`Tis The Season To Be Cranky: Religious Right Gears Up New Round Of `War On Christmas' Claims
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 10:46:09 AM EST

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving - which means it's time for the Religious Right to start carping about the so-called "war on Christmas."

Actually, there have already been several developments in this alleged war. As an unwilling combatant, I'd like to give you a little round-up of the action so far.

First off, the American Family Association (AFA) has released its annual "Naughty Or Nice" list of retailers. Traditionally, release of this list, which the AFA published on Nov. 15, marks the beginning of the annual Religious Right whine-fest about the war on Christmas.

Here's how the list works: Obsessive types at the AFA who obviously have way too much time on their hands spend time poring over print and web ads from stores and counting up the number of times the word "Christmas" appears.

Companies that use "Christmas" consistently are nice. Retailers that don't use the term much or not at all are naughty. Some companies are in between. It's all color coded for your convenience.

Again, I wish to point out that the AFA actually undertakes this project every year. This is not a parody designed to make fundamentalists look silly. (Note that Victoria's Secret is AGAINST Christmas. That company is naughty in more ways than one!)

Our second item deals with a flap in Santa Monica, Calif., where a large display depicting the nativity of Jesus had been erected for several years. Last year, an atheist group requested the right to use the space too, so city officials decided to hold a lottery. Atheist groups won most of the spaces in 2011, and there was some discontent over this - mainly, intolerant residents trashed the atheist displays. This year, the city has decided to shut down the forum rather than host any displays.

In response, a pro-nativity group filed a lawsuit attempting to force the city to host its religious cyclorama. Not surprisingly, this didn't go down too well. A federal court rejected the overture.

I appeared on Fox News Channel on Monday to discuss this issue. My debating partner, Tammy Bruce, a far-right radio talk show host, argued that non-believers have nothing to worry about because every public space that doesn't include a religious symbol is promoting atheism. I know - it didn't make sense to me either. (Bruce also derided atheists as nihilists who just need to get over themselves.)

To sum up: Santa Monica officials set up a neutral forum for parceling out access to a public space. Atheist groups played by the rules, used the forum and legally won most of the slots. The city decided to shut down the forum rather than deal with all of this fuss. The right wing's answer to that was to file a lawsuit arguing that it's just not fair. The government has to host its symbols!

So far, they aren't getting away with it.

Finally, everyone's favorite holiday elf, Pat Robertson, is spreading tidings of comfort and joy to all - expect those lousy atheists.

According to Bro. Pat, "miserable atheists" are plotting and scheming to "steal [Christmas] away from you."

Continued the mercurial TV preacher, "Atheists don't like our happiness. They don't want you to be happy; they want you to be miserable. They're miserable so they want you to be miserable."

Gee, Pat, too much fruitcake?

Americans United is a multi-faith, multi-philosophy organization. Some of our members are devout believers, while others don't believe. We all get along because we operate with mutual respect and don't make crude generalizations about one another. Pat, you could learn a few things from AU members.

I know it's early, but I'd like to wish a big "Happy Holidays" to the staff of the American Family Association, the pro-nativity gang in Santa Monica and Pat Robertson. I'd also like to advise them all that if they really want an old-fashioned Christmas with a lot of religious trimmings the logical place to find that is a church, not city hall.




Display:
Lists like this can work both ways! ;o) I will be sure to shop as much as possible at Family Dollar and stay out of Walmart! (I'm boycotting Walmart in solidarity with the strikers, anyway.)

by phatkhat on Wed Nov 21, 2012 at 09:55:55 PM EST

The depths of the AFAs modesty is expressed quite well by the way they give their own store a five star rating.

by LupusGreywalker on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 12:25:55 AM EST

they have no idea whatsoever about the history of Christmas, or they're deliberately ignoring it to keep up the political nonsense.  They remind me of the preachers I had when I was in that cult - "War on Christmas" (but I don't remember that phrase), but oh, yeah... your responsibility was to be in Church to celebrate and don't forget your wallet.  You weren't supposed to be having fun and partying and thinking about family and all of the fun and enjoyable things about Christmas, it was a time to honor Jesus.  Especially, you were supposed to give gifts to Jesus (of money to the church).  

