Penn Jillette: There’s No War on Christmas

In the video below, Penn Jillette talks about how there’s no war on Christmas and asks Christians who believe there is why they would go to such lengths to exclude people from the holiday season:

… Why do you want to leave people out? Why is it considered an attack to say “holidays,” to say “seasonal”? I mean, don’t you want other people to join you in joy? Why are you excluding other people? I don’t think there should be any sort of, you’re not allowed to say Christmas. I think you’re fine putting up your trees. I think you’re fine talking about Santa Claus and you’re fine talking about Jesus Christ, about equal to me. But why leave me out? Why do that? What’s your motive? And trying to turn around a “we want to leave you out,” into “why are you forcing us to not have our joy,” is insanity. It’s backwards.

(Thanks to Anh for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://twitter.com/Hestiashearthfr Hestia’s Hearthfire

    I’ve always thought that the fictitious “War on Christmas” whining was tinged with the message that non-Christians shouldn’t be celebrating at all.

    • HughInAz

      To me, it’s always been about, “my religion, fundamentalist xianity, is the ONLY religion that should be acknowledged. Fuck everyone else.”

      • William Assper

        Christmas is a pagan and Catholic holiday, just like Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s and Easter. Fundies and their ancestral ilk were highly opposed to it and banned it for several centuries since the Protestant Reformation, and many still refuse to participate it today. Don’t let the “CHRISTmas” trolls hijack it and ruin it for everyone else, including atheists.

        • Bad_homonym

          I agree! and don’t change the name either. I love christmas and all it represents. The trees, the lights, the eggnog and Santa! I even enjoy the carols. I dont care that some reference christ. To me it is harmless tradition. I know the xtians try to ‘make it’ about them, but to me it isn’t. I enjoy getting together with my religious and heathen, friends and family and enjoying the season for its own sake! Merry christmas and/or happy holidays to all!

          Cheers!

        • http://www.facebook.com/nell.webbish Nell Webbish

          Again, you seem to be confused about events. No one is doing anything that requires you to personally change how you celebrate Dec. 25th. 

          You are completely free to sing carols wherever you go. No one will stop you if you want to decorate 25 trees in your front yard and paint “These Are CHRISTmas Trees” on the side of your house. Feel free to have Merry Christmas tattooed on your bum in festive red and green. 

          No one cares.

          • ThatsEntertainment

            ‘Activists’ on all sides are annoying. No disagreement there.

    • newavocation

      In the south, at times I get a “Merry Christmas” greeting from a fundie, but the greeting isn’t usually given with a smile, instead it’s given with a stern expression and stare. So it looks like the fundies aren’t enjoying the holiday or their war on non-christians very much.

      • ThatsEntertainment

        The ‘fundies’ as you call them feel, rightly or otherwise, that ‘Christmas’ has been equated to a dirty and confrontational word. They expect at times to accused of wrongdoing, insensitivity or what-have-you when saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to someone without first inquiring in depth as to their spiritual background and/or lack thereof. It’s tiring and puts people on edge. People (and ‘fundies’ are indeed people) get just as defensive as any other group when they feel they are being judged unfairly. This is the way of the world.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

    As an atheist I didn’t care for this video.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1398667857 Lee J Dawson

      As someone who enjoys discussing issues with people I disagree with, I find your comment awkwardly vague. 

      Out of curiosity though, how did you feel about the video as a person with eyesight? Or as a person with a computer connection. I assume there’s a difference, because you just had to qualify your displeasure with the video, yet failed to quantify it.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

        I had no clue I needed to quantify how I felt. I simply didn’t care for it. That is all.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1398667857 Lee J Dawson

          There is no need to, I was only curious why you felt the need to express an opinion with no explanation behind it. There is nothing there to discuss, and as such, you added nothing to the discussion. You might as well have just said that to yourself and been done with it. Yet you felt the need to post it in the discussion, which is odd.

          Now, if you would like to explain WHY you disliked it, we may have a discussion. Otherwise, might I ask you to either voice your opinions aloud and move on, or not get so touchy when you got called out for posting a pointless comment? 

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

            Are you bored?

            • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1398667857 Lee J Dawson

              Yes, so?

  • William Assper

    Okay, I seem to be at odds with most atheists when it comes to Christmas.

    We celebrate Halloween and call it by its “Christian”-derived name, All Hallows Eve. 
    We celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and call it by its Christian name. 
    We celebrate Valentine’s Day and call it by its Christian name.

    Many of us also celebrate Christmas— which has the same origins as the above three holidays— but for some reason we also try to make a point that “not everyone celebrates Christmas”, and that we must use “holiday” instead. Why the hell is this happening? Why are we letting the CHRISTIANS dictate how or what we celebrate, or what we call the holiday? If a pagan told you to ‘put the Eostre back in Easter’, would you stop giving your kids chocolate and calling it by its name “Easter”?

    96% (yes, NINETY-SIX percent) of Americans claim to celebrate Christmas. That’s a huge chunk of non-Christians. 80% of American atheists in particular claim to celebrate Christmas. What the hell is all the fuss about? Hanukkah? Renaming it to something else? “Holiday” is not a new name, it’s a placeholder. It’s like renaming a spoon to a kitchen utensil.

    Sources: http://www.gallup.com/poll/145367/christmas-strongly-religious-half-celebrate.aspx

    http://www.larryhollon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/2011-American-Holiday-Study.pdf

    • Willroma8

      Spot on, i dont get it either.

    • unclemike

      I’m an atheist, and I celebrate Christmas and Halloween and every other holiday I can squeeze in, but i don’t get peeved when someone wishes me a “Merry Christmas,” because life is short and I’ve got better things to do. I also don’t get peeved when somebody wishes me “Happy Holidays,” because it’s usually an employee somewhere and it’s easier than saying, “Happy Hanukkah or Merry Christmas or Blessed Winter Solstice or Happy Kwanzaa or Whatever You Celebrate,” as I gather up my purchases.

      • William Assper

        Yes, I have no qualms with “happy holidays” (although it is an Americanism, in Europe and Australia “holidays” usually means summer vacation), but I was responding to the strange notion Penn is referring to—that atheists are excluded when the word “Christmas” is used. 

        That’s like saying we’re excluded when “Halloween” is used or “St. Patrick’s Day” is used. Christmas is a secularized, commercialized Western holiday part of Western history just like those other holidays are, and was given its name through the then-very powerful and influential Catholic Church just like those holidays were. I don’t see why it is all-of-a-sudden seen as just any other religious holiday that only Christians can or should celebrate. Jews wrote most of our secular Xmas songs, for Christ’s sake (<—another Christian-derived utterance used by non-Christians secularly without concern).

        • unclemike

          Maybe I didn’t pay close enough attention to what he said, but I took him to mean that by insisting on “Merry Christmas” Jews, Muslims, Pagans (and on and on) as well as atheists are being excluded–”Merry Christmas” is becoming shorthand for “My Holiday Is Better Than Your Weird Mud-People Heathen Day So Suck It, Hell-Bound Spawn.”

          I could be projecting. ;-)

        • C Peterson

          I didn’t take his meaning as atheists are excluded when “Christmas” is used. What I heard him saying is that when people choose to use “Holidays” instead, they are being as inclusive as possible, and that should be seen as a positive thing. He is defending those who use the more inclusive greeting; in no way is he saying anything negative about those who don’t. The only people he’s coming down on here are those who criticize secular greetings as some sort of “war on Christmas”.

          • William Assper

            Well, the title of the Youtube video is “Penn Jilette: Don’t leave atheists out on Christmas”, and the relevant quoted transcript is cited above in the article:

            “… Why do you want to leave people out? Why is it considered an attack to say “holidays,” to say “seasonal”? I mean, don’t you want other people to join you in joy? Why are you excluding other people? … But why leave me out? Why do that?”

            So while he does also criticize those who say that “happy holidays” is part of some sort of war on Christmas, he also makes it clear that he, as an atheist, feels left out when they refer to “Christmas” instead of “holidays” or “seasonal”.

            As one of the majority of American atheists that celebrates Western holidays with pagan and Catholic histories, I don’t understand his position there.

            • C Peterson

              I’m not hearing what you are, at all.

            • Coyotenose

               He’s criticizing people who object to hearing “Happy Holidays”, not people who say “Merry Christmas”.

