FOX News Host to Atheist: You Offended Me With Your Billboard So I’m Going to Laugh About the Murder of Your Group’s Founder

David Silverman went on FOX Business Channel with host Stuart Varney earlier today to explain why saying “Merry Christmas” to an atheist can be offensive.

Obviously that’s a hard line to walk — most people say it out of goodness, so why would that ever be a bad thing? — but Silverman explained that when a stranger says it, it’s offensive only in the sense that it presumes Christianity. And he’s working to change that.

I’m not sure I buy that explanation: I don’t think most people are thinking about religion at all when they say the phrase. It’s just something they say reflexively this time of year. But Dave’s right that there are many holidays being celebrated in December and you don’t have to celebrate “Christmas” itself to enjoy the season.

Even though the focus of the clip is on whether saying “Merry Christmas” is controversial, there was one moment that had nothing to do with that topic that made my jaw drop. It begins at the 5:14 mark:

Varney: … Madalyn Murray O’Hair…

Silverman: Madalyn Murray O’Hair founded American Atheists in 1963.

Varney: She was murdered, wasn’t she?

Silverman: Yes.

Varney: For her money!

Silverman: Yes.

Varney: What do you care. She’s dead, right?

Cut to Dave’s reaction:

Back to the conversation:

Varney: What do you care. She’s dead, right?

Silverman: Of course I care. How in the world can you say that? How in the world can you say that?! What a bigoted thing to say! That I don’t care about people dying because I’m an atheist?

Varney (talking over Silverman): Well, is it true–? Is it true–? Hold on a second. Is it– God forbid, I should offend you. No, Heaven forbid I should offend you. [Laughing]

Silverman: You should not offend anybody! You should try to not offend people. But that doesn’t mean–

Varney: [Laughing] See, I’ve got to! I’ve got to!

Silverman: You’re not letting me speak, and it does get to me…

Varney: [Laughing] But you offended me with your billboard!

What the fuck sort of logic is that?!

You know how you put up a sign challenging my beliefs? Well, someone you deeply cared about was murdered! So I guess we’re even now!

How Dave managed to sit there for the last question and not jump out of his seat and not pull a metaphorical-Matt-Barber on Varney is a testament to his professionalism.

Varney doesn’t get it. Atheists aren’t fighting to rid the world of Christmas. We’re only opposed to government promotion of Christianity. We’d like to point out that there are non-Christians who celebrate this time of year for a variety of reasons and they shouldn’t be ignored just because they don’t buy into the Christ myth.

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.

  • Andrew Hall

    There should be a category of logical fallacy named after FOX News.

  • Lurker111

    At the risk of taking a phrase out of context, I disagree with the line,

    “You should not offend anybody! You should try to not offend people.”

    because sometimes, to get a point across, you do need to offend.  I will agree that being offensive just for the sake of being offensive is offensive.

  • ErickaMJohnson

    They set Silverman up and he took the bait. They wanted him to say that you shouldn’t try to offend people because they know that that’s what American Atheists do all the time.

  • Rwlawoffice

    Merely saying Merry Christmas is offensive but calling someone’s beliefs a myth is not.  Silverman’s double standard rides again!

  • Zoe

    Why do people think they have a right not to be offended?

  • Siamang

    Incorrect response, Silverman.  The correct response is “I’m not offended, I’m contemptuous.”

    “Dear people out there in the world,

    If you and I are discussing something, and you say something that
    sounds racist/sexist/homophobic/classist/ableist (or otherwise
    marginalising towards certain groups of people), and I say to you “Wow,
    that’s a pretty bigoted word” please don’t think that you have offended me and that I just need to grow a thicker skin and not get offended so easily, and why do people look for stuff to go around getting offended about etc etc. (Oh no, the PC brigade is running wild!)

    I’m not offended by those words. I’m contemptuous of those words, and I’m letting you know that using them just made me think less of you – less admiration, less trust, less enjoyment in your company. “

  • The Godless Monster

     I tell people Merry Christmas all the time. Should I perhaps be “shunned” as a bad atheist?
    Yes, you’re right, this billboard thing does smell a tad bit like hypocrisy…

  • Sven2547

    I’ve been non-religious for 10 years now.  I still don’t understand why someone would get offended by a friendly “merry Christmas”.  Seriously, grow up.
    Ditto for the Bill O’Reillys of the world who get offended by “happy holidays”.  It’s silly.

  • G. M. Gordy

    I like the part where Varney is surprised that Silverman could be offended when he says to David,  “You’re a big guy… you’re 6 foot tall… 200 lbs.” As if height and weight have any relevance to whether someone can be offended.

  • C Peterson

    I’ve never heard anybody say that “Merry Christmas” is offensive. It’s a handful of batshit crazy Christian grinches who claim that “Happy Holidays” is somehow offensive.

  • Baby_Raptor

    That was Fucking sick. I mean, we didn’t really need anymore proof that Faux is full of bigoted, low IQ assholes, but…Jesus. You’d think they’d be capable of SOME decency…

  • Bellj

    Me too. If someone says Merry Christmas to me I say it back to them. Is this not allowed because I am an atheist? What other words or phrases are forbidden for me to speak  that are part of the general culture? Sheesh! 

  • Kevin

    All through school I was bullied, and the most useful (though difficult to follow at the time) advice I received in dealing with the bullies was to just ignore them. I think it’s about time we stopped giving Fox News the opportunity to take such swipes at us. Sure, they’ll keep talking, but we don’t need to acknowledge it. Let’s save the effort for venues where constructive conversation is permitted.

  • workmx

    Wow! My respect for David Silverman is at a new all-time high. What a calm and measured performance. And that great wrap-out and coming out message. Well done, David.

