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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. Bruce

    The idea that Christianity stole Christmas from pagans is a blatant perversion of the truth. Yes, Christianity co-opted pagan winter solstice festivals in an attempt to bring pagans into the faith, but the vast majority of what we associate with modern day Christmas came about after this. The notion that pagans, centuries ago, were celebrating a Christmas holiday like the modern day version is quite absurd. Our modern day Christmas has been developing over the centuries. Santa Claus, as seen in that billboard, is a saint after all. While I support the right of all people to be free from religion if they so please, atheists actively seeking policies to do away with religion seems no different that religious demonization of non-believers.

    December 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Bruce,

      I agree with your use of coopt. It is precise and accurate.

      But that is essentially what people mean. Yuletide pre-existed Christianity in pagan Europe. By coopting it and declaring the holdiay as "Christian" then criticizing behavior that does not emphasize the primacy of Christian observances, how is that different from 'stealing' the holiday?

      December 20, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Neal A W

      I dont think anyone is saying that people were celebrating Christmas 1500 years ago like they do now, but the whole idea of taking a holiday/seasonal celebration and putting a christian label on it is the same thing as taking something that isnt yours and saying you own it.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Santa Claus, as this myth is observed today, has nothing to do with St. Nicholas of Myra – unless you believe a 4th century Lycian is somehow an immortal being dressed in red with flying reindeer.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  2. Laurie in Spokane

    I'm an atheist, but I don't spend time debunking religions. They're just not worth it. I t don't share the religious beliefs and refuse to pretend by putting updecorations such as stars and creches and so forth. Trees as part of the winter solstice season's celebrations have been around a lot longer than Christians and Christmas. Christianity stole the winter solstice celebration, renamed it Christmas to honor someone, in the hope of that the pagans would adopt Christianity. I guess they did. Too bad they can't explain how a deity can allow horrendous things to happen, and then have the gall to say how blessed they are more horrendous things didn't occur. Some god.

    December 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • TheFlyingSpaghettiMonster

      I agree with you Laurie, it isn't worth trying to debunk religions. However, I do feel it is necessary and a duty of freethinkers to show others how wrong it is to indoctrinate children from the time they are born with a faith, regardless of what that faith is. In my case, I was never given a faith. My parents chose to let me decide on my own what religion or irreligion would suit me. I attended church with my friends when I was growing up, but it was my own decision to go. Nobody forced me to study religious text or to learn the ways of Jesus. I was raised to respect my fellow living creatures and planet I walk on. I treat others how I want to be treated. This is why I treat fundamentalists with "blinders" on as I would want to be treated...that is to say, I demonstrate to them the lunacy in shoving religion down a child's throat. I think that if people would let their progeny discover the world as it is, that a majority would be freethinking, good deed-doing, independent, adults.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • lol??

      Sounds like you better have "The Talk" with your hubby, whatever his s e x is.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Chance

      @Laurie To allow and condone are not the same. We all can impact the world positive or negative, Christianity believes we have free will. If I was speaking to a Atheist he would tell me we don't have free will; that we are a function of our brain chemistry. In other words our actions are the product of the chemistry of our brains and we don't have a choice. Although a atheist can have good morals the individual isn't accountable to anyone but society; further more he has no measuring stick only what the person sees fit. It could be a total disregard to life or the up most respect for life.

      December 20, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  3. vangie

    I wish the athiest would just shut up and mind thier own business. You dont wish to believe as others, fine go on about your merry way and leave people who believe in something higher alone. Nobody is trying to usurp your rights, but your anger and animosity shows that you are not really sure what you believe and you need to make it all go away so you don't feel guilty. Working in cancer I have seen to many times when people get close to death and then they start crying out to God. No such thing as an athiest in a fox hole.

    December 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Jack

      Maybe you should take your own advice. Shut up and mind YOUR own business.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Reasonable

      We'll shut up when religious people stop trying to muddy their faith with politics.

