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Christmas exposes atheist divide on dealing with religion
December 20th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Christmas exposes atheist divide on dealing with religion

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – The Christmas season is revealing a growing rift among American atheists when it comes to the question of how to deal with religion.

Some atheist activists are trying to seize the holidays as a time to build bridges with faith groups, while other active unbelievers increasingly see Christmas as a central front in the war on religious faith. With the dramatic growth of the nonreligious in the last few decades, more atheist leaders are emerging as spokespeople for atheism, but the Christmas rift speaks to growing disagreement over how atheists should treat religion.

On the religion-bashing side, there’s David Silverman, president of the group American Atheists, which raised one of its provocative trademark billboards in New York’s Times Square last week. “Keep the MERRY!” it says. “Dump the MYTH!”
The sign features a picture of a jolly Santa Clause and another of Jesus dying on the cross – a not-so-subtle attack on Christianity.

“Christianity stole Christmas in the first place and they don’t own the season, they don’t own the Christmas season,” Silverman said, pointing to pagan winter solstice celebrations that predated Jesus Christ. “When they say keep Christ in Christmas, they are actually saying put Christ back in Christmas.”

The New York billboard, which will be up until early January and is costing the group at least $25,000, is the latest in a long line of provocative American Atheists signs, which attacked then-Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s religion during this year’s presidential campaign.

It’s not the only way Silverman is using Christmas to attack Christianity. In a recent TV interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, he said the American Atheist office be open on Christmas Day and called for an end to Christmas as a federal holiday.

O’Reilly, in turn, called Silverman a fascist.

Despite Silverman’s knack for making headlines, however, other prominent atheists are putting a softer face on the movement, including during Christmastime.

“I just think the whole war on Christmas story is bizarre” said Greg Epstein, the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, who has emerged as another spokesman for the burgeoning atheist movement. “I think that any atheist or humanist that is participating in that story needs to find better things to do with their time.”

From his point of view, atheism and religion can happily coexist, including at the holidays.

At the chaplaincy, Epstein has reached out to local religious groups, packaging holiday meals and breaking bread with believers to discuss their similarities and differences.

Sponsored by the Humanist Community at Harvard, evangelical Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Zoroastrians, along with a number of atheists, were among those represented at a recent meal packaging event for hungry kids in the Boston area. Around 250 people participated and over $10,000 was raised – including donations from local Lutheran and Methodist churches.
Epstein calls this sort of inter-religious dialogue “healthy.”

“We as a community need to be about the positive and we have so much positive to offer,” he said. “I think that we really can provide a positive alternative to religious holidays that are not meaningful because of their religious content.”
Silverman, for his part, is more than comfortable being negative when it comes to religion.

“We should look at the results - people are listening to us because we are shouting,” he said. “They don’t hear you unless you shout. … Sometimes you have to put political correctness aside. We need to get louder. I believe we are seeing the fruits of that volume.”

As proof, American Atheists points to the way their donations skyrocket after every billboard campaign. “We get donations and memberships because we are taking the stand that we do,” said Silverman, who would not give specific numbers on fundraising. “The donations are flowing in right now. People are loving it specifically because of the billboard.”

Epstein would rather see more emphasis on volunteerism, though he acknowledges that some atheists are drawn to Silverman’s vocal model. Both men said they appeal to different parts of the atheist movement.

“We are GOP and Dem, man and women, black and white – the only thing that holds us together is atheism,” Silverman said. “A movement like ours needs all sides. It needs people who are working to be conciliatory and it needs people who are willing to raise their voices.”

Religious “nones” – a combination of atheists, agnostics and the religiously unaffiliated, have been growing their ranks in recent years. According to a Pew Research study released this year, the fastest growing "religious" group in America is made up of people with no religion at all as one in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion.

The survey found that the unaffiliated are growing even faster among younger Americans. According to the poll, 34% of “younger millennials” - those born between 1990 and 1994 - are religiously unaffiliated.

Though not monolithic, younger atheists, according to Jesse Galef, communications director of the Secular Student Alliance, are more prone to celebrate a secular version of Christmas than to ignore the holiday.

“I am very much in favor of celebrating the secular Christmas,” Galef said. “It is a celebration of the spirit of giving and I think religious divisiveness goes against that effort.”

Other atheists celebrate Festivus, a December 23 holiday meant for atheists looking to celebrate during the winter without participating in a Christian holiday. The holiday, which entered into popular culture through the television show “Seinfeld” in 1997, has gained popularity in recent years.

