Christmas, the worst time of the year

26 Nov

Thanksgiving was yesterday, the last finger holding us onto the ledge has slipped; we now freely fall into the Christmas abyss. Over the course of the next twenty-eight days we will reach terminal velocity, culminating in an orgasm of commercialism and religious fervor. Ah…Christmas in America. This truly is the worst season to be an atheist.

Atheists are always aware of how different they are in a country as awash in Christian privilege as America; December is the month that the rest of the believing populace becomes aware of this difference too. This is the time of year when the separation of church and state comes under the heaviest attack. Tis the season when the willfully ignorant come out in droves to proclaim the marriage of America and Jesus. Defiantly they make their stand against political correctness. Through their eyes they are the majority, the only ones who matter. America is a Christian nation founded by god himself! The non-Christians should be grateful that they are allowed to live in such a wonderful country, and they must humbly show their respect by being quiet during this most Christian time of the year.

To the rest of us, they come off a belligerent and rude, like a man wearing a offensively sexist t-shirt to meeting of professional women. This is the time of year they will demand that nativity scenes and Christian signs be placed on government property, to the exclusion of other faiths. Never mind the fact that there are conflicting accounts of the nativity story and that the government must remain neutral in matters of religion (heaven forbid they actually read the bible or the constitution). When the secular stand up and call foul, we’re accused of having a “war on Christmas.”

In the past, people have gone so far as to organize boycotts of stores that instruct their employees to say “Happy Holidays” as apposed to “Merry Christmas.” Belligerent ignorance. I’m sorry you’re unaware that there are, in fact, other holidays going on in the same general time frame, thus “Happy Holidays” would be more appropriate. But again, to them this is a Christian nation, and Christmas is the only holiday of importance. Nevermind the fact that Christmas is actually an old Pagan holiday.

Despite this minor historical point, this is the time of year signs like this start popping up all around the country:

I have no problem with Christians celebrating Christmas. I have no problem with them decorating their homes, or erecting nativity scenes on their lawns, or on their church lawns. While I would prefer that people realize that not everyone is Christian and said the more generalized “Happy Holidays,” I’m not overly offended if someone says it to me with the best of intentions. I don’t even have a problem with Christians erecting a Christian display on government property for Christmas, as long as everyone is then allowed to erect a display. In order for the government to remain neutral, as it serves everyone, not just Christians, it must allow all or none. Unfortunately the belligerently ignorant insist on preventing some groups from displaying signs depicting beliefs contrary to their own. This is the time of year that the belligerently ignorant go out of their way to make you feel like a second class citizen. The nonbeliever is not only constantly bombarded by visual messages reinforcing this, but by audio ones as well. This is the time of year that the radio stations and stores switch over to playing almost exclusively Christmas music. You cannot listen to the radio, or enter a place of business without hearing some Christmas tune.

This bombardment will last for the next twenty-eight days. The only thing an atheist can do is hunker down, stay in doors, rent some movies, crank up the secular podcasts, and wait for the frenzy to pass.

11 Responses to “Christmas, the worst time of the year”

  1. Warren J. Blumenfeld November 27, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

    Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States
    Warren J. Blumenfeld, Khyati Y. Joshi, & Ellen E. Fairchild, editors

    Today, the United States stands as the most religiously diverse country in the world. This diversity poses great challenges as well as opportunities. Christian denominations and their cultural manifestations, however, often function to marginalize, exclude, and deny members and institutions of other religions and non-believers the privileges and access that accompany a Christian affiliation.

    Christianity is the privileged religious perspective in the United States since Christian groups, people, and organizations often have the power to define normalcy. Christian privilege comprises a large array of benefits that are often invisible, unearned, and unacknowledged by Christians. At times overt while at other times more subtle as Christian religious practice and beliefs have entered the public square, the clearly religious meanings, symbolism, positionality, and antecedents of these practices and beliefs betray claims to mere secularism.

