If You Wrote This Anonymous Note, You’re a Jerk

Things that are okay to criticize: Nativity scenes on government property.

Things that are okay to criticize only if you’re a complete asshole: Nativity scenes on your neighbor’s lawn.

That’s what an anonymous letter-writer did to Kristen Hunter‘s family in Newton, Massachusetts:

Kristen Hunter

The “neighbors” who sent the letter wanted to point out that the entire neighborhood is not Christian and may not want to look at their decor, especially given that it is “cheap, tacky and kitschy.”

The note stated that the “neighbors” have held their tongue in the past, but felt it was important to make their concerns known this year. Because “not everybody in the neighborhood is Christian” they believe that people do not want to “see such a flagrant display” of Christian beliefs.

The letter also stated that the decorations were tacky, calling them a “terrible eye-sore on the neighborhood.”

“All religious matters aside, your decorations themselves are beyond tasteless,” the letter said.

The “neighbors” conclude the letter by telling the family that they are free to worship and celebrate however they’d like and they are even “free to have bad taste” but they ask the family to do those things in the privacy of their own home.

We don’t know if the letter-writer (and I’m assuming there really was a letter-writer here) was an atheist, but it looks that way. If the letter is real, then that person’s just being a jerk. And Hunter was as classy as ever, especially with her reaction to this question:

Reporter: The letter came anonymously. They said, “How would you like to drive by an anti-Christian display?” What did you take [from that]?

Family member: You know what? If that’s what they wanna do, that’s fine. People have the right to celebrate.

Of course, Fox News is jumping on this story because War on Christmas.

(Thanks to @imjustasteph for the link)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Art_Vandelay

    In what way does the letter-writer look like an atheist? That’s no atheists that I know. Furthermore…how did the news get hold of a story where a neighbor gave this woman an anonymous letter? Did this lady actually call the news over this?

  • unbound55

    Interesting thought. Perhaps a letter she generated herself?

  • Art_Vandelay

    I have no idea. It certainly could have been her evil atheist neighbor I suppose too but I’m just trying to come up with a scenario where if I were this woman, my first inclination would be to call the news. That’s insane.

  • UnePetiteAnana

    It could have been one of her friends or something. I’m with you, I wouldn’t have called the news if someone wrote a letter like this to me but I’d be more inclined to do so if it was a friend that received the letter.

    Dunno.

  • unbound55

    I agree that it could be an evil atheist neighbor (or simply a non-christian religious person). Your observation simply raises another possibility, along the lines of the waitress that faked the non-tip.

  • invivoMark

    That was my first thought. This isn’t newsworthy, and wouldn’t come to light unless one of the people involved wanted it to.

    Not to downplay the assholitude of the letter-writer (assuming the facts are as they seem), but this lady doesn’t seem like much of a saint, either.

  • http://www.greatestescapist.com/ Kate / @heyescapist

    It feels like one of those things that could easily catch on in a small town, though. In my hometown, a girl I went to high school with posted something dramatic & incendiary to her Facebook page – & it became local news the next day, without her specifically calling reporters’ attention to it (to my knowledge).

  • invivoMark

    Facebook is a good deal more public than a letter between neighbors. When some people post something on facebook, hundreds of people might see it within the first hour. You don’t have to do anything special to call anyone’s attention to it.

    Having said that, though, you could be right about the small town thing – Wikipedia tells me Newton is a “suburban town” around 80,000. That could be the sort of place where gossip proliferates wildly.

  • http://www.greatestescapist.com/ Kate / @heyescapist

    Right, though I guess I was thinking that this woman could’ve, for example, posted a photo of the note, or a status update *about* the note, & it would’ve served the same purpose.

  • invivoMark

    Very true.

  • $84687101

    My favorite part is this exchange:
    Anchor: “…but there’s more to this story, right?”
    Location reporter: “Oh, there’s much more to this story…”

    Oh wait, no, not really.

  • Art_Vandelay

    Right. How about maybe knocking on a few doors and trying to find out what the neighbors really think of the display? Instead we get to find out what she thinks her father is doing in heaven. Brilliant journalism.

  • b33bl3br0x

    It’s possible that she posted it to FB and that either she is friends with the local news station, or that one of her friends responded to it and they are, and that it went from there.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    We don’t know if the letter-writer (and I’m assuming there really was a letter-writer here)

    Yes we do. The letter exists. Someone wrote it. Perhaps you meant to suggest that someone in the family itself wrote the letter. Quite possibly. I think it was a bar bet; that woman is going to win a lot of money for appearing on the TV news wearing a skinned beaver tail in her hair.

