Pharyngula

Irony Alert!

There was a protest against the atheist sign in the Washington state capitol this weekend. These people don’t seem to pay much attention to what comes out of their mouths.

“The No. 1 thing is, we want the state of Washington and the governor to represent everyone in the state,” said the Rev. Kenneth Hutcherson, the pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond. “But just because you must represent everyone in the state doesn’t mean that you put up with intolerance from the people that you represent.”

So please tear down the sign representing the views of atheists in Washington! Silly man. And if he’s complaining that the atheist sign says mean things about religion, how does he explain this information from a little later in the story?

After being stolen and returned, the atheists’ sign is now cordoned off in an upstairs hallway next to the bust of George Washington, a sign from Hutcherson’s church mocking the atheists’ sign, a traditional nativity display and two other religious signs.

It sounds like the signs are proliferating. With any luck, the state will realize that all this noise about a holiday is entirely inappropriate, and kick the whole bickering lot of them out. I’d be fine with that — keep the government secular.

Let’s leave the final word in tolerance and fair representation of all view to State Rep. Jim Dunn, who also spoke out at the rally.

“It is time to chase out of the house of God all the unbelievers and evildoers,” Dunn said.

Comments

  1. #1 schism
    December 8, 2008

    “It is time to chase out of the house of God all the unbelievers and evildoers,” Dunn said.

    1) Not a fan of the Great Commission, I take it.

    2) You should really be glad that people like this would-be demagogue exist. His ilk are what convinced a lot of people, including me, to abandon religion altogether.

  2. #2 clinteas
    December 8, 2008

    “It is time to chase out of the house of God all the unbelievers and evildoers,”

    You guys are in so much trouble.

    And what does he mean by “the house of god ?
    To me,it means this :
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_House_of_God

    Guess thats not what Mr Dunn meant tho….

  3. #3 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    December 8, 2008

    After being stolen and returned, the atheists’ sign is now cordoned off in an upstairs hallway next to the bust of George Washington, a sign from Hutcherson’s church mocking the atheists’ sign, a traditional nativity display and two other religious signs.

    I wonder what the mocking sign says. I bet it’s full of good stuff.

  4. #4 druidbros
    December 8, 2008

    I wonder how their irony meter got so broken….and what can we do to fix it.

  5. #5 Matt7895
    December 8, 2008

    The double standards of these people are just woeful.

  6. #6 Josh
    December 8, 2008

    Yeah, I’d really love to know what his sign says.

  7. #7 Ompompanoosuc
    December 8, 2008

    I have a tendency to state that every stupid thing I hear is the stupidest, so here goes: That is the most asinine thing I have ever heard of.

    Are we in a battle? Can we win? I’m not sure they are fighting by the same rules.

    -pompy

  8. #8 Goheels
    December 8, 2008

    “It is time to chase out of the house of God all the unbelievers and evildoers,” Dunn said.

    Last time I checked, government buildings were, according to the constitution, not houses of (any) god.

  9. #9 JHS
    December 8, 2008

    Did you catch the story about the church in Detroit that held a prayer rally for a bailout . . . with SUVs at the alter? Seriously. The only thing missing was a tricked out golden calf.

  10. #10 Christopher
    December 8, 2008

    Follow the gourd! No, follow the sandal!

  11. #11 negentropyeater
    December 8, 2008

    Goheels,

    maybe he didn’t mean the Capitol, maybe he meant the US of A ? Isn’t that the ultimate objective of some far right ultra-conservative rethuglicans, to declare the whole territory the house of God ?

  12. #12 druidbros
    December 8, 2008

    From the article…

    Susan Wilson, who organized Sunday’s rally with her son, Steven, questioned the legality of having a worded sign in the Legislative Building.

    “It’s fine if you want to express your religion, but just no hate language,” she said.

    *****I’d love to know what she considers hate language in the Atheist sign. If its just anything which is critical of the daddy in the sky – too bad.

    She said that the rally was against the expression on the atheists’ sign and not a criticism of anyone else’s religion, or lack of it.

    ****** What ?! That makes no sense.

    “We’re not with the groups that brought the signs, ‘Atheists go to hell,’ ” she said. “We love everyone and let’s be kind to one another. … This was a way our family decided that we had to stand up for Jesus.”

    ****Is that because he is so weak he cannot stand up for himself? Oh wait…its because he’s dead.

    Dan and Carol Orr of Tacoma said they came to the rally after hearing about the sign on Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor” and in their local newspaper, The News Tribune.

    ***** Big surprise, they watch Fox channel

    Dan Orr said he questioned the legality of having any sign with words posted in the state Capitol, as opposed to a wordless display.

    ***** Words! Scary,scary WORDS.

    “And beyond that, the sign is an in-your-face hate sign,” he said. “It’s not in keeping with the displays of the season.”

    ***** HAHAHAHAHA…oh man thats rich.

    Marcos Sauri of Seattle said that he doesn’t usu
    ally join religious rallies associated with political causes, but he found the atheistic sign offensive.

    “We all have freedom of speech, but for them to put down religion, isn’t that more than freedom of speech?” Sauri said.

    ****** Uh….NO moron it is not.

    “It’s really for the sake of my kids and their beliefs,” he added. “This doesn’t describe them — hardened hearts and enslaved minds.”

    A few of the protesters exchanged words with Olympia residents Alex Bertolucci and Victor Sanders, who brought signs that said, “Get Over It.”

    “We’re not affiliated with the atheists or the Christians,” Sanders said. “Our message is just get over it. We have two wars, and an economic crisis. Aren’t there other things to worry about?”

    ****** Finally a voice of reason.

  13. #13 Boomer
    December 8, 2008

    Frankly I find this whole “war on christmas” crap to be ridiculous and annoying. My interpretation of the establishment clause would be to clear all of the crap out of the state capitol building. A christmas tree is fine, it doesn’t really represent christianity in my opinion, but everything else (nativity scene, atheist sign, etc.) has to go.

  14. #14 Jonathan
    December 8, 2008

    My god…I know the woman who organized this protest. I lived across the street from her for years before moving away for college. I used to see her almost every day. The neighborhood likes to collectively refer to her as “crazy Sue” – and there are several very religious families in the neighborhood, so that can give you a bit of perspective.

  15. #15 Steve
    December 8, 2008

    I guess they don’t teach logic at seminary either. Must be following Martin Luther’s lead.

    If I live in a Christian country, which one of the 32,000 Christian sects am I supposed to join?

  16. #16 Vic
    December 8, 2008

    Dan Orr said he questioned the legality of having any sign with words posted in the state Capitol, as opposed to a wordless display.

    The religious do seem to have a problem with words. After all, if they actually read their bible they wouldn’t be religious much longer.

    I’m all for taking them all down, though. I’m not sure why government buildings are being used to express people’s religious views one way or another.

  17. #17 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    What’s beneath the surface for all these liars is the same basic principle: they have been indoctrinated and brainwashed their whole lives to believe that Christmas only exists to celebrate the birth of Jesus… despite the fact that if they’d pick up a book and actually learn anything for themselves, they’d know that even most biblical scholars haven’t the foggiest when Jesus was born, and it was most unlikely that it was on the 25th of December… and that this holiday was co-opted by christians because of its already thorough popularity dating back to Roman times.

    They simply believe that if you don’t believe in Christ, you have no business celebrating the holiday. Intolerant idiots.

    They also totally miss the point that putting in a nativity on government property has the effect of endorsing that point of view and alienating those not sharing that belief. It has no business there. I’d be happy to see the atheist sign go as long as it meant all religious symbols had to go as well. You can deck the shit out of those halls with wreaths, trees, holly, candles, ribbons and bows and make it as festive as Santa’s fucking workshop… just keep your creepy virgin-birthed zombie fairy tale out of my government buildings.

  18. #18 Ouchimoo
    December 8, 2008

    Cry about the threat of atheists having their own say in a government building – 32,000,000 viewers

    storm into the government building and steal a large sign – 2 to 12 people

    Hold a protest in front of a government building and cry about the atheist sign – 500 people

    Place a sign mocking atheism – one congregation

    Tell the world that you are a minority who is being oppressed and silenced – Priceless

    There are some things money can’t buy, for everything else . . .

  19. #19 Skepticat
    December 8, 2008

    This is extremely frustrating and sad for me because both the law and the principle behind it are so simple: the government must remain neutral regarding religion. No signs = no stress.

    Yet the same arguments are occuring over South Carolina’s license plate “I Believe.” Many see this as a free speech right and it’s not. The government does not have free speech.

    We need to get rid of all this stuff – both religious and atheist – and keep the government out of it. Period. Unfortunately, this opinion is not very popular right now.

  20. #20 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    December 8, 2008

    “It is time to chase out of the house of God all the unbelievers and evildoers,” Dunn said.

    That’s fine, but they’re at the wrong building, it seems to me.

  21. #21 clinteas
    December 8, 2008

    Naked Bunny,

    there you are,I wanted to tell you…you cracked me up yesterday in the email thread,cox and all…..

    @ 19,

    No signs = no stress.

    I agree.And no messages on buses either,wont achieve anything.Applies to both sides.

  22. #22 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    Can’t some sane resident of Washington state sue to have ALL of this silliness removed? Seems like a clear violation of the establishment clause to me, since it would be literally impossible to house ALL points of view, and the government is supposed to have no endorsement of ANY of them.

    I know about the lawsuit from last year stating that the nativity could be there, but that was because the governor had already allowed a menorah. I think the courts could, and should, step in and say “none of this belongs here. It’s either secular, or it’s out”. Atheist sign included.

  23. #23 Schmeer
    December 8, 2008

    Clinteas,

    And no messages on buses either

    What would you propose if one side refuses to stop plastering their message all over billboards, busses, tv, and radio?

  24. #24 spence-bob
    December 8, 2008

    I agree.And no messages on buses either,wont achieve anything.Applies to both sides.

    Not the same thing, and I suspect you are well aware of it.

  25. #25 Holbach
    December 8, 2008

    The religious rabble should really be protesting to their imaginary god that the atheist sign even got to the capitol building, and perhaps with really hard praying could have vanished in a puff of magical smoke. They have to employ material human action to achieve what their imaginary god cannot. Where the hell is the power of magical religion to defer to their god to handle their gripes? The only power behind religion is that which is exercised by the irrational hordes without need of their god.

  26. #26 clinteas
    December 8, 2008

    What would you propose if one side refuses to stop plastering their message all over billboards, busses, tv, and radio?

    As has been said,atheists do have a marketing problem,because of the way we are being labled in the public.
    My view on this,and please do not confuse this with giving religious stupidity a free pass,is that we can easily ignore religious messages on buses or billboards,but all we will achieve with trying the same thing ourselves by starting to put messages out there,is to play into the hands of the people that label us intolerant and hateful.

    The evo-creo war is not going to be won by billboard messages,it going to be won by better education and social stability and welfare.

  27. #27 negentropyeater
    December 8, 2008

    druidbros, Vic,

    Dan Orr said he questioned the legality of having any sign with words posted in the state Capitol, as opposed to a wordless display.

    ***** Words! Scary,scary WORDS.

    The religious do seem to have a problem with words.

    He might be rght there. The problem is that there’s already been a series of Supreme court cases on this kind of things.

    In Lynch v. Donnelly, the Supreme court held that the city of Pawtucket’s nativity scene did not violate the Establishment Clause. A few years later, in County of Allegheny v. ACLU, it held that another nativty scene was unconstitutional.

    The difference, the unconstitutional crêche had an angel carrying a banner, with the words:

    Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynch_v._Donnelly
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegheny_County_v._Greater_Pittsburgh_ACLU

  28. #28 Twin-Skies
    December 8, 2008

    So the first amendment only matters for these Christians if it’s only THEIR right to speech that’s affected. Ironically, with all the flak they’re throwing at atheists, it only ends up revealing the close-minded bigots they really are.

  29. #29 llewelly
    December 8, 2008

    … even most biblical scholars haven’t the foggiest when Jesus was born …

    The Bible is pretty clear. Jesus was born when that star appeared over Bethlehem. It’s described as a very impressive event. When the astronomers of those times sighted that star, that’s when Jesus was born.

