ATHEIST-thetics of CHRISTMAS: Just be Merry?

Is it presents or presence? Santa or Saint Nick, or that sly devil of a Krampus would be left rubbing their chinny chin chins over these. Drinking and driving a sled full of gifts is not recommended but….Its the Holidays, Its Christmas and whose to argue anyway?…Well, quite a few apparently. Argument can be quite profitable.

“We live in a society that’s designed and decorated by believers,” Roger Scott Jackson says. “We atheists are generally OK with that. Walk through any city and count the number of spires and crosses that you see, the number of signs and billboards and monuments to belief, and they are absolutely ubiquitous in the culture. “But let atheists put up one little sign on a bus and all hell breaks loose, and they are in a position to push us around. It reaches a crescendo in the holiday season when they accuse us of the so-called ‘war on Christmas.’”

It’s not unreasonable to want to enjoy Christmas despite not believing in all the stuff about virgin birth and angels. A lack of faith doesn’t get in the way of enjoying family, togetherness and generosity, not to mention presents, mulled wine and good food….

“We don’t need a non-existent God to send a son to be killed as a blood sacrifice for us. We just need to understand our shared humanity. That is the true message of this season of hope. We could do it at any time, but December 25th is traditional. The festival is called Christmas, it contains the name of a mythic religious entity that I do not regard as a god, but then so do the words Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. No big deal. As an atheist I have no more problems with Christmas than I do with Wednesdays.”

Phil Plait:Are you secular? Humanist? Even (gasp!) atheist? Or are you any one of the thousands of other non-Christian religions peppering the planet? And yet, do you celebrate Christmas every year, reveling during the moment, but feeling shamed and guilty on Boxing Day? Then do so no longer. It’s OK to be non-Christian and celebrate Christmas. And for proof, you can read the 42 essays comprising the book The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas, edited by Ariane Sherine

“When I heard them singing, ‘Born is the Ki-ing of I-is-ra-el,’ I thought, “Well, either he was that, or he was a fraud,” he is saying. “Messianic Jews are convinced that he was.” In the rabbi’s study above the part-time prayer hall, we enjoy a lively conversation about the Nazarene and his disciples. “Virgin birth?” he says. “That’s very Jewish. The first three matriarchs -Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel -were barren. God performed a miracle and ‘opened their wombs.’ One would expect the pattern to continue with the birth of a messiah, too.

Richard Dawkins

“Christmas is a thoroughly Jewish holiday in essence. But like a lot of Christians, it has lost its Jewish roots. I honour the birth of the Messiah -that’s important. Isaiah predicted it. It’s foreshadowed in Genesis. It’s theologically essential, but Christmas isn’t.  “Look, I’m an American. The American Christmas is fun, it’s beautiful. The decorations are pretty but they’re not Jewish, plus they’re not Scriptural.”

More than half of all Santatarians self-identify as fundamentalists, of which the majority practice Santaclostalism, speaking in tongues, or, more accurately, tongue, chanting the word Santa until they enter a trance through which they claim to experience perfect understanding of the “spiritual centrality of retail merchandizing,” sometimes accompanied by visions in which Santa cavorts in the nude.

Artist: Spitting Image Title: Santa Claus Is On The Dole/First Atheist Tabernacle Choir First appeared in chart (at position): 06/12/1986 (71) Last Seen in Chart (at position): 17/01/1987 (64) Length of time in chart: 7 weeks Highest position in chart: 22

Seldom seen are the cloistered Claustrophobians, the priestly class, in whose monasteries and convents, according to ancient custom, males

s as Santa and females as Mrs. Claus. Reform movements aimed at bringing women into the Santa-suit-wearing priesthood, have thus far failed to gain traction among entrenched traditionalists who cite centuries of gender-specific costuming orthodoxy.

According to Nick “Santa” Wilson, a self-described “Santatoligist,” Salvation Army Santas are regarded as apostates. “The money they raise all goes to promoting Christ,” Wilson says. “They take something decent and good and turn it into a way to spread these far-fetched teachings of the Antisanta, Christ.”

Wilson explains that his group has filed a lawsuit asking that the Salvation Army be required to post disclaimers on all of their kettles stating in clear language that the proceeds go not to Santa but to Jesus. “False advertising, that’s what it is,” he says.

“This is nothing new or unique,” agrees Nick “Santa” Fong, spokesperson for the interdenominational Keep Christ Out of Christmas Crusade. “These red-suited mountebanks have been masquerading as Santas for a hundred years. Why even have laws against fraud if you’re not going to enforce them?”

---A Lebanon man alleges he was fired last month by the local Wal-Mart because he refused to dress up as the store's Santa Claus. A spokesman for the retail giant denied the claim, which was filed this week with the Maine Human Rights Commission on behalf of Christopher Nolan. Nolan, 27, had worked at Wal-Mart for three years, most recently as a bicycle assembler. In his complaint, Nolan said he thought it was a joke when he was asked Dec. 8 to fill in as the store Santa Claus at the Main Street Wal-Mart. He said his co-workers were laughing.---


One of the oddest anti-Christmas crusaders is Brother Sam Singleton, America’s one and only travelling Atheist Evangelist, a long, lean Santa Claus with nothing in his sack. Brother Sam is a lanky baritone who dresses like a Deadwood undertaker and drawls like a Dixiecrat. He travels the land urinating (figuratively) on the Good Book in a one-man show that he calls “Patriarchs and Penises,” knowledgably quoting chapter and verse to turn his audience against a Supreme Being.