  • John_sarge

    I’m with Richard Dawkins and Ricky Gervais – no problem using Merry Christmas. The Jehovah’s Witnesses stopped me saying it as a child. Will be damned if anyone will now.

    Varney had Silverman set up from the beginning – but then this is FOX News. I thought Varney was going to try and say the billboard suggesting Jesus’ death was nothing to care about, so why care about O’Hairs’? Instead of that just seemed to be stopping him talking and trying to get David to lose his cool. It almost seemed like Varney felt Silverman was going down rattled, why deliver another punch?

  • Scott Lee

    As much as I detest Fox News, you have to admit that it’s not hard to get an atheist to piss their pants these days over just about anything.  I have no problem with atheism at all.  But serious, folks, stop being assholes and you will see an immediate similar response towards you.

  • Vini Marques

    Everyone knows FOX News is nothing but a big bully and Silverman ain’t stupid. I believe he knowingly and willfully subjects to this bullying in particular because he wants the prime air time for AA that he wouldn’t have otherwise. Whether this is worth it or not, however, is still to be determined, in my opinion. When Silverman reacts to their god-awful bait, 99% of those viewers will just see him as another angry atheist type.

  • G. M. Gordy

    I agree. I’m reminded of The Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror VI where the monsters are attacking Springfield. 

    To stop those monsters, one-two-three,
    Here’s a fresh new way that’s trouble-free.
    It’s got Paul Anka’s guarantee…
    Guarantee void in Tennessee.
    Just don’t look. Just don’t look.
    Just don’t look. Just don’t look. 

    Same thing applies with Fox News, Sarah Palin, etc. If you want them to go away, then stop acknowledging them. Stop paying attention. In this case, Silverman is just hurting the organization and atheism by going on shows like these that do nothing but solidify the beliefs of their target audience. His intentions are valid, but I think they’re backfiring. Hell, going on MSNBC to discuss it with someone more open to discussion would be more beneficial than going into the enemy’s backyard. Going on O’Reilly doesn’t do anything for the cause. Sure, it makes O’Reilly look like an idiot to our minority, but it also emboldens his audience.

  • Carmelita Spats

     The last time I checked, the Dewey Decimal System classifies books about a magic Dead-Guy-On-A-Stick in the 200 Dewey range which is RELIGION AND MYTHOLOGY. Depending on the size of a given collection’s 200 Dewey range, Jesus and Zeus could actually share shelf space and even rub spines, elbows and possibly armpits…but that would be the god’s gay library sex, yes? Mr. Silverman should not say, “Your beliefs are myth” but rather, “Your beliefs share shelf space with mythologies.” If the Dewey Decimal System offends you, take it up with the American Library Association or boycott libraries. I LOVE teaching the Dewey system to my students because it is the ONLY time I ever say, “The  200 range is where you find books about religion AND mythology.” I’ve had kids ask, “Why is the book about Jesus NOT in the 920′s (biographies)?” I explain that the 200 range is for religion and mythology. Merry Christmas is NOT offensive to me but I prefer, “Merry Christ’s Mass”, the celebration of eating Christ’s transubstantiated (?) flesh and drinking his transubstantiated blood which is always creepy:

  • phantomreader42

    EVERYONE who works for Faux Noise Channel is a sociopath and a pathological liar.  If they had a shred of honesty or morality they’d never be able to do that job without killing themselves.  

  • RobMcCune

    Too vague, you can’t have a logical fallacy that encompasses all logical fallacies.

  • Silo Mowbray

    We’ve tried “playing nice” for decades. The response was “Who the fuck are you? Fuck off godless scum.”

    So now we’re using YOUR tactics. From this point forward, we are going to be all up in your grill.

  • RobMcCune

    Right, because making fun of someone’s murder for the purpose of petty retribution is an appropriate response to a billboard christians dislike. Way to take the high road guys.

  • Coyotenose

     Bill O’Reilly is the one who invented the modern “War on Christmas”. Talk to him. Silverman has to move the window of public opinion specifically because of O’Reilly.

  • RobMcCune

    I kind of agree. If Silverman would pick his battles rather than showing up every time fox needs an atheist punching bag then he would at least avoid having to defend stupid positions. If it can’t be defended in half a categorical statement there is no way of communicating it to those people

  • John Las Vegas

    The test to determine whether a religious belief warrants continued protection is not measured by the level of offense taken by its adherents for an opposing view. It is decided when history, archeology, science and discovery place the idea in the realm of the ridiculous. It is time to raise the bar.  

  • Coyotenose

     Great victim-blaming you have going on there. Gosh, if only the mean atheists weren’t defending their rights, people wouldn’t be FORCED to attack them!

    Oh, and:

    Seriously Pagans, stop being pretentious, condescending assholes who think you’re above it all.

  • Coyotenose

     Ignoring bullies emboldens them. Ignoring abuses by religionists emboldens them. These people wilt when exposed to light. They WANT to pass unnoticed and their behavior be considered the norm.

    So, NO.

  • Tainda

    Another one getting the facts skewed.  

    I tell people Merry Christmas all the time.  You know what I have on my desk at work?  *gasp* Frosty the Freaking Snowman and a Christmas tree.  

    You’re such a jackass.  I’m sick of being polite.  YOU’RE another example of why most atheists act like assholes to you people!

  • Coyotenose

     The murderer-enabler chimes in again to support someone laughing about, surprise, murder. Your priorities show what a nasty little sociopath you are. So much for Christian morality.

  • No, sorry

    Second time I’ve seen “Faux Noise.” sorry, you missed the point. Faux News makes sense because they call it news but it isn’t. Fox Noise makes sense because they call it news but it’s just noise. Faux Noise is exactly the opposite of what that channel is.