    The effect of the so-called “secularization” of Christian religious practices and beliefs not only fortifies, but strengthens Christian privilege by perpetuating Christian influence in such a way as to avoid detection as religion or circumvent violating the constitutional requirements for the separation of religion and government. Christian dominance, therefore, is maintained often by its relative invisibility. With this invisibility, privilege is neither analyzed nor scrutinized, neither interrogated nor confronted.

    Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States addresses Christian privilege as well as religious oppression since the two are in symbiotic relationship: oppression toward non-Christians gives rise to Christian privilege in the United States, and Christian privilege maintains oppression toward non-Christian individuals and faith communities.

    This anthology also provides historical and contemporary cases exposing Christian privilege and religious oppression on the societal, institutional, and personal/interpersonal levels. A number of chapters include sections suggesting change strategies, and in particular, ways to achieve the national goal of religious pluralism in the United States.

    ISBN-10: 9087906765, Sense Publishers, Rotterdam.

  2. ashleyfmiller November 27, 2010 at 3:13 pm #

    Christmas trees for Christians only made me lulz.

    Do you have to like have a card?

    Also, TRUE Christians don’t believe in Christmas trees:

  3. godlesspaladin November 27, 2010 at 6:10 pm #

    Haha, I would imagine you might have to quote the lord’s prayer or something to “prove” you’re a christian. It would be so easy for a dirty atheist to recite it and then drive off with the tree. Perhaps we should start requiring driver licenses to state religion. ^_^

  4. greengeekgirl November 29, 2010 at 6:25 pm #

    Mon Dieu–Really, do they have some kind of test that they have to administer to make sure you are a Christian? Is it, like, a secret handshake, or the amount of bumper stickers you have, or do they throw you into a river and see if you float?

    *shakes head*

  5. godlesspaladin November 29, 2010 at 6:32 pm #

    Perhaps you have to draw a fish in the dirt before they’ll let you in…

  6. greengeekgirl November 29, 2010 at 7:50 pm #

    I was raised Southern Baptist.. let them bring on the test 😀

  7. Puddingpie December 3, 2010 at 11:39 pm #

    You had post on “what does God mean to you?” I think it would be productive to start a discussion on “what does secular mean to you?” Because the “secularism” I see denounced in churches and the “secularism” I see promoted by atheists is quite different. There’s a huge failure of communication that creates dissension. I have a lot to say about this, so it may get rambly.

    Most atheists I know, secularism primarily means freedom of conscience. A secular society is one of mutual respect, truth regardless of ideology, free of coercion or brainwashing or all of those terrible things that come with religion.

    When I’m in church, secularism is something different. The terms are in sacredness versus “the world.” “The world” represents greed, jealousy, materialism…. everything the word “worldliness” connotes in the dictionary. It reminds me very much of medieval thought. “Secular,” by that definition, has nothing to do with, say, being Unitarian or humanist or agnostic. It’s a state of moral sloth, or deafness to virtue, where everything of integrity is left in the dust.

    By that definition, for example, parents that trample people to death trying to buy a Christmas toy are letting the “world” get in the way of Christ. It’s “godless” behavior. (Though ethical atheists wouldn’t act like that) Etc. I think that, even though they come off as obnoxious, those “keep the Christ in Christmas” billboards are written in that context. They’re not necessarily saying “atheists piss off,” it’s sort of this… indignity at the loss of… the nobler part of our souls? (so to speak)

    When an atheist says, “Hey, I feel uncomfortable with a nativity scene in a government building,” what Christians hear is, “We want to secularize Christmas. We want the holidays to be a debauched shell of what it truly means. We want people to buy buy buy, eat eat eat, be numbed to stupor by the flashing lights.” Which is not what the atheist means at all.