  • $84687101

    No, we don’t, unless you’ve seen it another source? The linked page doesn’t show the letter, the video doesn’t show the letter, and the reporters do not claim to have seen the letter. The only evidence I’ve seen of the letter is the woman who claims to have received it saying she received it. Have you seen other evidence?

    Now, a letter from an angry neighbor isn’t all that unusual a claim, but still, we don’t know that it exists outside of that woman saying it does. And she got a free box of Christmas lights out of this, apparently.

  • http://youtu.be/fCNvZqpa-7Q Kevin_Of_Bangor
  • $84687101

    Ah, well, that bit’s settled then. Thank you.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    But more importantly, why was Fitchburg State University closed?

  • Kingasaurus

    LOL

    The Snow, the snow… 😉

  • 7Footpiper

    I could jump in by saying “no true atheist” but it’s a waste of time. I’d like to say (especially if Kristen Hunter is reading this) that I’m sorry your neighbor (or atleast the person who wrote the letter) is an arsehole. This is not a reflection of what most atheists truly believe and stand for. Please don’t let this situation dissuade you from celebrating the Christmas season the way you wish to and please don’t assume that all atheists are as mean spirited as the letter writer.

  • UnePetiteAnana

    I truly appreciate this comment. I’m not Kristen Hunter, btw.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Dude/lady, I’ve been saying since forever that the stereotype of the uptight, butthurt atheist is just a Fox News meme.

    But your note is very appreciated all the same.

  • DavidMHart

    Oh no. They do exist. The rest of us just try not to let them dominate the conversation, is all :-)

  • The Starship Maxima

    Keep up the good work sir. :)

  • R Bonwell parker

    One of the challenges about being atheist is its inclusive nature. Theism means subscribing to a particular whatever, and anyone who doesn’t is atheist. That means atheists don’t have to claim fraternity with assholes but nobody is allowed to claim that another person isn’t atheist.

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    I don’t know how most atheists feel about this. I would hope that we understand the Constitution, and fair play, better than others, but we all have biases.

    One of the great things about this site is that those biases are criticized.

    Unlike Fox News’ War on the Constitution, this site does not defend criticizes the biases of the core audience.

    .

  • Joi Owen

    Why are you assuming the letter writer is an athiest? It could have easily been written by a Jew, a Muslim, or any of the other many non-christian groups. “Non-christian” encompasses a lot more people than just “athiest.” Pay attention.

  • anja

    Yes, don’t go jumping to conclusions just because there was negative comments about a christian display. They could have come from a devout christian who is just a bad, inconsiderate, snobish, a-hole of a neighbor.

  • Geekus Villagius

    Or someone set on heating the ‘war on Christmas’ tea pot tempest for sympathy.

  • anja

    Ah yes. The right wing’s one-sided, public yet non-existent war on Xmas.

  • 7Footpiper

    You’re right, it could have been written by any of the estimated 7.131 Billion people on this planet subscribing to any or no faith. The point of my note was to set the record straight about what most atheists believe and offer a few encouraging words. I really don’t think a condescending “pay attention” was necessary but I’ll mostly disregard your snark and wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    Several years ago, a christmas light display in my town was vandalised. Members of the local atheist group chipped in to donate money to replace the lights.

  • LesterBallard

    There are those who take the decorating too far. I don’t care if it’s Jesus and Santa or Hitchens and Dawkins. But if you have a complaint, don’t do it in an anonymous letter.

  • Dave

    No mention of Atheism, just (possibly) not Christian and has different taste. May believe in god/s maybe not. Atheists don’t have to take the blame every time someone gives a Christian grief. Could’ve been a Muslim, a Wiccan, or a Buddhist. Or maybe a Christian trying to throw people off the scent.

  • UnePetiteAnana

    I completely agree.

  • tubi11

    “Or maybe a Christian trying to throw people off the scent.”

    Alert Alex Jones…it’s another false flag!

    At least this one’s actually plausible, though not likely I don’t think.

  • Brodestar

    I agree, but you know that Fox News doesn’t see it that way. They will blame us no matter what, even if the letter writter isn’t atheist. Just a shame that anyone has to receive such a nasty letter like that.

  • Fentwin

    Every North bound mule has a South facing end.

  • WallofSleep

    So far it looks like the only “news” outlets covering this story are Fox and Free Republic. Imma wait and see if there’s any truth to this before assuming there is.

  • http://www.everydayintheparkwithgeorge.com/ Matt Eggler

    To Kristen Hunter:
    Keep your display. Your home is not a public school, courthouse or any other government building so what you are doing doesn’t bother me in the least. As for the quality of your display; I haven’t seen it so I can’t judge but kitschiness and tackiness are as time-honored a part of Christmas as anything.

