A war against Christmas?

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A war against Christmas?

Yep it happens at this time of year. No wonder they call it the “silly season”

Example 1

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.

Example 2

 

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!”

American Atheists' annual holiday billboard. Photo courtesy of American Atheists

Show caption

American Atheists’ annual holiday billboard. Photo courtesy of American Atheists

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.

Example 3

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.

Example 4

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.”

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56 thoughts on “A war against Christmas?

  1. This is ridiculous. We wouldn’t expect those celebrating Buddhism’s Day of Enlightenment,
    Judaism’s Hanukkah, Hinduism’s Festival of Lights, Islam’s Eid-Ul-Adha, to ignore the reasons for their celebration. Why do we think they would be less gracious to us, than we are to them?

    That’s a generalisation, I suppose, there are always extremists in all faiths, not least in Christianity.

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  2. Christians piggybacked on winter solstice celebrations to establish Christmas celebrations. I don’t see the big deal in others piggybacking on Christmas celebrations in the same way. What goes around comes around.

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  3. You gotta admit in the current American political climate not displaying a manger might make sense.

    A small group of middle eastern refugees being assisted by 3 Persian’s if that catches on Trump will blow his stack.

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  4. “Be good for goodness sake”

    I wonder if they could give an exact descrption of what is “good?” The old nugget “as long as you do not hurt someone” is out. You need tp be psychic to know that.

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      • Definition of good?
        You mightnot be surprised that its a biblical one. God is good. God is love. Ten commandments. Fruits of the spirit and love. It is right action, right thought and love. In Corinthians it speaks of live askind etc. so the qualities of good can be driiled down further.

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    • By Stephen Post
      “First, what is meant by “good”? “Good” refers here to a way of life in which the security, well-being and happiness of others is actively meaningful, and in which this meaning centers not just on the near and dear, but leans outward to all humanity.

      Such goodness can be expressed in many ways as needed by beneficiaries – intentional acts of kindness, helping and volunteering, empathic listening, compassion as affective empathy in response to suffering, creativity, forgiveness, loyalty, mentoring, respect, and justice in access to the decent minimum of the those things without which a life is unsustainable.”

      https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/content/being-good-good-you

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      • Stu, black and white.
        If being black and white is inferred by you as something not good or not preferred then one might have an issue with logic. Logic is the study of how to evaluate arguments and reasoning. It helps us to distinguish correct reasoning from poor reasoning. It helps us reason correctly or else we don’t have a viable means for knowing the truth or arriving at sound beliefs or the truth. Black and white is logical. Live long and prosper.

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      • I think you left something out from this statement

        Black and white is logical.

        being

        Black and white is logical in a perfect world

        In my opinion Dr Spock struggled often because it was not always logical to apply black and white.

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    • A few points from a fuller article on Being Good

      “It’s often said that we now can’t agree as a society on a code of good behaviour – and that this is why people are now especially tolerant of, and afraid to complain about, misbehaviour. Christianity used to have list of 7 key virtues that it believed all its followers should heed. There’s nowadays no scientific answer to exactly how many virtues a non-believer might choose to be guided by; yet what seems key is to recognise that we probably need some kind of list to correct our worst tendencies.

      Here are some virtues that could apply today,

      Resilience
      The art of keeping going even when things are looking dark;

      Empathy
      The capacity to connect imaginatively with the sufferings and unique experiences of another person.

      Sacrifice
      Occasionally, to forego our own satisfactions in the name of someone or something else.

      Politeness
      Linked to tolerance, the capacity to live alongside people whom one will never agree with, but at the same time, can’t avoid.

      Humour
      Seeing the funny sides of situations and of oneself is integral to wisdom,

      Self-Awareness
      To know oneself is to try not to blame others for one’s troubles and moods;

      Forgiveness
      It’s recognising that living with others isn’t possible without excusing errors.

      Hope
      The way the world is now is only a pale shadow of what it could one day be.

      A lack of absolute agreement on how to be good should not in itself be enough to disqualify us from investigating and promoting the notion of such a project. Ultimately, each one of us needs to formulate his or her own list of important virtues. Although the priority of moral instruction should be general, the list of virtues to guide us should be specific, given that we all incline in astonishingly personal ways to idiocy and craziness.”