            • Bad_homonym

              I believe his objection is to the persecution complex the regious seem to have regarding the use of all-inclusive terms like ‘happy holidays’. When someone complains about that, it reads like they want to reserve the word christmas, and then to remind us all of their percieved ‘reason for the season’. I think most atheists dont care what you want to call it, and a lot of businesses etc. dont want to exclude anyone, or hurt their business so they try to be as inclusive as possible. I can see how exclusionary hypocrites get their panties in a bunch when us heathen-folk are treated as equals!

              merry christmas all!

          • Bad_homonym

            Ok, now I’m worried. If I wish people ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Seasons Greetings’, which list will Santa put me on?

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QIOCTUX55ZX6IP6OYWJGP4IAYI Ruth

          Halloween and St. Patricks day are effectively entirely secular and are not religious celebrations.  Christmas is thought by most Christians to be a religious holiday.  As my mother used to be bothered by Christmas commercialism as taking the “Christ out of Christmas.  Christians do not want Christmas hijacked into secularism.    That is the war on Christmas.  Which they are losing.

        • Artor

          I got a different take from what Penn said. I think he wants to be inclusive, and is calling out the Xtians who demand that the holidays be treated exactly the way they demand or else. There is no war on Xmas. There is a war on people who don’t care if you call it Xmas or not.

    • Katie

      I have no problem with people saying “Merry Christmas.”  However, I say “Happy Holidays.”  I prefer it because, in my mind, I’m wishing them a happy holiday season.  I’m picturing all their family gatherings, days off of work, Christmas parties and New Years.  Enjoy it all!  

      Also, “Happy Holidays” has been a common saying for at least a hundred years.  I’ve heard it and said it my entire life.  It’s only in the past few years since Fox News started this whole “War on Christmas” b.s. that people have given me nasty looks and snide remarks when I say it.  I don’t think anyone is being ridiculous when they say “holidays” instead of “Christmas.”  I anyone who gets butthurt because someone didn’t specify one particular day is an idiot.

      • Thackerie

         I, too, have always used the phrase “Happy Holidays” in reference to the entire holiday season. But, here lately, when I say it, some butthurt christian will snarl and hurl a “Merry Christmas” back at me in the same tone as a “fuck you.” Takes all the joy right out of me.  Damn grinches!

    • HughInAz

      I’m one of those atheists who celebrate Christmas in a secular way of course. I have no problem with someone wishing me Merry Christmas. And I have no problem wishing someone else Merry Christmas, if I know that’s what they celebrate. If I don’t know, then I say “Happy Holidays” as shorthand for “I don’t know whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Festivus or something else, but whatever it is, have a good one.” It’s a matter of simple courtesy and not being presumptuous – alien concepts to the Faux Noise bloviators who are peddling the “War on Christmas” lie.

    • C Peterson

      What atheists are suggesting we stop calling it Christmas? As far as I know, there is no secularist movement to change the name. No atheists are calling out for people to stop saying “Merry Christmas”. No atheists are calling out for towns to stop putting up Christmas trees, nor to stop calling them that if they wish.

      No, this so called “war on Christmas” seems to mostly be coming from people who are, for the most part, Christians themselves. Business owners who simply want a more inclusive greeting (that’s just good business, after all). A governor or mayor, who on their own, chose to call a tree “Holiday”.

      Legally, Christmas is a secular holiday. It’s not a mainstream secularist position to change that. All secularists want is for the holiday to be treated as secular in any governmental observation. All secularists want is for any symbols placed by governments to be secular ones. That’s not much of a “war”!

      • Randomfactor

         “Christmas” has already lost half its original meaning; even Protestants use the term.  So they shouldn’t object to a little more secularization.

      • ThatsEntertainment

        Penn Jillette sermonizing that people who say ‘Merry Christmas’ are willfully excluding others is, to me, a way of saying ‘stop saying Merry Christmas!’.

        All secularists want is…attention…just like the non-secularists.

    • RebeccaSparks

      There’s two problems I have with X-mas.
      a) Christian displays in gov’t space
      b) It’s the black hole of holidays.  Christmas completely overshadows the other December holidays– solstice, Hanukkah  Kwanzaa, Bodhi Day; Thanksgiving is already almost sucked in completely and the long tendrils of Christmas goods reach all the way to Halloween and even back to school shopping.  

      So if I say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Xmas”, its because it’s not the only holiday in town–especially now that its taking up 1/4 of the calendar year.   (Saying “Happy Valentine’s Day” & “Happy St Patrick’s Day” usually only happen on that day, whereas people will say greet with a “Merry Xmas” as soon as holiday stores start selling merchandise it seems like…)

      • David Starner

         I think it questionable to say that it overshadows Kwanzaa and Hanukkah, given that Kwanzaa was explicitly created as an alternative to Christmas, and Hanukkah was a minor holiday boosted in importance by its proximity to Christmas.

        • RebeccaSparks

          Kwanzaa wasn’t started as an alternative to Christmas, at least per the offical website:

          “First, Kwanzaa was created to reaffirm and restore our rootedness in African culture. It is, therefore, an expression of recovery and reconstruction of African culture …. It was designed to be an ingathering to strengthen community and reaffirm common identity, purpose and direction as a people and a world community..Finally, it is important to note Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday, not a religious one, thus available to and practiced by Africans of all religious faiths who come together based on the rich, ancient and varied common ground of their Africanness. ”

          http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/origins1.shtml
          It’s also held after Christmas to the start of the new year.

          That’s very interesting about Hanukkah… do you have any sources or references?  I’d like to read more about it.

          • David Starner

            I think you’ll enjoy this read from Stanford University, from a Jewish perspective:

            http://www.stanford.edu/~ranabr/hanukkah.pdf

            • RebeccaSparks

              Thank you!  That was a cute paper–although I wished they had controlled for more variables like SES, what other holidays (Jewish  & non-Jewish)  they celebrated, their attitudes to commercialization & ritual etc.  I think there are other plausible answers to the correlation that they neglected to consider or attempt to disprove.

              Also, isn’t that the Economicist viewpoint instead of necessarily the Jewish viewpoint?

              At any rate, Thanks for the interesting read.
              PS I’m totally crashing the Hannukkah party with the Provost next week for free, delicious ladkes.  I wonder if this guy will be there.

              • David Starner

                 That wasn’t me; and no matter how well-intentioned, I object to someone using my name.

                The Wikipedia page shows the evolution of Kwanzaa; it’s undergone some rewriting over the years that the official website naturally doesn’t mention.

                http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday7.htm says “Chanukkah is not a very important religious holiday. The holiday’s religious significance is far less than that of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Passover, and Shavu’ot.”

                • RebeccaSparks

                  That’s too bad.  I really enjoy being quoted academic articles.

                • RebeccaSparks

                  I never gave you a proper response, did I?  I still stand by the idea that Christmas is a black hole of forced homogeneity  but instead of seeing Hanukkah & Kwanzaa as smaller holidays being consumed, they are spots of resistance.  Fair enough?

                  PS.  Fake David Starner – I’m really disappointed.  We could have been buds.  Why not just post the article under your own name?

    • Artor

      I use the name Halloween because nobody but Pagans know what the hell Samhain is. I don’t celebrate St. Patrick or St. Valetine’s days because I am neither Catholic, a beer drinker, or in a relationship. I am Irish, but I revile Patrick as a genocidal fiend, not as a saint.
      I do celebrate Xmas, because I have a family, and it’s a great tradition, and very nice to do in the middle of a cold, dreary winter. However, I interchangeably use Yule or Solstice, depending on whom I’m talking to. “Happy Holidays” refers not just to Xmas, but to the whole extended holiday season, including Samhain, Thanksgiving, Yule, Hannukah, New Years, etc.

      • http://twitter.com/m_ethaniel Mistletoe Ethaniel

        “but I revile Patrick as a genocidal fiend, not as a saint.”
        Somebody read Mists of Avalon.

    • http://www.facebook.com/nell.webbish Nell Webbish

      I’m not aware of efforts to “force” anyone to say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. I am aware of a constantly publicized push to force people not to say “Happy Holidays”.  

      I’m bemused at the idea that anyone is doing anything to Christianity or Christmas. What is happening is that Christian privilege in our culture is being challenged and some percentage of Christians see that as a personal attack.  Point out that inclusions of minorities is not the equivalent of excluding the majority and you get accused of persecution.  It’s all rather irrational frankly.