    Oh wait, no-one outside the bible ever saw the star …

  30. #30 ggab
    December 8, 2008

    clinteas
    So you’re suggesting we do what we’ve done for the last 200 years?

    How’d that work out?

  31. #31 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    @ negontropyeater

    The Lynch vs. Donnelly ruling has always bothered me… i think it was argued poorly and rationalized by a majority christian Supreme Court almost transparently.

    From the ruling explanation on Wikipedia:

    The Court ruled that the crèche has a legitimate secular purpose within a larger holiday display to celebrate the season and the origins of Christmas which has long been a part of Western culture.

    Point of fact failure # 1. A decent lawyer could have torn this one apart by actually giving a timeline of the origins of the establishment of the Christmas holiday. Its origins, at their root, have zero to do with the birth of Jesus.

    The Federal “Government has long recognized—indeed it has subsidized—holidays with religious significance.”…”It has long been the practice that federal employees are released from duties on Thanksgiving and Christmas while being paid.”

    Since when is Thanksgiving a religious holiday? Outside of Christmas, I don’t think there is another federal holiday with any religious significance. This statement is using the argued issue as a defense for the argument. Poor logic.

    The court compared the crèche to the display of religious paintings in government funded museums.

    This is an awful comparison, and shows the transparency of the religious mindset of the majority judges, who should have been ashamed of themselves. Artwork that is displayed in a museum filled with other works crossing all world-views and displaying the entire breadth of the human condition is in no way whatsoever the same as sticking a christian nativity expressing the very core belief system of a specific religion on government property in prominent display. How absurd to even make that statement.

    The Court also stated, “no inquiry into potential political divisiveness is even called for” because the situation does not involve direct aid to church-sponsored organizations and because the crèche been displayed for 40 years with no problems.

    So, now longevity of an existing article or issue is relevant to its legality? I can use this argument in the Supreme Court? Simply because the thing was there for 40 years means it was OK? How the hell did we ever abolish slavery? (No, I’m not comparing a nativity to slavery, before any of you pedants lock-jaw on that one… I’m making the point that how long something has been in place has no bearing on its legitimacy, legality, or morality).

    Poor job all around by the Supreme Court on this one, in my opinion.

  32. #32 clinteas
    December 8, 2008

    ggab @ 30,

    So you’re suggesting we do what we’ve done for the last 200 years?

    How’d that work out?

    Nope,I dont.Had you read my 26 properly you could have known that.

  33. #33 Claire
    December 8, 2008

    I’m surprised they haven’t tried to get rid of displays of Santa Claus, elves, and reindeers, after all they technically have nothing to do with Christmas either if they want to go all “Christmas is only about Jesus” on us.

    I love how every morning this blog gives me something else to rant and rave about in the lab, it keeps the research lively. Though it makes me sad to thing how much stupid exist in the world.

  34. #34 BobC
    December 8, 2008

    It sounds like the signs are proliferating. With any luck, the state will realize that all this noise about a holiday is entirely inappropriate, and kick the whole bickering lot of them out. I’d be fine with that — keep the government secular.

    All United States federal, state, and local governments ARE secular. The Jebus baby never should have been allowed in the Washington state capitol. All this religious conflict is why the Establishment Clause must be respected with absolutely no exceptions.

  35. #35 raven
    December 8, 2008

    State Rep. Dunn:

    “It is time to chase out of the house of God all the unbelievers and evildoers,” Dunn said.

    Ah yes. The usual call for genocidal mass murder from the fundie xians. They all have lists of people to kill and occasionally kill them.

    Because xianity is a religion of peace, love, and tolerance and Xmas is a special holiday. And jesus loves you. So when you are in church on Xmas eve, just think of how you want to kill all the unbelievers and evildoers.

    One could always go traditional with burnings at the stake, hangings, or stonings. Or European with gas chambers. Or modern with bombs and automatic rifles. The latest hi tech way is to herd them into refugee camps without enough food, water, shelter, or medicine. Makes for great TV footage and some may even convert for a bowl of rice or something.

    Fundies are just evil.

  36. #36 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    clinteas –

    I hear what you’re saying… and I agree with you totally, insofar as it pertains to how the religious will view atheists. But then again, I’m not altogether sure that THAT group is the target audience. I don’t think they are going to be swayed.

    My feeling is that the signs are a means to give a voice to an important segment of our culture… albeit a minority one. A segment that often is attempted to be bullied into silence by a much more vocal majority. It can be intimidating being an atheist in what seems often to be such a theocratic society, and often times there’s a sense of isolation… many atheists prefer to be so quietly. Most people I know (personally) who are atheists, I had to pry that bit of information from them… they weren’t exactly wearing it like a badge of courage.

    So the signs on the buses serve the purpose of empowering those of us who feel the way we do to not feel so isolated in that feeling, and to perhaps persuade others who might tend to keep our feelings on religion to ourselves to perhaps be more vocal… to stop capitulating to the “might makes right” religious majority, and start standing up for what is right. The target audience for these ads, in my opinion, is aimed at people who either already are atheists, or are deep down but have just been unable to accept it for fear of being labeled a pariah.

    I see them as more of a “keep up the good fight… you’re not alone” thing. People who are going to be angry and offended by it were not going to be convinced by a much nicer sign, either… so it’s not meant for them anyhow.

  37. #37 negentropyeater
    December 8, 2008

    I really wonder if the Atheist Sign would pass the Lemon Test.
    Please note that the decision of the Supreme court in Lynch v. Donnelly or in County of Allegheny v. ACLU depends on whether the partcular display passes such test, ie, whether its principal or primary effect is the advocacy of a particular religious view.

    Question : would the Atheist sign be considered as advocating a paticular religious view by the Supreme court ?

    I’m sure most Atheists would disagree, but I doubt it would work from a secular point of view. Note that I found ridiculous that previously the Supreme court has ruled that a nativity scene doesn’t advocate a religious view and is sufficiently secular as long as it doesn’t have words and too evidently religious figurines on it.

  38. #38 clinteas
    December 8, 2008

    Celtic @ 36,

    I see them as more of a “keep up the good fight… you’re not alone” thing

    A very good point,and one I did not think of,maybe the fact that I am not in the US is to blame for that,didnt occur to me those signs could be seen that way.Thanks for pointing it out.

  39. #39 CalGeorge
    December 8, 2008

    “It is time to chase out of the house of God all the unbelievers and evildoers,” Dunn said.

    And into the state capitol! Woo-hoo!

  40. #40 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    Question : would the Atheist sign be considered as advocating a paticular religious view by the Supreme court ?

    No… because it advocates the position that there IS no religion. However, being that it is targeted directly AT the religious (not any specific, mind you… all of them), one could argue that it has a religiously-based agenda.

    However, I think it passes any standard that would allow a nativity scene. Doesn’t showing the virgin birth of christ essentially say the same thing to all other religions that the atheist sign says, with exception to chrsitianity?

    I would agree that legally, neither of them belong there.

  41. #41 raven
    December 8, 2008

    Dan Orr said he questioned the legality of having any sign with words posted in the state Capitol, as opposed to a wordless display.

    How is this going to work? I suppose the atheists will have a “nativity” scene of priests burning Giordana Bruno at the stake. Or perhaps a reenactment of the World Trade Center bombings. Or maybe just some unfortunate person being stoned to death for eating shellfish.

  42. #42 Janine, Insulting Sinner
    December 8, 2008

    Posted by: Twin-Skies | December 8, 2008

    So the first amendment only matters for these Christians if it’s only THEIR right to speech that’s affected.

    By Jove, I think you’ve got it. For, you see, only christians are uniquely equipped to be fully engaged citizens. Every body else needs to be curtails for the welfare of the good gentle folks.

  43. #43 tsg
    December 8, 2008

    My view on this,and please do not confuse this with giving religious stupidity a free pass,is that we can easily ignore religious messages on buses or billboards,but all we will achieve with trying the same thing ourselves by starting to put messages out there,is to play into the hands of the people that label us intolerant and hateful.

    Bullshit. A message saying “there is no god” to people who believe in one is no more hateful or intolerant than a message saying “there is a god” to people who don’t. And those who think it is are wrong, and not doing it because they will call us intolerant and hateful is validating their intolerance.

    If we can easily ignore their messages, then they can easily ignore ours.

  44. #44 negentropyeater
    December 8, 2008

    Celtic_Evolution ,

    I very much agree with what you are saying, but I sincerely doubt that with the current composition of the Supreme court, Lynch v. Donnelly would be overturned.

    On an another hand, I’m willing to bet with you that the Atheist sign would not pass the Lemon test and would be declared unconstitutional in Supreme court.

  45. #45 Timothy
    December 8, 2008

    So can I get a sign up that says, “Christians can suck my cock?” Because it’s my firmly held religious belief that they were put on this earth for that sole purpose.

  46. #46 Holbach
    December 8, 2008

    clinteas @ 26

    Your last sentence is, to say the least, not practical, and in extreme will never resolve the problem of the rational minority. I have to echo ggab @ 30 to the uselessness of your solution. There are many religionists who are well educated and socially stable and yet still believe in imaginary gods. What welfare has to do with this situation, especially when connected to the first two conditions is rendered almost moot for a better explanation.
    I think the best approach is the appeal to reason and above all, to offer definite proof of the power of their imaginary god to influence the material world. This should include visual proof of severed arms regenerated, non-use of lightning rods to protect their houses of insanity, wide spread use of prayer to prevent tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, birth deformities, the immediate evaporation of slimy priests who sexually molest children who are not cognizant of free will, the ability of religious hospitals to have no need of modern medicine and practice to heal the sick through prayer only, and many more examples of religion relying on human intervention for their daily welfare and existence. Every time a religious crowd is gathered to protest rational action by atheists they should be forced to prove your insane nonsense or shut the hell up. Each and every time a situation arises where religion insinuates its insanity into the general discussion or happenstance they should be immediately challenged and prove their god is acting upon anything. I will never suggest attacking them physically or torching their houses of insanity, but will snicker when I see or hear one of their churches being hit by lightning and burning to the ground in spite of that divinely designed lightning rod. Constant demand of proof, and when needed, ridicule, when they cannot prove their insane bullshit is guided by imaginary ghosts. Back them down but never back up over this demand for definite proof. This method may not endear us to this religious rabble, but it may lessen the need for confrontation if they knew beforehand that they will be called on their crap and offer proof. This is my means of verbal aggression and I have used it many times to silence a retard stupid enough to confront my demands of proof.

  47. #47 Sili
    December 8, 2008

    Steve (#15),

    Follow the dinosaur.

  48. #48 LisaJ
    December 8, 2008

    Oh, this just makes me so sad. These people think they’re smart and that they’ve got it all figured out, but if they only listened to the words they were saying they’d see how so very stupid they are.

    It’s incredible to me how this long standing societal message of ‘atheists are bad, evil, hateful people’ is so pervasive and so easily indoctrinated in people’s heads that they’ll just recite this crap without any thought and without realizing that they are the hateful bunch. It’s unbelievable how so many people are just so blind.

  49. #49 oldman
    December 8, 2008

    “It is time to chase out of the house of God all the unbelievers and evildoers,” Dunn said.

    But then, who’s left?

  50. #50 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    I very much agree with what you are saying, but I sincerely doubt that with the current composition of the Supreme court, Lynch v. Donnelly would be overturned.

    Can’t argue with that one… especially since the Allegheny vs. ACLU case came down to a simple matter of words being present. Sigh.

    So I could put up a display with a depiction of god with a big slash and circle through it… but I’d better not put up a sign with the words “there is no god”… cause you know… they’re different.

  51. #51 Will E.
    December 8, 2008

    I don’t even think it’s worth pointing out the lack of irony in the mind of many, if not most, theists, at least of the fundamentalist stripe. We all know they can’t, and won’t, step outside themselves even for a moment to listen to how they sound. Theirs is a literal mind, one that must have everything spelled out in letters 12 feet high and on fire. Subtlety, wit, metaphor, allusion, simile, poetry, analogy — all things that appeal to an ironic, mature mind — are lost on them (browse a Christian — oh, wait, *family* — bookstore sometime and behold the dearth of intellectual offerings there). We know this. It’s not even funny or notable anymore, this complete lack of self-awareness. Anything that is not specifically pro-Christianity is therefore anti-Christianity; they have no conception of the word “secular.” Everything must be seen in black and white, or else the whole edifice of the theist fantasy world falls apart, which is the point, as far as we atheists are concerned; but they will never, ever see this falling apart as a good thing. Once seen, it cannot be unseen.