Never mind that the preacher let slip one time that he always had a big "traditional" Christmas with his family - worked around his church schedule, every year, with lots of nice gifts to his kids and grandkids and all the trimmings.

They aren't mentioning the other side of their coin.  If all of the stores went out of their way to push Christmas (and nearly all do), they'd be fussing because "too much fun" and "Need to focus on Jesus".   That's part of the message behind the "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" signs I see every year, in many of the local yards.

Personally, the Christmas season is my favorite time of year, and always has been.  It's cooler (and drier), plus I love the decorations and music and such, and I appreciate the idea of Christmas.  I think if they got their way, all of the things I appreciate would be taken away and their religious ideology pushed instead.  (Example: Christmon tree - only crosses - a symbol of Christ's torture and death - and maybe a few stars and an angel.  I remember when those were being pushed locally by the churches as a replacement for the traditional Christmas tree.  No "pagan" symbols allowed.  They never once taught the real history of Christmas or the origin of the Christmas tree.)

by ArchaeoBob on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 10:26:38 AM EST

Yes -- It is the height of cheek for the Religious Right to complain about the "War on Christmas" when they have, in fact, horned in on the Pagan Yule celebration.  

It is gratifying for those of us of the Wiccan/Pagan path that traditional Pagan symbolism remains strong in the season (E.g., holly, Christmas trees, reindeer, mistletoe, Yule logs).

by coralsea on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 10:47:03 AM EST
Parent

Yeah.. Yule, the rites of Mithrias, there are a whole bunch of different religious traditions making up the Christmas we know today.  Ditto for all celebrations in a way.

Hey, if it's fun, if it's beautiful, if it brings light into your life, it can't be bad, and in a way they've given a back-assed compliment to the other faith traditions by taking these things into the practice of Christianity (although much of it is more secular-driven than not AND they were taken to use as a trojan horse to convert people).  

The thing is, all religions are syncretic in nature... very little is original.  A small thing added here... a pinch added there... a story modified and added elsewhere...   But I think it's time for a good education and credit where credit is due.


by ArchaeoBob on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 11:34:34 PM EST
Parent



another thing I like about Christmas is that after Halloween, a lot of people in Washington state put up lights, which they keep up until the end of January. On my country road here, they look real nice and brighten up the night for two months when things get dark around  5 pm.  Thanks, neighbors, even if you are atheists!

Jim of Olym

by rdrjames on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 07:55:32 PM EST
Parent



I have never subscribed to the whole "War on Christmas" thing because I've always felt that it was just more of that Religious Right whining about how discriminated against they are simply because everyone doesn't agree with them.  

However, after spending a couple of hours earlier this week in stores that were blaring "Christmas-themed music" (and by "Christmas-themed music," I mean the hideous, secular "Santa" and "Holiday" stuff belted out by caterwalling "popular artists"), I concede that they have something of a point -- at least in regard to the awful, awful music played to supposedly celebrate their sacred season.  

But this isn't the nefarious work of atheists and non-believers; it's the work of Capitalism, as retailers attempt to whip shoppers into an orgy of expenditure!

I personally like traditional Christmas music, partly because the songs that hale from the British Isles include many Pagan motifs, which, as a Wiccan, I personally find enjoyable, and partly because a lot of the "sacred" music is simply very beautiful.  However, I can see why some retailers shy away from a sacred song rotation, both because many of the songs, such as "Silent Night," are more likely to induce a pensive mood that isn't conducive to excessive credit card expenditure than a jazzed up "J-J-J-Jin-gle, Bells, J-J-J-Jingle Bells!!!"

