Every single year, without fail, controversy will brew and boil over regarding the Christian-hijacked Winter Solstice celebration known as Christmas. You might ask what kind of petty, childish, arrogant group of non-believers would subject our good, kind, religious society to such ridiculous outbursts of intolerance and hatred. Maybe you wouldn’t. Regardless, it may or may not surprise you to know that it’s the religious people themselves who continue to stir this pot and we irreligious people can either react or let them fight it out among themselves. I choose to react, but only in a limited capacity. I’ll comment on the religious mindset and attempt to dispel any myths being spread about how I feel toward Christmas.
This year, Ben Stein has written an essay detailing the problem with not saying, “Merry Christmas.” You might think that not saying something is harmless. I know I do. However, Mr. Stein makes it perfectly clear that not greeting people with a, “Merry Christmas” is directly tied to the downfall of society and the destruction of this country. Let’s begin.
I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are, Christmas trees.
Mr. Stein may be culturally Jewish but I’ve seen him argue for the Christian position so frequently it’s hard not to think of him as in bed with Pat Robertson, Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and Rick Perry. He may be a Jew but the majority of his expressed views are Christian. Here he comments on the offensiveness of the Christmas tree but he’s building a straw man, as far as I’m concerned.
At this moment I have a decorated tree in my living room. It’s a symbol of the Winter holiday dating far back before Christianity co-opted it. I feel no fear or shame calling it a Christmas tree but I also feel no connection to a desert-dwelling messiah born in a stable at some time other than December. If someone called it a holiday tree I wouldn’t bat an eye, nor would it offend me if someone called it a GROOBLACKA. Call it whatever you want, it’s a damn tree.
It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say, ‘Merry Christmas’ to me. I don’t think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn’t bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu . If people want a creche, it’s just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.
A ghetto? Honestly, Mr. Stein, I don’t believe anybody thinks that. Nor do I think people get as offended as you’d like them to be. Perhaps, in the interest of equality, tolerance, and peace, people just want the overwhelming majority to recognize that there is, in fact, a minority who would like to be included. I don’t disparage anyone for saying, “Merry Christmas” and I’ll say it right back. The phrase has become as generic as “Kleenex” has become for facial tissue.
The problem comes in when Christians feel entitled enough to complain when someone chooses not to say, “Merry Christmas” to them. As if anyone in this country is obligated to greet you in a certain way. The arrogance! If I choose to instead say, “Happy Holidays” am I somehow negating your faith? Am I, in reality, saying, “God doesn’t exist?” No, of course not! In much the same way as you choose not to say, “Joyous Kwanzaa” to an African-American, I can choose not to say whatever I want. That’s everybody’s right.
I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.
Who’s pushing who around? Religious people make up the majority of this country’s population and you claim that the minority of people who don’t believe in a god are pushing them around? What kind of horrible inferiority complex do you people have? It sounds like you want to be persecuted so that you can validate your own beliefs to yourself. By bitching and complaining that people aren’t greeting you properly, aren’t you the one doing the pushing?
Furthermore, who ever said that America is an explicitly atheist country? What an incredibly stupid statement! This is a secular government intended to protect the rights of religious people to worship every bit as much as it protects the rights of irreligious people not to worship. If you can’t find the separation of church and state in the Constitution, then you haven’t read it. The establishment clause actually provides the basis for your right to be Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Scientologist, Raelian, or Satanist and you should be glad it’s there, because as much as it keeps your religion out of the government it keeps the government out of your religion. How could you not be on board with that?
Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren’t allowed to worship God ? I guess that’s a sign that I’m getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the America we knew went to.
Mr. Stein, you’re an idiot. Some people may idolize celebrities but I can’t see what that has to do with your freedom to exercise your religion. No churches have been torn down to make room for shrines to Tom Cruise. No Bibles have been burned and replaced with the script of The Empire Strikes Back. You’re allowed to worship god, Mr. Stein. And I, in turn, am allowed to not worship gods. I’d thank you to recognize that.
Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show and Jane Clayson asked her ‘How could God let something like this happen?’ (regarding Hurricane Katrina).. Anne Graham gave an extremely profound and insightful response. She said, ‘I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?’
What does this have to do with Christmas? And why is it profound? Putting aside the fact that god has never stepped in to avert disaster (even while he was “still in schools” and America was more moral and kind — except to African-Americans and women), it’s ludicrous to even try to put emotions into god’s head when for all we know he could have sent the disasters because he was bored. We just don’t know, and neither do you or Anne Graham.
In light of recent events… terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said OK.
She complained that children of various faiths (or no faith) were being forced to participate in mandatory, school-led Christian prayer. She complained (rightly so) because the school system was violating the establishment clause and favoring one religion over another. Nobody should be forced to participate in Christian prayer any more than Christians should be required to pray to Mecca five times a day. It just makes sense.
Here’s the simple truth that seems to escape every single Christian I know: you can still pray in school! You can still read your Bible in school! You can wear religious icons and clothing to school! Hallelujah! Praise the FSM! Seriously though, nobody is stopping you from praying in school, they’re simply not permitted to make it mandatory for everyone.
Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world’s going to hell. Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing. Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace.
You’re comparing newspapers to the Bible? That’s odd. Newspapers contain verifiable current events and if they’re erroneous they’ll be called out almost immediately by an educated public. The Bible contains supernatural tales of miracles that defy all natural laws and cannot be independently verified. As for the rest of your diatribe, I hardly see what it has to do with Christmas. Let’s keep going.
Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.
Nobody knows what god thinks. Even if he really does exist, nobody could possibly know what god thinks. We can, however, see our effect on other people (who we know to really exist) and that’s a much more viable concern. I’d love to see how you’re gauging god’s opinion of you.
Pass it on if you think it has merit.
If not, then just discard it…. no one will know you did. But, if you discard this thought process, don’t sit back and complain about what bad shape the world is in.
Here’s the problem with the sheep mentality of the religious. They think that passing an essay like this around will somehow rekindle the old-time spirit of America (which is probably heavily romanticized and never existed) and get everyone back on track. It won’t. Forwarding e-mails and Facebook status messages is the laziest, most ineffective non-action you could undertake. However, since the person asking you to forward it is religious it somehow becomes important to do so. How ridiculous.
Mr. Stein, there’s no “War on Christmas.” You’ve been duped by other Christians into thinking that we non-believers have more power than we really have. You’ve also bought into an arrogant, ignorant, shameful attitude of entitlement and exclusion that pervades society and brings us all down. Why not be a little more tolerant of people from other backgrounds and traditions and allow them to celebrate how they see fit instead of pushing your religiously tainted views on them and then crying, “foul” when they don’t play along? Why does the religious majority get to push us around with impunity and then bitch and moan when they don’t get their way? You’re god’s bratty children in dire need of some discipline. Get over yourselves.