night” for the eighth time today.

  • For what it’s worth, I hate Christmas. It’s a bad holiday with boring traditions, saccharine movies, awful food and gruesome music that I do my very best to avoid. As a kid, even before I officially abandoned religion, I didn’t celebrate Christmas, and eventually my family just got me more gifts for my birthday (which falls in January). To this day I celebrate my own holiday, the holy season of Johnus.

    Sure, it doesn’t have the reach of Christmas yet, but all traditions start small, right?

  • Phoena

    If anyone has made a war, it’s the Christians. I’m to the point that I hate the word. Not so much the whole season, just that one word and I refuse to say it or write it out. I substitute the word “holiday” for everything from “holiday tree” to “holiday presents” to “I can’t wait to open my presents on the holiday morning! We don’t open them on the holiday eve like some people do!” I don’t even do it to piss them off as much as that the word is just so ugly to me now. Christians themselves have made that word a fighting word, a nasty, spiteful, bigoted word, aimed at excluding anyone non-christian from the festivities and I don’t want anything to do with that!

    And I totally agree with Christian above… you can’t whine about the war on your holiday while celebrating the holiday in a commercialized way and still be thought of as genuine.

    Jim is also right — the bible never suggests celebrating the birthday of Christ. In fact, the only two birthdays celebrated in the bible were of evil doers who had someone killed as part of their birthday celebrations.

    And finally, I especially like to needle Christians this time of year about Jeremiah Chapter 10 vs 1-5 that likens having a holiday tree to worshiping a false god and warns them NOT to engage in such pagan practices. They never like me much after that.

  • It seems to me that getting bent out of shape about the use of happy holidays over merry christmas is pretty much the same thing as getting annoyed when people attempt cross cultural inclusiveness.

    Do these complaining christans even realize just how ugly that seems? If Jesus were a real guy, I think the last thing he would care about is what greeting a corporation was using when trying to lure patrons into their establishment to spend money on worldly possessions.

  • Well said, Christian. I wonder this every year. I also wonder about those who go to church apparently to show off who can dress the best and most expensively. WTF?

    Also like that you mentioned HDTV’s. Religious or secular, what the heck is with this sudden notion that a gift isn’t a gift unless it costs hundreds or thousands of dollars? I’ve been grimacing at the car ads promoting giving cars as Christmas gifts? Yeah, maybe works for the top 2% of Americans who don’t have to pay their fair share of taxes.

    Ray’s a FB friend so I’ve already read the artilce but I honestly think it’s excellent. I especially like that he put in so much history and it did make me aware how I’ve been letting the “war” on Christmas affect me. I’ve taken to saying happy holidays and bristling at merry Christmas and, while what I celebrate is the winter season (I won’t even go to the Pagan holiday), it got me to stop and think, hell, yeah, he’s right. Why am I letting them coop the term merry Christmas as part of some silly made-up war? So I’m going to work on that. However, if someone says it like it’s wartime, I’ll grin and say happy holidays or maybe even happy winter just to bug them.

    Dan, can you believe they put Macy’s with their whole beleive campaign on there just because when someone said merry christmas to the cashier, they replied, “You too,”? Now that’s absurd. I tried to add First Baptist church itself a while ago for forgetting the spirit of peace on earth and good will towards men but, of course, that didn’t go through even though I used a fake Xian name and e-mail and, of course, I knew it wouldn’t but I thought what the hell let them see the slam anyway. As Christian points out above, they’re being big, fat steaming hypocrites and just having to screen out my nominating them for their own naughty list gave me a chance to vent on that fact.

  • Me

    I think the reason Christians think there is a war on Christmas ISN’T the stores that say Happy Hoildays or whatever, its the people out there who honestly do put an effort into getting rids of Christmas themed things. Like not allowing children to bring in snacks that have Christmas symbols and things like that. The people who are offended when another person celebrates Christmas. Why can’t people just let each other do thier own thing? Why don’t the non-believers let the believers do what they want as long as they don’t DIRECTLY stop them from doing what they want, and why don’t the believers just let the non-believers do what they want without telling them they are bad for not believing?

  • Christian

    I think it is funny how so many people on this site are saying there is no war on Christmas at the same time they talk about how bad they hate Christmas. There is a war on Christmas, and it is one you are winning. The simple fact that it is a Christian Holiday(Holy-Day) dictates that it is being Changed. Christ-mas is a Christian Holy-Day to Christians. If it doesn’t matter. then why do people insist on trying to get stores to stop putting up things that say Christmas in it. Stores are doing it, and they make the claim it is because of the amount of people calling in complaining. If Christians, or when they tried to shut down holloween,everybody freaked out. I agree,we should leave it alone. Do you thing we should stop Celebrating the 4th of July because some people don’t like the United States. All this talk is BS. The simple fact is, you do not want Christian having their Holy-day plastered all over the place. This post is probably not going to even make it on this page, but since you do not think Santa is real, shouldn’t he be attacked. Oh wait it is already happening. There are very few people who care that the Christmas things are put up, and whether you like it or not, the Holy-day is still going to mean the same thing.

  • Christian

    and you have a add that says Kill Christmas.Do you think that is because there is No war on Christmas.

  • Baconsbud

    Christian you say that Christmas is a holy day. I am a little confused as to what makes it a holy day. There is very little that goes on during Christmas that is even related to the christian religion. I would say you need to study the history of Christmas and then you might better understand why there is no war on a christian holiday. You must have read different comments then I did. I didn’t get that anyone hates Christmas for the most part but some do dislike parts of it. Are you feeling persecuted or do you really believe that atheist censor comments on blogs like many christians do?