  • The Starship Maxima

    I am The Federation Starship Maxima and I approve this message

  • $84687101

    Sounds like the kind of neighbor who’s always complaining that your tree ruins their property value. Assholes come in all shapes, sizes, and philosophies.

  • WallofSleep

    It could be as simple as that. Just a little neighborhood nazi that fancies themselves a one person “home owner’s association”.

  • Major Nav

    Anybody know where I can get an inflatable solstice?
    Maybe I can make a giant yule log? Athough I may have to skip the burning tradition if its on the front lawn.

  • $84687101

    You can always get an inflatable Christmas tree, they’re about as pagan as can be. But maybe you’re looking for something more along these lines (NSFW cartoon): http://positromagnetics.50megs.com/xmascide09/06.html

  • FlyingFree333

    Imagine what a Jewish Holocaust survivor would think of having to look at a nativity display every year right next door, or how about a Muslim who was beaten by Christians after 9/11 for having the wrong skin colour, or a black man who was lynched by a bunch of ‘loving’ KKK members. It’s not just atheists who aren’t fans of having Christianity shoved in their faces absolutely everywhere they turn.

  • The Starship Maxima

    No, they are not the only ones. And they can join all the others in learning to get the fuck over it.

    Welcome to the real world. You will see things that will offend you. Some reasons for your offense are your (or mine, or anyone’s) sensitive feelings. Others are more legitimate.

    The terrorists behind those 9/11 attacks were nominally Muslim, and yet I manage to not gag everytime I see a mosque or a Mohammed display. I am a black man, and I don’t freak out when I see a Confederate flag or a memorial to Robert E. Lee.

    Fortunately, the world is full of people who are mature enough that they don’t judge an entire group by the actions of a few, and realize that their personal offense isn’t always a good enough reason to cater to their feelings.

  • https://antiavidanime.wordpress.com/ The Other Weirdo

    Why nominally?

  • http://127.0.0.1 3lemenope

    You stop being Muslim when you stop being alive? Dead bodies have no belief systems.

    (Man, I’m full of snark today. I’m gonna go get a coffee.)

  • The Starship Maxima

    Just as I loathe it when someone broadbrushes all Christians in the most general terms, I try to avoid doing it to others.

    Every Muslim I’ve met personally loudly decries violence against the innocent. So, I question whether these guys were “true” Muslims.

  • http://shethinkers.wordpress.com amycas

    Don’t know why you got a downvote for that comment, but I just upvoted you to balance it out :-)

  • The Starship Maxima

    Thanks :)

  • https://antiavidanime.wordpress.com/ The Other Weirdo

    Your mistake lies in thinking that you can dictate to other people who they are and who they are not. Muslims are in many ways like Christians. Like them, they can interpret the Koran in any way they see fit. We know this to be true because there are all those imams out there who all see something different. If one Muslims decries the flying of airplanes into other people’s skyscrapers while another experiences ecstasy while doing so and both think of themselves as Muslim, who are you to tell them otherwise?

    Many Christians today wouldn’t dream of actually torturing and burning witches. There are some that do even in this day and age. Which one is the True Christian™? The one who doesn’t or the one who does? Remember, the one who does has history and tradition behind him/her.

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    The Other Weirdo,

    I completely agree about the moral relativism.

    for that reason, I disagree that the non-witch torturing Christians and the non-witch burning Christians also have history and tradition behind them.

    Moderate Christians have been a big part of the reason many fanatical Christian practices are now rare and the reason many fanatical Christian practices are illegal.

    The same is true of other religions, where there is tolerance.

    .

  • https://antiavidanime.wordpress.com/ The Other Weirdo

    But that isn’t my point, not even close. I am trying to understand what makes someone a True Whatever™ vs a Not True Whatever™. If both read from the same book and come to two different conclusions, which one is the True Whatever™? 500 years ago, Christians were more than happy to torture witches and then publicly burn them. Were they True Christians™? If not, why not? By whose standard? Perhaps the modern-day Christians aren’t True Christians™.

    Same with the Muslims. Why are the moderate Muslims True Muslims™ but the hijackers aren’t? Or vice versa?

    If Christian morality is so fluid and changing, what do we need it–or them–for? Where is this objective morality they are always talking about?

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    The Other Weirdo,

    I am trying to understand what makes someone a True Whatever™ vs a Not True Whatever™.

    The short answer –

    It does not matter what a True Whatever™ is, except to those who believe and/or have a problem with what others believe.

    The long answer –

    1. It isn’t like being Scottish.

    Anybody can state that he/she is a True Whatever™.

