Chris Stedman was invited on Bill O’Reilly’s show last year to talk about the fake war on on Christmas. He was initially invited back again this year, but instead they brought on the staggeringly moronic Dr. Keith Ablow to psychoanalyze people he’s never met. So Chris decided to write out what he would have said on the show.
But here’s the problem: Because there are so few atheists in this country—only about 2 percent of Americans identify as atheists—most people don’t have many opportunities to meet an atheist. For those people, their perception of atheists and atheism is shaped almost entirely by the media, and what they see is likely to be negative.
We often see negative stories about Christians, too, since so much of our media is driven by stories of conflict. But most Americans are much more likely to know many different kinds of Christians. This means they have more than just conflict-driven media to base their understanding on. Many of these same people, though, may only have seen an atheist on TV—discussing an anti-religious billboard, perhaps.
I’ve only ever been invited to Fox News to talk about the so-called “War on Christmas,” and I’m surely not the only person with this experience. But there are so many other stories they and other networks could be covering.Why aren’t they reporting on the positive contributions of atheists and agnostics, like the newly launching Humanist Service Corps, the growing number of Humanist communities and campus chaplaincies, or the surge of nonreligious congregations?
A great many atheists show deep compassion as a direct result of their Humanist principles. Many atheists are working to make the atheist community a safer place for people of all backgrounds, and the world a more accepting place for people of all faiths and beliefs. Many atheists are working with people of faith to save our planet, promote justice, and tackle systemic inequities.
I’d love to see Bill O’Reilly invite atheists on to talk about those things, instead of an imaginary “War on Christmas.” Until he does, the “War on Christmas” feels a lot more like a war on the voices of most atheists.
Frankly, I think it’s little more than a marketing slogan. The Christian right is very good at generating false ideas and catchphrases that cause their audience to become afraid and feel persecuted. They do that because that’s how you raise a lot of money. Demagoguery is a powerful way to pry open the wallets of the credulous.