At the Secular Student Alliance office in Columbus, Ohio, the staff will play Secret Sagan, a nod to the famed scientist, instead of Secret Santa. And instead of Christmas decorations, they put up a Winter Solstice Tree with ornaments from the movie “When the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

“We celebrate the holiday season, just not the religious holiday,” Galef said.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Christmas

soundoff (4,367 Responses)
  1. Salero21

    In other words, while the apes descend from the trees the atheists descend to the lowest level way below the apes. They want to call Jesus a myth while at the same time an invention like Satan Claus they want it to portray as worthy of celebration. So then who are the Myth maniacs?

    Really, really these apes like creatures called atheists are beyond help. There is more hope for a monkey than for an atheist.

    December 20, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • northern light

      Atheists deal in reality....something you seem incapable of.

      December 20, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • sam

      Booooring troll.

      December 20, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Karen

      The worst post of the page award goes to...no surprise here, Salero21.

      Salero, put your hate away and stop acting like such a Christian. You are a minority in the world, and the smart people of the world are mainly moving past religion.

      December 20, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Tom

      News for you, Sneero. The divinity of Jesus actually is a myth.

      December 20, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      I claim the worst post of the day. I said, "If God is impotent, had did father Jesus?" Who wins?

      December 20, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Salero21

      LOL LOL :-D
      So,... according to northern light santa claus is real!

      Really people theres is more hope for a monkey than for an atheist.

      December 20, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • Athy

      Salero seems to have some sort of primate fixation. Jealous of their higher IQs, perhaps?

      December 20, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Did Salero21 describe monkeys as apes??

      December 20, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Russell's Teapot

      Your knuckles hurt much when they drag across the ground?

      December 20, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Salero21", but "Jesus", is, in fact, an element of mythology. I'm afraid this makes you appear "quite the fool", "Salero21" for repeatedly attempting to assert such falsehoods.

      December 20, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Athy

      He wouldn't know the difference.

      December 20, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  2. Susan StoHelit

    To more than a few posters here:

    There are atheists in foxholes, my father was one of them, it's a sick lie to deny the service and bravery of soldiers just because they don't share your religious beliefs. Atheists fight and die for this country. To attack their beliefs and their integrity just because you cannot conceive of someone not believing in your god is wrong.

    December 20, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Akira

      Susan:
      That is a frequent Chad remark, one that has been refuted again and again.
      He says it about three times a week.
      He's the quintessential Jesus troll.

      December 20, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Tom

      Thanks for posting that, Susan. See also here http://militaryatheists.org/

      December 20, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  3. divinelogic

    Can a infinite force move an immovable object?
    There are logical reasons why omnipotence is impossible.  The old joke spoken by atheist comedian George Carlin: “Could God make a rock so big that He Himself could not move it?” is a real illustration of how omnipotence is impossible.  Can God make something so complex that he himself cannot understand it?  Can God make something greater than himself?  If he can't, he is not all-powerful.  Can omnipotence exist with omniscience?  No.  If God cannot change his mind, then he is not all powerful.  If he does change his mind, then he did not know the future.  Saying that there is an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent and omnipresent god is like saying there are such things as square circles– such a thing cannot and does not exist: it is a contradiction.
    In conclusion:
    Belief in a higher power is like belief in Santa.

    Happy Yule Everybody!

    December 20, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Athy

      But the religies can't think logically, that's the problem.

      December 20, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Thready

      It's much funnier than that.

      If God knows everything that will ever happen, then he cannot change anything. Including his own actions. Once he sets the universe in motion, he is trapped into making the very same actions he knew he would make right at the beginning. He can't change anything. He has to sit around for billions of years doing exactly what he already knows what he will do. It's like a 15 billion year long rerun.

      If god is omniscient, then he is not omnipotent, for he cannot even have the power to do something different. If you don't have free will, god doesn't either.

      And of course if he knows everything, then your entire life was determined eons before you were born, and you have no ability to change that, so you cannot possibly be responsible for what you do.

      God cannot be omniscient and omnipotent. There cannot be free will if it was all determined at the beginning.

      That's one of the many ways to know Christianity is false: their major concepts are catch-22s.

      December 20, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • northern light

      "“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

      December 20, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      If God is impotent, had did father Jesus?

      December 20, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      AB, that was quite a post there.