Gee -- what a surprise!  The AFA, Pat Robertson, and other whiners of the Religious Right are once again aiming their criticism in the wrong direction.

by coralsea on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 10:40:13 AM EST


...they are all confused. Christmas (Christ-mass) was considered a 'Popish' holiday by Protestants for quite a number of years. It was basically banned in Scotland until the 1960's. We all know the pagan origins of many of the symbols. So the AFA, a protestant organization (who's members most likely think Catholics are not Christian) is defending a Catholic Holiday. Nice.
It's much like their defense of the 7 Year Tribulation and Rapture, a theory concocted by the counter-reformation Jesuit Ribera, who was charged with coming up with an alternative to the reformation teaching that the book of Revelation was largely having it's fullfillment historically through the Papacy and the Catholic Church. In short, American fundamentalism is about 2,000 miles wide and 3 inches deep and as a result of their shallowness, are easy to manipulate and push their buttons.
Kind of sad to think that the AFA is the final result of the Protestant Reformation.

by COinMS on Fri Nov 23, 2012 at 08:20:36 AM EST

I am a fairly traditional Eastern Orthodox Christian. Many of us celebrate the birth of Christ two weeks later than the 'world' does.  And we fast for over a month before we celebrate!  (that allows us to participate in the worldly post-Xmas sales to our hearts content, whilst not eating meat.)

My point is that 'old fashioned Christmas' is a rather recent invention, largly promoted by commercial interests, to increase their bottom line.  The Puritan forebears of the modern 'evangelicals' even tried to do away with the celebration since they considered it 'Popish'.  
And Pat Robertson is just a grumpy old man, in my book.

Jim of Olym

by rdrjames on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 07:52:09 PM EST



WWW Talk To Action


Book Report: Yes, Politicians, We Know You Love The Bible. What Else Have You Read?
Real estate magnate Donald Trump says lots of outrageous stuff, but none of it seems to slow him down. His latest gaffe, however, ought......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
American Renewal Project
On my journey to the American Renewal Project in Austin, Texas, I listened to hard right talk radio out of Houston.  There was an......
By wilkyjr (5 comments)
`Just Go Somewhere Else!': A Cavalier Dismissal Of A Serious Concern
A few years ago, I took part in a panel discussion on church-state issues at a Seventh-day Adventist church in Takoma Park, Md. During......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
John Dorhauer Puts Christian Right on Notice
Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer was a front pager here at Talk to Action years before he was elected General Minister and President of the......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Father Of Falsehoods: Why Ted Cruz's Dad Is Wrong About Prayer In Schools
Many misconceptions abound about the issue of prayer in schools, and some people persist in believing a lot of myths. One of the most......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
A Texas Size Conspiracy
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has recently been indicted by a grand jury for an illegal investment scheme.  He faces felony charges. Word has......
By wilkyjr (1 comment)
Are the Anti-Planned Parenthood Smear Videos... Investigative Journalism?
I have been glad to see journalism catching up with the anti-Planned Parenthood scam videos. From The Huffington Post to the New England Journal......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Liberty's Latest Ploy: What's Up With The Sanders Invite?
The announcement that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will speak at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., Sept. 14 has left a lot of people......
By Rob Boston (4 comments)
Creeping Christian Rightism in the Democratic Party
The executive director of a DC group with deep roots in the Democratic faith outreach schemes of a decade ago, has a regular column......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Ghosts Over Mississippi
     Clinton, Mississippi is home to historic Mississippi College.  The Southern Baptist school is owned by the state Baptist convention in the Magnolia......
By wilkyjr (0 comments)
The Cardinal's Gasbag: Catholic League Leader Rushes To Defend Dolan From AU Criticism
There is a thing called Godwin's Law on the internet. It holds that if an online argument goes on long enough, someone will drag......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
The Theocratic Politics of Raphael Cruz
"There's a relationship there that's unlike any in American history to my knowledge. We've just never seen anything remotely like this...   I believe......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
An Assassin's Motivation?
On June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof quietly sat in the prayer meeting at African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina before he shot......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
Christian Right Turns to Nullification to Counter Marriage Equality
Last year in The Public Eye magazine, Rachel Tabachnick and Frank L. Cocozzelli warned of the trend on the religious and political Right toward......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Historian Gerald Horne on Charleston, Church, & Slave Resistance
Professor Gerald Horne of the University of Houston notes the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was at the center of Black resistance to slavery......
By Chip Berlet (1 comment)

Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (2 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (2 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (0 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (0 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (10 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (1 comment)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (4 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (2 comments)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (1 comment)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (5 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (4 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (4 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (4 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.