      Re: the article itself, the idea that atheists are one monolithic group is as ill informed as thinking that any religious group operates the same way. It's amazing how hard it is for people to deal with those that don't believe in god, constantly trying to apply religious group cliches to a group whose only common characteristic is a non-belief in a deity.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Laurie in Spokane

      I'm not an angry atheist. Only one who doesn't understand how people can be so duped as to believe in a god. Makes absolutely no sense to me at all, but hey, worship as you like, just don't expect me to bow my head when you pray, or accept religious icons in public places.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  4. Jamie

    I would respect atheists more if they didint always just go after Christianity. That's too easy. if they were to condemn Ramadan or Mawlid al-Nabi I might take them a bit more seriously. Unless of course they are completely full of it..

    December 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      When those holidays mean something to the public, atheists will "go after" them. Islam is not the issue in our society, Christianity is. Seriously, are you that stupid?

      December 20, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • NatR

      LOL funny how you change your stance. so are you against Christianity alone or against the existance of God and Jesus? because islam stems from the christian faith, if you know anything about religion. And you dont have to worry about islam too?! LOL this one is too funny, I guess you are not aware of accomodations given to muslim students in public university. please go cook your conspiracy somewhere else.

      Aethiests attack christianity because they know christians will not retaliate. let me see you do that to sikhism, islam, jewish or any other faith

      December 20, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I'm sure Chris Stevens family will be glad to know that Islam is not an issue in our society. I think there is a job opening at State for you Moby.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  5. Johnny 5

    Happy Saturnalia!

    December 20, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  6. Karly

    We can all coexist and be happy together. Christmas has become more about Santa and the whole commercial thing; I mean really, when was the last time you saw Christ in a Christmas decoration? I love the whole spirit of Christmas; The Christmas story from the bible is beautiful and so is the whole St. Nick (Santa) story and they both touch my heart ...if you only want to love the jolly old elf because he gives toys to children then that is certainly your right...because we live in the land of the free...Peace on Earth and good will toward men (and women)...no matter what you believe.

    December 20, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  7. Paul

    Dear Atheists: I used to be one of you. I used to believe with all of my heart that the universe popped out of nowhere, for no purpose. I now know longer believe this and think that it is illogical and silly to believe this. However if you want to believe that the universe is the only thing in the universe itself that escapes causality its A-OK with me, I won't attack your belief. Please then, do not go and attack what others believe, as illogical and silly as you may think it is.

    December 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Paul

      Get well soon

      December 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      So calling someone elses beliefs illogical and silly is not an attack?

      December 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Who said it popped out of nowhere? I believe there is something behind the curtain, but it is impossible for me to know what, and that is fine with me. According to your post, God CAN'T exist, because nothing can pop out of "nowhere".

      December 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Atheists do not believe that the universe "popped out of" "nowhere." Moron. I'm glad you're not an atheist because I'd much rather somebody who says stupid things like you do be on the other side. thanks for converting!!

      December 20, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • ATLWmn

      God bless you Paul. I am Christian but happily include any and all religious affiliations into my life. People are people, and all deserve respect. So what if someone disagrees with you? Just be nice and respectful about it, and live and let live. I don't understand the anger of atheists. I get that you're tired of seeing Christian stuff everywhere, but that's life. In this country we have the freedom of religion, and you do not have freedom FROM it. Just brush it off and keep your comments to yourself. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Festivus to all.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Gunny

      Dear Paul, I used to be one of you. I used to believe in a fantasy that there is a supreme being watching over us. I used to believe that if you didn't believe you would burn for all eternity. I used to believe in the bible. I used to believe that the world was created in 6 days. Then I looked up one night and saw the vastness of the universe, and said "what a waste". This was the best an all powerful god could do? All that space and all we get is one planet that can sustain life as we know it? Why create a solar system with only earth being in the right place? Why make some places on this planet uninhabitable, and others so densely packed that people can't have any freedom? Why let children in underdeveloped countries suffer with barely enough food to eat, and other countries where people throw food in the trash because they have had too much? Why allow children to suffer at all? Why allow wars where thousands die over a piece of land that you created? If you are so powerful, why be spiteful of the people you created? Why force them to honor you or perish? Are you insecure? Were you sitting there one day and decide to create a world so that you could have worshipers? You see Paul, I had a lot of questions, and no answers. So that was when I decided to believe in facts and evidence. The evidence says that such a god is not worthy of my praise.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • sam stone

      paul: how does the possibility of a creator imply a God?

      December 20, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Chance

      @Gunny
      Why make some places on this planet uninhabitable, and others so densely packed that people can't have any freedom?