      AB

      December 20, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Whattaguy

      Thready,
      "if he knows everything, then your entire life was determined eons before you were born, and you have no ability to change that, so you cannot possibly be responsible for what you do."

      It's even 'funnier' than that:

      He knows that a person will end up in 'hell' for eternity ... and creates them anyway!

      December 20, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Epicures in 300 BCE:

      "The gods can either take away evil from the world and will not, or, being willing to do so, cannot; or they neither can nor will, or lastly, they are both able and willing. If they have the will to remove evil and cannot, then they are not omnipotent. If they can, but will not, than they are not benevolent. If they are neither able nor willing, then they are neither omnipotent nor benevolent. Lastly, if they are both able and willing to annihilate evil, how does it exist?"

      December 20, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • craniumthedumb

      @AB

      The problem with his logic is that Malevonence is something each person decides. This logic is based on personal opinion and is therefore invalid.

      December 21, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  4. Giggles McGillicutty

    Well won't the alkies be shocked when they go to David Silverman's AA meeting!

    December 20, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  5. Mohammad A Dar

    Obviously I had no idea what I was talking about previously. Merry Xmas everyone and believe in our Lord Jesus Christ !!!!

    December 20, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Extra Medium

      what the hekk are you babbling about .... go get a job ~

      December 20, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      can I blow your mother, goon?

      December 20, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
  6. Apple Bush

    Why I like Christmas by Apple Bush:

    1. The kids love it.
    2. Sexy santa's elf girl costumes.
    3. Egg Nog
    4. I always buy our aquatic frogs (Charlie and Allen) a present which is funny to me.
    5. I put our bunny Daisy in a Christmas stocking. She hates that.
    6. That irritating motion sensor musical wreath thing.
    7. Feasting and Drinking.
    8. Lakers basketball.
    9. Sleeping through the Lakers game.
    10, In So-Cal, it will be 72 degrees on Christmas Day. ;)

    December 20, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • niknak

      I don't particularly dig Xmas, mainly because in my house it always sucked.
      My old man hated it, and hated the money my Mom spent on it, wihch was insane. And since she loved it, he tried to make it as miserable as he could.
      And my sibs were spoiled and nothing was good enough, and later in adult life would either be just getting back from the bars when it was time for the gift exchange, or be so hung over they could not get up.
      Because I did not believe in god, it made it a kind of Hallmark holiday and I was not all the fired up for it, which I am sure showed.

      But, here is my list of stuff I did and still do dig about it-

      1. The smell of the tree (always has to be real and bought from the same lot in our hood)
      2. Burning that tree after the holiday was over in our fireplace (kinda not so nice now as it adds to GW)
      3. Seeing all my cousins and aunts and uncles as we all still kickit over the holiday.
      4. Sitting up late in the livingroom, with a glass of wine with just the lights from the tree on, thinking about just how good I have it in this world.
      5. Finding that perfect gift for someone, and seeing them open it and knowing you nailed it.
      6. Wrapping the gifts. I like wrapping each one with different paper and making every crease and bow line up.
      7. Going down and seeing all the lights on Michigan Ave AFTER Xmas when no one is around.
      8. Going to the local bar where my folks house is and seeing whomever from the hood passes thru and catching up. SOOO much better then any social media like FAkEbook for keeping a friendship alive.
      9. Seeing my Dad still miserable for all the money my Mom still spends.
      10. Not having to attatch any religious meaning to it, and can just treat it like another Thanksgiving with gifts.

      December 20, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  7. Mohammad A Dar

    Matthew 15:7 "Hypocrites, well did Esaiah prophesy of you, saying, 'This people draw nigh to me with their mouth, and honour me with their lips; but their hearts are far from me."

    December 20, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • According to the TRUE gospel

      "At this time, a friend shall lose his friend's hammer and the young shall not know where lieth the things possessed by their fathers that their fathers put there only just the night before, about eight o'clock." Brian 15:3-4

      December 20, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Akira

      The TRUE:
      Amen.

      December 20, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • northern light

      Quoting 1700 year old books from the bronze age does make one appear intelligent.

      December 20, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  8. Chad watch

    Jesus will rim Chad for his xmas present, or Bill Deacon might fill in for JC.....

    December 20, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • niknak

      Just where is Deacon Blues?
      I am in the mood to bash me some christians, and he would be a good first target.
      Cause you know, all us atheists love to do is bash some xtians, of course after plotting the downfall of America.