  • Sam Kay

    By saying “merry Christmas,” the speaker simultaneously assumes that the other party is Christian and demonstrates insensitivity to the fact that they may not be. I suggest that all atheists start wishing everyone a “happy Festivus,” then we can see if Christians are as enlightenedly unoffended as they insist that we should be.

  • Sam Kay

    I don’t know what to say to this. Fox News is a bunch of clowns and I am growing more and more contemptuous of them.

  • Pseudonym

    Even in context, I think I’ve just overdosed on irony for the week.

  • Jim Lippard

    In the Library of Congress system, books pertaining to the Bible are in the BS section.

  • wmdkitty

    Hey, man, there’s a lot of Pagans (and Heathens and other non-Christian types) on the Atheist “side”, and for many of the same reasons. We’re just as tired of Christian supremacy/privilege as you are.

  • Michaelbrice

    The atheist shibboleth rises again: don’t you know we are not supposed to say merry christmas?

    I live in Canada,  hindu’s and muslim’s wish me a merry christmas, I am not offended because they think I am christian, I wish them a merry christmas too. 

    Tempest in a teapot I say!

  • Paul Hoover

     Well if it wasn’t true that religious beliefs are mythology then it would be offensive.

    I don’t take offense when someone assumes I am a Christian and says Merry Christmas, I respond with Merry Christmas.  It’s the one time of year your side has to own up to actually respecting people, helping the poor, feeding the hungry, caring for the children, so you can go back to f**king them the other 364 days.

  • Christ Denier

    Coyotenose, I think that’s probably one of the best quotes I’ve ever read, and I’m stealing it.  :)

  • SecularHumanBN

    Today, when one of those “bell ringers” tossed a “Merry X-mas” at me as I walked by,  I replied with “Happy Solstice too!”  ;-)

  • Christ Denier

    I put it up on my Facebook page (giving you credit, of course):

  • oddboyout

     Sounds like Physiognomy to me. Talk about being stuck in the past.

  • JoshEvolved

    Yeah you can. It’s called religion.

  • JoshEvolved

    Wrong. Fox News is populated by extreme idiots, they had no plan. They are the opposite of a black hole, all manner of bullshit spews from their bigotted lips.

  • Rwlawoffice

     My comment was a repeat of Silverman’s argument.  He stated that he was offended by the term Merry Christmas when it is told to him. But then argued that the billboard calling Christianity a myth is not offensive.  That is the double standard.

  • Brian Scott

    The “ignore it” bit works under certain contexts. In other times, it just allows something to escalate while putting your foot down hard would have prevented it in the first place. The issue is whether you have the power to do so. It’s just easier to try ignore it because you’re essentially hoping to fly under the radar of abusers which is easier when you’re head is kept low.

  • Rwlawoffice

     Where did I defend the Fox anchor’s actions? I was commenting on Silverman;s argument.

  • Rwlawoffice

     Actually, if you look at the clip, you will hear Silverman say it.

  • Jas.

    I would say that  Stuart Varney has a lot to learn about atheists, but he has a lot to learn about humanity, period.

  • Rwlawoffice

     Oh my, who would have known that the American Atheist Assoc. was referring to the Dewey Decimal system when it put up this billboard. Of course it was meant to be derogatory.

  • JoshEvolved

    Well tell the religious to stop being dicks and violent sociopaths and maybe the “asshole atheist” can go away. When the religious shut the fuck up about their idiotic bullshit, atheists won’t need to be vocal.

    And honestly you know what asshole behavior is: anything a stupid religious person does in the name of public attention (Tim Tebow is a great example).

  • Brian Scott

    That’s a good way of framing it. There seems to be some new bizarre turn of events in which it’s “politically incorrect” to say politically correct things. Political correctness for its own sake is useless, but railing against criticism of using certain words and phrases merely to spite political correctness is base and, more often that not, contemptible.

  • JoshEvolved

    Christianity is a myth. That’s a fucking fact. You’re a pathetic, trolling, douchebag that honestly represents the whole of the Christian religion.

  • JoshEvolved

    I’m not offended by “Merry Christmas”, I just think anyone who says that to me is an idiot.

  • JoshEvolved

    “It’s the one time of year your side has to own up to actually” respecting people, helping the poor, feeding the hungry, caring for the children, so you can go back to f**king them the other 364 days.”

    And that mentality is why I find Christmas to be fucking pathetic. Every day is a day to do just that. People need clothes, food, and support year round. Not just a single fucking month. That’s hypocritical bullshit.

  • DougI

    Just goes to show that fundamentalists lack morals.

  • The Godless Monster

     Wow, you’re not getting anywhere with this crowd. Guess it’s accumulated anger and frustration from some of your comments on other posts. I must say, you and I are on opposite ends of the spectrum most of the time, but I have to take your side on this one. I’m surprised, however, at how quick folks are to pile on whenever you comment. You must have really ruffled some feathers…

  • Helanna

    That is a very good way of framing it.

    Lately I’ve learned to avoid anything that claims “Not afraid to be politically incorrect!” like the plague, since it’s almost *always* code for ‘being a huge jackass and then blaming political correctness when people get offended.’ And I agree, that is contemptible. 

  • SuperAsianSalsero

    WoW! What a bunch of a$$holes. They brought David there just to mock him. Amazingly professional cowards. I sympathized for David Silverman. Dave needs to keep calm and witty. I miss Christopher Hitchen.