      People usually don't have freedom because of oppressive leaders. Christianity believes people have free will, the ability to do negative or positive acts. Speaking atheistic we don't have free will we are a product of evolution and the chemistry of the brain is responsible for our actions we have no choice in the matter.

      Why let children in underdeveloped countries suffer with barely enough food to eat, and other countries where people throw food in the trash because they have had too much?

      Why do humans not look out for one another and help each other out regardless of skin color or geographic location? Why do humans blame a god they don't believe in rather than take the matter into their own hands because God knows they have the ability to rid the world of hunger.

      Why allow children to suffer at all?

      Why is there suffering period is the real question? Christianity isn't a remedy for the suffering of the world, it is only a hope for a future world where all wrongs will be made right and no more suffering. The quick answer is this world is finite along with all the suffering and the hope is all will be made right in a eternal setting.

      Why allow wars where thousands die over a piece of land that you created?

      Why blame a god you don't believe in over wars for any reason? Man is responsible for its own actions he was made free to do as he wants. Why not put responsibility where it belongs squarely on man's greedy shoulders.

      If you are so powerful, why be spiteful of the people you created?

      People are free to do as they want, most of the issues of this world are self inflicted wounds compounded by a world spiteful towards God.

      Why force them to honor you or perish? Are you insecure?

      There is no forcing involved we are free to do as we want. If you don't want anything to do with God heaven would be hell for you. If God where insecure he would have not given the option to choose. The parameters God sets around human life are so that our joy will be complete not to rob us from joy.

      Were you sitting there one day and decide to create a world so that you could have worshipers?

      Christianity believes God to be without cause ie eternal thus self sufficient. Even if we don't worship Him the beings of heaven will, humans where made a little lower than the angles.

      December 20, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  8. delong

    There are two kinds of atheists. The first is the religion-hater whose atheism has more to do with mommy issues than anything, IMO. The second is the atheist that does not believe in God, and is just fine letting others to their own beliefs. I am the second sort. I don't understand raining on others' parades with stupid billboards that are both infantile and insulting. If religion helps you be a good person, then I applaud your faith. I don't need religion to be a good person, that is my business. Be a good person and live and let live.

    December 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      I don't appreciate the over-generalization.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      What other kinds are there Moby?

      December 20, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • craniumthedumb

      I like to call atheist who practice only because of so called "mommy issues" (that gave me a chuckle) objectionists. They are only objecting from the status quo.

      December 20, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  9. Bruce

    If the atheist movement is so good for our community- Can someone please list atheist founded groups that feed and cloth the poor? As a christian I spend a lot of time helping those in need. Not out of duty or its the right thing to do, but out of LOVE.

    December 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Athy

      Google it, Bruce. There are several.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I spend my money on myself because I don't care about other people apart from my immediate family. I also know atheists who are quite the opposite, However, no matter how much you kid yourself, every time you do a charitable deed, you say to yourself "Mmm, another plus tick on my Heaven application sheet".

      December 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Know What

      Bruce,

      The Bill and Melinda Gates (with Warren Buffet) is the world's largest charitable foundation (Bill and Warren are agnostic/atheist).

      If you will include wholly secular (non-religious) organizations, you will find The Red Cross, The United Way, Doctors Without Borders, St. Jude's Childrens Hospital and tons of others.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Huebert

      If you didn't believe in God would stop doing those things? If you didn't believe in God would you love your fellow man less?

      December 20, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • lamb of God

      I am agnostic and still give money to Charity, including christian funded groups. Is your charity about your salvation, or your heart and sympathy for those in need? I tend to see all people give more for the latter.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • altalks21

      To bruce, if you really love them , then I hope you support expanding the Living Wage laws so that they can support themselves and not rely on handouts.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  10. MLF

    Interesting that so many comment about Christians pushing their beliefs on everyone, but Christians do not have a big billboard in Time Square bashing anyone's beliefs. This billboard is cruel and breaks my heart.

    December 20, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Athy

      But does it make you think?

      December 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Either you're a troll, retarded or deluded. 90%of the highways are littered with them and most cities are full of them too.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Closet Atheist

      Seriously...?!? Take a drive through the south....

      December 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Neal A W

      Sounds like you are boo hooing over something you dont have to look at. At least they arent setting people on fire for not agreeing with them.