      December 20, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      God bless 'murica!

      December 20, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  9. Johnny Blammo

    Am I the only atheist who finds David Silverman and American Atheists to be self-aggrandizing media whore douchebags whose tactics are probably counterproductive?

    December 20, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      No, plenty of atheists feel the way you do, but not me. I have been around long enough and know the history well enough to understand Silverman and AA's tactics. Do you know how Christians in years past have treated Silverman and AA and lobbied to have them executed so that they would experience never-ending torture from a "good and holy" being? Are you aware of the death threats and the push to have American atheists considered as less than citizens, or indeed, farm animals?

      December 20, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Johnny Blammo

      They are treated the same way any other high-profile atheist is treated.

      What do you mean Christians have lobbied to have them executed? I'm not sure I follow. The burning in hell thing is what they want for all of us (ah, Christian love!).

      Of course I am aware of the strange repressions against us. There are still states that make it illegal for an atheist to hold public office (can't wait for the SCOTUS case on that one). However, the effective course is through the courts. The Constitution is our friend against the darkness of religious bigotry. I just don't see how billboards are going to change anyone.

      If American Atheists really wanted to convert people to atheism, they should put up billboards with writings from lionylamb, Chad, and Topher. The streetcorner Jesus howlers are much better at recruiting atheists than the American Atheists billboards are.

      December 20, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • Jade

      Fighting rabid extremists by being a rabid extremist yourself is counter productive. Dumb fighting dumb. In the end, while it might be entertaining, does anyone really care what the rabid people are saying? I don't put a lot of stock in the opinions of people like that. Give me a well-rounded person who's thought about something from every angle, and I'll pay attention to their opinion. A rabid person, however? I'll probably get a giggle out of them, and forget anything they've said by the next day.

      December 20, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      I don't always agree with the things he says or does, but I do understand the motivation behind his tactics. Overall, I think he is more effective than he is counterproductive.

      December 20, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      A bit in your face – but at the same time, staying in the closet and leting the religious walk all over us has done nothing, so I don't mind a bit of borderline ads. It's still FAR, FAR more mild than those I see from churches all the time, that hint at or outright state how they'll be watching you burn in hellfire if you don't go join them.

      December 20, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Susan got it. Kudos!

      December 20, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  10. Akira

    Sensible post.
    Culd you explain one thing, though: "Christmas was not celebrated in New England until quite recently."
    What is recently?

    December 20, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Fun Christmas Facts

      "Relatively recently" may not be the best choice of words. It didn't really catch on there until after the Civil War. That's recent in U.S. and Christianity terms. Not my best writing

      December 20, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Akira

      Ah, that clears it up.
      Thank you.

      December 20, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  11. Jim

    First of all Frank, a person who doesn't believe in God is not necessarily rejecting God. You seem to think that only a "believer" in Christ can love and do good – as if they aren't human unless they are a Christian. I've got news for you – every person has the capacity to love and do good to their neighbor – not just Christians. I almost puked when I heard Mike Hukabee say there was a connection with the massacre of children in Connecticut and not "teaching" God in public school. Do you not know that ALL LOVE and ALL GOODNESS has its source in God who is the Absolute Perfection of the Fullness of Being"? Do you not know that the very act of teaching children in a school is an "act of God" since all good things come from the hand of God? Philosophically and metaphysically God is the closest reality to each person. It is God who in this very moment is "thinking" and "willing" your existence and mine – and all of creation. God is the closest reality to every human being alive even if they don't know it. It doesn't matter if the "believe" it is true or not. God who doesn't need anything or anyone is sustaining the Universe in Being moment by moment. Existence itself is a sheer "gift" ... guess what ... Gift = Grace. You don't have to believe in God to love and do good. People who are not believers are still human beings. But i'm sure as you have come to know and experience, once you have entered into a relationship with Christ, your ability to love and do good changes – since Christ comes to live in you in a new way. O and by the way, the person Christ is “One in Being” with the Father and He holds the Universe in existence. Christ is near and dear to each human even if they don't know it. Please stop it with this immature idea that only Christians have hearts that love and do good and everyone else is “rejecting God” as you say. That is ridiculous.

    December 20, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  12. Badda Bing

    Christians just can't stand sharing a holiday they stole fair and square.

    December 20, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      Exactly.