    If others disagree and tell him to go away, all he has to do is start his own sect.

    Our morality has evolved to the point that most people will not kill him for this, so we end up with more and m,ore sects.

    He once would have been killed as a heretic, but now is not.

    2. The Bible was not written by just one person.

    Dozens/Hundreds of Bible authors, over thousands of years, have presented their hallucinations/experiences/visions as coming from one God (or three-in-one).

    If there were one God behind the stories, there would be some consistency.

    The idea that the Old Testament God wanted to change things, but couldn’t come up with something better than the execution of his own son/own self is ridiculous, but that is the excuse apologists use.

    3. A True Believer believes in something, but only that person knows what the belief is.

    As the person has to adapt the belief to account for reality, excuses are made for the inconsistencies, but that is cognitive dissonance.

    4. There is no outside source of arbitration of True Whatever™ other than the intervention of one of the Gods of the Bible.

    Since divine intervention does not happen, there is only a variety of collections of books that different sects refer to as the Bible.

    Some sects do not allow one book (or several books) that is required by other sects and vice versa.

    There are conferences where the religious decide what their official books will be. Those excluded are apocrypha or Not True Books of the Bible™.

    What is a True Christian™?

    Anyone who claims to be can be one, because if we let others decide, then there will always be someone who will say that another sect is Not a True Christian™.

    There is at least one form of Christianity that is accepted by the Ku Klux Klan. There is at least one that is accepted by the Westboro Baptist Church. At the other end of the spectrum are the Unitarians.

    The only person who can honestly claim to know whether they are True Christians™ is God – and he is not available for comment.

    They can all claim that those others are Not True Christians™, but they are just as susceptible to being called Not True Christians™ as anyone else.

    5. They are all True Christians™.

    They are all Not True Christians™.

    6. The idea that a God could be perfect and all powerful and still allow so much misunderstanding and violence in his name is silly.

    Why can’t a perfect being communicate clearly?

    I do a better job and I horrible at communication, but I am pretty sure that none of my readers have tortured, or killed, in my name.

    7. There may be no such things as bad questions, but this is a good candidate.

    It does not matter what a True Whatever™ is, except to those who believe and have a problem with what others believe.

    .

  • https://antiavidanime.wordpress.com/ The Other Weirdo

    It does not matter what a True Whatever™ is, except to those who believe and/or have a problem with what others believe.

    I don’t think you fully read my reply to Maxima. This is exactly what I was trying to get across.

  • http://127.0.0.1 3lemenope

    I tend to think the problem would be lessened if people didn’t expect others to share in their joy to the same extent or for the same reasons; they refuse to accept “it’s nice that you’re happy” (*ahem* Happy Holidays!) as a general sentiment, and derive offense from the fact you aren’t exactly as happy and for the same reasons as them. It’s difficult for them to understand that something which brings them great joy can mean rather different things to others (some of those things not necessarily being pleasant associations), akin to how people can sometimes be offended when you don’t like the same foods or movies or music as them.

    But on the other token, holidays pass. Unless you actually have PTSD associated with a holiday (which is, like, not impossible but is rare), it doesn’t seem a good or effective approach to be annoyed by everyone around you having fun simply because you are not a participant. Better would be relishing the things you do get enjoyment out of, and are a participant in. This is, for example, the motivation behind how a relatively minor Jewish holiday like Hanukkah became big in Christian-majority countries, esp. in the US where Christmas is done like an event, and it’s an effective strategy where everyone can win.

  • ansuz

    You’re eliding the distinctions between ‘irritated by an eyesore and frustrated by the ubiquity of such eyesores’; ‘offended’; ‘triggered’; and ‘feeling unsafe’.
    And you’re sort of right. If I’m an openly (or apparently) Jewish person living next to someone who hangs up swastikas to celebrate Hitler’s birthday, I might have reason to feel unsafe, and there ought to be something I can do — even if it’s just making a record of it and informing law enforcement so that if the antisemitism does escalate, or turns into a pattern of harassment, there’s a decent amount of evidence.
    If you’re triggered, that’s not an issue of your safety, but a personal issue. I’d suggest a polite conversation with your neighbour and/or some cognitive behavioural therapy.
    For the other two? Sorrynotsorry, you don’t have the right to not be offended or to dictate how other people decorate (unless there’s a fire hazard or something). Your options are to suck it up, vent amongst like-minded people, create and publish a well-reasoned argument/opinion piece not directed at anyone in particular about what sorts of decorations are and are not appropriate/inclusive/attractive, or be a jerk about it. The person in this story chose to be a jerk about it.

  • waldteufel

    Poor little thing. . . .grow a set and get over yourself.

