Famed atheist front man Richard Dawkins this week claimed that telling children about Santa Claus and allowing them Christmas fantasies is harmful and bordering on abuse. I don’t know about you but I’m getting sick and tired of atheists hijacking all that is fun about Christmas.
From putting up anti-God billboards in Times Square to complaining about schools packing boxes for Operation Christmas Child the anti-Christmas agenda of known atheist propagandists is wearing mighty thin.
I don’t understand it. I have many friends who are atheist and not a one of them is this rude, this insensitive and this militant in their views of Christmas — or Santa Claus, for that matter.
But talk to just about anyone and you’ll detect real hesitancy to throw Christmas out there for fear of inciting atheist rage.
Up in Canada a vociferous atheist complained about the city buses with a “Merry Christmas” greeting that rotated on the bus message board. In Michigan a little old lady used to tramp through the snow in a city park to display, at her own expense, a nativity scene in an outdoor gazebo. She did this for decades but it was recently forced out by the city when an atheist made a single phone call lodging a complaint of separation of church and state.
That’s the funny thing. Behind claims of moralistic fairness atheists will wave the flag of the Constitution but rarely do they ever read it. The Constitution never says a word about separation of Church and State. It supports government NOT establishing a religion. But Christmas, even in the eyes of the federal government, isn’t religiously acknowledged anyway. In the eyes of the law it is a secular holiday, no matter the symbols some put behind it.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation famously clings to atheism in their anti-Christmas efforts. Last year the FFRF erected billboards in New Jersey advising “to keep the Saturn in Saturnalia”. That’s pretty funny considering that when ancient Romans celebrated Saturnalia it was a…religious holiday. Where does an anti-religious organization get off criticizing religion by claiming a religious observance to replace Christmas?
In lodging their Scrooge-like protests over Christmas atheists are making a mockery of the basic freedoms of free speech. That same freedom that makes them so disagreeable they deny to those who wish simply to use the word Christmas in their speech or display Christmas in their own way.
The fact of the matter is that honest atheists celebrate Christmas, too. Most surveys show that atheists have Christmas trees, exchange gifts and decorate their homes with Christmas decorations. Take a poll of your own atheist friends without ties to known organized atheists groups (most honest atheists shun organized religion, why would they belong to a group of organized atheists?). You will find that just about all of them keep Christmas in some way and are, frankly speaking, a bit embarrassed by the atheist hubbub about Christmas that surfaces every year.
And that is because there are a billion ways to celebrate Christmas. And short of barbequing Rudolph, hardly any of them are offensive.
If Richard Dawkins thinks Santa is harmful for kids then so too is Spiderman, Superman, and Harry Potter. If atheists think that handing out candy canes in public schools is going to convert any one over to Christianity the Jehovah Witnesses will want the secret to how that’s done. If David Silverman wants to change the channel on Bing Crosby singing “Faith of Our Fathers”, let him. There’s another channel with “Christmas Shoes” playing for him anyway.
For once I’d love a prominent atheist — Bill Maher, Stephen Hawking, somebody — to just man up and publicly admit that Christmas, George Bailey, Frosty, stockings, Santa, and mistletoe are all harmless good fun to drag out once a year. They don’t have to get moralistic about it. They don’t have to call anyone any names. They can even sip the eggnog with the rest of us, it’s ok. Christmas is for everyone.
But take your religion of unbelief somewhere else. Argue it another time. Leave the festive season alone to be festive.