  • Guest

    I don’t find ‘Merry Christmas’ offensive. To me it is a secular holiday, a day for feasting, gift-giving and spending time with those you love. I don’t think it presupposes Christianity, in the same way saying ‘have a good Easter’ doesn’t presuppose that you’re talking to a germanic pagan. ‘Christmas’ is just a name, like ‘Friday’ or ‘January’. Just because the names are derived from gods, dosen’t mean you have to worship those gods to enjoy that day, or month.

    Having said that, the host’s remark is in appallingly bad taste.

  • Rovin’ Rockhound

    I’m not offended by everyday people saying Merry Christmas – I often do because it’s what I grew up with, and it just kind of comes out. What I am offended by is the forceful insistence on saying Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays when it is obviously done to annoy non-Christians – stores, websites, and so on make a conscious choice to not be inclusive, and that pisses me off.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    That is insane troll logic

  • Keulan

    Wow, Fox “News” is more assholish than I had previously thought. Laughing about a murdered atheist. Stay classy, Fox.

  • WhiteBirch

    Yeah, I was just thinking that… it’s real noise. >< 

  • NickDB

    Funny, I was bullied at school too (something I’ve now grown to appreciate) and the most useful things I learnt were.

    If you ignore it it doesn’t go away, if it does it’s only to pick on someone else.

    However, if you stand up to them, not violently (tried the violence and that made it worse), you might end up getting kicked in the balls but eventually you’re a rallying point for all their victims.

    You learn; that brain does beat brawn, violence doesn’t work, who your true friends are, how to stand up for what you believe, how to be proud of what you believe, how to  argue coherently and that words are far more powerful than fists.

  • Wim

    “You should try to not offend people. ” He was cut off after that, but talk about shooting yourself in the foot. He knows that those billboards will offend certain people. O_0

  • vitto

    I think this radical anti-Christmas approach is silly. By Merry Christmas you do not presume the addressee’s Christianity, that’s utter nonsense. It is common courtesy, a form of greeting and a form of being polite and nice. Unless you know that a person is against Christmas, or say a Muslim, but even then one should accept this simply as a season’s greeting. By saying “good morning” do we presume that the person is necessarily having a good morning? By hearing  “how are you?” do we presume that the greeter is eager to hear and discuss all our recent joys, concerns and misfortunes. No. Let’s stop being children. Christmas is a universal winter holiday, celebrated around the world by Christians and non-Christians and non-believers, a holiday that is much older than Christianity. It’s main symbols are Santa Claus and the Christmas Tree, which have nothing to do with religion.

  • Emma

    For what its worth: my family ranges from secular-humanist-but-vague-on-God to secular-humanist-and-also-explicitly-atheist, but we’ve always celebrated Christmas. So to us, at least, saying Merry Christmas doesn’t presume Christmas

  • Emma

    *doesn’t presume Christianity.

  • David McNerney

    It’s not a double standard.

    Saying Merry Christmas might offended some people (strangely the people who say that to offend lose their nut when I wish them Merry Xmas – but then maybe they don’t like Futurama).

    Saying that Christianity is a myth will offend quite a few people.

    Laughing at someone’s murder is intrinsically offensive.

    But, no one has a right not to be offended.

    The thing is…

    On page 1 of “Marketing for Dummies”: “If you want to get people to donate to your charity or buy in your store, don’t offend them.”

    American Atheists isn’t appealing to Christians – they are appealing to atheists hiding in Christian communities.

    Varney isn’t appealing to atheists, he’s getting a cheap laugh – and that appeals to his audience. But that says more about them than it does about Dave Silverman.

    Varney’s argument is, however, you should put trivial principles over sound business practices.  Obviously the business channel is as pointless as the rest of FOX.

  • Katherine Lorraine

    It’s not about JUST saying “Merry Christmas” it’s about everyone saying it to everyone. Yes sure, I say ‘Christmas’ a lot – mostly cause I was raised Christian – but there are those people who don’t celebrate it at all. The difference is inclusion of other beliefs.

    If you were a practicing Jew or a Muslim and you walk past a store window that says “Merry Christmas!” It comes as a bit uninclusive. It looks like that store doesn’t cater to your sensibilities.

    We’re also talking about people who say Merry Christmas in such a way to stress that they don’t give a rat’s ass about your beliefs. The ones who respond with indignation if you say anything but Christmas, who stress the CHRISTmas part of it, or who shove a cross in your face and say how they’re so persecuted cause they have to include other peoples’ beliefs.

    If to “Merry Christmas” someone says “oh, I’m Jewish” then the response should be “Happy Hannukah.”

  • Nicole Introvert

     To be quite honest, when I was working with the public, I’ve been afraid not just to offend fellow atheists, but Muslims, Jews and Hindus which we have many of in my place of business.  I find it a respect issue for EVERYONE. 

  • John A. Anderson

    The ad foxium fallacy.

  • chicago dyke

    no, that’s not the case at all. 

    very rich,  very powerful people pay a lot of money (relative to little people like you and i) to make sure that FAUX news not only exists, but keeps ~25% of this country voting for tea baggers, and against their own interests as working class people who need government subsidies. /see also: MI

    fox didn’t just “happen.” it was created. for a purpose. 

  • Dats3

    I don’t even know what to say.  That’s a terrible thing to say to someone.  I’m speechless.

  • cathouseumbrella

    How could he take the bait? They didn’t even let him speak.

  • Rwlawoffice

    This kind of post by someone named evolved is a bad example of evolution

  • Rwlawoffice

    Funny, my exact thoughts about MSNBC

  • cathouseumbrella

    I wish when the woman yelled, “It’s Christmas!” at David Silverman, he had responded with, “No, it’s Hanukkah. Christmas is on December 25, but thank you for illustrating my point about how Christians act like they have a monopoly on this season.”

  • Piet Puk

    Apperantly JoshEvolved has evolved enough to recognize bullshit. That’s more than we can say about you.