    That said, absent some evidence to the contrary, I think this story is phony.

  • waldteufel

    I smell bullshit.

  • Rob P

    It seems plausible to me. But only as one angry stupid neighbor and not any group, atheist or otherwise.

  • jen

    This is the town where I live. This is a pretty mixed area in terms of population. I’m not making the assumption that it was an atheist who wrote this letter. I think a lot of us are agreed that the problematic displays are the ones on government property. What’s with the recent posts blaming our own community for things we’re not sure we did (this and the feminist riot thing?) WTF?

  • Brian K

    I’ve got to amit I’m tempted to write something like this when people’s kitchy Christmas decorations stay up until March. Then I remember that’s stupid and go back to minding my own damn business.

  • Kingasaurus

    Newton has enough snobs to make it at least plausible.

    It’s no Wellesley, but…

    😉

  • The Starship Maxima

    Well done.

  • allein

    My old route to work, before I moved, took me past two houses on the same street (it’s a long street; they weren’t all that close together, but still), with four and six, respectively, of those hideous inflatable things. After Christmas a few years ago, they stayed there, dead on the ground, until mid-March. I hate those things to begin with, but when they’re deflated they just look sad. Luckily my homeowner’s association doesn’t allow them.
    .
    But hey, as long as they’re not keeping me up at night, I don’t care what you put on your lawn.

  • http://www.greatestescapist.com/ Kate / @heyescapist

    Blurgh, so many people are jerks – religious people, atheist people, people somewhere in between. My neighbors have, like, 18 inflatable holiday displays, & though I’ve often resisted the urge to put them with a kitchen knife, I wouldn’t dream of actually doing it, or even of whispering that their decorations are a tacky eyesore, religiosity or not. No matter where you fall on the religion spectrum (including “nowhere”), I think there’s a lot to be said for loving thy neighbor.

  • Mario Strada

    No, no kitchen knife. A BB gun works just as well. A sawed off shotgun would work well too, but is not as stealthy.

    I actually enjoy all the decorations people put out for Xmas. I can no longer be bothered since my daughter went off to college, but I am glad there are people that like to make the effort. I dislike the really gaudy ones, but there are many nice and tasteful ones in my neighborhood.

  • http://www.greatestescapist.com/ Kate / @heyescapist

    I agree! Even if I don’t celebrate the reasoning behind the holiday, I like the feel of the season, inflatables & lights & boughs of holly & all.

  • Glenn Boyce

    I’m betting this story is 100% made up.

  • Dan

    Yep. It smacks far too much of Palin/O’Reilly “War on Christmas,” “those angry atheists will sue you for having a nativity scene on your own lawn!” BS to strike me as real. I’d bet dollars to donuts the lady just read Palin’s ridiculous book, wrote the supposed letter from a neighbor herself, and called up the local Fox affiliate.

  • allein

    I was flipping through her new book a few weeks ago in the bookstore. My eyes quickly glazed over and I did not retain a single word I read.

  • Rob P

    Newon MA is a bit upscale so it is plausible that a neighbor is complaining about “tacky” decorations. There is also a sizable Jewish population which makes the “not everybody in the neighborhood is Christian” also plausible.
    I would say that only this anonymous letter writer is bothered by the nativity.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    All over the country their are neighborhoods full of busybodies that want to tell everyone else what they can and can’t do. Some have neighborhood committees that have to approve various things you can do. And then there are co-op and condo associations. Petty fascists if you ask me. I can believe someone wrote such a letter. There are plenty of people with nothing better to do that to look for things to be faux-outraged about.

  • allein

    I live in a condo and they have rules about decorations. Some are safety rules (regarding anything electric and fire codes). We can’t put up things like inflatables because anywhere you could put one is common property. My neighbor opposite puts lights on the railing of the upstairs landing (which I couldn’t do even if I wanted to because the cord would go across the top of the stairs), which is nice because it makes it look like our whole 4-unit section is in on it. But we can put lights and wreaths and stuff on our doors and windows, and townhouse people can decorate the landscaping outside their units. And all decorations have to be down by January 10th. I wouldn’t call them fascist. If I lived in an actual house with its own yard, though, I’d say screw you, I’ll put up whatever decorations I want.

    I need to put up my Merry Christmas hanging thingy my mom made me. Conveniently for this time of year, I have a red door and shutters. :)

  • Kira

    This neighbor is free to be an a-hole, but he really should keep it in the privacy of his own home.

  • Richard Thomas

    The good thing about not being a member of any religious group is that this person in no way speaks for me. ELE

  • lmern

    I aspire to my own house and perhaps even my own lawn one day. When that day comes, I’ll be happily crafting and displaying gaudy decorations in honour of his noodliness. I can only hope my neighbours would extend the same courtesies to me as this woman is to her anonymous hater.