“I’ve seen polls that say that 11% of Americans consider themselves atheists,” Brother Sam announces in the unheated upstairs of the Capitol Hill watering hole. “That’s double what it was ten years ago, but it still leaves 89% of Americans who have an imaginary friend who tells ‘em what do to.”"If I was tryin’ to find God,” Brother Sam says to knowing howls, “the last place I’d look is one of the churches I was raised in.” “If you wind up getting’ a Christian burial,” he preaches, “don’t say you weren’t warned.”

---Last year, I was pleased to meet Roger Scott Jackson (RoSco) and his wife Cari when they came to Philadelphia to perform the Sam Singleton, atheist evangelist show entitled, “Patriarchs and Penises.” RoSco takes on the identity of Sam Singleton, an atheist evangelist for the one man comedy show.---


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Ray Gartan: O’Reilly never denied any of Mackris’s claims, but filed a countersuit. The lawsuit was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum and both suits were dropped.

But that was more than six years ago. Today, Bill O’Reilly is concerned about what he sees as an attack on Christians and Christianity, because obviously, following the teachings of Jesus Christ is a priority in O’Reilly’s life. On November 28, 2005, O’Reilly said on his Fox News show, “Every company in America should be on its knees thanking Jesus for being born.” He hammers this subject relentlessly, claiming that it’s all part of “a very secret plan” that is designed to “diminish Christian philosophy in the USA.” Every year, O’Reilly sounds off about stores and companies that choose to use the phrase “happy holidays” rather than “merry Christmas” in their marketing campaigns, and every year, the complaints get angrier, louder and wilder. According to O’Reilly, saying “happy holidays” will lead to the “legalization of narcotics, euthanasia, abortion at will, gay marriage,” and will wipe Christianity off the map in America.

---You do go after Christians, though ... Teller and I have been brutal to Christians, and their response shows that they’re good fucking Americans who believe in freedom of speech. We attack them all the time, and we still get letters that say, “We appreciate your passion. Sincerely yours, in Christ.” Christians come to our show at the Rio and give us Bibles all the time. They’re incredibly kind to us. Sure, there are a couple of them who live in garages, give themselves titles and send out death threats to me and Bill Maher and Trey Parker. But the vast majority are polite, open-minded people, and I respect them for that.---

More and more media figures — Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage — have jumped on the “Christmas war” wagon. But all of this anger and shouting is not confined to the media. In 2002, the Alliance Defense Fund, an organization of Christian activist lawyers co-founded by James Dobson, began organizing hundreds of lawyers all over the country to pounce on anything they perceived as a threat to Christmas by filing lawsuits. A number of other Christian activist organizations do the same thing every year, filling the courts with lawsuits defending the most popular and beloved holiday in America from … whatever. Senior legal council for the Alliance Defense Fund, Mike Johnson, once said, “It’s a sad day in America when you have to retain a lawyer to wish someone a merry Christmas.”

There’s just one problem with that: It’s never happened. No one has ever had to seek legal representation for wishing someone “merry Christmas.” Johnson’s remark is based entirely on fantasy. In fact, none of the things these people are so wildly upset about are happening! No one is trying to destroy Christmas.

…Just in case you’re thinking that the United States is a Christian nation and everyone should respect, if not personally observe, Christian holidays, I’d like to point out one little problem with that: The United States is not a Christian nation and never was. The majority of Americans are Christian, there is no doubt about that. But that means this is a nation of Christians, not a Christian nation — there’s a big difference.

…There was only one successful “war on Christmas” in America’s history. It was a war fought by a group of people who were so offended by the celebration of Christmas that they banned it by law and fined anyone who was found engaging in any kind of recognition of the holiday. For 22 years, this group succeeded in abolishing Christmas. This, by the way, was a group of Christians. Puritans in Massachusetts banned Christmas from 1659 to 1681 because they found no biblical support for the holiday, strongly disapproved of its pagan origins and did not like the raucous partying that took place every Christmas. The law stated that anyone found “observing, by abstinence from labor, feasting or any other way any such days as Christmas day, shall pay for every such offense five shillings.” From Andrew Santella’s Slate article, “The War on Christmas, the Prequel”:

After the English Restoration government reclaimed control of Massachusetts from the Puritans in the 1680s, one of the first acts of the newly appointed royal governor of the colony was to sponsor and attend Christmas religious services. Perhaps fearing a militant Puritan backlash, for the 1686 services he was flanked by redcoats. The Puritan disdain for the holiday endured: As late as 1869, public-school kids in Boston could be expelled for skipping class on Christmas Day.

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