A war against Christmas?
Yep it happens at this time of year. No wonder they call it the “silly season”
A church that has erected a Nativity at the Florida Capitol building for the last two years says this year it will not display a manger — in the interest of harmony.
“My hope is that the Christ in Christmas is louder than a wood display and some figurines,’’ Pam Olsen, a spokesperson for the International House of Prayer in Tallahassee, told the Miami Herald. “The racial tensions and mass murders, the shootings at the Planned Parenthood and in California — something is very wrong in our country. We need to step back and say we need to stop. Let the sound of the Christ Child bring hope, joy and peace instead of dissension.”
The church’s Nativity prompted other groups to apply for December displays and resulted in a “Seinfeld”-inspired Festivus Pole (courtesy of American Atheists), a winter solstice banner (from the Freedom From Religion Foundation) and a diorama featuring the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a noodle-y character who wears a colander on his meatball head and is beloved of some skeptics and other nonbelievers.
New billboards featuring a smiling Santa suggesting people “skip church” appeared this week, courtesy of American Atheists.
The smiling Santa suggests people “be good for goodness’ sake” and then really throws out the red meat with a big “Happy Holidays!”
The billboards went up in Winston-Salem, N.C., and Colorado Springs. Colorado Springs is often referred to as the “evangelical Vatican” for the number of Christian ministries and churches based there. It was also the site of a Planned Parenthood shooting, in which the shooter many have had religious motivations; police are still investigating.
Last year, American Atheists’ billboards featured a little girl writing a letter to Santa that said, “All I want for Christmas is to skip church.”
“This year, Santa wrote back,” Silverman said.
Michigan Satanists have announced their intention to stage their own “live nativity” — with snakes.
Their slithering display is intended as a counterpoint to another live nativity — this one with homo sapiens — sponsored by Republican presidential candidate (and evangelical Christian) Ted Cruz. Both will be staged on the lawn in front of the Michigan state Capitol in Lansing.
The point? Not to proselytize for Satan, but for religious liberty, the Satanists say. “We refuse to allow one religious perspective (to) dominate the discourse,” a leader of the Satanists said in a press release.
There seems to be a run on alternative nativities this far ahead of Christmas. A pair of young Arizonans — an atheist and a Catholic — are launching a “Zombie Nativity” toy.
A Marlboro, N.H. man was told he had to remove the word ‘Christmas’ from fliers he was sending home with local schoolchildren to remind them and their parents of the town’s annual tree lighting ceremony.
John F. Fletcher, an American Legion member who also plays Santa at the ceremony, said he used Wite-Out to cover ‘Christmas’ on each of 250 fliers, which the school district then sent home with students.
“Our School District celebrates the religious freedom that our students enjoy,” a press release issued by the local school district says. “However, the Establishment Clause of our Constitution forbids a public school district from aiding, promoting or endorsing a particular religion or religious activity.”
But Charles Haynes, vice-president of the Newseum Institute and its Religious Freedom Center, says the school district has erred too far on the side of caution. Using the word “Christmas” is not an establishment of religion, he says, but just a description.
“This is an example of how poorly some school leaders are educated about the First Amendment,” he wrote to RNS in an email. “Absurd overreactions like this give ‘separation of church and state’ a bad name. I expect to see this on many fundraising letters in the coming months!”
Fletcher isn’t backing down. “It’s easier to offend the majority, so you don’t offend the minority,” he said. “That’s what it comes down to.”