      Full article at http://alaindebotton.com/on-being-good/

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      • Christianity’s 7 key virtues.

        The four cardinal virtues, – prudence, justice, temperance (restraint), and courage (or fortitude).
        The three theological virtues, from Paul – faith, hope, and charity (or love)

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      • An analogy ? I am glad you asked. 🙂

        Imagine hosting a party and you have guests that behave very well. They don’t have gerkin races on the windows and leave your fish tank alone… hey they even pick up after themselves. The only problem is they total ignore you. Are they still a good guest ? Add onto this that the guests actually owe you their lives. Makes it worse.

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      • Dom, you are actually describing ethics. This is different to a description of what is good. Morals and values are not ethics either. You have provided an ethical dilemma. Here is another. You are a train signalman working in the control room. A train is baring down into a tunnel. There are two tunnels and the train is being directed into the left tunnel. The tunnel to the right is temporally off limits as workmen are in that tunnel. Suddenly you see on your monitor that the left tunnel as some children in the left tunnel. Do you allow the train to continue in that tunnel or quickly divert it to the tunnel on the right. The train cannot stop in time and any tunnel it ventures into will kill the people with that tunnel. What would you do?

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      • Alexie:

        “Morals and values are not ethics either. You have provided an ethical dilemma.”

        You seem to be suggesting that there are clear and unambiguous distinctions between  morals and ethics. If that is the case, you are incorrect. Most discussions on the meanings of morals and ethics indicate they overlap, that there are broad disagreements about meanings of the terms and that the terms are used interchangeably in a practical sense.

        Sometimes, in certain disciplines, distinctions between the terms are used to differentiate between personal or wider views of an action and the framework in which it is being considered; for any example a lawyer defending their client while omitting evidence of the client’s guilt. Distinctions are also made in philosophy.

        Personally, I avoid using the word “moral” for similar reasons as “belief” in that these terms are often religiously loaded.

        In any case Doms post appear to relate to mores, rather than morals and ethics.

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      • Ethics
        The rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group or culture.

        Morals
        Principles or habits with respect to right or wrong conduct. While morals also prescribe dos and don’ts, morality is ultimately a personal compass of right and wrong.

        I would argue that it is more than individual compass but here is one description of both anyway.

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      • Alexie:

        “Philosophers would say differently stu.”

        I know. It’s why I wrote: “Distinctions are also made in philosophy” to support “in certain disciplines, distinctions between the terms are used to differentiate between personal or wider views of an action and the framework in which it is being considered”.

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      • The distinction is clear to me. No overlap at all as far as I am concerned. Also, one may have a certain moral compass but go completely against that due to ethical dilemmas.

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      • Outspoken atheist Ricky Gervais once posted a piece on his blog titled Why I’m A Good Christian
        Gervais admitted he didn’t believe in God or the divinity of Jesus – two necessary tenants of the faith – but said “I do believe I am a good Christian compared to a lot of Christians”.

        Piling misconception upon misconception, Gervais continued: “So many Christians think that because they believe in the right God, they are automatically good”.

        Well no, Christians know they need God’s grace. None of us can be “good enough” to get to heaven. As Mark Twain said: “If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in”.

        A few years ago, the American Humanist Association sought to replace the US national motto In God We Trust with the secular In Good We Trust.
        The AHA stated that being good was “one of the most important of responsibilities in our one and only life”.

        The organisation did not define what “good” was, or how it might be determined. In a secular world where morality is subjective, the definition of good is merely an opinion. In the end, In Good We Trust is meaningless terminology.

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      • “No overlap at all as far as I am concerned.”

        That’s because you have a tendency toward black and white thinking.

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      • “A few years ago, the American Humanist Association sought to replace the US national motto In God We Trust with the secular In Good We Trust.”

        Given that this motto was only formally adopted in 1956, I’d ask the AHA why they didn’t want to revert to the original and secular motto: E pluribus unum

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      • Stu on December 15, 2015 at 19:07 said:

        “A few years ago, the American Humanist Association sought to replace the US national motto In God We Trust with the secular In Good We Trust.”

        Given that this motto was only formally adopted in 1956, I’d ask the AHA why they didn’t want to revert to the original and secular motto: E pluribus unum
        ……………………………………………..
        It is singularly apt. Not only one nation from many States, but one people from many ethnicities.