    • Bad_homonym

      I agree. If you read my post above, I won’t change the name. To me the word is traditional and holds no religious value, nor do the carols that reference jesus directly. I simply enjoy the season and all its traditions, and no religion can take any of the love, joy and goodwill that it brings away from me or mine!

      Merry christmas everyone!

      Cheers!

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      The problem is that Christians have done a yeoman job of normalizing and secularizing their holy days in the West. They continue to do this because they want it to be NORMAL to adopt Christian values, so that we accept as traditional the myths of Jesus and Mr. Spiritu Sancti and Mary, the lady who probably had an affair but claimed immaculate conception so she wouldn’t be in a world of shit with Joseph.

      It’s a form of tribalism. If you ain’t with us you’re ‘gainst us. And normalizing their religious values means that the vast majority will be part of the tribe.

      • ThatsEntertainment

        I think you’re giving the Christians a bit too much credit. These times of year have always been celebrated with varying degrees of pomp and revelry. Unlike Thanksgiving or Halloween or what have you, Christmas, in both it’s pagan and religious forms, usually both simultaneously, has been embraced across virtually all Western cultures for a very long time.

        I guess what I’m saying here is, while it’s easy to be cynical, Christmas is and probably always will be a very special time of year.

        The sort of normalizing you’re talking about happens naturally with almost all religions. It’s not a conspiracy, so much as a natural progression of adopting mores and behaviours of the parent culture and then justifying it after the fact.

  • Willroma8

    This begs the question, why must you call it seasonal or holidays instead of Christmas, in order to include more people? This is ridiculous. As an atheist, I could care less about calling it Christmas and having Nativity scenes in public squares. The irony in penn’s video is histerical, for every Christian that believes they are being attacked because of the securalization of Christmas, there is an atheist that feesl attacked because someone puts up a tree in front of city hall.

    • unclemike

      I’ve read about atheists feeling attacked and even suing when a cross goes up on city hall lawn, or a nativity scene does, but I’ve never heard about one getting upset over a decorated tree.

    • Houndentenor

       there is a good deal of silliness all around on this issue.  The local university had a “Holiday Concert” last night.  I asked someone in it if there were any secular seasonal music or Chanukah songs.  No.  it’s a Christmas Concert and they should just call it that, because that’s what it is.  If it were a more general concert covering the holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s that would be different.

      But if there’s a war against Christmas, it’s pretty obvious who’s losing.  Christmas seems to start earlier every year.  It’s about as successful as the war on drugs.

    • Daniel_JM

      I have a problem with a nativity scene in the public square because it is unconstitutional and is counter to the idea of equality under the law. If you think trying to limit the Christian-only view of America many right-wingers are trying to impose on us is ridiculous than I feel sorry for you. It’s sad to see a fellow atheist be so short-sighted and so naive as to why we might want to continue to have a secular government that doesn’t give special privileges to members of the majority religion.

      • William Assper

        I’m not the person you replied to, but the Supreme Court has ruled that a nativity scene is legal if accompanied by secular decorations and an “overall secular theme”. That means that ONLY a nativity scene is decidedly illegal, but a creche with other secular decorations is legally okay.

        This seems fair to me. America is a Western country, and the Western world is strongly influenced by, if not synonymous with, Western Christian/Catholic culture. Nativity scenes are part of our history and part of the decorations of the “holiday season”, which if not for the popularity of Christmas would not even be recognized or noted in the United States.

        Admittedly I’d prefer if the state abstained from any decor whatsoever, but allowing trees, greenery and menorahs but NOT nativities is not something I agree with.

        Are you also against the statue of the pagan god Mars at the US Capitol building?

        • Willroma8

          I would have no problem with the pagan god Mars at the Capitol. But this brings up a good point. The city of Florence is full of beautiful statues in many of their city public squares depicting religious figures ( from saints to angels and devils). One particular square has a real size replica of Michealangelo’ David. What should be the atheist reaction to Michael’s David being moved from Florence to a public space in Washington? Why must the only correct response be removing it because it is a religious figure instead of admiring it for what it artistically and culturally represents?

          • Collin

            I don’t think you will find many atheists clamoring to remove works of art of religious subjects from the Smithsonian collections, even though they are on government property. I have yet to see any nativity/Christmas displays sponsored by cities that have fulfilled the requirements normally associated with art.  They are, for the most part, shabby and corny advertisments for their shabby and corny religion.   I enjoy the beauty and wonder of the great Bach oratorios no less due to the fact that I don’t believe in the “truths” of the texts.

          • http://www.facebook.com/joe.renaud.165 Joe Renaud

             Your analogy is flawed.  If they decided to display Michelangelo’s David or a nativity by Botticelli or Leonardo or Raphael or one of the other TMNT in my town square, I would line up to see it.  But that is not what Christianists do.  They set up some cheesy display with about as much aesthetic value as a salsa stain of Jesus on a tortilla and expect the rest of us to bow down to it. Get it now?

            • Carmelita Spats

               The aesthetic value of a salsa stain of Jesus on a tortilla…and we all bow down to it…Now THAT was funny! :)

            • James

              IF the Christianist DID display David you can certainly bet they would cover the genitalia.

        • Daniel_JM

          I’m afraid your history argument is deeply flawed. Limiting blasphemy also has a long history in the west, that doesn’t make it constitutional. Limiting women and minorities from having equal rights has a long history, that doesn’t make it legal. Just because Christianity is historically important doesn’t make it constitutional to  let Christians set up displays pushing their religion, but not allow the public space to be used by Muslims, atheists, or Buddhists for their messages about religion, which is the only thing I’ve ever seen atheists argue. We either want any group to be able to use public property to display their views on religion, or to keep public property free of messages about religion altogether, instead the way it is now in most areas where only Christians are allowed to put up religious displays.

          I don’t have a problem with historical displays like the statue of Mars or the carvings in the Supreme Court that shows many scenes of religious and non-religious law-givers (like Moses, Confucius, Hammurabi, and Mohammad) because those aren’t pushing a certain religion at the exclusion of other. Nativity scenes are very different, they are used by members of active religions to push their own religious messages (not just as historical lesson) and are used as evidence by many Christians that America is officially a Christian nation and that non-Christians don’t deserve equal rights.

          • Willroma8

            A statue of Moses can also be used to push a religious message. Michealangelo’s David holds a sling over his left sholder, in reference to a Biblical story, that is used to teach a religious message. In that case, a statue of Mars can also be used in the same way. The point here is that, just because a statue or a display can teach a religious message, it does not mean that this is the exclusive meaning or purpose of its construction. The problem lies with very sensitive atheists who clasp to a religious meaning and claim that this is the predominant message and purpose of its existence. Very ironic if you think about it.

            • http://www.facebook.com/nell.webbish Nell Webbish

              Actually the problem seems to lie in your lack of understanding of the intent of the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment. I suggest you read it and the case law surrounding it, especially Lemon v Kurtzman.

              If you take the time to do that, you’ll find that the Establishment Clause does not make specific words or objects illegal. What it does is defines the requirements that government must abide to dealing with religious speech to avoid being unconstitutional:

              The government’s action must have a secular legislative purpose;

              The government’s action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;

              The government’s action must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion.

              Michelangelo’s David does have Roman Catholic religious significance.  But it also has even more historical and artistic significance.  Because of the historical and artistic significance of the David statue specifically, displaying it in the Town Hall would likely not be a violation of the 1st Amendment.  Unless of course, the mayor decided to put a sign in front of David explaining how this statue proves that there is but one God and Jesus is his son. Now we’re back to being in violation.

              • Blacksheep

                Why does david have “Roman Catholic” significance? (as opposed to Christian significance).

                • nakedanthropologist

                  Because Michaelangelo was Roman Catholic, and the piece was comissioned for a prominent Roman Catholic family.  Yes, the piece does refer to general Christian mythos – but it was specifically created by a Catholic for Catholics (in Italy no less).  Thus it is art first, Catholic art second, and art with general  Christian themes third.  These definitions are more or less specialized when cataloging art and artifacts to establish provenance.  Of course, Catholics are Christians, but the tradition of specific arts and architecture to each denomination is worthy of note to situate any given piece within a temporal and cultural framework.  (P.S. – I worked in a museum, so I’d thought I’d answer. :-)

      • Willroma8

        And by special privilage you mean the placement of a tree that has religious, cultural and economic meaning to many people. By this logic, you would also be against, putting signs up for Valentines day or Halloween. Why must you limit the meaning of these decorations as purely religious. Hell, if i owned a store a block from city hall, i would love for them to put up a huge tree as it is proven that people spend more when they are in the Christmas spirit. Or did you really think that your local mall is making a religious statement? Grow up, i know many here were raped with bibles, but this is just petty.