      I think they are going about it in the wrong way, but you sound like a baby.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • lamb of God

      In North Alabama we have a church on every street corner, Billboards that profess Christ's name all year long. Commercials for some church all day. You think they need more advertising?

      December 20, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • JMB

      MiLF.. turn on any TV station on Sunday morning and watch the evangelical clowns spout their nonsense how we should all believe in the magical man in the clouds.. what a total crock of nonsense..

      Its just unbelievable to me people really believe there is a magical being living in the clouds that supposedly loves all of of us but would allow 20 young children to be gunned down with an assault rifle ?? Oh I guess he has a "plan" for them..

      December 20, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • sam stone

      no, they do not have billboards in time square bashing others' beliefs. but they sure have billboards in front of many churches promising hell to non believers

      December 20, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Chance

      @JMB to allow and condone are not the same. We all can impact the world positive or negative, Christianity believes we have free will. If I was speaking to a Atheist he would tell me we don't have free will; that we are a function of our brain chemistry. In other words our actions are the product of the chemistry of our brains and we don't have a choice. Although a atheist can have good morals the individual isn't accountable to anyone but society; further more he has no measuring stick only what the person sees fit. It could be a total disregard to life or the up most respect to life.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • Chance

      @sam I've never seen a billboard like the one you describe but I've seen some with a invitation or with a encouraging message.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  11. Rich

    What we need is more education so that people will catch on that their religion is not the only one.There are many fairy tales not just yours.

    December 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  12. Jamie

    So they dont recognize Christmas but they still acknowledge that it is a Holiday aka 'holy'day? Can they explain what makes it holy then if they are to use that term?

    December 20, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Closet Atheist

      Don't be obtuse

      December 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Know What

      Jamie,

      "Holiday" is far, far removed in language from meaning "holy day". Is President's Day holy? Labor Day? In Europe they call their vacations "holidays".

      Happy Thorsday.

      December 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • lunchbreaker

      The etymological origin of holiday does not dictate the words current meaning in society.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      Jamie, Ever use the days of the week/months of the year? Did you know they are named for Norse/German/Roman gods? Are you acknowledging those gods exist when you use those words?

      December 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      @ Know What, Kudos. Looks like you beat me to that one.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Jamie

      I wasnt being obtuse I was being acute

      December 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Chris

      It's a holy day because that's the day our Lord and Savior was conceived. His spirit was in his mother's womb. His cousin John the Baptist leaped in his mother's womb (Luke 1:41). Jesus was born 9 months later on September 29th. At this time in history, the churches were receiving pagans into the church ranks, the pagan holidays were incorporated with the church so that no one was offended and to keep the pagans comfortable while learning our Savior, Jesus Christ's message of truth.

      Read Luke 1, Matthew 1:18-25

      December 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  13. Jack

    Has anyone ever read Augstine's "City of God"? That is his work in defending Christianity after Rome was sacked by barbarians in 410. In it he says that the Kingdom of Heaven can be obtaiined only through everyone being on the same page, peace and believing in God.

    December 20, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      So basically all or none? That's a convenient position since it will never happen.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Augustine's book is wonderful. It uses a kind of Platonic inquiry that has disappeared from modern argument. It is a great glimpse into how classical thinking shaped our culture. Unfortunately, most atheist would ignore the large themes in the book and focus on what they call circular reasoning as a reason to discard one of our greatest treatises.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  14. Closet Atheist

    Atheist here who enjoys christmas!

    December 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      You're not alone.

      December 20, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • robert tatic

      I raise my glass to you!!

      December 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  15. Rich

    We have enough fairy tales...We need more education in this country not more one religion only as Hucko would have.

    December 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      The atheists on this blog are stepping over His seeds that get blown by the wind to find their way to fertile grounds. Typical of swines trampling. My camel-toe is home to a new litter of feral cats. Statistics prove that the more devout someone is, the higher IQ they have.

      Amen.

      December 20, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Athy

      Actually, several studies show just the opposite to be true.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Chance

      Interesting enough accompanied by the decline of Christianity is the decline of math and science scores.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  16. R Burns

    “Keep the MERRY!” it says. “Dump the MYTH!” The sign features a picture of a jolly Santa Clause. Santa isn't a myth? Atheists should just ignore Christmas and other religious celebrations and stop trying to fight religious freedom. It's one of the strongest foundations of a free world and our great country! Religion misused for violence and power are also violations of the same laws that guide any other activity. That is what we all should be fighting.