  52. #52 clinteas
    December 8, 2008

    Oh shit !!!
    SIWOTI,at 0354am…..

    tsg @ 43,

    If we can easily ignore their messages, then they can easily ignore ours.

    One word: Persecution complex.(ok,2 words)

  53. #53 kryth
    December 8, 2008

    “It is time to chase out of the house of God all the unbelievers and evildoers,”

    I have no problem with you guys being selective in who you let in your CHURCH, it’s private property. Government building are PUBLIC property.

    Could he be more of an asshat?

  54. #54 tsg
    December 8, 2008

    One word: Persecution complex.(ok,2 words)

    Yes, and?

  55. #55 raven
    December 8, 2008

    I don’t even think it’s worth pointing out the lack of irony in the mind of many, if not most, theists, at least of the fundamentalist stripe.

    What fundie minds? What thoughts? You are assuming they have minds, can think, and really give a damn about what they say. They don’t.

    The difference between these types of xians and moslem Iraqi Sunni and Shiite terrorists is zero. We just don’t let our religious fanatics run around with armies and heavy weapons killing anyone they want to. A form of organization called “modern western civilization”.

    It isn’t much but it is all we have.

  56. #56 negentropyeater
    December 8, 2008

    Celtic_Evolution,

    Doesn’t showing the virgin birth of christ essentially say the same thing to all other religions that the atheist sign says, with exception to chrsitianity?

    Of course it does, but you only recognize the virgin birth of christ because you know it already. It doesn’t have any sign or words saying : this is a representation of the virgin birth of Christ, there is a God, etc…

    So of course there is an imbalance here, Everybody already knows the Christian shit, so they don’t need to advocate for it, they just need to remind us about it.
    Whereas the Atheist sign needs to advocate, and not only remind.

  57. #57 clinteas
    December 8, 2008

    Yes, and?

    Ok,let me try,its a lil late…

    Persecution complex,as in,if we do the eye for an eye billboard and radio and bus message thing,all we will get is the stereotype of “hateful,intolerant,censoring atheist” played back at us.
    Its what they do best,after all.

    Educate people,make them feel safe in their social surroundings,give them a safety net,give them jobs and purpose,thats whats going to win this,not messages on buses.

  58. #58 KM
    December 8, 2008

    clinteas writes:

    [...] all we will achieve with trying the same thing ourselves by starting to put messages out there,is to play into the hands of the people that label us intolerant and hateful.

    The evo-creo war is not going to be won by billboard messages,it going to be won by better education and social stability and welfare.

    I’m not really sure what you mean in the first part of the above-quoted. How do we “play into the hands…” by simply putting up a sign? Sure, any such sign is bound to be misinterpreted by those who are determined to think of us as intolerant and hateful bigots. I’m not clear on why putting up signs with a secular message that can be misinterpreted — as *any* message can be easily misinterpreted — is playing into their hands.

    I tend to agree with you on the efficacy of billboards and other slogan-y signs in making change happen. However, making radical changes to our education system, social stability, etc. — especially since the trend seems to be to move *away* from the kind of change we’re looking for — is bound to be a long, uphill battle. I see these signs not so much as change-makers (although they may effect some small changes, on an individual level) but as signposts, reminding people that there are dissenters and that we do have a voice, that we are out there trying to make those grander changes happen. In that sense, though the long-term changes we have in mind are very important, I think snappy slogan-y signs prominently displayed in public places are also — though certainly not equally — important.

  59. #59 tomh
    December 8, 2008

    ” Dan Orr said he questioned the legality of having any sign with words posted in the state Capitol, as opposed to a wordless display.”

    He must not have noticed the sign posted in front of the Nativity display since day one, which says in part …to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, celebrated by Christians around the world.

    @#44
    I’m willing to bet with you that the Atheist sign would not pass the Lemon test and would be declared unconstitutional in Supreme court.

    As the settlement agreement makes clear, this is a free speech issue, not an Establisment Clause issue. Allow one display, even a secular holiday tree (which had a star on top), and you can’t discriminate against any display, based on content, religious or non-religious.

  60. #60 ggab
    December 8, 2008

    clinteas
    Although I was only making a joke, I do seem to be missing your point.

    “The evo-creo war is not going to be won by billboard messages,it going to be won by better education and social stability and welfare.”

    Sounds good, got a plan for that?
    You should know from these posts, American or not, that the school boards are a front line in this war.
    The most important thing we can do as we go in to battle is to unify our troops.
    As was stated earlier, the bus signs and billboards are more about letting fellow free thinkers know that they are not alone. Bring all the like minds together.
    This particular sign was a little more in your face though. I could have gone for a more pleasant message.

  61. #61 Raynfala
    December 8, 2008

    Kudos to the folks who brought the “Get Over It” signs.

  62. #62 negentropyeater
    December 8, 2008

    tomh,

    that settlement was pronounced in District court. I bet you the result would be different if someone else were now to challenge this in Supreme court. The Nativty Scene with the Christian sign in front would have to leave, as well as the Atheist sign.

  63. #63 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    As the settlement agreement makes clear, this is a free speech issue, not an Establisment Clause issue.

    Yes, but it could be, and SHOULD be, an Establishment Clause issue.

    Allow one display, even a secular holiday tree (which had a star on top), and you can’t discriminate against any display, based on content, religious or non-religious.

    False. From an Establishment Clause point of view, in a government building, any religious display (nativity, ten commandments, etc…) are strictly prohibited. Regardless of the time of year. Trees, wreaths, ribbons and other secular representations are perfectly fine, as they make no statement advocating any religious preference.

  64. #64 ggab
    December 8, 2008

    “Educate people,make them feel safe in their social surroundings,give them a safety net,give them jobs and purpose,thats whats going to win this,not messages on buses.”

    Is that all?
    Hell, I’ll knock that out over the weekend.
    Problem solved!!

    Seriously though, I totally agree in the long run, but we’re in deep shit in the short term.
    We’re not gonna move forward until we stop taking steps backward. Line in the sand and all.

  65. #65 tomh
    December 8, 2008

    @#60
    This particular sign was a little more in your face though. I could have gone for a more pleasant message.

    Honest folks can disagree. I think that billboards, bus signs, and in particular this sign, are all good things, because my opinion is that it is good to irritate the crazies now and then, just to get them to show their true colors. Besides, it’s entertaining and so easy to do.

  66. #66 tomh
    December 8, 2008

    @#63
    False. From an Establishment Clause point of view, in a government building, any religious display (nativity, ten commandments, etc…) are strictly prohibited.

    Not necessarily. This is a designated public forum, with displays by individual citizens, not displays put up or content endorsed by the government. It’s equivalent to a public park where any wacko preacher can spout off, as well as any protester.

  67. #67 tsg
    December 8, 2008

    Ok,let me try,its a lil late…

    Persecution complex,as in,if we do the eye for an eye billboard and radio and bus message thing,all we will get is the stereotype of “hateful,intolerant,censoring atheist” played back at us.

    They are children throwing a tantrum, and, as any parent can tell you, the worst thing you can do is give in to the tantrum because it teaches them that throwing a tantrum will get them their way.

    They are the ones being intolerant. Giving in to it just reinforces their intolerance.

  68. #68 JimC
    December 8, 2008

    I guess they don’t teach logic at seminary either. Must be following Martin Luther’s lead.

    Actually Martin Luther was much more logical in his approach than was(and still) the RCC in which he opposed.

  69. #69 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 8, 2008

    It is time to chase out of the house of God all the unbelievers and evildoers,” Dunn said.

    How interesting. That reminds me of the beginning of the First Book of Enoch, which all Christian and Jewish denominations except the Ethiopian Church have thrown out of the Bible because it explains a flat-earth model in too much embarrassing detail:

    Word of blessing of H?n?k, wherewith he blessed the chosen and righteous who would be alive in the day of tribulation for the removal of all wrongdoers and backsliders.

  70. #70 ggab
    December 8, 2008

    tomh
    You’re probably right considering no matter how pleasant the sign, they claim it’s horribly offensive.
    I just sometimes hold out hope that some of the moderates will eventually stand up to the fundies.
    It’s a nice idea, that we could have help from the not-quite-so-psycho, but I’m not seeing many signs of that.

  71. #71 KM
    December 8, 2008

    clinteas (in light of your latest comments while I was writing the above, which answer that first part of my response to you):

    One of the problems with the “persecution complex” answer is that what ends up happening is this: we keep quiet so as not to offend someone’s delicate religious sensibilities — parotting that atheists are big meanies is, after all, nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction by the religious to a perceived attack on them personally. By *not* playing the billboard publicity game, we’re still playing into their hands. It’s a bit of a catch 22. And, again, though it may be ineffectual in creating long-term change, erecting billboards that might inspire some name-calling seems to be the better of the two hard places. Silence, after all, is not likely to be at all effective in promoting change on any level. We have a powerful voice. Let’s use it.

    That said, however, I agree with ggab: a pleasanter message might be the way to go. I know ridiculing and irritating the crazier of the religious set is fun, but in terms of getting our message across? Not exactly the best route to change. A positive secular message will, given the political and cultural climate in the States right now, go a heck of a lot further than an antagonistic one.

  72. #72 Vic
    December 8, 2008

    Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

    Glory in Excellent God? (if my Latin is any good).

    That reads like a pretty straight forward endorsement of religion to me. I suspect it wasn’t because it had words, but because of what the words say.

    I’m willing to bet with you that the Atheist sign would not pass the Lemon test and would be declared unconstitutional in Supreme court.

    I agree, I don’t think it would. Of course, neither would the nativity scene. It’s an equal time issue. I would prefer to have them both removed, but since they demand theirs we’ll demand ours.

  73. #73 JSug
    December 8, 2008

    I appreciate this little bit of irony. Ron Wesselius, the guy who originally sued to set up his nativity scene, had this to say when contacted for comment:

    Asked whether he was bothered by the atheist display next to his Nativity scene, Wesselius said, “I think the Nativity scene will speak for itself.”

    But he added, “I appreciate freedom of speech and freedom of access. That’s why they’re in there, and hey — you know, that’s great.”

    I don’t think either display belongs, but I can at least respect his viewpoint on the issue.

  74. #74 mayhempix
    December 8, 2008

    Another “Irony Alert” from the same article:

    “”We all have freedom of speech, but for them to put down religion, isn’t that more than freedom of speech?” Sauri said.”

    and then he added:

    “”It’s really for the sake of my kids and their beliefs…”

  75. #75 itzac
    December 8, 2008

    So apparently disagreement constitutes hate…?

  76. #76 Rick R
    December 8, 2008

    ggab @ #64- “Seriously though, I totally agree in the long run, but we’re in deep shit in the short term.
    We’re not gonna move forward until we stop taking steps backward. Line in the sand and all.”

    Just musing about stuff I’ve been pondering for a while…

    How will the culture war finally resolve itself? There are many many people out there not only ignorant of the Constitution, but actively hostile to what it stands for. We’ve seen examples over and over of fundies and others who absolutely DO NOT believe in any kind of compromise with the wider secular society.

    The night of the election, I browsed around some right wing blogs, and the hatred being spewed was just palpable. More than once, I was confronted with statements that went something like this-

    “Civil War is coming, libs. Get ready.”

    I ask myself, is civil war inevitable in the U.S.? Would attempts to live up to the letter and spirit of the Constitution drive these types into the streets? And if civil war is inevitable, what does that mean? Do we try to appease both the christianists and the letter (and spirit) of the Establishment Clause? Can we? And if we can’t, what then?

    Just musing, pre-coffee.

  77. #77 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    Not necessarily. This is a designated public forum, with displays by individual citizens, not displays put up or content endorsed by the government. It’s equivalent to a public park where any wacko preacher can spout off, as well as any protester.