        The way I see it, city hall is on our side because when they dont have their Christmas tree up, they have nothing in its place.

        • Daniel_JM

          Sheesh, maybe you could actually read my comment before you fly of the handle? (‘raped with the Bible’, ‘petty’, ‘grow up’, really?) I specifically said I didn’t have a problem with trees, but with nativity scenes on government property. Since you can’t even be bothered to read my comment before responding it appears we can’t have a rational conversation.

        • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

          Wait, what? There are atheists trying to stop displays of trees in public squares? I haven’t heard of any cases like that. It always seems to be about nativity scenes.

    • C Peterson

      If you have no problem with a nativity scene sponsored by a government entity, you are one of those rare atheists who don’t care about having a secular government.

      As far as calling it Christmas… nobody cares about that. It’s only a handful of whackjobs who consider not using the word “Christmas” as somehow offensive that we are talking about.

      It is absolutely more inclusive to use “Holidays” rather than “Christmas”. How can it not be? The mistake is in believing that the opposite of “inclusive” is always “exclusive”. Saying “Merry Christmas”, or calling a government tree a “Christmas tree” is unlikely to be seen as exclusive by very many non-Christians. Nor do those using those terms usually intend them in an exclusive sense. There is a difference between not being invited to a party, and not being allowed in the door!

    • Baby_Raptor

      Because some people actually practice those other holidays in that time frame that aren’t Christmas? And you’re wishing them a good whatever they practice?

      Is this even a serious question?

    • http://www.facebook.com/nell.webbish Nell Webbish

      No one is insisting you call anything seasonal or holiday.  

      What is being rejected is the assertion that if I call a get-together a Holiday party instead of a Christmas party I am attacking Christians, waging a war on Christmas and spitting on baby Jesus. 

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      Raises. Raises the question.

      ‘Begging the question’ is a term for a particular logical fallacy. But that’s been seriously corrupted, thanks to American broadcast media. You’d think journalists would be more careful with their use of language.

    • Sindigo

      Are people concerned about tress on public property?

      EDIT: Don’t worry, I can see you’ve responded this below.

  • Lolol

    If they are saying that, then they shouldn’t celebrate Christmas whatsoever, because Christmas is a pagan holiday, Yule is what it is called before it was turned into a Christian holiday. It celebrated the turning of the seasons and when the sun would begin to rise again. History ;)

    • William Assper

      Your history is wrong. There is no evidence that Yule existed before Christmas, in fact one theory is that it was a response to Christmas/Saturnalia.

      The reason Christmas is sometimes called “Yule” (and still is in certain languages) is because of the continued tradition from the northern-European pagans who were eventually converted to Christianity.

      Saturnalia and Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, however, did exist prior to Christmas and are indeed though to be the basis for its placement at December 25.

      • Robert Freid

        And anyway, Paganism is still a religion. Therefore, Christmas has general religious roots in both Christianity and Paganism… 

        • Artor

          Well, Paganism is a catch-all for alot of religions, but your point is taken.

        • Sindigo

          Modern paganism is a religion but I question your use of the word “still” as its resemblance to ancient pagan religions is, at the very least disputed.

        • Sindigo

          Modern paganism is a religion but I question your use of the word “still” as its resemblance to ancient pagan religions is, at the very least disputed.

      • C Peterson

        While Yule may date to the Christian era, there seems little doubt that as a holiday, it preceded the Christianization of the Germanic people who created it. There’s nothing to suggest it was derived from any Christian holiday or celebration.

      • Artor

        Chronologically, perhaps, but the Yule traditions were well-established for centuries before Xtianity moved into the North. Many (if not most) of the traditional trappings of Xmas are derived directly from Yule.

    • ThatsEntertainment

      If we want to keep Christmas, we have to acknowledge it for the glorious cultural mishmash it truly and historically is. Every major holiday is a pagan holiday co-opted by the Roman Catholic church to appease the masses. That doesn’t make them any less holy if you *personally* approach them with a spirit of reverence that makes sense to you and those you worship or otherwise commune with.

      Turning it into a political football is the absolute worst mistake you can make.

      *I* don’t want to lose Christmas. Please show a little generosity and good humor, and I promise to do the same.

  • bernardaB

    When I watched the video above I  had  a banner ad below that advertized a “Christian Training School”.  It was a surprising and funny disconnect.

  • http://www.facebook.com/StrangeCandee Candee Bell

    Really? There is a war on Christmas? Well someone needs to send the word out to the stores then because I don’t think they got the memo.

  • jdm8

    There are a lot of angles to take.

     I find it hilarious that the AFA is saying that retailers are bad for having greeters, signage or ads saying “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” instead of “Merry Christmas” rather than holidays. It’s funny there is an expectation of using Jesus’ title to promote commercialism, coming from one of the larger Christian organizations, at that. Some Fox News pundits have taken up this crusade as well.

    A lot of the practices have muddy origins at best, if not being outright co-opted and dressed-up pagan activities. For one, the Christmas tree is very similar to a pagan decorated evergreen tree described in the old testament. Maybe the difference is the worship, but there are passages elsewhere warning to avoid practices that appear to be pagan.

  • the moother

    It’s quite simple why we are excluded from xmas: we’re going to hell and they are not… who wants to share happy days with the condemned?

    • http://www.facebook.com/nell.webbish Nell Webbish

      The eternally damned give the best presents.

  • Rwlawoffice

    His entire premise is wrong and silly. Regardless of its origins Christmas in this country is a Christian holiday. It is the celebration of the birth of our savior. So by his argument we should ignore that and turn it into a secular holiday to make those that don’t believe this feel better. In the end, the reason for the celebration as a Christian goes away and it is just another secular holiday.

    Which is really his goal because he says he would love Christ out of Christmas. Goes to show his entire discussion us disingenuous.

    If he was truly a supporter of religious freedom he should not stop at simply being opposed to a law which would prohibit the saying of Christmas, he should support the right of Christians to celebrate their holiday without insisting, even under the guise of inclusion that they celebrate it in a secular fashion.

    • cipher

      It’s Sunday morning. Shouldn’t you be in church thanking your Invisible Friend for reserving you a ringside seat for our impending eternal torment?

      • Rwlawoffice

        Was in church this morning and it was great thank you. I wasn’t there for the reason you describe, but did get the share in the love of Christ and got to worship my Lord and savior. Loved it!

        • cipher

          Curious that one of the first things you do on a Sunday morning is check in here to see what a group of atheists have to say.

          • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

            I’d be curious to know if Robert believes his comments on this blog make anyone here more disposed to think favorably of fundamentalist Christianity.

            • Rwlawoffice

              Not at all Anna. Despite what some here may think, I am it delusional.

              • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

                Wait, so you’re aware that your comments come off as the worst possible representation of Christianity, and you still continue to post here? I’m not discouraging you, but if your motive is to save our souls, isn’t it a bit counterproductive?

                • Rwlawoffice

                  My comment was flippant. My point was that I have no delusions of converting anyone here, either to Christianity or to their way of thinking about Christians. It is obvious that most here are too set in their thinking to have a different view. It is also clear that many have been mistreated bybthe church and have had horrible experiences. that grieves me because i have also seen that side of the church but know that it is and can be so much different.

                  By the way, on some of the criticisms of the church and the way people behave I am not in disagreement. Some of my harshest criticism is for fellow Christians. However ,
                  I do think it is important to point out things about Christianity that are blatantly mischaracterizations and to show the hypocrisy in the atheist and liberal agenda when I see it. I know this puts me at odds with most here.

                  If we ever could have a serious and open discussion we might make progress on some understanding. I am curious about your comment, what comments of mine have come off as the worst possible representations of Christianity? I sincerely want to know

                • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

                  I think we’ve had serious and open discussions before, haven’t we? Or at least as much as our different worldviews will allow.

                  When I said your comments come off as the worst possible representation of Christianity, I was thinking of your unbending fundamentalism and your seeming inability to understand our points of view. If I were an undecided person trying to decide on a religion, your comments would not sway me in favor of Christianity. They would turn me right off.