  • C Peterson

    What I hear him saying is that he finds it “slightly” offensive when somebody says “Merry Christmas” to him knowing that he’s not Christian. In other words, if they’re being deliberately provocative. Basically, all he’s doing in the discussion is defending those who choose to be more inclusive by saying “Happy Holidays”.

    In any case, however, Silverman doesn’t speak for anybody but himself (neither he nor his organization speak for me, as an atheist). I really doubt he’s offended when a stranger says Merry Christmas to him, but if he is, that’s his problem. That position isn’t typical.

  • The Other Weirdo

     So it’s our fault we’re the most despissed minority in the country?

  • John (not McCain)

    Nice of you to take off time from raping a child to enlighten us.

  • Tom Flynn

    Of course “Merry Christmas” presumes Christianity, however much most people who use that greeting don’t understand that. For proof, look no further than the first syllable of the second word. If someone went around wishing people “Merry Krishna-mas,” would we have any doubt that this was a presumptive endorsement of Hinduism?

    That’s what I called “the paradox of Christmas” in my 1993 book about the holiday. While much that goes on at holiday time is of pagan origin, or of modern commercial origin, rather than Christian, the holiday’s inescapable identity as Jesus’s birthday party bathes it all in a glaring Christian radiance. From a manger scene to Frosty the Snowman, every aspect of Christmas connotes — and celebrates — the presumed cultural dominance of the Christian religion. That’s why “Happy Holidays” is an improvement — and why the folks at Fox so detest “Happy Holidays.” Of course, even “Happy Holidays” is only a half-measure, as it presumptively excludes people who happen not to be celebrating anything at this time of year.

  • Shuteme

    Last year a woman behind me in line at the store said “Merry Christmas” to me and when I cheerfully responded “Happy Hanukkah” back to her, her face screwed up all twisted like she had stepped in doggie doo doo… it was priceless

  • Baal

     I think you’re right that we need time to gauge whether or not Silverman’s appearances are useful or not.  I disagree that 99% of the viewers will write him off.   Given the usual ranges on polling, i’d expect he’d get 40-50% approval from even the faux audience.  He’s expressing shock at a glib use of death, it’s a very normal response and he comes off as a person for doing it. 

  • Baal Rwlawoffice.  MSNBC is not capable of lying or carrying out the democrat / left wing (does one even exist?) to nearly the degree that faux news is a tool of the Kochs/RWAs/Republican/Tea party segments of society.  It’s not even remotely close.

  • Andrew Kilian

    The counter point should be why is Fox offended by “Happy Holidays” If the onus of taking offense is on the listener? Varney laid a pretty straightforward trap and then worked hard to herd Silverman to it.

  • Marty Susman

    This whole thing is to me just funny… How anyone in 2012 can believe in the fantasy of any religion is unreal… A god thing waited 4 1/2 billion years until he/she/it found a bunch of rag tag desert people, came down & said, OK, time to be saved & then began to kill more people on the planet then any other thing over 2000 plus years & people believe this garbage, it’s just unreal to me that anyone could be that stupid, that simple minded as to think any of this trash is real..Religion is nothing more then a scam to keep stupid, poor thinking people in line, nothing more….Wake up people & use the head you have not the garbage told to you by some jerk…

  • Justin Miyundees

    Varney’s smug pompous sense of entitlement to all the privileges that Christianity’s majority status affords is the best recruiting tool the school of rational thought has.  His ear is deaf to his own arrogance, but that doesn’t mean everyone else can’t hear it.  The ditz in the background TRYING to be snarky & cutting is a nice touch too.

  • Pureone

    So  you think calling someone else’s beliefs myths offensive? Do you find Christianity offensive then, since that is what it has done to non-christian religions since it’s invention? If not, then why do you have a double standard?

    And as pointed out, it’s offensive when someone does it as a personal attack of sorts. 

  • ReadsInTrees

    I’m an atheist, but I still celebrate Christmas. It’s so secular at this point, that I’m not offended by the word. I don’t have to believe in ghosts and witches to enjoy Halloween, so I likewise don’t need to believe in Jesus to celebrate Christmas. I say “Merry Christmas”, because I genuinely hope people who are celebrating Christmas will have a merry holiday. I also say “Happy Holidays” if I don’t know whether or not they celebrate Christmas, and “Happy Solstice” if people are acting like self-righteous Christians.

  • ReadsInTrees

    Exactly, this. I say either phrase, and don’t mind receiving either phrase. What bugs me is when people are obviously saying Merry Christmas to make a point about “keeping CHRIST in CHRISTmas”. When I can tell it’s one of those people, I make sure to wish them a Happy Solstice.

  • ReadsInTrees

    Yep, exactly. “Christmas” is just our modern word for one particular day of this holiday season. It’s pretty much secular at this point, the same way Thursday and Tuesday are secular despite being named after gods.

  • HitchsApprentice

    This just proves one thing…..  “They”  don’t get it, never did, never will…. and that’s why they’re easy to control, like little sheep… 

  • SeekerLancer

    I was already pissed at the start of the video.

    Why should anyone be offended by Merry Christmas? I’m not, why should ANYONE BE OFFENDED BY HAPPY HOLIDAYS?!

  • SeekerLancer

    Ugh this is worse than O’Reilly. Can’t they understand it’s not about being offended, it’s about being treated equally.