    Hmmm… not sure… I see what you’re saying, but I think I could make a pretty convincing argument that placing a nativity in a public park is not the same thing as placing it in or on the grounds of the building that houses the seat of government and state-wide authority. And given the content of the sign along with the nativity, it fits criteria that the Supreme Court has found to be in violation of the Establishment Clause before, so there’s precedent here.

  78. #78 OctoberMermaid
    December 8, 2008

    Someone may have mentioned this, but Kenneth Hutcherson is the same guy who asked his idiot flock to buy shares of Microsoft and GIVE HIM ONE so that he could protest about their support of gay rights.

    And it worked. Someone in his church bought and gave him a share.

    http://www.onenewsnow.com/Church/Default.aspx?id=342396

    Notice his irony in accusing gays of being the intolerant ones. He’s just another asshole swimming in delusion.

  79. #79 gazza
    December 8, 2008

    There I was sitting at the railway station in a town in England minding my own business this morning and on the opposite platform is a religious poster amongst all the underwear and Xmas sale adverts; Psalms 14:1;

    The fool says in his heart,
    “There is no God.”

    I think there was something else too but that was sufficient for me.

    Thanks very much for that religious declaration. I am a fool because I do not believe in god. And these people wonder why the atheist bus campaign got a flood of money??

  80. #80 Former PZ Student
    December 8, 2008

    This is asinine. I’ve been following these atheist sign posts the last few days and my brain is starting to ache. When will the nativity scene boneheads shut the hell up?

    “But just because you must represent everyone in the state doesn’t mean that you put up with intolerance from the people that you represent.”

    Actually, that’s exactly what free speech means. If in fact the government gives in to the demands of every incessant whiner wishing to silence opposition, then the ones opposing would be silenced. So yes, the government has to put up with intolerance from its people in order to provide the equal right of free speech granted to all Americans.

  81. #81 ggab
    December 8, 2008

    Rick
    I saw some of those same post types.
    I have to think that we’re in good shape in the long term.
    Not just because it keeps me going, but because we see the movement now.
    As long as we keep speaking out in our own defense, we stand in the way of the negative statements made by the faithful.
    There are moderates that will stand up.
    The more you see the fundies throw around the “true christian” crap, the more people will start to block out anything they say.Eventually that will include the things they say about we non-believers.
    I have plenty of believer friends and they have figured out that I’m not evil. That is one of the key points to coming out as atheists. Show them that we are just normal folks and we are all part of this society.
    it helps that we have the constitution on our side. If they try to change that, the shouting will come from both sides of the fence.

  82. #82 Lambert Heenan
    December 8, 2008

    @ Boomer : “My interpretation of the establishment clause would be to clear all of the crap out of the state capitol building. A christmas tree is fine, it doesn’t really represent christianity in my opinion, but everything else (nativity scene, atheist sign, etc.) has to go.”

    Hmm. That one went over my head a little. What part of “Christmass Tree” does not represent “Christianity”? Maybe the “Tree” bit?

  83. #83 MartinH
    December 8, 2008

    I’ve seen expressed a number of sentiments similar to this from Celtic_Evolution #23:

    Trees, wreaths, ribbons and other secular representations are perfectly fine, as they make no statement advocating any religious preference.

    My gut response is to find any such decorations symbolic of a society steeped in and declaring a continuity of Christian tradition. This feeling is perhaps to some extent attributable to the current US political situation. To me, these decorations with their seasonal aspect do not feel secular at all, and they seem out of place when presented officially in a public forum, let alone on government premises.

    I would be surprised if there aren’t many people, particularly those following non-Christian religions or atheists, who feel the same way.

  84. #84 Sara
    December 8, 2008

    I work for a public University and we are not allowed to have ANY decorations in my office, including trees and stars and wreaths, so it makes me wonder if they are considered secular decorations.

  85. #85 raven
    December 8, 2008

    The night of the election, I browsed around some right wing blogs, and the hatred being spewed was just palpable. More than once, I was confronted with statements that went something like this-

    “Civil War is coming, libs. Get ready.”

    Naw, just whackos spouting off. I know what you mean, there are some hate filled morons out there. Representative Dunn is one of them. But the internet just lets them gain a potential audience of billions.

    In times past, these clowns would be pushing shopping carts filled with plastic bags around the park, clutching a bottle shaped paper bag, and babbling incoherently.

    You have to remember that 150 million Americans have IQs less than 100. 3 million are psychotic.

    There will always be reactionary morons spouting hatred, lies, and toxic religion. But for now, the tide is going out on them.

  86. #86 Nick
    December 8, 2008

    I think the only appropriate solution here is to remove the atheist sign immediately, with apologies to any Christians who were offended by its hate-filled, exclusionary message.

    And then, you know, if by chance somebody happens to steal the nativity scene the next evening, leaving the capital bare, well then shucks, I guess that’s just the fickle finger of fate.

  87. #87 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    Lambert Heenan

    Hmm. That one went over my head a little. What part of “Christmass Tree” does not represent “Christianity”? Maybe the “Tree” bit?

    Ummm… are you serious? The ONLY reason it’s referred to as a “Christmas” tree is because it’s displayed during Christmas… or would you care to enlighten us all as to the chrsitian significance and religious history of the tree?

    MartinH

    . To me, these decorations with their seasonal aspect do not feel secular at all, and they seem out of place when presented officially in a public forum, let alone on government premises.

    I’ve heard this sentiment, and understand it to a degree… but the point is that they don’t need to be seen that way, and I will continue to promote them as secular symbols. I love the holiday season, and can quite easily and honestly display these symbols in my home, as they have no actual tie-in with christianity at all… that they are part of the tradition has more to do with the christians co-opting them, as the tree and wreaths and lights and decorations pre-date the christian tradition of Jesus’ birth being the reason for chrsitmas celebration.

  88. #88 Randy
    December 8, 2008

    While I don’t care much for the wording on the sign (which does make it more difficult for me to defend it), the right to have it there I agree with. As long as there are religious displays in the state capitol building, something should be there with a different viewpoint.
    This storm over diddly has helped with recruiting for local atheist organizations in Washington. We have had some positive press (in the paper, and some on local TV). It has also given us some ammunition against local politician Dunn (the one quoted).

  89. #89 Sastra
    December 8, 2008

    I think it’s great that a church sign “mocking the atheists’ sign” has been put up in the Capitol building. While I do think it would have been nicer if the sign had been a bit less negative to begin with, the Christians just lost any high ground they may have had on that argument.

    As for the general idea of atheist holiday displays, billboards, bus signs, etc. Celtic_Evolution in #36 gave one of the best arguments — they help empower atheists who feel isolated. They also accomplish another important purpose: through repetition, exposure, and familiarity, the words and concept that “there is no God” will eventually lose their boogey-man status among the general public as unspeakable, unthinkable, and dangerous. Instead of atheism being kept hidden away like a secret vice, it’s out and open. There is no shame.

    It’s another case of de-sacralizing the sacred. There’s a cultural taboo against open expressions of religious nonbelief. The general consensus has been that Faith is a wonderful thing, and that’s why it needs to be protected and cherished. It shouldn’t ever, ever be placed in a position where people can criticize it. Because it’s private — and everyone should be encouraged to have this private thing. The public needs to be reminded, over and over, that it’s absolutely necessary to a civil society that there be a Public expression of the value of Faith, and that religious faith should not be put into public question.

    “Everybody believes in God.”

    No. Repeat that “no,” over and over, until one day, the phrase “there is no God” causes as little public shock and alarm as statements like “I’m a Lutheran,” “I’m a Republican,” or “I like jazz.”

  90. #90 KH
    December 8, 2008

    Can’t we start lobbing the “anti-American” epithet against the religious extremists who don’t support the Constitutional values of freedom of speech and the separation of church and state?

  91. #91 CJO
    December 8, 2008

    they have no actual tie-in with christianity at all… that they are part of the tradition has more to do with the christians co-opting them, as the tree and wreaths and lights and decorations pre-date the christian tradition of Jesus’ birth being the reason for chrsitmas celebration.

    It’s all somewhat pedantic at that point, and divorced from experience. The “actual tie-in” is that 9 out of 10 Americans have no clue what you’re talking about, and associate decorated pine products exclusively with a mid-winter festival of feasting and gift giving that celebrates the birth of Jesus. Not going Godwin on ya, but the swastika long predates Nazism. That does not mean, however, that one can arbitrarily decide for everyone else that it’s a neutral symbol or that somehow it shouldn’t evoke the horrors of Nazi Germany in a given individual’s mind.

    Symbols have no inherent meaning; they are invested with meaning by the people who use/view them. Christmas trees are associated with Christmas by the vast majority of those who see them, and in a majority Christian milieu, that means both a religious festival and a secular holiday.

  92. #92 Tim H
    December 8, 2008

    So what religious group was responsible for putting the Bust of Washington in the capitol? I was not aware of any religion that worshipped Washington or His Bust. I was not even aware Washington had a bust. What size was it? Was it wooden? Did Martha know? And what particular relevence does Washington’s Bust have to the holiday season?

  93. #93 Pycu
    December 8, 2008

    The “mocking” sign is the “The fool says in his heart…” piece of wisdom, according to the Tacoma News Tribune.

  94. #94 Longtime Lurker
    December 8, 2008

    The fool says in his heart,
    “There is no God.”

    The wise one knows, it’s just a pump!

    I love how those asshats conflate “unbelievers” with “evildoers”. That’s uberfail right there.

  95. #95 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    CJO:

    Symbols have no inherent meaning; they are invested with meaning by the people who use/view them. Christmas trees are associated with Christmas by the vast majority of those who see them, and in a majority Christian milieu, that means both a religious festival and a secular holiday.

    OK… but you are missing the one line in my post that was critical to the point: they don’t have to be identified as symbols of christianity. Just because the majority of the people are unaware of it (and I’ll take issue with your “9 out of 10″ statistic. You just made that up. Far more than 10% of the population are aware that the tree is a pagan symbol) doesn’t mean we have to accept it as truth. For the very same reasons that the atheist signs on the buses are important, it is important to me to practice and teach, wherever possible, that Christmas can be, and is for me and many others, a secular holiday, and that the tree has as much to do with Jesus being born as Santa Clause.

  96. #96 Randy
    December 8, 2008

    A rally against free speech?

    My irony meter just exploded.

  97. #97 Rick R
    December 8, 2008

    KH @ #90- “Can’t we start lobbing the “anti-American” epithet against the religious extremists who don’t support the Constitutional values of freedom of speech and the separation of church and state?”

    HEAR HEAR. Taking back this meme from the christofascists and republitards is LONG overdue, IMO.

  98. #98 tsg
    December 8, 2008

    It’s all somewhat pedantic at that point, and divorced from experience. The “actual tie-in” is that 9 out of 10 Americans have no clue what you’re talking about, and associate decorated pine products exclusively with a mid-winter festival of feasting and gift giving that celebrates the birth of Jesus.

    But that’s precisely what the “war on Christmas” bullshit is about: the Christians don’t want their co-opted holiday (yes, I know they don’t see it that way, but it is nonetheless true) secularized.

    I celebrate Christmas. I have a tree, wreaths, stockings by the fire, and two children who love the idea of Santa Claus. There is no religious symbology in my house. We took what we liked and ditched the religious trappings. It is a secular holiday, and no Christian is going to tell me how to celebrate it.

    So, yes, many Americans associate Christmas with Christianity, but they don’t have to. And the more the Christians try to wage their war on Christmas, the more people are going to find out they stole it to begin with and we’re just taking it back.

  99. #99 Sastra
    December 8, 2008

    Lambert Heenan #82 wrote:

    What part of “Christmass Tree” does not represent “Christianity”?

    Pretty much everything about it except the first syllable of the word usually given to it. As Celtic-Evolution points out in #87.

    Bottom line, I consider Christmas trees to be secular. I also consider Christmas itself to be a secular holiday — as it stands today, it has roots in different religions, and in things that have no necessary relationship to religion. Family, fellowship, food, charity, beauty, generosity, peace, and making merry in the midst of the dark. There’s no way I am going to concede that those things “belong to Christianity” or have their roots in Christianity or make no sense without Christianity or any such sophistry.

