Saturday, December 6, 2008

Holiday Wars

Missing atheist sign found in Washington state

I've been trying to avoid commenting on this, but it's getting wide coverage. The "Freedom from Religion Foundation" took it upon itself to have a sign posted near a nativity scene in Washington State. The sign reads:

"At this season of The Winter Solstice, may reason prevail..."

Sounds good to me, but then:

"There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world..."

Well, that seems a little tasteless to be hung near a nativity scene. And I could quival about semantics. But I have to come down on the side of 'free speech' in this case. But then the brilliant minds at the Freedom From Religion Foundation have to end their Holiday message so:

"...Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."

Well, Merry Christmas and Happy Yule everybody! What a cheery message from the so- called 'brights'. I don't find religious themed holiday displays offensive at all. I wish those sick individuals who choose this time of year to pick silly fights and war with symbols would just get a life.

What really bothers me is this statement from the head of the FFRF:

"...It's not that we are trying to coerce anyone; in a way our sign is a signal of protest," Barker said. "If there can be a Nativity scene saying that we are all going to hell if we don't bow down to Jesus, we should be at the table to share our views."

Will someone explain to me how a Nativity scene is "saying" we are all going to hell if we don't bow down to Jesus? I certainly have bones to pick with many Christians and monotheists and their attitudes. But heck, when I see a Nativity Scene, all I see is Isis, Osiris, and the little baby Horus! Heh! A while ago, a local politician contacted our coven wanting to know if we were interested in protesting a local Nativity scene that was set up on semi-public property. We thought about this long and hard, and decide it was not worth it. I really don't think plopping a Pentacle down next to someone's religious display does anything for our cause.

I was an Atheist for many years. It was a good safe place to be. But I wish the current crop of 'NeoAtheists', 'Brights' (Grrr!) or whatever they are calling themselves would find some other ways to generate publicity. I wonder if feeding the hungry, helping animals and the environment, and some old fashioned community service ever crossed their minds. You'd think so, as they claim 'reason' is on their side.


Anonymous said...

Religious freedom is just that. Freedom. The nativity scenes that go up in my neighborhood, and indeed all over the united states, have nothing to do with my religion as a pagan. They certainly dont inform anyone that theyll go to hell... and even if they did what would it matter?

If you truely believe that there is no god, or if you truely believe in a different spiritual system than that of the christians, they can say whatever they want about Yahweh until they are blue in the face and it shouldnt make any difference.

Because if you really believe it that way, if you really have faith, then you wont be threatened by the presentation of others beliefs any more than ones preference to be omnivorous should make them feel threatened around vegetarians.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you. I don't think starting these kinds of confrontations really does anyone any good. I typically enjoy Christmas even if I don't believe the overall doctrine, and specifically religious displays don't threaten me.

genexs said...

Thanx for stopping in, Moses:

I agree. It would be like being threatened by somebody wearing a Christian cross or Star of David.

Those who use this time of year to wage their phony "Culture War" are truly pathetic and spiritually impoverished people.

genexs said...

Hi Riverwolf:

Yeah. Truth is, I have some fond memories of Christmas as I child. (Heh, not all memories of my Xtian past are traumatic.) So seeing such iconography does not drive me postal.

A short drive from my house, some joker has set up a huge (about 10x5 foot long) billboard on his lawn. It has a painting of a very cliche Joespeh (looking like the Brawny guy), Mary (looking like a nun) and the cute little baby Jesus, all smiling with a halo around his head in his crib of straw. In big bold letters above them: "PUT CHRIST BACK IN CHRISTMAS"

Offensive to my spiritual sensibilites? No. (Well, maybe a small tad.)

Tasteless? Yes, absolutely. It does a better job ruining the neighborhood than a set of pink flamingos ever could.

Yewtree said...

The thing that annoys me about New Atheism is that it assumes that all religion and spirituality whatsoever is the same as the fundagelical Christians, and doesn't bother to find out the differences.

Some rabbi or other is reputed to have said "he who is not against us is with us" and "by their fruits ye shall know them". Seems like a good thought.

I do object to the kind of Christians who want to expunge all Pagan elements from Christmas, as well as to the kind of Pagans who want to expunge all Christian elements from Yule, and the kind of atheists who want to expunge all religion whatever from public life. I do object to the dominance of public life by the established Church (I live in the UK) and think that public events should either be multifaith or secular - but if a church wants to stick a nativity scene outside, or a Pagan wants to paint runes on their garden fence, they shoudl be allowed to.

Anonymous said...

As far as the "Put Christ back in Christmas" argument. Like Nike, I say, "Just do it!" If this guy wants a more religious, reverent holiday, then he needs to start with himself. Screaming at people will never change a thing. No one is stopping him from having the most pure, religious Christmas ever conceived! But they always have to force everyone to jump on the train, too.

Anonymous said...

To Yewtree: Sorry to post this on Gene's blog--but what is your email address? I couldn't find it and I wanted to send your a note about keeping up with your Dance of the Elements blog.

genexs said...

Hi Yew:

I've had a number of arguments with some of the NeoAtheists. Some of their statements reek of absolutism. It just upsets me when someone takes the position that reason, truth, and science are on their side. The only proof of that they offer is how often they say it in interviews, in how many books they go on about it, or the gazillions of posters who parrot it on their blogs. Argue against them, and they claim you are challenging reason. What's also off-putting is that those who have made such arguments in the past have been decidedly on the wrong side of history. I also don't like arguing from extremes. That just angers people. The latest example that bugged me was the "people claiming spiritual experiences are simply lying" accusation. Grrr.

Thanx for your comments, Yew.