                  On the plus side, you are always polite and your spelling and grammar are perfectly fine, so I should amend my previous comment. The representation could be a lot worse, LOL.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Thank you Anna. Yes we have had some nice discussions. I understand the viewpoints of most people here but for the most part I disagree with them. As for being a fundamentalist, I will tell you that I am a conservative, orthodox Christian in my beliefs who believes in free grace. That means that I am not legalistic. I don’t use my time here to preach unless I view a topic that misinterprets my understanding of Christian theology.

                  All that being said, I appreciate your comments and our discussions. I have learned a lot about the atheist community and learned how so many folks have been hurt and turned away from Christianity and that is sad. As Chritians we can and are called to do better.

                • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

                  Well, I think if you want to understand us, you should know that we’re not atheists because we “have been hurt and turned away from Christianity.” We’re atheists because we don’t think gods are real. Some people were hurt, sure, but many of us had positive experiences growing up in religious environments, and others (like me) were never Christian at all.

                  I’m an atheist because I see no reason to believe in the existence of the supernatural, and it seems obvious to me that all the different gods and goddesses from all the cultures around the world are creations of the human mind. The actions of Christians are entirely beside the point.

                  As for being a fundamentalist, you can use whatever words you want to describe it, but it all boils down to the same thing. For me, the mindset is frightening, rigid, unbending, harsh, homophobic, misogynistic, etc.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  If you think I am homophobic and misogynistic than you don’t know me at all. That is I assume based upon my stances on abortion and same sex marriage. If you think those stances make me those , than who is the one being rigid , harsh and intolerant? I accept your views without thinking that you are a bad person or having the need to label you.

                  As for those who have become atheists after being mistreated by the church, of course that doesn’t apply to everyone, but there have been many many examples of that on this blog.

                • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

                  Fundamentalism itself is homophobic and misogynistic. It promotes the idea that homosexuality is bad, sinful, and inferior, and that women are not entitled to have the same position as men both in church and in marriage and family life.

                  I did not say that you were a bad person, but based on the comments you have made on this blog, your views very much come across as rigid, harsh, and intolerant.

                  As for those who have become atheists after being mistreated by the church, of course that doesn’t apply to everyone, but there have been many many examples of that on this blog.

                  But you are still misunderstanding. Those people are not atheists because they were hurt. They’re atheists because they do not believe there is evidence that gods are real. Being hurt may have spurred some of them to look at religion with a critical eye, but it is not the reason atheists do not believe in the supernatural.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  My comment about why some have become atheists were the result if them being treated bad in church or by Christians was based upon comments here. I understand your point that ultimately they made the decision that they no longer believed.

                  Your comments about what the Bible says about homosexuality is somewhat off. The Bible says that sexual union should be in a marriage between a man and a woman. As such all sexual behavior outside of that union s declared a sin. That includes adultery, pre marital sex and homosexual sex. It does not teach that homosexuals as people are inherently sinful because of who they are. It’s all about behavior.

                  As for women, I would disagree with some of what you said. It is true that Paul included instructions about women in church services, however, it is not correct to say that the Bible or Christianity teaches that women are inferior in any way. This is a big misconception and unfortunately it has been touted by Christians and atheists as well. If you look at the Bible as a whole and you place it in proper historical context you will discover that the Bible Anne Christianity honors women far more than how they were treated at the time the Bible was written. For example, it was common in the Roman world to throw baby girls in the trash and let them die because they were girls. Christianity teaches that all have value including women. Unfortunately this gender discrimination is continuing today through sex selection abortions. Christians who are pro life are fighting to stop this.

                  I could give you many more examples of how Christianity honors women but space s prohibitive.

                • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

                  I understand your point that ultimately they made the decision that they no longer believed.

                  Well, that’s the crux of it right there. We don’t believe. And it’s not because some big, mean pastor hurt us. It’s because we don’t see any evidence that deities are real. I’m an atheist about the biblical deity for the same reason that we’re both atheists about the Hindu deities. I think those gods and goddesses were made up by human beings. It wouldn’t matter if I’d been raised by mean Hindus or not. Surely you can understand that, Robert, since you don’t believe those deities are real either.

                  Your comments about what the Bible says about homosexuality is somewhat off. … It does not teach that homosexuals as people are inherently sinful because of who they are. It’s all about behavior.

                  I don’t know why you think that’s not homophobic. Your brand of Christianity teaches that heterosexuality is right and homosexuality is wrong, and it tells gay people that their sexual and romantic desires are evil and must be avoided. Gay people must repent not only for sexual activity, but even their thoughts must be policed and sexual urges and fantasies must be repented of as well. That’s disgustingly homophobic.

                  As for women, I would disagree with some of what you said. It is true that Paul included instructions about women in church services, however, it is not correct to say that the Bible or Christianity teaches that women are inferior in any way.

                  Separate but equal? That’s not equality. That’s sexism. If women can’t be leaders in their churches or in their families, then they are not equal to men. They are not allowed to have the same positions as men. Your religion doesn’t “honor” women by treating them that way. It’s misogyny, pure and simple. Men have all the power, and women are supposed to be submissive to them and follow their male leaders.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Not separate but equal , equal. It’s a far cry from different roles in a church service to being a religion that hates women. If you will look at the bible completely you will see a pattern of where women are honored, revered, act as leaders (Pricella and Aquila in the early church as an example). Men are called to love their wives with a sacrificial selfless love. How is that dis honoring women and hating them?

                  As for homosexuality, we will just have to disagree. Believing that all sexual relations outside of marriage makes me an adultryphobe I guess too, or a premaritalsexaphobe as well in your way of thinking.

                • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

                  But it’s not equal. Women are not allowed to be leaders in your church. They are not allowed to be the ones in charge. They are forbidden from holding the same position as men. That is sexism, and it’s just one of many ways your religion is misogynistic.

                  Men are called to love their wives with a sacrificial selfless love. How is that dis honoring women and hating them?

                  Because men and women are not treated equally. You do not believe that both partners should have an equal position. Your brand of religion says that husbands are supposed to lead their wives. They are the leaders, and women are the followers. Women are supposed to be submissive and subservient to men. That’s not honor. That is dishonor. Women should have the same rights as men to lead their families and to hold the same positions in their church. Any religion that says otherwise is sexist.

                  As for homosexuality, we will just have to disagree. Believing that all sexual relations outside of marriage makes me an adultryphobe I guess too, or a premaritalsexaphobe as well in your way of thinking.

                  Well, shaming and guilting people for premarital sex is just as wrong as shaming and guilting people for being gay, although the latter is more harmful because you are denying any possibility for the person ever to experience romantic or sexual love, and not only that, they must never even think about their desires. Telling anyone (straight or gay) that they must feel guilty and repent for sexual fantasies and urges is horrible as well. Your brand of religion is not what I would call sexually healthy even for straight people.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  Anna I am responding here because of the narrowing. You indicate that Christianity is sexist because it teaches different roles for women and men in church services, yet you are wrong that women cannot be leaders. There are women leading churches and other Christian ministries all over the world. As for men being the leader in the household, that us the spiritual leader. It is a responsibility placed on the man, not to the detriment of women. I will agree that this has been abused in the church, but it is not supported by the Bible.

                  As for the Christian thinking on sexuality, the Christian belief if sex within a marriage can be and is often taught without guilt or shame. You are forgetting the doctrine of grace and forgiveness that is essential to Christianity. But if you were truthful, can you really say that our sexually promiscuous society that teaches that anything goes and is ok has been good for people? Beyond the myth that this gets rid of guilt, on all accounts this has been detrimental. Teenage pregnancies are on the rise, abortions are in the millions, women are sung about as bitches and whores, sexually transmitted diseases are rampant,and sultry is becoming the norm which destroys marriages and relationships Frankly, I would take a teaching that promotes sex
                  within a marriage as healthy and fulfilling .

                • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

                  Robert, I know there are female pastors and ministers, but I also know that many Christian churches do not allow them, particularly fundamentalist churches. Are you telling me that the church you attend allows women to be pastors? Unless you are Pentecostal, I find that surprising. Could you tell me the denomination?

                  As for men being the leader in the household, that us the spiritual leader. It is a responsibility placed on the man, not to the detriment of women.