    That’s what they want. Just like they want atheists to agree that morality makes no sense without God, or human rights makes no sense without God. Now it’s decorated trees and cookies in the shape of a star. Because trees and stars belong to Christians, if it’s December. And you can’t take any part of the nativity story as a myth, and sing “Silent Night” in the same spirit you sing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

    I’ve found that the people who insist the most that Christmas trees are inherently connected to Christianity are usually Christians who want to “put the Christ back in Christmas” and remind people that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” They want to pretend that only those saved by the blood of the Lamb have the ability to know what joy is, or have the right to express hopes for peace and goodwill around the world. You have to be saved if you want to earn the right to put up holly and mistletoe.

    “True” atheists will sit in dark corners, refuse to exchange presents, and celebrate nothing (because that’s what they believe in, you know.) Real atheists ought to react to the words “Merry Christmas” like a vampire reacts to garlic. And some atheists buy into that. Bah. Humbug.

    I’ve also seen it coming from nonchristians (and their supporters), who have strong religious views of their own, and don’t want to taint the purity of their religion by putting up a pretty tree lest people not think they are Orthodox Something-Else enough. Keep people divided by religious beliefs, and call it “respect.”

    As an atheist, I would much rather push the idea that Christmas trees are for everyone — Christian, Jew, Muslim, pagan, atheist … whatever. They are about joy, light, nature, and beauty. Those are values that belong to the world. So the word is “Christmas.” So what? Easter comes from the word — ? Halloween comes from words –? Saint Valentine was a Catholic Saint, and he’s related to Cupid — how? Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are about giving and spring. Period. You don’t need Jesus.

    “Christmas for everyone.” As seen on South Park.

    Not only is this reasonable, but it reflects the generous spirit of the season. And not only does it reflect the generous spirit of the season, but it pisses off the
    Religious Right big time.

    Which is what Christmas is all about.

  100. #100 tomh
    December 8, 2008

    @#77
    I think I could make a pretty convincing argument that placing a nativity in a public park is not the same thing as placing it in or on the grounds of the building that houses the seat of government and state-wide authority.

    It may not seem like the same thing, but once an area of the building is designated as a public forum then the same free speech rules apply as they would to any other public forum, such as a park. If the state of Washington has a grain of sense, they won’t allow any displays next year and avoid all the hassle.

    As far as decorations go, it’s very hard to draw the line. The ‘holiday’ tree with the star on top was seen as a Christian symbol by the Jewish group that applied to put up the Menorah two years ago and they wanted equal time. By the way, they didn’t bother to put it up again this year. Personally, I don’t see why a Capitol building needs decorations for any reason.

  101. #101 Rick R
    December 8, 2008

    CJO @ #91- “Symbols have no inherent meaning; they are invested with meaning by the people who use/view them. Christmas trees are associated with Christmas by the vast majority of those who see them, and in a majority Christian milieu, that means both a religious festival and a secular holiday.”

    It just occurred to me that this is somewhat analogous to the brouhaha over gay marriage. The idea that there are civil marriages at all pretty much nullifies the argument that marriage is a purely religious sacrament. Exactly the same way that because christmas is a federally recognized holiday, that makes it secular, NOT religious in nature.
    So aren’t these fools setting up nativity scenes in government buildings stripping them of religious significance?

    These idiots pushing for government recognition of their religious sacraments should be careful of what they wish for.

  102. #102 dyencer
    December 8, 2008

    “Marcos Sauri of Seattle said that he doesn’t usually join religious rallies associated with political causes, but he found the atheistic sign offensive.

    “We all have freedom of speech, but for them to put down religion, isn’t that more than freedom of speech?” Sauri said.”

    I love this comment. Freedom of speech as long as you don’t criticize my beliefs.

  103. #103 Rick R
    December 8, 2008

    Just to add to my comment at 101- the idea that the Establishment Clause protects the religious equally as much as it protects the non-religious is something that is exquisitely difficult (if not impossible) to impart to militant theists.

  104. #104 Christie
    December 8, 2008

    What about a display of the evolution of reindeer or something? That would be secular and wordless… Or put up a whole bunch of things, from wiccan yule celebrations to native american prayer sticks and see what they say about the accurate diversity. I want some mistletoe put up in there – even though most churches ban it :)

  105. #105 CJO
    December 8, 2008

    they don’t have to be identified as symbols of christianity.

    I guess I’m not clear on what you mean when you say a symbol doesn’t “have to” have the common meaning associated with it. Symbols, all symbols, are to an extent arbitrary, the product of historical accidents of one kind or another.

    “Gay” doesn’t have to mean “homosexual.” But if I say “George is gay,” meaning “happy, carefree,” 9 out of 10* people are not going to understand what I’ve tried to communicate.

    I have no issue with your desire to “practice and teach” what you’re saying. But the very fact that you need to “teach” it means that the interpretation is not general, and you always risk being misunderstood when you employ a symbol in a way that contradicts its common interpretation.

    *fabricated statistic, not for internal use

  106. #106 Sol
    December 8, 2008

    Fair representation – indeed.

    *le sigh*

  107. #107 Rowan
    December 8, 2008

    the irony of the intolerant preaching against intolerance.

    tis the season!

  108. #108 CJO
    December 8, 2008

    But that’s precisely what the “war on Christmas” bullshit is about: the Christians don’t want their co-opted holiday (yes, I know they don’t see it that way, but it is nonetheless true) secularized.

    I don’t get that impression, but we may be using “secularized” somewhat differently. Mostly, I think they don’t want it ecumenical-ized (hey, as long as I’m making up statistics, I might as well make up words), by which I mean they’re happy to have it celebrated in a secular way, as long as it is “Christmas” by name, and not “Holidays,” a generic plural.

    The war on Christmas meme I take to be in service of cultural bigotry and nationalism, somewhat the same as insisting that the US was founded as a Christian nation.

  109. #109 CrypticLife
    December 8, 2008

    The fool says in his heart,
    “There is no God.”

    If you suddenly find an extra mouth connected to lungs and a voicebox inside your aortic chambers, the wisest person won’t use it to say anything. Personally, I wouldn’t even use it to hum.

  110. #110 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    CJO

    I have no issue with your desire to “practice and teach” what you’re saying. But the very fact that you need to “teach” it means that the interpretation is not general, and you always risk being misunderstood when you employ a symbol in a way that contradicts its common interpretation.

    Well, if the “common interpretation” of that symbol is factually inaccurate, not only am I unconcerned with being misunderstood, I feel it is my obligation to make sure I explain it as factually as possible, as loudly as possible.

    Beyond that, I understand what you are saying. I think, in general though, tsg #98 and RickR #101 covered anything else I’d have to say on the issue.

  111. #111 Rick R
    December 8, 2008

    I think the next step is to add another atheist sign as a response.

    A response to a response of the response. Make them sorry they ever let in the fucking nativity scene in the first place.

  112. #112 intelekshual
    December 8, 2008

    So, for some reason google isn’t working in my office today, but I highly encourage everyone to google Hutcherson and learn some more about just what a crazy, backwards asshat this guy is. He’s been involved in a lot of unsavoriness around the US, usually having to do with gays in the schools, and prayer in the schools, and anything to do with the schools.

  113. #113 Ted Dahlberg
    December 8, 2008

    Posted by: Rick R | December 8, 2008 2:58 PM [kill]?[hide comment]

    I think the next step is to add another atheist sign as a response.

    A response to a response of the response. Make them sorry they ever let in the fucking nativity scene in the first place.

    A sign flame war…

  114. #114 tsg
    December 8, 2008

    I don’t get that impression, but we may be using “secularized” somewhat differently. Mostly, I think they don’t want it ecumenical-ized (hey, as long as I’m making up statistics, I might as well make up words), by which I mean they’re happy to have it celebrated in a secular way, as long as it is “Christmas” by name, and not “Holidays,” a generic plural.

    The “war on Christmas” is about more than just whether you say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”. It’s also about “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” (it’s not) and “Keep Christ in Christmas” (nevermind that it didn’t start that way). The Christians, either through ignorance or otherwise, are trying to keep “their” holiday from being secularized, that is, made non-religious (I tend to think of “ecumenical” meaning Christianity as a whole). To them, it’s not enough that you say “Merry Christmas” starting on November 28th, they want you to be celebrating Christ’s birth as well.

    From 105:

    I have no issue with your desire to “practice and teach” what you’re saying. But the very fact that you need to “teach” it means that the interpretation is not general, and you always risk being misunderstood when you employ a symbol in a way that contradicts its common interpretation.

    Yes, symbols mean what people use them to mean, but the meaning of a Christmas tree is changing, getting closer to its historical roots. The “war on Christmas” people are trying to prevent that. It’s not so much employing a symbol in a way that contradicts its common interpretation as realizing the common interpretation is changing. It’s not like atheists are saying “this is what a Christmas tree should mean”. People in general are taking a Christmas tree to mean that. Advancing the idea that a tree is secular in nature, supporting it with history, is merely accelerating that process.

    In the same way homosexuals took back the word “gay”, I’m taking back my tree.

  115. #115 CJO
    December 8, 2008

    Well, if the “common interpretation” of that symbol is factually inaccurate, not only am I unconcerned with being misunderstood, I feel it is my obligation to make sure I explain it as factually as possible, as loudly as possible.

    I guess I’m pruning a dead tree, here (now I’m making up idioms!), but I’m going to have one more go.

    “Factually inaccurate” is a red herring in discussing symbols and their acquired meanings. It is not factually inaccurate to say that “gay” can mean “happy, carefree,” or that the swastika predates Nazism and has had other meanings than its modern one. I’m at a loss to understand having an “obligation to make sure I explain it as factually as possible” as not at least partially motivated by concern with being misunderstood. My whole point is that symbols, when employed in a context of shared meanings, by definition, don’t need to be explained.

  116. #116 noodles
    December 8, 2008

    Anything that ran counter to Christian doctrine would offend these people. Rather than the typical understated Hanuka menorah what if the local synagogue put up sign that honestly stated their faith: “God is One. God is not a trinity and Jesus is neither a god, a demi-god, nor a prophet.” Or if the local Mosque put up a sign with the Islamic statement of faith:

    There is no god but Allah,
    and Mohamed is His prophet.

  117. #117 Riman Butterbur
    December 8, 2008

    This uproar is coming from people who insist on viewing Xmas as a religious ritual, but for most Americans it’s a cultural event.

    The culture is always evolving. Martin Luther started the lighted-tree tradition, Santa Claus and his flying reindeer were added in the 19th century, Rudolph & Frosty the Snowman in the 20th. Now maybe we’re seeing another evolutionary change, and the “atheist hate sign” will become just another traditional feature of this cultural activity.

    Religion is superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.

    I’ve been going back and forth in my own mind as to whether this message is appropriate to the season. For a time, I felt it was too confrontational for a time when most people want to celebrate peace and good will, and that it would antagonize moderates we would like to have on our side. But the more extreme the religious backlash, the truer the message appears. In time, it could be seen as just a gentle reminder that this is a season for peace and good will, and therefore religion has no place in it.

  118. #118 kemibe
    December 8, 2008

    These are people who think that their sadistic, psychotic, evilly capricious, mob-boss-style god is all about love. So of course they view mere dissent as “hate” and wield double standards like war clubs. And the sad thing is, they’re not being douchebags on purpose; they’re simply too brainwashed to know better. They’re like organisms who have confined to a plane all their lives laughing at the idea that I, a three-dimensional creature, really do exist. (I swiped that from Cosmos, except that I’m not an apple.)

    So religious folk of the sort in this article operate from a platform of blind, unapologetic backwardness. “Irony” is a term not even applicable to them, because in a social system in which everything is inverted, the only thing that can be “ironic” is that which one would not bat an eyelash in the secular sphere. Irony is when a noisy Christian says something fair-minded.

  119. #119 tsg
    December 8, 2008

    My whole point is that symbols, when employed in a context of shared meanings, by definition, don’t need to be explained.