  • Anymouse

    Jerks also have First Amendment rights, are welcome to share their opinion, and have a right to remain anonymous. It’s not hate speech, after all. I’m just saying that although the letter was insensitive, overly dramatic and probably intentionally hurtful, it’s just someone’s opinion, not persecution. The suggestion that the neighbor only decorate “in the privacy of their own home” is an invasion of the neighbor’s right to free speech. That’s the part that offends me.

  • $84687101

    Yeah, as long as there’s no threat, this is just jerky neighbor behavior. Not news.

  • Anymouse

    Exactly.

  • http://127.0.0.1 3lemenope

    A necessary adjunct to that right to free expression is the right to freely criticize some expressions for being jerky, as that too is an expression.

  • Anymouse

    Yup! And, as GusSnarp put it, this is just jerky neighbor behavior, not news, which is what I was trying to express. :-)

  • allein

    The suggestion that the neighbor only decorate “in the privacy of their own home”

    My reaction to that was “isn’t that what she was doing?” It might be outside but it’s still on her own property.

  • disqus_Ub4fvwt0g2

    10 bucks the note is a fake.

  • A3Kr0n

    It’s not against the law to be a jerk. I do it everyday without even realizing it.

  • HyperKangaroo

    Kristin Hunter: so sorry that happened to you. That sucks, and the letter-writer is an asshat. We the faithless in general respect and value religious tolerance toward people of all religions, and letters like this are not even close to being any kind of representation of our values/beliefs.

    Forgive me if I’m a little skeptical. I’ve heard about other atheists doing shitty things, but they are usually more along the lines of being dicks to women/queer members of the community. Something like this anonymous letter was never along the lines of any of the other shitty things. I’ve neverThis anti-christmas letter after a series of “war on christmas” hoaxes used to give a bad name to the faithless makes me wonder if this was written with the intent to do that as well (or at least, make it look like the Christians are persecuted). With all the “War on Christmas” false claims lately, its hard to trust news like this, especially weird ones like this.

  • Rob P

    It doesn’t say whether the letter writer identified as an atheist or not. I’ve said that the story is plausible for having one cranky and stupid neighbor.

  • HyperKangaroo

    I realize that. Hence the second paragraph.

  • Alexandrine

    Newton Mass. is very wealthy, so the neighbors may be too snooty to tolerate a kitschy Christmas display. (I’ve personally always appreciated even the most over the top, ridiculous, neon, flashy Christmas decorations, just because I think that it’s fun. Except the house across the street from my in-laws, only because all of the flashing lights going off at different times makes me feel like I’m going to have a seizure.)

    Also, Newton is largely Jewish (about 1/3, according to Wikipedia), so that’s actually quite likely the “not Christians” that many of the neighbors are, not atheists. And I imagine that the “neighbors” who all hate the display are really just one neighbor with a mean streak. Sure, some of the others may roll their eyes at the display or privately find it tacky, but unless they’re all Mean Girls-style gossips, I imagine most of them wouldn’t ever really express much opinion on it, or write a mean note like this.

  • Rob P

    I can even see this one neighbor complaining to the other neighbors and they just nod their heads and say “yeah” rather than argue with the crank.

  • Melissa McCurley

    It was probably a Christian trying to make up a story & make atheists look bad.

  • Greg G.

    The story does have a Breitbart-like ring to it.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    So long as they aren’t violating noise, safety or other neighborhood or city ordinances, the neighbors have every right to put up a nativity scene on their own property. I realize there are displays that could be offensive. The “God hates fags” or “Your child is now burning in hell” type signs are offensive. Statements of one’s beliefs in a positive fashion are not offensive and if you think they are there’s something wrong with you. You don’t have a right to live in a world where no one does or says anything you don’t approve of. What a boring world that would be anyway.

  • Art_Vandelay

    That picture just reeks of sanctimony, doesn’t it?

  • Rob P

    Not to me. She seems genuinely hurt as someone who has just been told that something they like is tacky/no good.

  • Art_Vandelay

    Okay, fair enough. Did you watch the video?

  • Rob P

    I just watch the video. I didn’t get a sanctimonious vibe off of them. Off of Elisabeth Hasselbeck I got a sanctimonious vibe.

  • Matt D

    I’m not suprised when people take to mimicking the behavior of their former oppressors, since a lot of hard feelings tend to surface when a religious majority loses it’s grip on a society. That being said, it should be obvious to anyone that this “letter” is ridiculous, as setting up a religious display on your own property is perfectly legal.

