A Godless Christmas

Why the atheist campaign to take Christ out of Christmas is anything but merry

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This year, even atheists are getting into the Christmas spirit--kind of. As the religious prepare for a month of holy holidays, humanists and atheists will be celebrating the season with the country's first Godless holiday campaign. The American Humanist Association has launched a $40,000 ad bliz in cities across the United States to soften the stigma surrounding non-believers, and invite them to enjoy the holiday season.

The group, consisting of atheists and others who say they embrace reason over religion, has launched a national godless holiday campaign, with ads appearing inside or on 250 buses in five U.S. cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco starting today. The placards depict smiling people wearing red Santa hats with the slogan: "No God? . . . No problem!"

Of course, one person's good cheer is an assault on another person's religion. Not everyone thinks you can take the Christ out of Christmas. Religious columnists are grumbling at the heretical ad campaign, which many are calling a "war on Christmas." Here's why atheists have faith-minded Americans feeling scrooge-like:

  • Atheists Are Jealous Bill O'Reilly takes to the editorial pages and the airwaves to defend Christmas cheer from the scourge of the atheists. "While Christians have Jesus and Jews have the prophets, nonbelievers have Bill Maher," O'Reilly writes. "There are no Christmas carols for atheists, no pagan displays of largesse like Santa Claus. In fact, for the nonbeliever, Christmas is just a day off, a time to consider that Mardi Gras is fewer than two months away."
  • We Are Offending Christ At Christian News Today, Paula Pinto says "we have conformed to some of these modern terms so that we 'don't offend anyone,' forgetting that in our efforts to be socially conscious, we are truly offending Christ." For Pinto, "Keeping Christ in Christmas is really what its all about, because without Him, there would be no Christmas at all."
  • The Campaign Is a Distortion of Faith While he sympathizes "with anyone who has suffered from religious intolerance and close-mindedness," The Washington Post's Deepak Chopra says "nothing is absolute, and throwing God out of the holidays isn't right. God stands for all our spiritual aspirations, and we forget them far too often the rest of the year."
  • Blasphemous! Willis E. Elliot, a minister, fights back in the pages of The Washington Post. Atheism, he contents point by point, yields terrible results:

    2.1.....How did it work out in the FRENCH Revolution? The guillotine for the upper class, and (Napoleonic) totalitarianism for everybody remaining.
    2.2.....How did it work out in the RUSSIAN Revolution? The quasi-deification of Stalin; genocide for the kulaks; totalitarianism for everybody remaining.
    2.3.....How did it work out in the CHINESE Revolution? The quasi-deification of Mao; the widespread destruction of people and culture in "the Cultural Revolution"; and totalitarianism for everybody remaining.

  • The Christmas Militants Should Chill Out Dusty Nix of the Columbus Ledger and Enquirer says Christians are far from under attack. "It also seems like spending the holidays simmering in righteous resentment of those who aren't merry enough would be self-defeating, but maybe that's just me," he writes. "The people grimly determined to "save" Christmas are like the politicians determined to "protect" my right to pray: Neither my Christmases nor my prayers have ever been in jeopardy, and I can do without the invaluable assistance, thank you, of those rushing to their defense."
  • There Is No War on Christmas ...But the campaign is stupid anyway, says Susan Jacoby in the Washington Post. She thinks atheists should stop apologizing. "Show me that people who believe in God behave in a more moral, compassionate fashion than anyone else, and then I'll explain to you, one more tiresome time, why being an atheist doesn't lead me to commit murder," she writes. "I do not accept religion as the default position for goodness. I think that humanists and atheists spend far too much time proclaiming, 'I am not what the promoters of religion say I am."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.