Remember this holiday classic?
Last year, British-Australian comedian, actor, musician and atheist Tim Minchin contributed that song, “White Wine in the Sun,” to a CD called “The Spirit of Christmas,” with proceeds benefitting the Salvation Army.
In the song, Minchin sings that that he’s not a fan of religious aspects of the holiday season and that he prefers to use the time to spending time with his family, sharing white wine.
I’m looking forward to Christmas
Though I’m not expecting a visit from Jesus
I’ll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They’ll be drinking white wine in the sun
Shouldn’t that be at least part of what the holidays are about for anyone, regardless of faith?
This led to a tiff with the Salvation Army (which isn’t known for tolerance, anyway). The organization slammed the song, with spokesman Neil Venables saying: “We do not in any way support the statements made in this song.”
Apparently, Minchin singing that his daughter will always have a family waiting for her on Christmas, no matter where she is goes against what the Salvation Army supports…
Other religious leaders lined up to take shots at the song last year as well.
Family Council of Victoria’s Bill Muehlenberg said: ‘It’s not quite in the spirit of Christmas. Is this somebody’s idea of a sick joke?’
And Rob Ward of the Australian Christian Lobby said the song was ‘disrespectful’.
It’s not often that a high-profile atheist contributes to a Christian organization. You have to wonder why these groups weren’t the least bit gracious — they could have said that, while they celebrated Christmas differently from Minchin, they were still thankful for his generosity. What is so hard about that?
When Minchin was told about the controversy last year, he noted that he didn’t even know the money was going to the Salvation Army. Regardless, he felt the groups criticizing him were putting their beliefs above their desire to help others out through charity:
I think the Salvos are idiots. I didn’t know they would benefit from the CD, but by the time I found out I didn’t want to make too much of a fuss. So I gave my song free, then they turn around and say that they don’t agree with the sentiment of the song. Obviously, they are talking about how I think Jesus is not magic. Part of me is hugely outraged by what imbeciles they are, to bite the hand that feeds them and put their proselytising above charity.
For what it’s worth, proceeds from the purchase of Minchin’s song in December of 2009 and 2010 were donated to the National Autistic Society, a group, Minchin said, that doesn’t proselytize.
***Update***: There’s an animated version of the song, too!
(Thanks to Kevin for the link!)