    Yes, but meanings change over time as it is doing now with Christmas. Otherwise, the Christians wouldn’t need their “Jesus is the reason” and “keep Christ in Christmas” signs.

  120. #120 CJO
    December 8, 2008

    To them, it’s not enough that you say “Merry Christmas” starting on November 28th, they want you to be celebrating Christ’s birth as well.

    I guess I’m afraid that “to them” this is all rather subtle, and, as long as you’re employing a tree and Santa and the other secular trappings of Christmas, you are celebrating Christ’s birth, whether you like it or not. (And, again “to them,” your protests to the contrary just prove the point.) Celebrate Kwanzaa if you must (or if you’re an Ay-rab terrorist), but don’t try to make it the equal of Christmas, or to roll it into a package deal. (But I will concede that I am not an expert on what twisted motivations these cretins may have –sheer spite seems sufficient, frankly).

    “Ecumenical” has commonly been taken to mean promoting unity specifically among Christian denominations, but its more general meaning encompasses interreligious cooperation as well. (case in point about symbols and their meanings I suppose)

  121. #121 Diagoras
    December 8, 2008

    @ #101 tomh –

    Let’s address the legal concept of “public forum”:
    1) Open forum – a government property that is opened to the public for expressive activities of any kind.
    2) Limited public forum – a public forum created by the government voluntarily for expressive activity that may be restricted as to subject matter or class of speaker.
    3) Public forum – a place that has a long-standing tradition of being used for, is historically associated with, or has been dedicated by government act to the free exercise of the right to speech and public debate and assembly
    4)Nonpublic forum – not specially designated as open to public expression.

    The capitol building is a nonpublic forum until it is intentionally transformed into public forum. Parks, sidewalks – are traditional public forums. Government buildings are not. Regardless of the forum type – the government may limit speech based on content. It may not, however, limited speech based on viewpoint. So, for instance, at a military base – the government could decide to limit all speech on abortion, vaccines, etc. It could not however, allow a pro-life speaker, then deny a pro-choice speaker or a pro-vaccine speaker, and deny the crazy folk that peddle the opposite noise. So – you can boot out the topic entirely, but you can’t allow one view in, while denying another based on viewpoint.

    Beyond the issue of forum is the Establishment Clause analysis – there are two recent cases which apply. McCreary County v. ACLU and Van Orden v. Perry – both involve the public posting of the ten commandments. As per Van Orden, “Simply having religious content or promoting a message consistent with a religious doctrine does not run afoul of the Establishment Clause. There are, of course, limits to the government’s display of religious messages or symbols.” As per McCreary, “When the government acts with the ostensible and predominant purpose of advancing religion, it violates the central Establishment Clause value of official religious neutrality, there being no neutrality when the government’s ostensible object is to take sides. A purpose to favor one faith over another, or adherence to religion generally, clashes with the ‘understanding … that liberty and social stability demand a … tolerance that respects the religious views of all citizens.’” So – if the government allowed, as they did in a prior year a jewish holiday symbol while denying a christian one, this favors one faith over another and violates the Establishment Clause central tenet of neutrality. Just as it would if they diallowed the atheist sign when they allowed the nativity scene.

    The Lemon test has fallen into disfavor – however, it is currently still the applicable standard. It demands the display have (1) a secular purpose, (2) must not have the purpose of advancing/inhibiting a religion, and (3)must not result in excessive government entanglement with religion. As per McCreary, the purpose has to exceed the “transparent claim to secularity” and the secular purpose must be primary, not secondary to the religious one. These tests are fact-intensive inquiries.

  122. #122 kemibe
    December 8, 2008

    “‘It’s fine if you want to express your religion, but just no hate language,’ [Susan Wilson] said.”

    1. The atheist sign plainly contains no “hate language.” Anyone who has graduated high school and believes otherwise should be whisked out of mainstream society and forced to take (and pass) remedial English.

    2. So, when fundamentalist Christians yammer and screech about how gays and fornicators and porn fans and Catholics and Sponge Bob are all going to burn in Hell and deservedly so, that’s not “hate language,” only the gentle expression of one’s religious beliefs?

    I hope these assholes really are torn up as they sound over this. If they can be thrown into apoplexy by something as basic as a modertely worded, to-the-point “there is no god” sign, I’m going to change my entire fucking wardrobe over to stuff that contains such messages.

  123. #123 Steve_C
    December 8, 2008

    I think these people need to read up on the Age of Enlightenment a bit.

  124. #124 Nightsky
    December 8, 2008

    A religious sign flamewar… only if the very last sign in the row of signs reads, simply, “Burma Shave”.

  125. #125 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    I guess I’m pruning a dead tree, here (now I’m making up idioms!), but I’m going to have one more go.

    You can let go of your hurt feelings over the “9 out of 10″ comment anytime now. You invented a statistic to support your claim… I’m not going to lend it credence to the argument. I can discuss the rest of the content without deference to that statistic.

    “Factually inaccurate” is a red herring in discussing symbols and their acquired meanings

    Oh, come now… don’t get all hyperbolic on me.

    Red Herring – a deliberate attempt to change the subject or divert an argument.

    So how is my stating that the “symbolism” regarding the tree is incorrectly understood as having christian roots a red-herring? It’s a point that is exactly on topic.

    The point is, CJO, that simply accepting a large group’s co-opting of ANY symbol as its own, when it is “factually incorrect” for them to do so, is something I will not, and no-one else, should have to abide by. And yeah… you nailed it correctly, your use of the swastika is an invocation of “Godwin’s Law”, because even if I wanted to make the argument that such a symbol could be reclaimed as it was initially intended, you know it could never happen because of the very specific and horrific events associated with it, and no-one would want to even hear that argument.

    But yeah, if someone wanted to make the attempt to reclaim the swastika for its ancient European roots as a symbol for good luck or good fortune, the same principal would apply. It’s a bogus analogy, though, because of the difference in reference points. Godwin indeed.

    Context is relevant, CJO…

    My whole point is that symbols, when employed in a context of shared meanings, by definition, don’t need to be explained.

    Up until the point that they are being mis-identified and incorrectly attributed. If christians decide to use totem-poles to depict their imagery, and do so for 100 years until people within their own community begin to see the totem-pole as a symbol of christianity, are you saying that at that point it’s OK, and we just have to accept that? Because a majority group has decided to co-opt another tradition for their own? I’m sorry… but I’m failing to see how that’s an attitude I would ever take.

  126. #126 Sastra
    December 8, 2008

    Rick R #101 wrote:

    It just occurred to me that this is somewhat analogous to the brouhaha over gay marriage.

    Interesting analogy; I hadn’t thought of that, but you’re right.

    The definition of marriage as “a sacred covenant between a man, a woman, and God” is being fought for tooth and nail — against a secular government which licenses marriages as civil contracts, and a secular public that, more and more, is seeing no problem with people getting married who are the same sex, or doing it in a park with a nonreligious officiant and no mention of God at all. Theists are losing the symbol war with “marriage” as their sacred religious ritual. It’s for everyone.

    The whole “War against Christmas” thing is going to bite the Christians in their butts. What, do they seriously think people are going to “join up” with Christianity just so they can celebrate Christmas? Egg nog proves the existence of God? The more you have the phrase “Merry Christmas” being said by and to nonchristians, the less and less significant the connection with Jesus becomes. There is no better way to Keep the Christ out of Christmas than having a bunch of atheists throwing Merry Christmases around as if it meant no more than Have a Happy Holiday.

    They’re losing the symbol. It’s not that hard for an atheist to explain why they celebrate Christmas, Jews have Christmas trees, and there’s less and less Jesus and more and more Santa and “the spirit of love” in the public square. There’d be no reason otherwise for the whiny signs wanting people to stop it, and remember it’s “all about Jesus.” No. It’s not.

    Following the analogy, then, atheists who concede to the religious that Christmas is a religious holiday which primarily has to do with celebrating the birth of Jesus are like folks who argue that gay people should not be allowed to get married — because of the traditional religious meaning of the word “marriage.” Instead, they should have “civil unions.” Those will be the same in every way, but that way they’re not taking the sacredness away from Christians. And, oh, yeah, atheists shouldn’t be allowed to marry anymore, either. How could they be making a covenant with God etc. etc.?

  127. #127 currie jean
    December 8, 2008

    #21, clinteas

    I’d say it’s pretty obvious the bus messages won’t exact perfect respect for separation of church and state, but how do you know they won’t achieve -anything-?

    I, for one, can say they make me smile. And that’s something. Also, what Celtic_Evolution said in #36. :)

    # 27 (negentropyeater), # 31 (Celtic_Evolution)

    No words? Sucks, not really fair, but we can manage. Next year, how about a giant flying spaghetti monster plushie or a fish with feet?

    #37 (negentropyeater)

    The sign’s a religious view, but a philosophical position about religion. I don’t know if a court would agree, though.

    #91 CJO

    “Not going Godwin on ya, but the swastika long predates Nazism.”

    To my knowledge, the Nazi party altered the direction that the “feet” on the “spokes” of the swastika point (counter-clockwise vs clockwise), so that it’s a similar symbol, but not the same. The original swastika is still perfectly acceptable. The only thing making it offensive is the ignorance of the beholder.

    If people protest, respond with a history lesson – from atheists or, in the swastika case, Jains.

    ==

    Also, just LOL: “‘We all have freedom of speech, but for them to put down religion, isn’t that more than freedom of speech?’ Sauri said.”

    And I do agree with most of the people here – best to remove all references to religion.

  128. #128 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    I guess I’m afraid that “to them” this is all rather subtle, and, as long as you’re employing a tree and Santa and the other secular trappings of Christmas, you are celebrating Christ’s birth, whether you like it or not.

    Wrong, wrong, wrong CJO… I have always, and always will, celebrate christmas completely devoid of christ, all the while using the old pagan symbols of tree, yule log, wreath, mistletoe, etc… in fact… the biggest argument I can make against what you are saying is that my daughter, now 8, loves christmas more than any other day, and has only an ancillary knowledge of Jesus at all, and really has no knowledge of a connection between chrsitmas and christ… but knows all about why we have a tree and the other decorations we have.

  129. #129 Greg Laden
    December 8, 2008

    That region of the country may be one of the few places in the US where there are more agno-atheists than fundies. (by a small margin)

  130. #130 CJO
    December 8, 2008

    Otherwise, the Christians wouldn’t need their “Jesus is the reason” and “keep Christ in Christmas” signs.

    I get this, but ostentatious commercialization of Christmas is now decades old, is considered more insidious by the devout than atheist cooption or self-conscious “de-Christianization/re-paganization” and I’ve seen it decried many times on essentially secular grounds (in sanctimonious newspaper editorials and the like).

    The current specifically religious anxiety evinced in the messages you note is, I believe, not exclusively, but more engendered by the perceived encroachment of other religions’ wintertime festivals on what they consider their exclusive domain.

  131. #131 tsg
    December 8, 2008

    The current specifically religious anxiety evinced in the messages you note is, I believe, not exclusively, but more engendered by the perceived encroachment of other religions’ wintertime festivals on what they consider their exclusive domain.

    But it is not their exclusive domain, and that is precisely the point. Like Celtic_Evolution, Christmas has never, ever been a religious holiday for me or my family and very, very many others. Despite what the Christians want or believe, a Christmas Tree is not universally a religious symbol, and not everyone who puts one up is using it to celebrate the birth of Christ. They (and others who have been led to believe it) need to understand this.

    Symbols mean what people use them to mean the same way words mean what people use them to mean. Arguing that there is only one “correct” interpretation of a symbol is arguing that there is only one “correct” usage of a word.

    So when my religious friends come over and see my Christmas tree and say, “hey! I thought you were an atheist!” I will tell them that yes, I am, and that tree in the corner has nothing at all to do with the birth of Christ. That their religion has tried to make it mean that doesn’t change that fact.

  132. #132 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    expanding on my own comment #128

    the biggest argument I can make against what you are saying is that my daughter, now 8, loves christmas more than any other day, and has only an ancillary knowledge of Jesus at all, and really has no knowledge of a connection between chrsitmas and christ… but knows all about why we have a tree and the other decorations we have.

