Fox News and other Conservative outlets tell us that atheists are intolerant bullies. But is this true? As the holiday season approaches us, more and more news items and op-eds are being written about how the spirit of Christmas is being quashed by these thoughtless, soulless unbelievers.
I believe this is not true, and while ensuring that those with faith have the freedom to practice their religion (no matter what it is), those who don’t believe should not be attacked either. Freedom of belief should also mean freedom not to believe. Some folks seem to be forgetting this basic truth.
Here are five reasons why the war on Christmas theory is not only false, but blatantly misleading.
1. Christmas day is a federal holiday.
If the government and those who have influence (including the media) were anti-Christmas, would this be possible? As far as I know, no one has objected to this day being a holiday, as such.
2. Conservatives, not atheists used boycotts and threats.
Since the early 2000s, the Conservatives have used several bullying tactics against retailers, such as the American Family Association's boycott of stores that use the language of "happy holidays" instead of "merry Christmas."
3. This rhetoric ignores the internal debates within Christianity.
Christians have internal difference of opinions about Christmas and its celebration. As Stephen Nissenbaum points out, certain groups such as the Puritans boycotted Christmas for its focus on hedonism and consumerism.
As Mr. Cohen says, “America has a complicated history with Christmas, going back to the Puritans, who despised it. What the boycotters are doing is not defending America's Christmas traditions, but creating a new version of the holiday that fits a political agenda”.
4. ACLU or other Liberal groups are said to be at the fore-front of the war on Christmas.
I am inclined to disagree with this. ACLU’s position is quite clear, in that government should not be promoting any religious ideas.
5. Christmas is all pervasive.
In fact it is perhaps celebrated around the world, not just in the U.S. While one can argue and debate whether the commercialization of the festival is in good taste or not, the argument that there is somehow a Liberal or atheist effort to ban it is just laughable.
While I personally believe that words themselves should not become so contentious, that they don’t take away from the celebration of the season, this controversy reminds us, yet again that there is much power in what we call a thing. Shakespeare was right, after all when he wrote, “What is in a name ?"
In the meanwhile, I wish you all a Merry Christmas!