      For those Christians who have a problem sharing the pagan celebrations they've adopted with others – I suggest they drop Easter – named for a Roman Goddess, symbolized by bunnies and eggs. If you want to say "Christ's mass" is something you alone can own, then Easter (the celebration of the goddess Eostre), Thursday (Thor's day), and so many other days are things that you need to stop referring to.

      December 20, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • northern light

      They stole more than Xmas...the flood, the virgin birth....resurrection ...and on and on....it's a patchwork from ancient history cobbled together to create a faith...in myths.

      December 20, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  13. Sam Yaza

    i like Christmas its one of the most pagan holidays, and if Christians what to use if to celebrate their "Hawk of Light" go for it i got no problem sharing our Holiday with others just do it n the privacy of your own home and not on public land. and we wont have ares their ether

    Dionysus, Horas, Mithras, Lugh, Amaterasu, ect its the suns birthday party hard yo!

    December 20, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  14. Fun Christmas Facts

    The Puritans and Dissenters who came to America refused to celebrate Christmas. The were the first "war on Christmas" people in America. Christmas was not celebrated in New England until quite recently.

    Christmas was not celebrated at all for the first 300 years on Christianity. Jesus never refers to his birth as being important.

    The vast majority of Christmas rituals are pagan in origin.

    December 25th was decided on in 221, based on the pure-guess notion that Jesus was conceived on the vernal equinox.

    Christmas was generally neglecled in America until the 1850s. Stories like A Christmas Carol and Twas The Night Before Christmas reemphasized Christmas into a family holiday of gift giving, instead of a churchy holiday. Both increased the popularity of the holiday significantly, and set it on a commercial course.

    And from 1980 onwards, Christians and conservatives have gone totally insane about it, despising all attempts to share the holiday, despite the fact that it's origins are pagan and the Christian angle is weak at best.

    December 20, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • More

      In 1647, the Puritan-led English Parliament banned the celebration of Christmas, replacing it with a day of fasting and considering it "a popish festival with no biblical justification", and a time of wasteful and immoral behavior. Protests followed as pro-Christmas rioting broke out in several cities and for weeks Canterbury was controlled by the rioters, who decorated doorways with holly and shouted royalist slogans. The book, The Vindication of Christmas (London, 1652), argued against the Puritans, and makes note of Old English Christmas traditions, dinner, roast apples on the fire, card playing, dances with "plow-boys" and "maidservants", and carol singing.

      The Restoration of King Charles II in 1660 ended the ban, but many clergymen still disapproved of Christmas celebration.

      In Scotland, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland also discouraged observance of Christmas. James VI commanded its celebration in 1618, however attendance at church was scant.[55]

      In Colonial America, the Puritans of New England disapproved of Christmas, and celebration was outlawed in Boston from 1659 to 1681. The ban by the Pilgrims was revoked by English governor Edmund Andros, however it was not until the mid-19th century that celebrating Christmas became fashionable in the Boston region.

      Many of the Pilgrims and Puritans came to the New World because the European churches were not harsh and strict enough for them...

      December 20, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • lol??

      It's not such a wunnerful life when the bankers and the stockbrokers have to get drunk to celebrate.

      December 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Fun Christmas Facts,

      nice job.

      Those buzz-kill, 'no fun zone' Puritans were a piece of work and they sure left us a nasty legacy in the form of the evangelical fundies that represent 25% of this country.

      December 20, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  15. Clyde

    Hold on a minute. First Mr. Silverman says that Christmas is not a Christian holiday. That is easy to understand. Then he says Christmas shouldn't be a federal holiday, presumably because that's supposed to violate the separation of church and state. That would also be easy to understand. But why, if Christmas is a winter solstice celebration independent of religion, why can't it be a federal holiday? If you're going to go around making mildly silly attacks on Christianity, at least try to be coherent about it.

    December 20, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      You did okay until you got up to the word "attack." You never showed how the message is an "attack" so.... You're the one claiming to be a stickler for logic, here.

      December 20, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • lol??

      clyde sayz, "........why can't it be a federal holiday?........" I see. Working for the feds.

      December 20, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  16. lionlylamb

    Paganism is of mankind's laments; due the penance forsaking does have needs. The quagmires of repentances dare challenges duly ones soul to seek yet never to find the fondness of being a servile offering nary to be made in haste. Tis it not now a seasoned condition for offering up gifted presence to the fielded folds of ones flock? We are bought and sold like mice in a maze. With reproofed vibrations being distanced valuations, the lingering wavelike breaths are salient reminders of re-verbalized aspirations. The cakes need to be eaten but not without the additions of icing aplenty. Eat well this common season's rebuttals and cherish deeply ones friendly rankings no matter what wrung one is perched upon.