  8. godlesspaladin December 4, 2010 at 12:15 am #

    Hey Puddingpie 🙂 I’m really glad you know that difference between how we atheist define “secular” and how it is defined in churches. As for what is secularism to me? I agree with what you’ve written and include: When laws are religion neutral (ie, no group of religious people have power to base laws on their religion and then apply those laws to people outside of their religion).

    Like you pointed out, it has nothing to do with rampant consumerism that is especially prevalent around the holidays. I’m willing to bet you that the vast majority of atheists find the things the churches define as “secular” just as abhorrent and disgusting as Christians. I would also venture to say that we also find the orgy of spending and overindulgence this season to be just as annoying and frustrating as Christians. It detracts from the purpose of the season, which is in most of our eyes, family and love.

    As to “godless” being defined as “a state of moral sloth, or deafness to virtue, where everything of integrity is left in the dust”, I’d obviously dispute that. :p I try to live like the polar opposite of those descriptors, but none the less I am “godless” but not “moral-less.” (On the flip side, someone could just as easily define “godly” with descriptors like genocide, abortion, and torture and back up those descriptors with the various parts in the bible that god perpetrates them. But I digress.)

    On the billboards: I see what you mean. I understand how they could just as easily be aimed at businesses’ attempt to turn the holiday into a spending frenzy. Yet I’m inclined to think this is not the intention since these billboards only started appearing after non-christians stood up and said “Hey, we’re here too. There are different holidays going on at the same time and we don’t all celebrate Christmas.”

    I think you’re exactly right in pinpointing the different definitions of secularism as a main part of the problem. Like you pointed out in the end, when the nativity scene upsets an atheist (or any non-christian for that matter) it’s not that we want to devalue Christmas, it’s just that we’re uncomfortable with christians assumptions that the country is christian and should give them special privileges that non-christians are denied.

  9. Puddingpie December 4, 2010 at 1:14 am #

    I don’t think being “godless” means “immoral” either, but that’s how it’s defined by many people, and the dictionary. That’s actually how your blog grabbed my attention, btw. I probably wouldn’t’ve clicked through on Google if it were “Atheist Paladin.” There’s a different connotation- “atheist” is a belief system, “godless” is a flaw. It’s like “childfree” and “childless.” “Non-vegetarian” and “animal murderer.” “Parent” and “breeder.” ;P I haven’t heard “godly” to have those negative connotations like genocide and torture, but “conservative” or “theists” frequently gets them. So, your fake example sometimes happens.

    I agree with you on the billboards’ intent. They’re definitely targeting non-Christians, which is a dick move. I was pointing out that they were doing it out of the misguided idea that atheists are somehow behind this rampant consumerist nonsense and are perhaps actively trying to stupefy us out of all human decency. Those fat people in “Wall-E” or “A Brave New World” are sci-fi versions of this type of fear. Pretty much all the social critiques in “Brave New World” sounded to me like a middle-class Christian concerned with modern liberalization. Contraception, mass consumption, open sexuality, electronic entertainment… Christians I talk to feel that “secularism” is turning people into sheep, while atheists I talk to feel that *Christianity* is turning people into sheep. The terminology used is “war on Christmas,” not, “atheists advocate for their rights,” so clearly someone feels threatened. Atheists need to address these concerns in discourse, because those fears run deep.

    When I worked in retail, I used to say “Happy holdays” but then a few Christians got huffy, as if I had some psychic eye-beams that read religious denomination. Then, unless they explicitly wore a yarmulke or star of david, I just wished everybody, “Happy Festivus.”

  10. godlesspaladin December 4, 2010 at 1:44 am #

    Yeah, you’re kind of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Unless they’re wearing some kind of religious identification there is no possible way you can know what the correct goodbye is. :-\

    (And yeah, I know you don’t think “godless” means “immoral,” I was just going off on a tangent, sorry. :-p )
    Speaking of “war on Christmas” this cartoon is pretty funny and get’s how the atheists feel across

  11. Steph Bazzle November 29, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

    Is there a source for this? I realize it’s two years ago, but can I find out where it was?

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