  • gparks642

    As a Christian I like and support this post!

  • http://youtu.be/fCNvZqpa-7Q Kevin_Of_Bangor

    100% dick move if it is real but to be honest, the decorations do look like shit.

  • Richard Thomas

    I wouldn’t get too worked up about this one just yet. Have we learned nothing from hoaxer waitresses and fake-homophobic non-tipping customers?

  • Chrissy Savva

    I would hope that’s not the case, but I’m glad it wasn’t just me that was wondering that, too.

  • NathanExplosion

    This letter writer should just have the balls to tell this lady that her displays negatively impact property values in the neighborhood as Jesus people will react to events that impact their dollars.

    On a not completely unrelated front, Terry Firma should have written this post as this story would have allowed him to continue his efforts of foisting blame for random events on “atheism”.

  • Wallace Finch

    I wonder if this is a Poe, looking to get negative attention for non-believers?

  • Pope Gregor

    It could be that the person who left the note was a Christian trying to make atheists look bad. Such a person could write a note like that and say “look, I told you atheists were evil! Look what they’ve done now!” knowing that members of the community would automatically assume that the person who wrote the note was an atheist and jump all over atheists for it. Just throwing that out there.

  • Andy

    Yeah, but… The letter is fairly accurate. The decorations ARE fugly. It IS an eyesore- it’s the decorating equivalent of leaving a car up on cinder blocks in your front yard. The only thing that surprises me about this is that they didn’t get an anonymous nasty-gram YEARS before this…

  • Jason A. Quest

    If you complained to your Fox affiliate about receiving the letter, trying to turn it into a news story, you are also a jerk.

  • Christopher Griswold

    I am hard to convince that this letter is genuine given the high number of these “letter from a neighbor”s that have turned out fake. If it is indeed authentic, the writer needs to get a life. I for one enjoy long at holiday decorations, provided they are up in the month of the actual holiday, even the tacky ones. I think I saw one of those caganers in a display I drove by today.

  • ElRay

    “Kitschy” is Yiddish. To me, the letter writer seems to be more likely to celebrate Chanukah than an atheist Maybe if this happened in NYC, where Yiddish is less culture-specific, you could argue an atheist letter writer.

  • Nancy Shrew

    It’s German, actually, not specifically Yiddish. Anyway, even if it was, it’s a perfectly common term used to describe gaudiness.

  • The Vicar

    Yup. That’s a jerk, all right. I’ve been sorely tempted to complain to some people near me in the past because their tacky decoration was actually somewhat intrusive (they had a giant glowing Santa head on their front door which had a motion sensor in it which malfunctioned on a regular basis, which made it play Christmas music with a tinny little speaker, at a volume loud enough to be heard inside my house with all the windows shut — mercifully, it did not make a reappearance this year, so the problem is solved), but even in my most glowering bad mood, lying in bed trying to sleep while the music played audibly in the background, it never occurred to me that it would be a good idea to write a passive-agressive anonymous note.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/OffensivAtheist bismarket

    Sorry but i’m not buying this, it’s too perfect, it fits perfectly with Fox’s “War on Xmas” theme & it just doesn’t sound like any genuine Atheist i’ve ever met. Even the plain demographics would suggest that if the note wasn’t fabricated it’s a Christian hiding behind a “smokescreen” of pretend Atheism. There are so many more likely scenarios than an Anonymous Atheist Neighbour sent a pointless note that IMO this is either a hoax by FOX, the family who supposedly received it or someone using it as an excuse to attack us & justify the appearance (to some) of the “War on Xmas”. Doesn’t any one of those options sound more believable?

  • rg57

    “We don’t know if the letter-writer (and I’m assuming there really was a
    letter-writer here) was an atheist, but it looks that way. If so, then
    that person’s just being a jerk.”

    There’s nothing to suggest that this person (if one exists) is an atheist, and not a member of a minority religion (or even a child in the same household). But according to you, Hemant, they’re only a jerk (and earlier a “complete asshole”) if they’re atheist?

    Those terms apply to you, Hemant, for your anti-atheist bigotry.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

    It’s poorly phrased. The “if so” was referring to if the letter was real. I’ll fix it in the post.

  • Spuddie

    I am thinking hoax.

  • NG

    I hate my neighbors’ cheap, ugly, tacky displays and how much energy they waste. I’d love to dismantle all of them but I won’t say a word to them about how nasty they look. At least none of them have a ‘keep Christ in Christmas’ sign like someone in my brother’s neighborhood, and they don’t play music or get a lot of people driving down the street to view them. It could be worse and they will go away next month.