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      • “That’s because you have a tendency toward black and white thinking.”

        Stu, are you certain about that? (black and white)

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      • “That’s because you have a tendency toward black and white thinking.”
        Stu, are you certain about that? (black and white)

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      • Alexie:

        “Stu, are you certain about that? (black and white)”.

        I’m certain I can demonstrate your tendency towards black and white thinking by referencing your posts on this blog.

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      • Alexie:

        “If being black and white is inferred by you as something not good or not preferred…”

        No. I specifically referred to your comment about the meanings of moral and ethics where you said: “No overlap at all as far as I am concerned”. Clearly, depending on the context, there was is overlap. Examples include academic discussion and everyday concepts of the terms.

        I’m willing to provide other examples of posts on this site which demonstrate black and white thinking on your part.

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      • “No. I specifically referred to your comment about the meanings of moral and ethics….I’m willing to provide other examples of posts on this site which demonstrate black and white thinking on your part.”

        Obviously it id not just about one reference it is about many references.

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      • For stu

        Please go ahead and list the black and white. You seem very intent on them. You would then believe I have caused some sort of fallacy or bogus dilemma.

        You may think my arguments are unsound but this is not automatically considered a fallacy. The fallacy, if indeed you can show it is not the black and white thinking you refer to.

        You may be in error is confusing contrary with contradiction.

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      • Alexie:

        “Please go ahead and list the black and white. You seem very intent on them. You would then believe I have caused some sort of fallacy or bogus dilemma.”

        Let’s go back to my original point, which was that the meanings of the terms “morals” and “ethics” are ambiguous, overlap and are the subject of disagreement. You disagreed, saying that the meaning are distinct and clear to you, citing philosophy as an example. I pointed out that I had already dealt with philosophy in this context in a previous response, and suggested that your refusal to accept ambiguity in relation to these terms may be due to black and white thinking on your part.

        Here are a couple of couple of examples of what I think demonstrates your tendency toward this type of thinking:

        “[The Christian Church] Still being persecuted all over the world.” (December 1, 2015 at 13:39)

        “Dom, You and your anti-western hatred and bias is obvious.” (December 15, 2015 at 20:57)

        Clearly the “Christian Church” is not being persecuted “all” over the world. In many places around the world, formal Christian institutions are in positions of power and seek to use their influence to limit the rights of others. Same sex marriage is the first example that comes to mind.

        Similarly, your post to Dom dismisses his attempts to put the historical persecution of others by Muslims (and vice versa) into context. Where Islam is concerned, your posts (including the quoted comment) indicate “us versus them” thinking.

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      • Good try Stu

        But your posts prove nothing. The fact I am in opposite to Dom says nothing about me being black and white.

        “Let’s go back to my original point, which was that the meanings of the terms “morals” and “ethics” are ambiguous, overlap and are the subject of disagreement.”

        Your opine does not make it fact. In fact you are being black and white. Saying that indeed I am wrong about my black and white and saying, in a black and white fashion, that morals and ethics are ambiguous. You are judging me as black and white with black and white thinking yourself.

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      • Alexie:

        “The fact I am in opposite to Dom says nothing about me being black and white.”

        That’s not what I said. If you dismiss any criticism of the West as “anti-western hatred and bias” without further explanation, it is reasonable to conclude black and white thinking.

        “Your opine does not make it fact.”

        I never said it did. I said that most discussions on the meanings of the terms note ambiguity, overlap and context. I’d cite examples, but I’m pretty sure I’d be wasting my time, as you’d simply ignore them.

        “In fact you are being black and white. Saying that indeed I am wrong about my black and white and saying, in a black and white fashion, that morals and ethics are ambiguous. You are judging me as black and white with black and white thinking yourself.”

        It’s very difficult to work out what you are trying to say here. Pointing out ambiguity is not an example of black and white thinking.

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      • Neither do I consider a person’s ‘black and whiteness’ as a fault or a failing – it’s a personality characteristic. If you are black and white or fifty shades of grey, God still loves you

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      • As usual my analogies end in disaster.

        As Jesus said when he was called good, no one is good except God. Perhaps we should strive to be good. What we should strive to do is to fulfill our purpose and to what God requests. One of those things is not to ignore God.