    December 20, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      being Pagan is all natural we are all born Pagan; that's why your god demands a second birth. but if your God created us why are we Born Pagan. even the smallest child looks up and sees the man on the moon(idolatry), even an infant looks into an animals Eyes and sees a soul. (animism) pagan is Synonymous with Nature, Indigenous, Hindu. we are born of this world by this world; body, mind and soul and that makes us Pagan..even atheist are pagans because they only believe in world around them. you don't need to be an animist or a polytheist. being a naturalist or even a skeptic makes you pagan

      this is our natural state

      December 20, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      it is natural for the human brain to question what it is taught, just as it is natural to search for the answers to what it does not know.

      December 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      Lionlylamb – turn off your random word generator.

      December 20, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      If, that's IF our eternal souls were around from the very beginning moments of this cosmos, what are then the reasons for our being physically born and then soulfully die? Were we not soulfully aware of our bodies being conceptualized within motherly wombs? IF our conscious consciences or our eternal souls are given placements within the bodies are we not but a two-folded being left adrift and apart of and away from the realm that our soul or spirit was first made manifest? Are not our consciences more than an abstraction of psychiatric wonderments?

      December 20, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • craniumthedumb

      @Sam

      I would dispute the argument that we are born Pagan. It assumes that the natural state of humankind is pagan which can not be proved.

      December 20, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  17. Ever get the feeling CNN is manipulating you into making lots of advertising clicks?

    Greedy greedy greedy!

    There's money in chumming up hate!

    December 20, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • the AnViL

      with the right tools and add-ons for your browser – you can negate all adverts with great ease.

      fight the power!

      December 20, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  18. Bill G

    I am an atheist and I absolutely love the Christmas season. Its my favorite time of the year. There are myriad reasons to enjoy the season beyond the Christian tradition, but if Christians insist on making it about Jesus I have no problem with that. After all, even if, like me, you don't believe Jesus was the son of God, the man's accomplishments and moral teachings are worth celebrating for their own secular merits. Christmas has evolved beyond simplistic dogma. It is and always should be a holiday for everyone.

    December 20, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Answer

      I love the christmas music myself. XD

      But only during the whole month of December! Any time before and after is just not in good taste.

      December 20, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Etalan

      The problem about making Christmas about Jesus is that we have to change history to somehow fit Jesus into Christmas. When did anything good come from the idea we need to change history or fact to do something.

      December 20, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Kenny

      Christmas is only fun if you are a kid, or you have one. Otherwise, it's a big corporate scam to part you from your money.

      December 20, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Al

      Very well said. Christmas and Easter might be the most important holidays in the christian calendar, but I've always had a special fondness for Thanksgiving Day.

      December 20, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      I find the "corporatization" of christmas far more disturbing than the "christianization".

      December 20, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Bill G

      @Etalan,

      I understand where your coming from, but I'm pretty sure that most educated people, Christians included, realize that December 25th is not really Jesus's birthday. That said, early Christians needed to pick a date (nobody knows the real one) and, mostly for marketing reasons, they choose Dec. 25th. Maybe we should be promoting other, less well known, reasons to celebrate the season such as the Winter Solstice or the ancient festival of Saturnalia, but I wouldn't worry too much about Christians changing history. The demographics show that atheism and its philosophical siblings are growing much faster than Christianity, and, as I said, I think its a holiday that belongs to everyone anyway.

      December 20, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  19. JJ

    Yes, the Winter Solstice celebrations and most of the traditions were stolen by Christians as a recruitment tool for the cult but there are many other worse violations that should be getting attention other than this celebration that's mostly secular except for the name.

    December 20, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • lol??

      JJ sayz, "..........worse violations........."........Oh, oh. Now what?

      December 20, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Al

      So what would you have us do, JJ, give back the holiday to the pagans or celebrate Christ's birth on another day despite doing so for 2k + years? I don't see how this could possibly be a reasonable request, especially since there are plenty of alternative holidays occurring at the same time. With some obvious exceptions, you and I are free to celebrate however and whenever we wish in this country.

      December 20, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • lol??

