Can you secularize a religious holiday? Politics Daily's David Gibson notices that, on Monday, the American Humanist Association rolled out its holiday ads, "and they feature a bunch of smiling revelers wearing Santa caps in a pitch that looks like just about every other holiday come-on, complete with red-and-green color scheme." This is a switch, he notes, from "years of waging the so-called 'Christmas wars'" regarding town green crèches. Then there's the "jolly message broadcast in capital letters: 'NO GOD? ... NO PROBLEM!"
But is there really "no problem"?
The latest ad campaign from the AHA raises the question of whether you can be good without Christmas, or something like it ... But the campaign is also in keeping with the trend of atheists, agnostics, secularists, humanists and the range of unaffiliated Americans known to sociologists as the "Nones" (a growing category of perhaps 15 percent of respondents who choose "no religion" when asked by pollsters) to hop a ride on the polar express that is the Christmas holiday.
In recent years, for example, non-believers have been demanding equal time in holiday displays (to declare there is no reason for the season) or celebrating the solstice (stealing a march on the pagans) or, with increasing frequency, celebrating what is known as Human Light Day, a festival begun in 2001 that usually coincides with the solstice (Dec. 23 this year) and features special seasonal music, readings, a candle-lighting ceremony, a big family meal--well, you get the idea.
Should those who celebrate winter holidays with an old-fashioned dose of piety be offended? Gibson suggests that, whether "flattered" or furious, Christians may realize that "it's already a lost cause":
After all, the United States Supreme Court, through a series of fragmented rulings on holiday displays on public property, has pretty much settled on one thing--that Santa Claus (and his eight tiny reindeer, nine if you include Rudolph) counts as secular.
Can you take the "Christ" out of "Christmas"?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.