    Put another way, if you were to tell her that by celebrating Christmas “you are celebrating Christ’s birth, like it or not”… she’d look at you like you just crawled out of the swamp and probably reply “no… I celebrate christmas because if I don’t Santa doesn’t bring me presents”. And at its heart, that’s what it’s about to most kids… it’s only when they get older that their religion gets a hold of them and indoctrinates them with “the true meaning” bullshit… so really, that symbolism you so aptly described, does not actually have the same meaning to most kids as it does to most adults…

  133. #133 Shadow
    December 8, 2008

    Hutcherson was, IIRC, in the NFL. He loudly decries giving gays any of the same benefits/rights non-gays have (marriage, DP benefits (which was what he screamed at MS about)) using Leviticus.

    He worked on Sundays (NFL) and now generates his income preaching (on Sundays). When does the stoning begin? After all, the same chapter in his ‘holy’ book says to kill those who labor on the sabbath.

    I bet his suits have more than one type of thread, and that he enjoys steak and lobster as well. Doesn’t his book have something to say about that?

    He treats his ‘holy’ book like a salad bar – takes what he wants and leaves the rest. He also wants everyone else to take the whole thing.

  134. #134 Sastra
    December 8, 2008

    It would be interesting to see if those atheists who think that Christmas is inextricably tied up with the Christians religion were raised in very religious households, where it was made very clear from their infancy that, although there was Santa and presents and decorated trees, it was all because of a birthday celebration for Jesus.

    I was raised as a freethinker, and loved Christmas as a child, and still do today.

    There may be no one right or wrong answer to the question of whether we 1.) insist that Christmas traditionally means Jesus to too many people to co-opt it or 2.) insist that Christmas has too many co-opted traditions to mean Jesus. Like most things involving freethinkers, both strategies are going to be used, even if they conflict.

    I do suspect, though, that Celtic_Evolution, tsg, and the rest of us Christmas-loving atheists, are going to have time on our side.

    When I was a kid, the big, brand new Christmas special was A Charlie Brown Christmas. At the end, Linus explains that the REAL meaning of Christmas is the birth of Jesus in the manger.

    When my kids were little, the new Christmas special was The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. It’s humanist to the core: Christmas is about caring and love, not presents. Today, I think the specifically religious Christ-came-to-save-us-from-sin Christmas specials are far overshadowed by the ones about the spirit of love, of giving, of caring, or just having fun.

  135. #135 CJO
    December 8, 2008

    You can let go of your hurt feelings over the “9 out of 10″ comment anytime now.

    Trust me, it takes a great deal more than your (correct) identification of my original use of “9 out of 10″ as fabricated to hurt my feelings. I have been more poking fun at you for calling me out on using a common euphemism meaning “a lot, but I can’t be bothered to tell you exactly how many.” I can see that the light-hearted approach is not appreciated.

    Wrong, wrong, wrong CJO

    I agree. What you’re responding to was me putting words in the mouth of “them,” meaning the pro-Christ-in-Christmas faction.

    Context is relevant, CJO

    Indeed it is, and when one nods to Godwin in one’s own post and refers to Hitler or the Nazis anyway, in context, one is asking to be understood in the abstract, and trying to preempt such sanctimonious emphasis on “the very specific and horrific events.” I note you didn’t touch “gay” but instead prefer the low-hanging fruit of feigned outrage, several exchanges later.

    Whatever. This appears to be a serious issue for you, so I’ll leave it alone. Suffice it to say that I disagree on the primary motivations of the “War on Christmas” cretins, and on the malleability of symbols under top-down pressure, though I agree that symbols do change meaning from the bottom up. So I wish you luck in being a part of that process.

  136. #136 Sastra
    December 8, 2008

    When my kids were little, the new Christmas special was The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

    You know, I wasn’t sure about that, so I looked it up and it turns out the Grinch tv special came out in 1966, when I was still a kid, so that can’t be right. Maybe I was thinking of 1983′s Christmas Story. Or maybe I wasn’t thinking at all. Oh well.

  137. #137 Emmet Caulfield
    December 8, 2008

    Regarding Lynch v. Donnelly and County of Allegheny v. ACLU, both are utterly bizarre decisions; with apologies to Dickens, “if the law supposes that… the law is a ass — a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a theist; and the only thing I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by reason“. Really, it is perfectly obvious to all but the most perverse mental gymnasts that nativity scenes are not secular. For the SCOTUS to have found otherwise, and indulged in tetrapyloctomy over a banner, is nothing short of absurd. If they can consider that “In God We Trust” doesn’t advance monotheism and that nativity scenes don’t advance Christianity, what’s next? A “secular crucifix”, perhaps.

    It seems that whenever supreme courts (not just the SCOTUS) reverse-engineer their decisions from conclusions that are based on public sentiment, they throw consistency out the window and create a minefield of legal complexity. Shame on them for not doing their job; for not making the unpopular decision when it’s necessary in order to maintain the integrity and meaning of the Constitution.

  138. #138 BobC
    December 8, 2008

    In my opinion any atheist who uses the word “Christmas” is sucking up to religious insanity. Christmas is an extremely offensive word. Ask any Jewish person who has ancestors who were murdered in the holocaust what they think about Christmas. People with moral values call it Santa Claus Day, or any other name than that awful word Christmas.

  139. #139 negentropyeater
    December 8, 2008

    tsg,

    Despite what the Christians want or believe, a Christmas Tree is not universally a religious symbol, and not everyone who puts one up is using it to celebrate the birth of Christ. They (and others who have been led to believe it) need to understand this.

    They know that. They also know that there’s now this new competitor on the block, one that is raising its voice and starting to effciently promote itself in America, one they know will eventually become a much more formidable competitor than any of the previous competitors they have ever known, one that is taking over the youth, one that uses reason and not myths, and they have to try anything, any tricks, any dishonest tactics, to stop it from developing.

    They can’t care shit that some people don’t consider Christmas as a Christian symbol. They are scared shit at the promotion of atheism, and particularly when it’s during Christmas because they are even more vulnerable during this period.

  140. #140 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    December 8, 2008

    Ask any Jewish person who has ancestors who were murdered in the holocaust what they think about Christmas.

    wait

    what?

  141. #141 Cath the Canberra Cook
    December 8, 2008

    A few stray points:

    1) My favourite message board has just released a T-shirt that a lot of you might like: Axial Tilt … is the reason for the season”

    2) Gloria in Excelsis Deo is usually translated as “Glory to God in the highest”

    3) Traditional swastikas can go both ways. In Tibet one direction is Buddhist, and the other direction is Bon.

    4) A Christmas tree is a symbol with a long and complex history. Existed in several versions of pagan religion across Europe and the Middle East, railed against by some OT prophet, co-opted by Christians, and now mostly secularised. It’s a pity the English term contains “Christ” – but I don’t worship Woden on Wednesdays so I don’t find the etymology terribly important. Call it a Yule tree if you prefer.

  142. #142 Dave
    December 8, 2008

    To my knowledge, the Nazi party altered the direction that the “feet” on the “spokes” of the swastika point (counter-clockwise vs clockwise), so that it’s a similar symbol, but not the same.

    Nonsense

  143. #143 CJO
    December 8, 2008

    Arguing that there is only one “correct” interpretation of a symbol is arguing that there is only one “correct” usage of a word.

    Agreed.
    But arguing that you can, anytime you want, start using a symbol to mean whatever you want it to (whether or not it used to mean that) and expect to be understood is arguing the Humpty Dumpty line.

    Some words do have only one meaning, and all words are constrained in the meanings they can support. (As “gay” comes to mean “homosexual” it is no longer even possible to use it in its former sense without confusing your listener or having to explain, defeating the purpose of using the word.)

    Again, whatever. I’m unclear on why the hostility. For myself, I dislike Christmas trees in public places as much as I dislike nativity scenes, but I do not automatically assume that anyone with one in their house is Christian. Hell, my wife will probably start agitating for one in our house, any day now, and I’ll concede after token resistance like I do every year. And for what it’s worth, I was raised in a Christian-lite household, where the emphasis was on toning down the greed and commercialism aspect in favor of ideals of charity and universal love –supposedly embodied by Jesus.

  144. #144 Dave
    December 8, 2008

    OK, apparently I cant embed links properly. My “Nonsense” was supposed to link to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:HasekuraBlason.jpg

  145. #145 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    CJO

    *sigh*

    Trust me, it takes a great deal more than your (correct) identification of my original use of “9 out of 10″ as fabricated to hurt my feelings. I have been more poking fun at you for calling me out on using a common euphemism meaning “a lot, but I can’t be bothered to tell you exactly how many.” I can see that the light-hearted approach is not appreciated.

    Noted.

    I agree. What you’re responding to was me putting words in the mouth of “them,” meaning the pro-Christ-in-Christmas faction.

    I’m aware of that, but you were still using it as an augmentation to your point. My response was based upon that.

    Indeed it is, and when one nods to Godwin in one’s own post and refers to Hitler or the Nazis anyway, in context, one is asking to be understood in the abstract, and trying to preempt such sanctimonious emphasis on “the very specific and horrific events.”

    Simply because you prefaced it by saying you know you’re invoking Godwin, doesn’t absolve you from the responsibility of making damn SURE it’s an apt analogy. One of the reason that Godwin’s law is poignant is that MOST analogies comparing anything related to Nazism are poor, because of the context. It was a bad choice of analogies and you knew it before you presented it… but choosing to do so anyhow simply gave you a talking point that would be difficult to challenge, because of the disparity of the context. It wasn’t my decision to bring the swastika into this conversation.

    I note you didn’t touch “gay” but instead prefer the low-hanging fruit of feigned outrage, several exchanges later.

    Again with the hyperbole. There was no outrage, feigned or otherwise. I merely pointed out that you intentionally invoked Godwin’s law knowing full well an argument against your analogy would be difficult not because of the facts, but because of the context.

    As tsg and Sastra had already covered the “gay” analogy, to a degree, I didn’t feel the need to be repetitive… but I can cover it pretty succinctly: same exact rules apply… the term “gay” was co-opted by hate-filled, religious bigots, and at one time had an extremely negative connotation. But as the gay community began to assert themselves, they began to remind people that “gay” is not an inherently bad term, neither by literal definition nor popular moniker…

    However, I notice you didn’t address, in any way, either my “totem pole” analogy or the example of my daughter. But you know… “Whatever”.

  146. #146 Cletic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    Major blockquote fail in #145… grrr…

    Must be channeling Rev. BigDumbChimp again…

  147. #147 Nemo
    December 8, 2008

    It sounds to me like they just need a lot more displays. I’d start with one that celebrated the glory of the FSM. Preferably a big one.

    And of course they need a Festivus pole.

  148. #148 Brain Hertz
    December 8, 2008

    I’ve been following this in the local news here (Oregon) where it’s been getting plenty of coverage.

    See here: http://www.kgw.com/news-local/stories/kgw_120808_news_atheist_protest.41eae0de.html

    For the nice, non-confrontational signs being displayed by theists…

  149. #149 strangest brew
    December 8, 2008

    There is far to much respect demanded, and given, to xian religious belief and practice.
    What is extremely clear is that no such respect is given to Atheist.
    The balance is skew and has been for over 2000 years.

    Seems that xians have incorporated the cry of….’intolerance’…into their lexicon because they find they like the warm glow of sympathy that waft over them from the courts.
    It is also pretty clear that the present laws and protocol also restrict atheism not blatantly but with a leaning to xianism, in fact to such an extent that atheism is a ‘closet’ issue, much like homosexuality was, and in some cases still is.

    The Lynch v Donnelly case in particular seems to advocate that sentiment.

    “They ruled that the crèche is a passive representation of religion and that there was “insufficient evidence to establish that the inclusion of the crèche is a purposeful or surreptitious effort to express some kind of subtle governmental advocacy of a particular religious” view. They also stated that the Constitution “affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any.”

    This to my uneducated eye seems to ignore the point that the nativity with the crèche(crib) scene is fundamental to the xian religion especially at xmas time, it is the point that xians advocate and celebrate, it is not just a crèche(crib).