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      • Dom, I found your analogy quite interesting. It almost seemed like an example from personal experience.

        To do what God requests? Yes, but we can be mistaken, whether we think we have divine inspiration, or are following scripture which was written for other times and other cultures and can be quite savage.

        Best to rely on the still small voice that comes in the silence when two or three are gathered together, in the spirit of Jesus even when his name is not invoked. The Holy Spirit is present.

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      • Hey Dom,

        So is shooting a stranger a good thing if that’s what you believe God want’s you to do ??

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      • Hubby and I received a card in the mail a few months back from a very dear committed Christian friend. We’ve known, loved, prayed together and have been a big part of each other’s life for 22 years. She’s told me many times that she loves me and is her best friend…..and I have felt the same way. We had her over for a roast dinner and a most enjoyable time of fellowship just three weeks before we received the card.

        The message in the card was brief. She thanked us for being a blessing to her, wished us well for the future, and told us that God had instructed her to dump us and to each go our separate ways. That’s all. No reasons, no nothing…..just a cold, brief message sent in the mail.

        Well, it’s her birthday today. Happy Birthday ..(name). I wish you well old friend, but you broke my heart!

        It seems that God also breaks hearts.

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      • OMG! I’ve been seeking God for an answer over this unexpected turn of events for nearly three months now Bryan, and the answer came this morning via a trusted friend who has been praying for us lately. She doesn’t know anything of this situation, and until I mentioned it on the blog, only my family knew.

        She’s reading a book on intercession and there’s a section in it that she feels I must read and pray about. I won’t mention what it is here, but I just know, just from the chapter heading/ subject, that it’s the answer I’ve been waiting for and what God wants me to deal with concerning this situation. How wonderful!

        I just thought it so unfair that after 22 years of the closest of friendships, I was never given a reason as to why God would tell my friend to walk away from us. But soon, when I receive the info from the book in the mail, I’ll finally have my answer from God. Who says God does not answer prayer? Praise God! 🙂

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      • Hey Bryan,

        Sure and he wouldn’t tell a father to sacrifice his son either right ?

        You ever read the Dead Zone by Stephen King ?

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      • The plot of the Dead Zone is that of a protagonist who miraculously wakes from a coma with some psychic ability. Use of that ability leads him to discover that one of the leading contenders in the presidential campaign will lead America into an apocalyptic future.

        He initially doesn’t act on this information until God sends him a brain tumor (much like he once sent a whale for Jonah) and he realises that he must act within his limited time.

        So he buys a rifle and finds a good position to assassinate the candidate. His attempt is unsuccessful and costs him his life (nobody else is harmed) but during the attempt the candidate uses a small child as a human shield. Photos of him using the child are taken and the negative press destroys his campaign. The final thoughts of our protagonist are the realisation that the terrible future of his visions has been averted.

        So if God wants you to shoot a stranger is that a good thing? It was good of Abraham to prepare his child as a sacrifice wasn’t it ?

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      • “Sure and he wouldn’t tell a father to sacrifice his son either right?”
        I’ve just been reading with interest about the Druze and their beliefs. One of their major celebrations is commemorating the announcement that human sacrifice is condemned by God. They believe that it was Ishmael who was to be sacrificed, so apparently the Jewish line didn’t get the message.

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  5. Mon, you could ask your friend if she took the time to listen properly for that still small voice. And if so, did she then confirm it by going through the same procedure with a group, a communal listening.

    On the other hand, she has her own journey to make, her own mistakes to learn from – you could just let go and let God take care of it. Pray for her.

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    • Thanks Strewth.

      I’ve recently had a birthday, and for the first time in all these years she didn’t make contact, so she means business. I just have to no. 1. Forgive, and no. 2. As you say, let go & let God.

      Gosh it’s painful though. It’s just like she’s gone & suddenly dropped dead on me. You go through a real mourning process…..a sense of profound loss. And my son told me not to make friends with any more Christians. Now that’s a worry, because I’m starting to agree with him, as I’ve wondered for a very long time if they even know what true love is when they tell you that they love you. Oh dear, I’m starting to sound like dabbles! 🙂

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      • Well Mon, the saying is that being Christian doesn’t make you perfect, just forgiven. I see no reason to be bosom friends with Christians who aren’t compatible, although of course treating them kindly.

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