    December 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • ATLWmn

      Great points R Burns, and well said. The first amendment gives us freedom OF religion, not freedom from it. They can ignore it and carry on with their lives, but what do they get out of being angry about it all the time? Some traditions of Christmas were taken from pagan celebrations, but the holiday itself is about the birth of Christ. If you don't believe in it, don't celebrate it. It's really that simple. Atheists can explain to their children why they don't celebrate, just as Jewish people do. It's not rocket science.

      And Christians, if the non-believers don't want to believe, that's their choice. Don't make us look bad by bashing them and condemning them to hell. That's not our job, nor our decision. Merry Christmas guys.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Neal A W

      It may be a celebration of the birth of Jesus, but that was added after most of the traditions that people still participate in were already established.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • lamb of God

      So Santa, Flying Reindeer, Coming down the chimney, gifts for all the good children. Watching you even when you are sleeping. North Pole.

      All not a myth right?

      December 20, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      "Religion misused for violence and power are also violations of the same laws that guide any other activity"
      Misuing power ...
      Like restricting a woman's right to an abortion?
      Like restricting gays to marry?
      Like monopolizing school book publishers to curb the theory of evolution?
      Like posting religious edicts on state public grounds ?

      December 21, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @R Burns

      It's what they symbolize, not the characters themselves that the billboard is saying to keep or drop. Santa represents happiness, selfless giving.
      Jesus represents a horrible religion filled with magic and threats.

      @ATLWmn

      Christmas is no more owned by religion than Veterans day.

      December 21, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  17. Truth Hurts

    One of the best places to celebrate the joys of athieistic reasoning and meaning is on the surface of mars.

    December 20, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • urie

      Christmas is a CORPORATE HOLIDAY. Christmas should be celibrated on your birthday because life is the vehicle in which you have the choice to accept him.

      December 20, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Huebert

      Reasoning sent rovers to the martian surface. Eventually, maybe with in our lifetime, we will put a human on Mars. We do live in an exciting time.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  18. Wyattbuchanan

    Atheist sure spend a lot of time and money trying to debunk something they say does not exist.

    There would be no Christmas if not for Christ and there would be no Hanukah if not for Jehovah. Perhaps atheist would embrace a more Wiccan Mid-Winter Solstice view but even then they would make them nature -worshipers. (Ooopps there’s a problem there too because they don’t worship anything, not even nature ). Perhaps they just don't have any reason to celebrate but just like to piggyback on the Christian and Jewish holy days, which they are free to do. Hey there Mister Atheist, Seinfeld has your holiday and it's called Festivus.

    So...break out your aluminum pole and Air Your Grievances and do your little Feats of Strength trying to wrestle with the God you say does not exist. It changes nothing.

    He is, was and always will be the Great I Am. Merry Christmas to you.

    December 20, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • tadashidavis

      I hate to burst your bubble; but Christians modified Winter Solstice. That is proven; that is recorded. Unlike a pretend deity.

      December 20, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Ben

      Is that Will I AM's brother???

      December 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Alex

      See: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Goddidit

      December 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Huebert

      I'm not a fan of Festivus, I think I'll keep on celebrating Christmas, just with out the Jesus.

      But you go ahead and bring out your nativity sets, and spend Christmas eve in church. He is, and always will be a myth. Merry Christmas.

      December 20, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • li

      LOVE it!

      December 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • li

      Wyattbuchanan LOVE it.. so true.. now what all the blind haters..

      December 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • CosmicC

      I'm with you on the Christmas thing, but with our without a god, the Israelites did defeat the Greeks. The whole miracle aspect of Hannukah can easily be explained. I'm sure somewhere during that week the high priest's wife said something like "Honey, I know I just bought a new jug of lamp oil, but it's empty now. Can you run down to the shuk and buy some more?"

      December 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • JMB

      You are a total fool.. So, I'd like to hear your explanation on how and why your "all loving god" would allow 20 children to be slaughtered with an assault rifle ? If he does exist, maybe a few well aimed bullets should find their way in his direction...

      Religion is for fools and comics.. period..