  • cary_w

    Kristen,
    I’m not a big fan of Christmas in any form, but even I have to admit that after a month or so of the dreary cold and darknes of winter it’s nice to see some cheery lights. Your house is beautiful, ignore the haters and add as many more lights and decoration as you please. There are far more people out there that think it’s beautiful than there are people who think it’s tacky.
    Merry Christmas *<|:-)

  • Guest

    Is there anything about Christmas that isn’t kitschy? It might as well be called Kitschmas.

  • http://roguemedic.com/ Rogue Medic

    The First Amendment is there to protect the individual’s right to celebrate their religion.

    As long as there is no violation of ordinary laws not written to discourage religious expression (zoning laws, noise laws, traffic laws, . . . ), then there is nothing wrong with a religious display and we should be defending their right to protection under the First Amendment as much as we criticize parts of the government that use this stuff to promote religion.

    .

  • Anthony Lund

    this whole story is a wast of time an space . No one was attacked , some one with an opinion expressed themselves , woo . I watched the segment to this , and that and this are time I will never get back .

  • sara

    That note is “cheap, tacky and kitschy” and “beyond tasteless.”

  • Dan Robinson

    If I decided to write a letter for every bit of tacky christmas junk I see in someones yard I wouldn’t have time for a pee break.

  • RegularJoe

    And then there’s this note I received tied to a brick and tossed through my bedroom window:

    Dear Neighbor,

    We noticed you don’t have any CHRISTMAS decorations up yet. You do realize that it’s CHRISTMASTIME, and CHRISTMAS is only a week a way, and you’re house doesn’t have any CHRISTMAS lights or giant inflatable snowmen or anything…not even a Crèche with Baby Jesus and the animals and drummer boy.

    You know that being a communist and atheist will only get you into the fires of Hell, right? Walmart has a sale on right now for decorations and lights to celebrate the Birth of Baby Jesus. Hurry up, you only have a week to save your soul. We are praying for you,

    Wishing you the warmest of Christmas Blessings in His Name,

    You’re Christian Neighbor’s

  • SeekerLancer

    Sounds more like an angry letter from a stuck up homeowners association member. Regardless, the person who wrote it is an asshole and “people being passive aggressive assholes” shouldn’t be a news story. But you know, WAR ON CHRISTMAS and all that.

  • David Hite

    I call BS. Faked to make news and perpetuate the fake war on Christmas.

  • Tia McKenzie Ennis

    I loved your house and it is absolutely none of anyone else’s business how you choose to celebrate Christmas or the Holidays or whatever. You just hang those lights darling and plug them in and tell that old sourpuss that this is why I am not a far left liberal….either side needs to develop and use common sense and common courtesy.

  • invisigoth

    IF it is true then it is seriously rude.

    I’m kind of torn though – look at all the outrage from that fake Halloween letter that was going around in October. The one that stated that the person was not going to give certain kids candy because s/he considered them fat.

  • Gene Splicer

    I’d bet the atheist will regret writing that letter in the near future. It sounds like an emotional and mean spirited reaction to his neighbor’s ugly, but legal display. Especially if he sees the reaction from his peers.

  • malhawk

    Why assume this letter was written by an atheist and not a Jew, or muslim? Regardless of who wrote it, it is an awful disgusting piece of hate.

  • Dawn Stone

    Sounds like another scam.

  • Fernando Aguilar

    There is something missing in the story. A reason why an Atheist is suspected of writing the letter. It seems just as likely to have been anyone of any other religious persuasion. Why jump to Atheist?

  • EmmittBrownBTTF1

    It is one to target dumb animals on public land, quite another to target them in their cages.

  • Paul Beauregard

    Atheists bitch when the government endorses a particular religion, they don’t care about their neighbor’s Christmas decorations. I can tell you that long ago, I had a Jewish roommate who used those exact words “cheap, tacky and kitschy” to describe my Christmas decorations. If you know anything about Newton, Massachusetts, you’d know that this letter wasn’t written by an atheist.

  • Kohoutek

    I want to give her a hug!

  • http://www.zombielogic.org/ Thomas L. Vaultonburg

    Bad taste is no sin. if it were (and if there was a god), I’d be boned. http://www.zombielogic.org/2013/12/atheist-christmas-cards-presents-hills.html

  • James Donald Weddle

    Several years ago a neighbor walked past my house and in response to my “hello, how are you” greeting demanded to know my religious affiliation. When asked how that was of interest to her she replied that since we never decorated for Christmas she wondered if we were “Jewish or something”. So it seemed we were “under suspicion” for NOT offering a Christmas display to the ‘hood. She actually seemed to take offense at the absence of that sort of thing at our house. The pendulum does swing both ways.