  • Gus Snarp

    That was just awful. The mocking, derisive laughter throughout, the talking over him and utterly ignoring his points, the disrespect for the dead, the attempt to pretend it was all about being offended when Silverman made clear from the start that it never was, the attempt to equate offending the individual sitting across from you by personally insulting him with offending a dominant group by expressing a dissenting view, the co-host’s claim that American Atheists is only anti-Christian because they haven’t felt the need to protest religious holidays that are not federally recognized nor universally promoted by businesses and governments, and then her talking over him when he tried to explain that, no,  he’s not afraid of the, and they’ve put up billboards attacking Islam and Judaism as well… 

    Words cannot express how disturbing and ignorant that was on all levels. And what I wonder is whether the Fox hosts are really that ignorant, or are just pandering to their core demographic and actively working to reinforce their audience’s ignorance.

    The only thing I wonder is what Silverman is accomplishing by going on Fox News so frequently. I think he may have done the best job I’ve seen him do there in this clip, and to me he comes off much better than the hosts, but obviously the audience may not agree.  I hope he’s reaching some people, but I’m not sure. At least it gives us opportunities to laugh at Bill O’Reilly, but there was nothing to laugh at in this segment.

  • anon101

    I wonder. To my a muslim woman wearing a head scarf is little bit offensive. I guess everybody here should agree.

  • Gus Snarp

    You’re probably right. I watch a clip like this and I can’t imagine how any reasonable human being could reach any conclusion other than that Silverman is entirely reasonable and the Fox hosts are ignorant, insulting, and frankly, disgusting human beings. Which still leaves 99% of the Fox News audience to disagree with me.

  • Gus Snarp

    But who’s “radical anti-Christmas approach” is it? Find me one place where Silverman says that everyone should stop saying Merry Christmas. It’s the Salvation Army, a Christian church, that has decided not to say Merry Christmas to the general public while soliciting donations because they want to be inclusive. No one is mandating it. I don’t think anyone is even advocating for it. It is simply more inclusive to say happy holidays, it has been for a long time, and has long been used by anyone interested in serving the general public, mainly because Merry Christmas has a tendency to make Jews in particular feel excluded from public life, and why would you want to do that?

  • Gus Snarp

    Interesting that we’re sitting here in the comments talking about whether or not we’re offended by hearing Merry Christmas (I’m not either, incidentally). We’ve fallen into exactly the trap the Fox News hosts set for us. We’re talking about being offended. This has nothing to do with being offended, and certainly not with whether any one atheist (or group of atheists) is offended. Ending nativity scenes on public property has to do with the government endorsement of a religion, which is illegal. The Salvation Army, or anyone else who chooses to, saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas has to do with simply including everyone. They’re a charity, as well as a church, and they want to maximize donations. If you include Muslims and Jews and Hindus and nonbelievers in your friendly greeting, then you have a bigger donor pool. It is purely a business decision.
    And while “Merry Christmas” may make nonbelievers feel excluded, it is frankly silly to me that we, or Fox News, make the elimination of Nativity scenes, or the saying of Happy Holidays, all about atheists, as if it benefits us and no one else. We should always be clear that this is for Jews and Muslims as well. Freedom of religion is for everyone, because any of us could find ourselves on the wrong end of state endorsed religion if it happens, and with regard to Christmas, Jews have a particularly strong likelihood of feeling excluded and of being reminded of a long history of Christian antisemitism that, while it has been pushed back into a moldy basement closet of humanity, still rears it’s ugly head from time to time as evidenced by Mel Gibson.

  • Gus Snarp

    What pants pissing and asshole behavior are you referring to? The only asshole behavior in that clip was the Fox News hosts.

  • Gus Snarp

    Also, calling the story of Jesus a myth shouldn’t be insulting to anyone but the grossly ignorant. Any study of world mythology should make quite clear that, even if you believe it is literally true in every word, the Bible is still a myth or collection thereof. From Webster’s:

    Myth: 1 a: a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon
    1 b: Parable, allegory

    Heck, Jesus even says half the things he says are parables. And if the 1 a definition doesn’t fit the Bible, I don’t know what does. Myth implies that the events described are likely to be at least partly fictional because they cannot be historically verified, but it doesn’t have to mean they are absolutely fictional (even if we think they are).

  • Gus Snarp

    You fell for Varney’s trap. You didn’t even notice that Silverman was never talking about whether he, or any other atheist or anyone else, was offended by “Merry Christmas”. It is, as Silverman pointed out, not about who is or isn’t offended. The use of Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas mentioned in the story is simply the choice of a charity to expand it’s potential donor pool by making a more inclusive choice, one that has been used for decades. Varney’s the only one talking about being offended here. But I’d also point out that it’s not for any of us as individuals to decide what’s offensive, especially when, as I’ll point out repeatedly, this isn’t really about us, it’s about Jews and Muslims who have far more reason to feel intentionally slighted and excluded by the phrase “Merry Christmas”.

  • Gus Snarp

    Definition of MYTH
    1a : a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon

    That’s offensive? It’s a fact that the Bible is a collection of myths. Maybe you should go take a class in mythology at your local college, you might learn something.

  • Gus Snarp

    Thank you for that, I’ll be using it.

  • Toast4122

    No atheist I know is offended by the term “Merry Christmas” (granted I don’t know all of them). For the most part all I see is the Christian extremists screaming about people using the term “happy holidays”. 

  • Kevin Schelley

    I like saying Happy Hollandaise, it makes people question what they heard.

  • Tom Flynn

    Hi Toast4122, I’m Tom Flynn. I’m an atheist, and I’m offended by “Merry Christmas.” I even get a little torqued by “Happy Holidays,” which presumes that I must be celebrating SOME holiday — Xmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, whatever — at this time of year. Good to meet you!

  • Nuts

    Varney is a big jerk throughout this whole interview. I’m not familiar with his show. Is he always like this?

    That doesn’t excuse what Silverman says though. 