                  And that is patronizing as well as sexist. Women are not precious babies or delicate little flowers. They are just as capable of leading their families as men. They should have every right to have the exact same position as men. They should be allowed to be the “spiritual leader” in their homes. Yet they are not. Fundamentalist women are told that men are leaders, and that they should be submissive and subservient and allow their husbands the final say.

                  As for the Christian thinking on sexuality, the Christian belief if sex within a marriage can be and is often taught without guilt or shame.

                  People are guilted and shamed for feeling “lust,” which is simply natural sexual urges and desires. What does your church tell children who are going through puberty? What does it tell unmarried people? Does it tell them that masturbation is sinful and that they must repent every time they have a sexual fantasy or masturbate?

                  You are forgetting the doctrine of grace and forgiveness that is essential to Christianity.

                  There is nothing to be forgiven for. People should not feel bad, guilty, or ashamed of their sexual desires. Sexuality is a normal part of human life. There is no reason for unmarried people or gay people to be forbidden from exploring their sexuality, and there is nothing wrong with sex between consenting adults.

                   But if you were truthful, can you really say that our sexually promiscuous society that teaches that anything goes and is ok has been good for people? Beyond the myth that this gets rid of guilt, on all accounts this has been detrimental. Teenage pregnancies are on the rise, abortions are in the millions, women are sung about as bitches and whores, sexually transmitted diseases are rampant,and sultry is becoming the norm which destroys marriages and relationships Frankly, I would take a teaching that promotes sex within a marriage as healthy and fulfilling .

                  And I would take our society, with all its problems, over sexual repression and shame. It is the sexual repression of Christianity that leads to many of these social problems you mention, by the way. Teenage pregnancies happen because fundamentalists like yourself oppose comprehensive sex education. More unwanted pregnancies occur because people are uneducated and ashamed to talk honestly with partners, parents, doctors, etc. because they have been taught that exploring their sexuality is something shameful and wrong. And social conservatism does not prevent social problems by making people’s sexuality go away. It simply drives all the problems underground, making people feel even more guilt-ridden when they inevitably commit a sexual “sin,” since the standards of “purity” are so high that no one can possibly meet them.

                • Rwlawoffice

                  I attend a non demoninational church. Grew up in Lutheran church and was Catholic for a while. Now attend seminary in a non denominational school.

                  The idea of a spiritual leader is not to dismiss the role of women in the Christian household. It is a call to men to be strong Chritians and lead by example and instruction. It doesn’t mean he lords over his family.

                  As for sexuality, we will have to disagree. The problems with promiscuity are real and pervasive. Saying that the Christian view of sex within marriage automatically leads to repression and guilt is a myth. Of course it can if this is misused, but the belief does not automatically lead to that result. Just the opposite actually.

                  As for desires, sexual attraction comes from God’s design for man, that in and of itself is not wrong. Acting on those desires in appropriately can be.

                • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

                  Hooray, new comment system means that replies are no longer squashed!

                  I’m repeating this here, in case you didn’t see it before:

                  I attend a non demoninational church. Grew up in Lutheran church and was Catholic for a while. Now attend seminary in a non denominational school.

                  Thanks, but I’m still curious about the second part of my question. Does the church you attend allow women to be pastors? It would be unusual for a fundamentalist church if they did.

                  The idea of a spiritual leader is not to dismiss the role of women in the Christian household. It is a call to men to be strong Chritians and lead by example and instruction.

                  That’s the problem, and that’s why I called your religion misogynistic. Women don’t need to be led. I’m not a child. I don’t need to look to a man for example and instruction. I am capable of leading myself, and leading my children. Women should not settle for a segregated, submissive role in their families or in their churches. Religions that tell them they must do so are sexist.

                  As for sexuality, we will have to disagree. The problems with promiscuity are real and pervasive.

                  People’s sexuality is their own business, not yours, and not your religion’s. As long as they are not spreading disease or bringing unwanted children into the world, there is no problem. Sex is a normal, natural part of life. Your definition of “promiscuity” includes everyone who doesn’t conduct their romantic life within your narrow parameters.

                  Saying that the Christian view of sex within marriage automatically leads to repression and guilt is a myth.

                  But of course it does. You didn’t answer my questions about teenagers and unmarried people. Are they allowed to indulge their sexual fantasies? Are they allowed to masturbate? If they are told that their sexual urges are “sinful” and require repentance, then they are being guilted and shamed. It is not healthy, normal, or natural for people to repress every sexual thought and desire that they have.

                  As for desires, sexual attraction comes from God’s design for man, that in and of itself is not wrong. Acting on those desires in appropriately can be.

                  Which of course means everything except sex with a heterosexual spouse. But not everyone is heterosexual, not everyone can get married, not everyone wants to get married, not everyone is old enough to get married. Your religion tells its followers that only a small group of people are allowed to engage with their sexuality. Single? Not allowed. Divorced? Not allowed. Widowed? Not allowed. That’s ridiculous, not to mention harmful. There is nothing wrong with consenting adults having sexual and romantic relationships.

        • The Other Weirdo

           “love of Christ” and “worship my Lord and savior” are two phrases that don’t seem to go one with another in the same sentence. It sounds like the lord of manor surveying his lands from the battlements of his castle, while serfs below cheer below, puffing up his self-importance and hoping thereby to avoid his displeasure.

          • Piet Puk

             I think it is called Stockholm Syndrome.

        • matt

           I never understood why a guy/gal who was Lord would ever need to be worshiped in the first place.

    • Carmelita Spats

       ….and Halloween is for druids. “Regardless of its origins Halloween in this country is a druid holiday. It is the one time of the year where the veil between the living and the dead becomes thin, thereby allowing communication with the spirit world. So by his argument we should ignore that and turn it into a secular holiday to make those that don’t believe in it obese with candy, diabetic, and cavity-ridden. In the end, the reason for the celebration as a druid goes away and it is just another secular holiday.”

      No one prevents Christians from celebrating Christmas any damn way they please…You can put up as many nativity scenes as you want all over your yard, you can blind the neighbors with Christmas lights to the point that you give them seizures and frighten small rodents, you can put up a giant cross in your front yard with a Christmas Jesus tacked on to it (yes, in Mexico this happens so see attached picture), you can write as many editorials as you want proving that a joyous Jewish minx was impregnated by a Ghost, you can have a live nativity scene with underage boys stripped half naked and clinging to crosses in the cold December wind (a church in my Texas town did this. I was the atheist Grinch who called CPS)…You can celebrate Christmas any damn way you please. What the government MAY NOT do is privilege Christianity over other religions or Protestantism over Catholicism…I’m willing to bet that Christians would be miffed if someone put up a Christmas Jesus, on public property,  such as the one I found in Mexico. Keeping the Christ in Christmas, south of the border style….even the cross is green!

    • Tyrrlin Flamestrike

      It is the celebration of the birth of our savior.
      Well, gee, thanks for assuming that we all believe as you do.  Last time I checked, I celebrate (but most assuredly do NOT worship!) the winter Solstice, which is a scientifically measurable and proven annual event.

      Christ can stay in Christmas all you want, just keep it in your churches and your homes and stop painting the entire town with your one viewpoint, please.  (At least the Solstice is proven fact.)  I don’t go around insisting that people absolutely, positively HAVE to celebrate the Solstice with me, to the point of verbally tantruming when the government refuses to allow Solstice-only decorations in the public square.

      Take a page from your own book and celebrate in private.  Matthew 6:5-6

      • Rwlawoffice

        Understand the book before you suggest I follow it. Nothing in the Bible or in Matthew 6:5 says that all worship or expression of Christianity take place in church. My right to freedom of religion means I can live my faith outside of church, it is not a freedom if worship.

        If you want to spread your belief of celebrating the Solstice, be my guest.

      • Superdove

        “Christmas” actually is the celebration of the birth of our savior. One can choose not to partake, but that’s still what it is. It’s been that way, on that date, for at least 1500 years. celebrating solstice? That’s cool, but it’s not Christmas. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of our savior.

    • C Peterson

      I’d wager that more people in the U.S. celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday than as a religious one.

      Nobody is being legally constrained to say “Happy Holidays”. That is a voluntary choice, being made by far more Christians than non-Christians. Nobody is asking that the word “Christmas” be removed from anything.

      Jillette would take the Christ out of Christmas for the same reason you would leave it in. It’s a matter of personal viewpoint, and there’s nothing disingenuous about either viewpoint. His preference for seeing Christmas as a purely secular holiday does not change the point that he was making, which was simply that when people choose to say “Happy Holidays” they are being more inclusive in their greeting, and only a real Grinch could find fault in that.