      December 20, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • DaddyMac

      For all you "Atheists" if you simply don't participate, that is fine, do you need some cheese with the "whine"? if you do, someone would probably be glad to wrap that up for you and send it to you as a non-participating present. I don't call Atheists names or try to knock them down, you have complete freedom to believe what you want to but why do you have to try so hard to hate Christians? I think most intelligent people realize that if you spend that much time and money on trying to get rid of religion, there must be something to it! Merry Christmas and God bless you all!

      December 20, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  19. HeavenSent

    The big bang and evolution are lies against Jesus’ truth to cause doubt, creating confusion. You prideful atheists still continue to refuse to learn your heritage. I have been married three times but have always kept the same in-laws. It is time for you to start your walk with Jesus.

    Amen.

    December 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Mack

      Even ardent supporters of religion will disagree with your stance on evolution. Some may even disagree with you on the Big Bang claim you make, too. Sorry, you can't dismiss science with a cute blog post.

      December 20, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • TheFlyingSpaghettiMonster

      The Big Bang and Evolution are constructed through an extensive process of falsification. If evidence comes to light that falsifies the premises of either theory, that theory is changed to accommodate new facts. In the case of the bible (and all holy books for that matter), it cannot be falsified, therefore it holds no scientific validity. When you say, "you prideful atheists still continue to refuse to learn your heritage" you make yourself sound ignorant to the changing world around you that establishes truth based on reason and methodology, not fear and mysticism. To be frank, nobody cares about your 3 time marriage or that you kept your in-laws. It's time for you to start to walk with Reason and to take off the blinders that have been strapped against your face since you were indoctrinated by your parents as a child.

      December 20, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Chris

      hold on, you've been married three different times, which goes against classic readings of the Bible, to three different members of the same family? Which is to say, if a family had three sisters/brothers, you've married all of them? And by heritage, I assume you mean "white, European heritage" since Christianity has spent the better part of it's lifetime expanding into other nations..

      December 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • ChokeArtists

      Your twisted viewpoint is a perfect example of what atheists fight so hard against. To discount scientific evidence as a lie is crazy talk and dangerous. Its a detriment to the survival of our planet and to humanity in general.

      Free your mind and become enlightened to the "real" truth. The reality of the situation is easier to accept than you'd imagine once you've removed the fear of god from the equation.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • DaddyMac

      So much to say....first both Evolution and Creation are THEORIES. You have to look at the facts and make a decision on which you believe and that is where your faith lies. That said, true Christians believe scripture and therefore, creation. This is a free country to beleive what you want but the negative comments are trully unnecessary. Never agrue with an idiot, they just bring you down to their level and then beat you with experience.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Pete

      DaddyMac, Evolution is a Scientific Theory, and Creationism is at best just a theory. There is a difference.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Ernesto C

      You have been married 3 times? Ok you are not the best example of religion working. I am a Christian, but seriously damaging the cause here.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  20. Joe B-b-b-b-bob

    "Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men" - that's the meaning of Christmas - and Christianity, if you choose to believe. But even if you don't believe in God, does that negate the message of Jesus' teachings? And if you want to keep the "merry," it seems a huge billboard with a suffering Christ and condescending, mean-spirited comment is hardly a message of merriment. Live and let live - let people believe and celebrate or not believe or not celebrate what they want. Tolerance, understanding, respect - no matter what one believes, we should always act with those values. Then we can all get along just fine.

    December 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Alex

      Which is worse: using the emotionally charged imagery of a crucified Jesus to point out something bogus, or using that same emotionally charged story to get people to believe something bogus in the first place?

      December 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Was it goodwill to the Canaanites?

      December 20, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Josh

      Was it goodwill to the Nazis?

      December 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Was it goodwill to the Holocaust victims (we could do this all night)?

      December 20, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • CosmicC

      Isn't "Rational Libertarian" an oxymoron?

      December 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Joe B-b-b-b-bob

      To Josh and Rat Lib: Jesus would never have advocated any of these horrific events. You confuse the messenger with those who pervert the message for their own evil ends. With all due respect, yours is a child's logic.

      December 20, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Joe B-b-b-b-bob

      To Alex: Your question is unanswerable because it is based on false premises. Happy holidays, peace and joy to the world!

      December 20, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
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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.