    1)Did anyone catch the part the part when Silverman says that he’s put up “anti-Jewish” 
        billboards at the 4:30 mark. Racism? 2) Not to mention he blames Christianity for Christmas becoming a month long thing. I blame        corporations trying to make a buck on religion, not the religion itself. Those are two      different things (unless you’re Catholic!)

  • Peekaboo

    Which again is celebrated by Wiccans. I thought you were an atheist?!?!

  • Peekaboo

    The authors of this site though have pretty clearly embraced that angle though.

  • Mommajay

    Wow Marty. Just Wow. Where to start? 

    If you want to talk about how deplorable the hosts of this show are that’s cool. Clearly they invited Silverman on the show to try and bully him to make a point (that which I’m still trying to figure out). I find that in poor taste and I wonder how anyone with an opposing viewpoint would ever go on their station again. Just let FOX exist on their own little island of crazies and they can go talk amongst themselves.

    But Marty, you are being incredibly idiotic about a subject you clearly you know nothing about. Your quick, 4 line explanation of the Bible is about far off as a person can get. 

    You also just called me stupid and poor by association because I’m a Christian. If you’d like to match wits with me bring it! Your point about how much is in my bank account, and that of other Christians is irrelevant. But just the same, as a teacher I make about 50k with coaching AND teaching each year. Yet, I somehow manage to have more in the bank than you do I would bet. If not me, then someone else. I know we have millionaires among my church. How much do you have? 

    I’m not exactly sure who you are calling a jerk in your last line. If you are referring to Varney, then your description would be pretty accurate. Luckily for me I’ve never heard of the guy before as I don’t watch FOX News and am not influenced by him. If you are trying to insult the pastor at my church that I attend, then I have one question for you: Have you ever met him? What’s his name? His favorite movie? Book? The name of his children? My point is that if you are trying to insult him, I’m pretty sure that you’ve never met him. So to call him anything or to attempt to describe him would be idiotic indeed.

  • Apathostic

    Merry Christmas. Interesting phrase. Causing a great deal of furore in the “War on Christmas” created by Bill O’Reilly on Fox. For me, it’s a phrase that simply indicates the time of the year and a specific day. There are legends attached, some religious intent implied, lessened by the shopping centre ads that appear now as early as July. And there are people who see it as a holy time and people who see it as a time to spend with family and friends, and there are people who use it as a clarion call to promote their pro- and anti-Christmas agendas. To me, it’s a little churlish to respond to a well-meant “Merry or happy Christmas or Holiday”, with a grunt of disdain, or a smart-assed “Merry Solstice”, or to bitch about being “offended”. It’s just Christmas and everyone has a response. Lose the negative and just enjoy the positive. It really doesn’t matter.

  • Georgina

    Oh boy, there are towns in Austria (Europe), where the standard greeting is “greet god”,
    short for “I greet you in god’s name”, and not “die scum” as I first thought.

    Replying “good morning/afternoon/evening” gets you strange looks, not just in midwinter, but every day!

  • Sarah

     Why do people think they have a right to be treated with decency and kindness?

  • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

     I think Dave Silverman’s response was pretty damn solid, especially given the circumstances….

    …i.e. being on a FOX TV show where they cut you off before you can answer their questions, and then out of the blue they bring up your organization’s founding  leader who was murdered and chopped into pieces and the Christian FOX host of the show is actually laughing about her murder, with a smug smile, but ironically the Christian hosts are telling you that you are the one who doesn’t care about her murder while these Christian hosts are the ones outright laughing about it…. frankly I would feel like I was in the Twilight Zone!

  • Felyx Leiter


  • matt

     Who’s trying to insult your pastor?  Why the hypothetical comparison of bank accounts and salaries?  Why would that matter to you anyway?

    I’d love to hear the logic behind why your particular all-knowing, all powerful god needed to come down a second time (I guess the Moses meeting didn’t mater), birth himself into mankind only to sacrifice himself to HIMSELF to forgive a sin that was commited a thousand years previously?  Does this sound like a god to you?

  • Andy

    Matt, I hear you on your first point. I’m not sure how money got to be involved in all of this. It’s kind of an immature argument if you ask me. In addition, the whole news clip was pretty hard to watch. If Fox News is representing Christianity, then they’re giving it a terrible reputation. The hosts were laughing at the guy who was respectfully trying to get a point across. What a sick thing to watch…

    On to your second point… I don’t know all the answers to why Christianity exists and I can’t prove with logic that it is true. A lot of it doesn’t make sense to me. However, I don’t think anyone on this earth will ever have the logic to fully prove it. That’s where faith comes in. I firmly believe that there is an almighty higher power, God, and his son, Jesus, was sacrificed for the sins of all people- past, present and future. God created this world in his image. Everything was good at the beginning, and then Adam and Eve had to go and fuck things up for everyone ;). We now live in a world where everyone sins all the time. That is not how God wanted things to be and his punishment to anyone who sinned was death. That is why we needed a savior. Jesus took all that shit that we did and put it on himself as he died a brutal death. It was the greatest symbol of love in the history of existence. God is the manifestation of love. We aren’t fully sure why he does certain things, just like we weren’t sure why our parents gave us the belt sometimes when we were young. But I know my parents never stopped loving me even when they were angry, and the same goes with God. He loves you as much as he loves me, and he wants so much for you to accept him and love him back. But that is where the choice comes in.

    So… sorry for the novel. And I realize that this probably wasn’t “proof” that there is a loving god out there. There are people who can give tons of evidence towards the argument, but I’m not one of them. I just know how God has worked through my life, and it has been sensational. I don’t know your story, but I do know that God loves you. Hope you have a great day today.

  • MattD

    Since you are claiming expertise on a subject outside my own experiences, then please show your work.