    • The Captain

      “Regardless of its origins Christmas in this country is a Christian holiday” So do you then deny that there are non-christians in this country, or that non-christians celebrate a form of holiday at the same time? Seriously, do you deny that that happens? And if not, then why do you think you must be an asshole to them?????

      • Rwlawoffice

        I fully understand that non Christians celebrate Christmas. When they do they are celebrating a Christian holiday.

        • Piet Puk

          Not if they are not celebrating the birth of your mythical savior.

          • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

            Robert apparently seems to think this is some sort of “gotcha” for atheists, since he repeats it on every single holiday thread.

        • http://www.facebook.com/nell.webbish Nell Webbish

          That makes as much sense of accusing Christians of worshiping Mithras because they decided to pretend Jesus was born in December.

          • Blacksheep

            It’s called Christmas, so it actually does make sense. 

        • The Captain

          Oh so for you jews are celebrating christmas then? So are you just being an asshole to jews, muslims, ect or do you not know those people do not celebrate christmas but have other holidays around the same time?

    • Brian Scott

      “Regardless of its origins Christmas in this country is a Christian holiday.”

      It is not. Otherwise, only Christians would celebrate it.

      Which makes your accusation that his premise is wrong and silly, well, wrong and silly.

      • Rwlawoffice

        The fact that non Christians have decided to join in on the celebration of the day set aside by Christians to celebrate the birth of Christ does not turn a Christian holiday into a secular one. It just means atheists are tagging along on a Christian holiday

        • Piet Puk

          No, it means means atheist are also tagging along, like you christians decided to tag along.

        • http://www.facebook.com/nell.webbish Nell Webbish

          Oh pish.  Atheists had nothing to do with it. It was a pagan holiday before Christ came along and it has always had non-Christian elements to it.  In the US, there has been a clear secular Christmas celebrated by non-Christians and less religious Christians since the 1940s definitely.  And that’s being conservative   

          Not to mention that this is not even the Christian Christmas yet. It doesn’t start until Dec. 24th when the Advent ends.  So quibbling over reindeer and elves and Santa starting on Nov 23rd is ridiculous. 

        • Count_Von_Krolock

           In your dreams. In reality, both Christians and atheists are just tagging along with the pagans since Christians were never creative enough to come up with their own holidays.

          • Blacksheep

            What are some creative Atheist holidays? (Not satires, that’s easy – real holidays. Creative ones.)

            • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

              There aren’t any because atheism isn’t a religion. Why would we need to invent holidays?

        • Gus Snarp

          The fact that Christians have decided to join in on the celebration of the day set aside by Romans to celebrate Saturn does not turn a Roman holiday into a Christian one. It just means Christians are tagging along on a Roman holiday. Or rather, have entirely appropriated it in their effort to win over converts to their atheist cult from the good Roman people by making their sacred celebration all about the birth of Jesus, who, if he existed at all, was certainly not born anywhere near that day.

        • Gus Snarp

          You should really be protesting the inclusion of Christmas as a national holiday, then. This forces everyone to recognize the holiday in some way and essentially makes it a secular holiday by law, as the alternative would be blatantly unconstitutional.

        • Brian Scott

          “The fact that non Christians have decided to join in on the celebration of the day set aside by Christians to celebrate the birth of Christ does not turn a Christian holiday into a secular one.”
          Yes it does. Your constraint of its religious meaning is merely that: a self-imposed constraint. It is celebrated in secular fashion by the religious, irreligious and the heathen. Your particular map for your own private meaning of the holiday is merely a part of map accurately describing the territory.

    • http://www.facebook.com/nell.webbish Nell Webbish

      Christmas has not been a predominately religious holiday in decades, if not a century.

      There is no proposed law prohibiting the saying of Christmas.  

      No one is attempting to prevent anyone, Christian or otherwise,  from celebrating Dec. 25th in whatever they see fit.

      • Blacksheep

        Over 75% of Americans celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. It’s still very much a predominately religios holiday.

    • RobertoTheChi

      A celebration of the birth of our savior? Maybe your savior but sure as shit not mine.

      • Rwlawoffice

        I was speaking of Christians celebrating our savior no doubt he is not yours.

        • Gus Snarp

          And yet the point sails harmlessly off over your head…

    • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

      He should support the right of Christians to celebrate their holiday without insisting, even under the guise of inclusion that they celebrate it in a secular fashion.

      Insisting? Who is insisting that Christans celebrate Christmas in a secular fashion? I haven’t heard of any efforts to stop them from holding church services, putting on pageants, singing religious carols, or displaying nativity scenes on private property. If you’re a Christian and want to make your holiday all about Jesus, fine by me

    • Gus Snarp

      No, that’s what Christmas is to you, not to everyone in the country. To me, it’s a chance to gather with friends and family, enjoy a good meal, and watch the kids open presents.

      You can celebrate Christmas with Jesus in your house, but not on the courthouse lawn. And you can even celebrate it that way at your place of business, but you might want to keep in mind that you’d be intentionally excluding atheists, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, B’Hai, and anyone else you can think of. And you really might want to keep in mind that there are very good reasons for Jewish people, in particular, to be really upset about having Jesus shoved in their face for rather extended period of time that the holiday season has become.

      Whether Christ is in YOUR Christmas is entirely your look out, and none of mine or Penn’s.

    • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

      (Moving this here so the box won’t keep getting so narrow.)

      I attend a non demoninational church. Grew up in Lutheran church and was Catholic for a while. Now attend seminary in a non denominational school.

      Thanks, but I’m still curious about the second part of my question. Does the church you attend allow women to be pastors? It would be unusual for a fundamentalist church if they did.

      The idea of a spiritual leader is not to dismiss the role of women in the Christian household. It is a call to men to be strong Chritians and lead by example and instruction.

      That’s the problem, and that’s why I called your religion misogynistic. Women don’t need to be led. I’m not a child. I don’t need to look to a man for example and instruction. I am capable of leading myself, and leading my children. Women should not settle for a segregated, submissive role in their families or in their churches. Religions that tell them they must do so are sexist.

      As for sexuality, we will have to disagree. The problems with promiscuity are real and pervasive.

      People’s sexuality is their own business, not yours, and not your religion’s. As long as people are not contracting diseases or bringing unwanted children into the world, I can’t see anything harmful. Your definition of “promiscuity” includes everyone who doesn’t conduct their romantic life within your narrow parameters. 

      Saying that the Christian view of sex within marriage automatically leads to repression and guilt is a myth.

      But of course it does. You didn’t answer my questions about teenagers and unmarried people. Are they allowed to indulge their sexual fantasies? Are they allowed to masturbate? If they are told that their sexual urges are “sinful” and require repentance, then they are being guilted and shamed. It is not healthy, normal, or natural for people to repress every sexual thought and desire that they have. 

      As for desires, sexual attraction comes from God’s design for man, that in and of itself is not wrong. Acting on those desires in appropriately can be.

      Which of course means everything except sex with a heterosexual spouse. But not everyone is heterosexual, not everyone can get married, not everyone wants to get married, not everyone is old enough to get married. Your religion tells its followers that only a small group of people are allowed to engage with their sexuality. Single? Not allowed. Divorced? Not allowed. Widowed? Not allowed. That’s ridiculous, not to mention harmful. There is nothing wrong with consenting adults having sexual and romantic relationships.

  • judith sanders

    I grew up in the solidly Christian ’50s, and I recall lots of people saying “happy holidays.”  There was even a song with that as the refrain.  Somewhere in the attic are many decades of cards with a lot of greetings that are *not* “Merry Christmas.”

    Especially in urban areas, many merchants have decided that it would be best to avoid the possibility of offending any customers and go with a less overtly religious greeting.  This, too, has been going on for decades.  The Christian Right just discovered it because they needed something to feel marytr-ish about.

    • C Peterson

      Nice point about the song. “Happy Holidays” was written by Irving Berlin in 1942. Not exactly a new trend! Also discovered in a bit of interesting reading: “Season’s Greetings” extends back to Victorian England, which is when Christmas started becoming a major cultural holiday.

