The holidays are upon us and once again there is much discussion about the nature of the holiday and Christianity. There is the whole “War on Christmas” of course, (have you ever thought about how that marginalizes real war and the death and suffering inherent in it). There is also the whole “Happy Holidays” vs “Merry Christmas” debate. And of course lets not forget the inevitable Christian displays put up by local governments.
The whole thing is kind of a circus; a rehearsed drama being played out. It’s amusing and depressing all at the same time. It’s all about Christian privilege, and their lack of ability to understand nuance. We aren’t saying that the holiday should be banished, or that Christians shouldn’t be allowed to celebrate the birth of their fictional zombie savior. Rather, we are simply saying that governments shouldn’t play favorites with religion. If a government wants to have a nativity scene up that’s fine, provided that they also allow Hanukkah, Kwanza, secular, etc. displays as well. In fact, allowing all displays can help our cause, such as the case in Loudon county (2). Of course, the religious right views any criticism that is even remotely related to Christianity as an attack on Christianity itself.
It’s really unfortunate too, because I know of many atheists, myself included, that really like Christmas. Honestly, Christmas was always a secular holiday for me, even when I was quite religious. Church was just something I had to put up with in order to get presents. Looking at it now, I see it as a holiday where we get to spend time with friends and family, where we show how much we love and appreciate those around us. There are fun songs (many of which are secular), great food, and a generally festive atmosphere. What’s not to love? It’s certainly my favorite holiday of the year.
Unfortunately, there are many religious conservatives out there who cannot stand that people out there try to enjoy the holidays without believing exactly as they do, and they feel that anyone who believes differently is attacking them (hmm…I sense a trend /sarcasm). Are they really so insecure in their worldview that they have to attack anything that threatens it? Are they so insecure that putting up a banner stating “At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail” causes the mayor of the town to say “I believe it violates the First Amendment”? (4) It’s yet another case of Christian privilege at work.
(1) McGinley, Brendan. “The Christmas Sweater.” Cracked. Available: http://www.cracked.com/funny-3444-the-christmas-sweater/
(2) Mehta, Hemant. “Thanks to Christians, Atheist Holiday Displays Will Flourish in Loudoun County.” Friendly Atheist. 1st December, 2011. Available: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2011/12/01/thanks-to-christians-atheist-holiday-displays-will-flourish-in-loudoun-county/
(3) Davies, Matt. “Madmen in the Mall.” Bartblog. Available: http://bartblog.bartcop.com/2007/12/21/
(4) Mehta, Hemant. “Atheist Banner Rejected from Ellwood City Municipal Building, While Nativity Scene Stays.” Friendly Atheist. 5th December, 2011. Available: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2011/12/05/atheist-banner-rejected-from-ellwood-city-municipal-building-while-nativity-scene-stays/