    Please  list all events you’re certain “god” had a hand in, and then explain why you consider them supernatural events (as opposed to what I assume is you merely finding strength within by drawing inspiration from a character that has no equal).

  • Myrmidon

    I think the whole thing about money was because Mommajay misunderstood “stupid, poor thinking people” (Marty’s original, somewhat oddly worded expression) to mean “stupid poor people”.

  • David Benjamin Patton

    Grrrr I just want to kick the living shit out of both of those two smarmy, insulting, arrogant assholes. 

  • phantomreader42

     Your cult has been working VERY hard to drain the phrase “Merry Christmas” of all holiday cheer and reduce it to nothing more than an arrogant sneer at anyone who doesn’t worship your imaginary friend.  If you keep this up, someday it will no longer be possible to say “Merry Christmas” and mean anything other than “I can’t wait to watch you burning in hell, heathen scum!!”  If that isn’t what you want, you should stop being such worthless lying tribalist asshats. 

  • David Benjamin Patton

    You are so totally clueless baiting and retorting with your own strawmen in response to an original strawman by Marty that didn’t even exist. 

  • Vermeer

    Have you ever actually sat down and read the bible? If you had then you would know that genesis is all you would ever have to read in order to realize that the bible is completely and utterly irrelevant bull that was written ages ago by multiple writers in an attempt to explain away the big questions regarding our existence which are currently being explained by modern science. Where was god to explain the order of things? Nowhere. I agree with Marty in almost every way. God killed so many in the bible for such ridiculous reasons that its almost sickening to think that people actually worship him. If you should worship anyone, you should worship lucifer for convincing humanity to eat from the tree of knowledge to keep us from becoming thoughtless mindslaves meant to spend eternity in a garden controlled by a ruthless creator. And don’t worry because I know that you, like almost all christians will pick and choose what to listen to in the bible because only some of the word of god is relevent to our daily lives. Christians should just be considered hypocrites by default because real christians dont exist. And the hosts on fox are such idiots that they are trying to create an issue that doesnt exist and essentially offend a man  on their show in order to ignore the real issue of religious neutrality in government. I feel sorry for our generation who has to swim through this see of corruption and lies in the hopes of finding any real truth.(drops the mic) im out peace.

  • Hugh Intactive

    Solstice is an astronomical event. It doesn’t belong to anybody or require belief in anything.

  • Hugh Intactive

    People have been railing against “political correctness” for years without ever defining it. It seems to mean “more inclusive / considerate of minorities/underdogs than me, and I don’t like that, but I can’t be bothered working out why”.

  • Hugh Intactive

    It’s telling Silverman how he OUGHT to feel about O’Hair’s death because of Varney’s (inaccurate) presumptions about atheists that gets up my nose.

  • Hugh Intactive

    Those two are not opposites. The parameters of decency and kindness are generally agreed on. Giving and taking offense are a two-way street. There has to be prior agreement about what people expect, what might reasonably be expected to offend them, and what one is permitted to do to protect one’s own boundaries regardless of offence that might be taken.

  • Hugh Intactive

    “Yet, I somehow manage to have more in the bank than you do I would bet. If not me, then someone else. I know we have millionaires among my church. How much do you have? ”
    Um, didn’t the founder of your religion tell you to sell everything you have and give the money to the poor? Or don’t you want to be perfect (Matt 19:21)?

  • Hugh Intactive


  • Pitch

    I remember back when O’Hair was murdered there was an attempt to blame “Fundies”.
    Turned out an atheists did it.
    And yep, it was about money.

  • bigorson

    A tempest in a teapot. More people, generally speaking, should be offended AND ignored. I prefer to ignore Christians and atheists, Muslims, Scientologists, etc. I got stuff to do. Like offending them in every possible way.
    Nobody’s forcing me to do anything & I don’t have to believe what Fox News, the Bible or Madelyn O’Hair says.
    Have a nice day.

  • Ben Davis

    That guy is a total fucking jackass… and I’m not talking about the atheist.

  • Cornelia v d Walt

    Hi Andy, you seem nice, mind if I ask a few questions?

    About what you said: “That is not how God wanted things to be and his punishment to anyone who sinned was death. ” You then go on to add, “God is the manifestation of love.” Can you see the contrast here? (Killing people who displease you but claiming to love them, to make that clearer for you.) What would you think of a human father killing his children who were disobedient?

    Another question: why did God need Jesus to die before he could forgive us? Isn’t he almighty? Doesn’t he write all the rules? Why did he want Jesus to die very painfully as a blood-sacrifice first?

    Also, can I ask why does God want us to believe things without evidence? How do we then distinguish between good, evil, right, wrong, true or false if we take everything we’re told on face value? Do you think being gullible is helpful or harmful?

  • Richard Henzel

    Mr. Silverman was clearly prepared to find himself in a two-on-one shouting match; in a “conversation” in which all questions are accusative questions with no opportunities to answer.

    The old “When did you stop beating your wife?” technique.

    People who are mature and confident of their own belief system don’t need to keep shouting louder and louder (even over each other) to prevent any “dangerous ideas” from taking root somewhere out there in TV land. Only cowards and those insecure about their own beliefs can get off on this tired old tactic of their “taking down the enemy” in with a fusillade of tired talking points.

    Say–when “God” said “no other Gods before me” wasn’t that an uncomfortably Human kind of insecurity, as well as a confirmation that there are other cults, excuse me, religions out there, but I’ll be damned if–wait, no, huh uh! You Will Be Damned, if you so much as look at another fella…

    For your God is Jealous God, and is also suffering from a little BPH, so he’s feeling a little extra cranky today. And please don’t tie up the Holy Crapper, or… Smite!