Fox News War on Christmas: Really A War on Atheists

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!

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Sabith Khan

Sabith Khan is a social entrepreneur, researcher and founder of MENASA, a think-tank and policy shop engaged in issues related to MENA and South Asia. Sabith has worked for several years in the field of strategic communications, public affairs and nonprofit management, trying to understand and communicate issues pertaining to civil society, development and youth in the US and MENA region. Sabith has worked with several large global public affairs firms, on award-winning campaigns in healthcare, entertainment and government relations. During his stint at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, he ideated and executed a global award-winning campaign for Apollo Hospitals (Abby and Clio Awards). He has also worked in the Middle East managing accounts as diverse as Dubai Film Festival, Mohammed bin Rashid Foundation, Dubai International Film Festival, Dubai School of Government. Most recently, he served as the Executive Director of Muslim Public Service Network in Washington D.C, an NGO that engages and inspires young American Muslims to do public service. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Planning Governance and Globalization at Virginia Tech. He has been involved as a team member and leader in several international development projects including consulting for the Near East Foundation, in helping set up their Monitoring and Evaluation system for their offices across the MENA region. Sabith has a Master of Public administration and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. In Summer 2013, he conducted research on American Muslim philanthropy at the Lilly School of Philanthropy, Indianapolis, in an attempt to map giving behavior among Muslims over the last ten years i.e., 2002- 2012. Sabith’s research interests include Religion and Philanthropy, Youth issues in USA, Middle East North Africa and South Asia, Governance and Civil Society. Sabith is also the co-editor of Millennials Speak: Essays on the 21st century, a snapshot of the ideas and opinions of the global Millennial Generation. Twenty writers from five continents, a diverse mix of young academics, policy professionals, and future thought and creative leaders, cover topics from the legacy of the Arab Spring, the global food system, the U.S. student loan crisis, youth unemployment, to popular culture. Currently working: Founder and Executive Director, MENASA Publications: 1. Humanitarian Aid and Faith-Based Giving: The Potential of Muslim Charity - Unrest Magazine, George Mason University. May 2013. Accessible at http://www.unrestmag.com/about-unrest/past-issues/#sthash.GEqNfv0U.dpuf 2. Arab American Diaspora and American Muslim Philanthropy: impact of crisis situations on mobilization and formation of a “community.” American University in Cairo Press. Cairo. (NP). Expected Fall 2013. 3. Middle-East Peace Talks 2010: Investigating the Role of Lobbying and Advocacy Groups in Washington, D.C. as Spoilers. Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Spring 2011. Accessible at : http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/parcc/Research/intrastate/Spoilers_of_Peace_Project/ Blog: www.sabithkhan.wordpress.com

MORE FROM

What to watch when you’re not watching ‘Game of Thrones’

There's some good shows out there you might be missing, and also CBS's 'Zoo'.

HBO programming president defends ‘Confederate,’ says network is “standing by” the writers

“We could’ve done a better job with the press rollout,” HBO programming president Casey Bloys admitted.

‘Game of Thrones’: These are the funniest people to follow on Twitter for live updates

A good tweet is the best antidote to scenes like Sam cutting open Mormont's greyscale sores.

Let’s overanalyze these ‘Game of Thrones’ photos from “The Queen’s Justice”

Jon Snow's going to meet his Aunt Daenerys.

‘Dunkirk’ is a Christopher Nolan movie that doesn’t need to be solved

For his new World War II epic, the puzzle-focused filmmaker decided to adjust his approach to storytelling.

Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson talk ‘Broad City’ season 4 and their prayers for Hillary Clinton

"Art has just become exponentially more political since the election," Glazer said.

What to watch when you’re not watching ‘Game of Thrones’

There's some good shows out there you might be missing, and also CBS's 'Zoo'.

HBO programming president defends ‘Confederate,’ says network is “standing by” the writers

“We could’ve done a better job with the press rollout,” HBO programming president Casey Bloys admitted.

‘Game of Thrones’: These are the funniest people to follow on Twitter for live updates

A good tweet is the best antidote to scenes like Sam cutting open Mormont's greyscale sores.

Let’s overanalyze these ‘Game of Thrones’ photos from “The Queen’s Justice”

Jon Snow's going to meet his Aunt Daenerys.

‘Dunkirk’ is a Christopher Nolan movie that doesn’t need to be solved

For his new World War II epic, the puzzle-focused filmmaker decided to adjust his approach to storytelling.

Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson talk ‘Broad City’ season 4 and their prayers for Hillary Clinton

"Art has just become exponentially more political since the election," Glazer said.