      Al, Aztec religion is highly frowned upon here. Shamans get a pass, with a note from the Beast, when they do the abortions. The magic is turning a human into an unhuman.

      December 20, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      Al,

      Personally, all I want to see is an end to the persecution complex around Christmas – every year there's Fox's manufactured war on christmas, with people being rude to store clerks who dare say Happy Holidays, Christians telling atheists that it's wrong for them to celebrate the cultural and secular Christmas holiday they grew up with, with their families, battles over if it's OK to have a holiday tree, and so on and so forth. No atheist had the least issue with Christmas until some idiots went and started creating an imaginary war on Christmas out of a few stores deciding to recognize that their patrons included Jews, Muslims, and others.

      December 20, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      Al,

      And for me – I enjoy Christmas – it's a cultural and family celebration, and I see no issue with that – it's a melting pot of traditions – the name comes from Christianity, but every other piece of it (other than the nativity) comes from a variety of religions around the world and throughout time.

      December 20, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  20. Stacy

    I'm of no particular religion, but I don't feel threatened by nativity scenes or Christianity. I do think the way atheists are going about promoting atheims is, well, tacky. Just as tacky as it is when overzealous Christians try to jam religion down your throat. It is equally repugnant for Atheists to use the same tactics. The fact of the matter is that an overwhelming majority of Americans are Christian (72%) and that roughly 86% of the people on Earth believe in a religious or spiritual system of belief, with Christianity being the largest religion. It's fine to be an atheist, but don't crap on others beliefs just because you feel you're being imposed on. Two wrongs don't make a right.

    December 20, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Answer

      So don't fight the religious d-o-u-c-h-e-s? Be a pacifist when they scream for laws that grants only themselves privileges?

      Are you really serious that your words are that matter of fact. Let the religious people claim more privileges and you will sit back and just see what those privileges are denied to yourself? Okay.

      December 20, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • the AnViL

      "but don't crap on others beliefs just because you feel you're being imposed on."

      it isn't that people feel as if their being imposed on... people ARE being imposed on.

      i suppose when religious zealots stop negating equality in those that do not adhere to their theological ideals... we can ease up a little.

      i wouldn't count on it, stacy.

      December 20, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Etalan

      I have a problem is how they changing the history of the holiday. I don't care how we use this holiday for, but christian is changing the history and fact of the holiday. The birth of Jesus never happen on Christmas, but people are trying to change that in the history book, and to change history and fact to promote something like religion is in my view one the worst crime.

      December 20, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Huebert

      Stacy

      This is not the way atheist are promoting atheism. This is the way American Atheist is promoting atheism. I'm a little "a" atheist, and I enjoy and celebrate Christmas. I just leave out the nativity scenes.

      December 20, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • lol??

      stacy sayz, ".........but I don't feel threatened by nativity scenes or Christianity..........." Planned Parenthood is NOT impressed. But it hasn't slowed the donations from Islam a bit.

      December 20, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Answer

      @lol??

      "But it hasn't slowed the donations from Islam a bit."

      ---
      You show your fears very well. XD

      "Just let them take over" << – you spread this out – this fear that you have. You hate them.

      "Can't have more of them than christians" .. that's the angle right? LOL

      Bomb them, kill them, just make sure they don't outnumber you. XD

      December 20, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • lol??

      answer to answer, excuse please. Had to look up XD:"2. An internet expression that gets annoying if overused." So what does mean?

      December 20, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Answer

      So your name is annoying.. gratz. XD

      December 20, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • lol??

      Christians always minority:............."Mat 7:14 Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

      December 20, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Answer

      Useless babble quoting... how original.

      Got more?

      December 20, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • lol??

      "Isa 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] whereto I sent it."

      December 20, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Athy

      Strait??

      December 20, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Little known secrets of the Bible

      Matthew couldn't spell for shit.

      December 20, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • lol??

      "from past participle of stringere"....which is...."present active infinitive of stringō"

      December 20, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • lol??

      The actual word origin is from the old west, as in, "Time to string em up boyz!"

      December 20, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • FYI

      XD – is a sign of laughter - seen sideways, the X is crossed eyes and the D is a smiley mouth, open laughing.

      December 20, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      A billboard is hardly cramming something down your throat. And it's far milder than the religious billboards, with their veiled threats of hell, statements that only their religion has good people in it, etc. – don't pretend there's some false equivalency here.

      December 20, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.