    • ThatsEntertainment

      I think it was a marketing decision more than anything else, and early in the season the ‘seasons greetings’ makes sense. Sell more cards to a broader audience. No one I know has ever decried the saying of Happy Holidays or Seasons Greetings. As you illustrate, we’ve been saying that for a long time and it was never a big deal. What they decry, perhaps, is the portrayal of ‘Merry Christmas’ as some sort of act of intellectual or spiritual violence upon others, and that is exactly how it is being portrayed by screeds like the one from Mr. Teller, whom I otherwise admire a great deal.

  • Aspieguy

    I read that most Americans didn’t really celebrate Christmas until the 1830s. The Pilgrims worked on Christmas Day because they believed it sinful to celebrate it. Christmas was a time of drunkenness, feasting, and going house to house demanding food and alcohol. Protestant America frowned on such activities.
    However, a campaign started to make Christmas “family friendly”. A Christmas Carol and The Night Before Christmas made Christmas more acceptable. The Santa story helped as well. Let’s not forget the Nutcracker Suite.

    • The Other Weirdo

      Not that’s a tradition I could get behind: going door to door and demanding food and alcohol, though I am not sure how my neighbours would react to that. :)

      • http://twitter.com/m_ethaniel Mistletoe Ethaniel

        I brew a mean hard cider.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nell.webbish Nell Webbish

    What’s really amusing is that the Christian Christmas season hasn’t even begun yet and won’t until Dec. 24th.   The bulk of all the events and activities that are supposedly being sullied or stolen by non-Christians have nothing to do with the liturgical calendar or the  religious practices involved in the traditionally celebrated twelve days of Christmas that follow the advent.

  • smrnda

    Here’s the problem. My family is Jewish and I’m an atheist. Even though it was never my holiday, if I failed to send out X-mas cards and give X-mas gifts or take part in X-mas themed activities I’d have been perceived as a grinch or a scrooge. When I decide to be a good sport and accept I’m a minority and I do these things out of a sense of being a ‘good sport’ , I get attacked for daring to appropriate a Christian holiday.  You can’t win with these people.

  • blub blubber

    As an Atheist, I am perfectly happy to wish the guys from the Muslim chicken place next door a “Merry Christmas” and am glad when they wish me a “Merry Christmas” back. (They know I’m an Atheist but maybe are of the liberal persuasion or I tip enough – don’t know.) I don’t think Christmas has much to do with Christianity these days, anyway. I have chosen to ignore both the war on the war and the war on Christmas itself.  I would also like to get a “Happy Holidays”, I don’t care.  I am looking forward to some work-free days, too much to eat and drink as well as  spoiling the kids with gifts. I don’t care whether anyone likes me to like Christmas or not, least of all some Fauxnews personality. Also, I still use “Thursday” although it’s etymologically related to the Norse god Thor.

    • Gus Snarp

      I don’t much mind Christmas myself, and you and your Muslim chicken guy might not either (well, we don’t really know about the chicken guy, do we, maybe he’s just willing to swallow hard and keep feeding his children). But your analogy to Thursday fails. You see, there are very few people who actually believe in and worship Thor (if any, I expect there are a handful who claim to, and even fewer to zero who actually do). If there was a Norse majority who still exhibited antisemitism, along with anti-atheism (do we have a word for this?), anti-Christianism, and anti-everything that isn’t mentioned positively in the Eddas, and if the minority members of other cultures and religions, including nones, weren’t reminded of their otherness every day, and more so on Thursdays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, then you might have a point.

      People have every right to say Merry Christmas, and they can say it to me all they want. But if I were Jewish, and I saw it as just another example of why I can never really fit in in this country, and a reminder of the systematic exclusion of my parents’ generation, I would feel a bit differently. And I can see why some atheists would as well.

      So while people have the right, if they’re decent people they might want to consider being a bit more inclusive, and if they’re running a business serving the general public, then it’s just good business to be more inclusive.

      Me, I say Merry Christmas to people I know celebrate it. I don’t say squat about the holidays to anyone else. I do send cards, when I remember, but I make them all entirely secular. I don’t get cards that say Christmas, as a general rule.

      Maybe someday Christmas will lose its religious meaning to the extent that Thursday has. I certainly hope that day comes. But it’s a long way off now.

  • Blacksheep

    Christs message was not to leave anyone out – his love is available to all. Christmas is there for everyone.

  • LauraAkers

    For me, it’s as simple as this:

    If you say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or Joyous Noel or Happy Hanukkah or Merry Festivus, you are theoretically sending them with a good thought.

    If you, as the receiver, take offense, regardless of which holiday greeting you receive, YOU’RE a jackass because you care more about the wording than the positive feeling which inspired it. So you don’t deserve any consideration.

    And, if you’re a Christian, you’re a double jackass because your own savior was pretty clear on what was most important to Him: love your neighbor. Which pretty much precludes getting pissed at him for using the wrong words when he’s just trying to be all neighborly his own self.

  • http://www.bartontees.com/ Barton Tees

    The war on Christmas isn’t real kids, it’s just your mom and dad

  • http://www.flatheadmama.blogspot.com/ Rebecca

    Hi…I’m a Christian and I just wanted to apologize for the times my fellow Christians and I turn everything, even little things, into a big “war.”  I’m sorry we didn’t focus on the great story of Christmas and instead got so negative and mean.  I’m sorry we sometimes throw hissy fits.  I don’t think Jesus would do this.  I hope and pray we’ll learn to act differently.

    • nakedanthropologist

      Hey, thanks – and no worries!

  • ThatsEntertainment

    The snide side of me says, that as our clear intellectual superiors, why can’t Atheists just play along a little bit and let the rest of us enjoy our illusions? That would seem to me to be the higher road, rather than crying out, “Help, I’m being oppressed” and insinuating that “Merry Christmas” is a rude and oppressive thing for one man to say to another.

    And now I can’t help but roll my eyes as I see a banner ad here for ‘The Young Atheist’s Survival Guide’. Why must everyone be so uncertain of everyone else’s ability to think and make choices for themselves?

    Personally, as a non-religious theist (whatever the hell text book defenition that entail), I really don’t get what there is not to like about Christmas. I think, from the religious angle, it’s a very cool and powerful story in which the ‘King of Kings’ is born to destitute parents in a manger in a stable. He’s not appointed to it by some sour-faced political committee and he doesn’t climb his way to it over a pile of the skulls of his enemies. He’s not ‘pronounced’ King of Kings by a group of monks because he chose the right toy and he doesn’t attain the role by virtue of lineage or birth.

    He’s just ‘IT’ because God said so, and it’s up to him (Christ) to either live up to that calling or fail miserably and die in obscurity.

    Sorry, but I think that’s a cool story!

    You don’t have to be he was or is really the King of Kings, any more than we have to believe in ghosts on Halloween to see it’s a great story and potentially inspiring to anyone. Heck with ‘potentially’, it HAS been a hugely inspiring story to millions. There is no seasonal music out there like Christmas music, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a benigh but spirited “Deck the Halls” or a deeply reverent “Silent Night”. I defy any other Holiday’s music to even come close.

    But I digress. Even from a secular point of view, we have Santa, gifts, trees, lights and glittering baublery that clearly (with a bit of research) pre-dates anything Christian, and we also have the real, physical Solistice thing happening that’s as proven and scientific and any skeptic could hope for, all on December 25.

    Let some decry the commercialization and let the others decry the ‘religious indoctrination’ or whatever it is that they fear. As far as I’m concerned they can both jump in a lake. Every time we open our mouths we are separating ourselves from others. It’s the human condition, the Tower of Babel if you like. All we can really do is try to relax a bit and keep our sense of humor, and maybe strive harder to look for the good in each other, more than for things to be upset about.

    And there will always be plenty to be upset about. It never ends.

    Me, I’m reaching for the egg nog and cranking some Bing. In this week before Christmas, I can’t seem to help but look at myself in a different light, gauging constantly to see if I am living up to a traditional ideal I can only best refer to as ‘The Christmas Spirit’. I know I’m not the only one who feels it and I know you don’t have to be religious to feel it. Is it the story of the birth of Christ? Childhood memories equating to nothing more than greed and expectation? The alignment of the planet with it parent star? I really don’t know, but I honestly revere it and cherish it for what it is, and what it is I have always called ‘Christmas’.

    May the darkness grow lesser and the light grow brighter in each of us from this day forth. Merry Christmas!

  • ThatsEntertainment

    The easiest and least divisive path is perhaps to say both.

    “Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!” doesn’t sound strange at all and shows both a fondness for the tradition as well as a wish to include everyone.


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