    And I would take issue with the point that it is ‘passive’ how can the nativity scene be passive.? it is an expression of their cult…their identity…their wet dream…it is a powerful and evocative image to those afflicted, it is not passive, surrounded by a Santa Claus house, a Christmas tree, a banner reading “Seasons Greetings,” it is a clear and unequivocal nod to xianism.

    So here we have a point of law that ostensibly calls a spade a spade, they admit it is a ‘passive’ representation of religion, it represents religion, but that is insufficient evidence to call it promoting religion, or a particular religion, how many religions boogie to a crèche scene, one that is central to their little ol’ romantic heart?

    I detect a little unspoken bias there, the supreme court was obviously not trying to be hostile to the ‘passive’ religious overtones.
    Until the courts truly reflect fairness and even-handedness nothing will change, the status quo is fine by the xian martyrs, as long as they keep yelling persecution, but it does not change the fact that atheist is still the deep dark secret that dare not whisper thy name.

  150. #150 Brain Hertz
    December 8, 2008

    Did I mention there’s a poll? See the link in #148…

  151. #151 Diagoras
    December 8, 2008

    @ #127, Currie Jean

    The difference in the cases goes beyond the mere inclusion of words. In Lynch , the display was in the city’s shopping district, rather than in Allegheny where the displays were at the courthouse. That said – I do agree with the dissent in Lynch more than I do the majority opinion. I do not think that the “‘fears and political problems’ that gave rise to the Religion Clauses in the 18th century are of far less concern today,” as the majority states. The display was given a pass on the first part of the Lemon test, the secular purpose – which the city claimed was “to celebrate the Holiday and to depict the origins of that Holiday.” I would have argued that the inclusion of the nativity scene was a focus exclusively on the religious component – its primary purpose was advancing the Christian-nature of the holiday, and should have led to its invalidation under the Establishment Clause, because such a connection by the city government advanced preferentially the christian religion.

    Regarding the holding of Allegheny – the menorah v. the nativity scene case – the menorah they claimed was kosher because of its placement next to a Christmas tree. The nativity scene, by contrast, was plopped right in a prominent position on the grand staircase, with the words “Gloria in Excelsis Deo!” O’Connor believes the placement the important factor – “the city is representing the pluralism of the freedom of religion,” with the Jewish/Christian/Secular symbols placed together. Blackmun asserts that the menorah has become a secular symbol. So the main issue, again, is the prominence of the nativity scene in the holiday display – and the facts in this one show an even greater disregard of a primary secular purpose with the tacked-on words. I would have argued that both feature the nativity to the detriment of a “neutral holiday message,” and thusly both displays were in violation of the Establishment Clause’s central tenet of neutrality.

  152. #152 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    Did I mention there’s a poll? See the link in #148…

    * Membership required…

  153. #153 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    December 8, 2008

    Must be channeling Rev. BigDumbChimp again…

    it happens

  154. #154 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    Rev. BDC –

    it happens

    Before you know it, I’ll be losing my hair and working in IT…

    Oh wait…

  155. #155 Brain Hertz
    December 8, 2008

    #153

    Yes (I guess it looks transparent to me, since it’s my local news source so I’m already a member) but signup is free.

  156. #156 Brain Hertz
    December 8, 2008

    ^153^152

  157. #157 strangest brew
    December 8, 2008

    It is little wonder the Salem witch hunts were so easy to spark.

    Tis just mob mentality with a twist of ‘holier then thou’.

    I hope the point that…”Once government admits one religious display or viewpoint onto public property, it may not discriminate against the content of other displays, including the viewpoints of non-believers.” holds sway, seems a core constitutional point.

  158. #158 chocolatepie
    December 8, 2008

    The absence of religion = a religion!

    This reminds me of something. . .ah, yes.

    Spokeswoman: And each newspaper contains a certain percentage of recycled materials.
    Lisa: And what percentage is that?
    Spokeswoman: Zero.
    (Lisa gives a disapproving look)
    Spokeswoman: Zero’s a percent!

  159. #159 'Tis Himself
    December 8, 2008

    Did you miss the shot of Kenneth Hutcherson’s fat smug face smugging at the camera, full of punchable smuggitude, and raising a smug eyebrow as if to say, ‘I’m the smuggest asshole in the known universe’?

  160. #160 BobC
    December 8, 2008

    #140, my point was, if you say merry christmas to somebody who has relatives who were murdered by christians, you are insulting that person. This is why I think christmas is an offensive word, and decent people should never use that word.

  161. #161 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    # 159

    We need to get him and O’Reilly together for a “smug-off”… the comedic value would be a 9.8, easily… although I’m afraid my head would asplode within about 30 seconds of watching it…

  162. #162 tomh
    December 8, 2008

    @#147 And of course they need a Festivus pole.

    There was an application made for a display of a Festivus pole, but I don’t know whether it made it to the display room or not.

  163. #163 BobC
    December 8, 2008

    Also, saying merry christmas to anyone is an insult. You are implying that person is stupid enough to believe in Jebus. I can’t imagine a worse insult.

  164. #164 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    December 8, 2008

    Before you know it, I’ll be losing my hair and working in IT…

    Oh wait…

    post hoc ergo propter h…. bah nevermind…
    ;)

  165. #165 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    BobC

    # 138

    Ask any Jewish person who has ancestors who were murdered in the holocaust what they think about Christmas.

    clarifying at #160

    my point was, if you say merry christmas to somebody who has relatives who were murdered by christians, you are insulting that person.

    Let me repeat for Rev. BDC…

    wait.

    What?

  166. #166 CJO
    December 8, 2008

    you intentionally invoked Godwin’s law knowing full well an argument against your analogy would be difficult not because of the facts, but because of the context.

    Perhaps so. What I meant to do was ask that the analogy be considered on the facts while leaving the context aside. However, I concede that it is difficult, if not impossible, to divorce the two on certain emotional subjects, so I am sorry, and I won’t do it again.

    but I can cover it pretty succinctly: same exact rules apply… the term “gay” was co-opted by hate-filled, religious bigots, and at one time had an extremely negative connotation.

    You’re not covering it at all. You’re talking about the disposition of those who commonly use the term toward homosexuality; I’m asking whether you can go around using the word to mean “happy, carefree,” intending no reference whatever to sexuality, and expect to be understood.

    However, I notice you didn’t address, in any way, either my “totem pole” analogy or the example of my daughter. But you know… “Whatever”.

    If I recall, you brought up the totem pole, and then asked me if I would consider it “okay” if that symbol were co-opted by Christians. I didn’t reply because I don’t consider it germaine what I think is acceptable. Upon reflection, I should have noted that you make my point for me: it wouldn’t be “okay” in that it wouldn’t work, just as deciding unilaterally that Christmas trees have nothing to do with a Christian religious observance isn’t going to keep people from making the association Christmas tree = Christmas = celebrating Birth of Jesus.

    As regards your daughter, you’re trying to make your point by pointing out that you’ve successfully raised a child with values and symbolic associations similar to your own? I’m glad and all, because I think said values etc. are the right ones, but I don’t see what I’m supposed to bring from your success in that realm to our argument, unless it is the more people who raise their kids without talking about Jesus, the fewer Christians there will be and the fewer who will associate Chritmas trees with a guy they’ve never heard of. Well, I guess that’s true.

  167. #167 Diagoras
    December 8, 2008

    @ #137 Emmet Caulfield

    It’s not precisely that {insert religious symbol here, cross, creche, etc} is “secular” – it’s that their display has to have a secular purpose – the religious has to be integrated with a secular message. As per McCreary – this test can’t let the posting of religious symbols tack on a “transparent claim to secularity.”

    I agree – Lynch got a free pass on that test. It was, in my opinion, a transparent claim to secularity, when the purpose of the display was to advance the Christian religion, and the city, by the display of the creche, could be seen by a reasonable observer to be endorsing Christianity by the central placement of the nativity scene in the display. Just like in McCreary, with the display of the ten commandments at the court house, the display bespeaks a religious object unless it was integrated with a secular message. The court saw no integration In McCreary because of a lack of a demonstrated analytical or historical connection between the Commandments and the other documents it was displayed with. Again, in Lynch – the display, as was, showed no demonstrated analytical or historical connection between the creche and the holiday display. It had NO secular purpose, or, at the very least, in the manner it was displayed, it conveyed none.

  168. #168 negentropyeater
    December 8, 2008

    But allowing the Atheist sign would most probably violate the second prong of the Lemon test, that is has for primary effect to inhibit religion, and this would be sufficient for it to be deemed unconstitutional.

  169. #169 BobC
    December 8, 2008

    Celtic_Evolution, what don’t you understand? Could you be more specific? I assume you understand 6 million jews were murdered by christians. I assume you know christmas is a christian holiday. Therefore saying merry christmas to a jew is insulting.

    Also, like I said earlier, saying merry christmas to anyone is an insult, because you are implying that person is a christian retard.

    My point is atheists, and anyone else who has any moral values, should never use the word Christmas for anything. It’s much more respectful to say happy santa claus day, or call the tree a santa claus day tree.

  170. #170 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    CJO #166

    OK… thanks for your response, and clarification…

    on the swastika point… yes… i know you were trying to make a point to use the facts rather than the context, and I would have liked to have been able to have crafted a response that disregarded the context… but that’s a subject on which it’s just not possible most times, and I found no point I could make could possibly keep the context as an aside.

    I think, in re-reading, I may be coming at your point sideways… I can make a course-correction on the tone, if that’s ok with you.

    I’ll take a bit to re-read where you are coming from, and try to address it, to your point, and not to what I may have been interpreting as your point… or it may be that we just agree to disagree.

    Either way, sorry the tone denigrated as it did.

  171. #171 Rick R
    December 8, 2008

    Emmet Caulfield @ #137- “If they can consider that “In God We Trust” doesn’t advance monotheism and that nativity scenes don’t advance Christianity, what’s next? A “secular crucifix”, perhaps.”

    Now that you mention it….here ya go!

    http://www.au.org/site/News2?abbr=pr&page=NewsArticle&id=9989

    A “secular symbol of death”. Another instance of the religious shoving their symbols into government, and government bleeding the sacredness out of the symbol. Of course, it would be Utah….

  172. #173 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    Celtic_Evolution, what don’t you understand? Could you be more specific? I assume you understand 6 million jews were murdered by christians.

    Oh, right… OK, BobC… one “Nazi” based argument is all I can handle for one day. Someone else can deal with it.

  173. #174 Wowbagger
    December 8, 2008

    Celtic_Evolution, what don’t you understand? Could you be more specific? I assume you understand 6 million jews were murdered by christians. I assume you know christmas is a christian holiday. Therefore saying merry christmas to a jew is insulting.

    BobC,

    That’s ridiculous. Your enthusiastic antitheist rants don’t usually bother me, but now you’re just being silly.

  174. #175 BobC
    December 8, 2008

    Sorry about the godwin law thing, but any educated person should know the holocaust would have been impossible without christian thugs. Christianity is just another word for immorality. Any word with “Christ” in it, including Christmas, is a terrible word that decent people should never use.

  175. #176 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    December 8, 2008

    BobC you are projecting you’re unfettered hate of anyone who is religious onto others who you assume hold the same views concerning religions other than there own.

    I’ve never encountered anyone out of my Jewish friends who had grandparents (or parents) killing in the holocaust who hold any hate towards Christmas or Christians.

    Granted this is anecdotal but I’m willing to bet that they’ve had enough religious hate for a lifetime.

  176. #177 BobC
    December 8, 2008

    wowbagger, try saying merry christmas to a jew whose parents were murdered by christians, and then you will understand why that’s not a good idea.

    Also, I was wondering, do you think being anti-theist is a bad thing?

  177. #178 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    December 8, 2008

    god damn it

    you’re is your

    fuck

  178. #179 BobC
    December 8, 2008

    Rev., do you say merry christmas to your jewish friends?

  179. #180 DaveH
    December 8, 2008

    These “fundies” are such lightweights. My Dad told me that when he was growing up (Aberdeen, Scotland, 1930′s) his was the only house in the street that celebrated Xmas at all (because my Gran was brought up in England).

    In general, in the whole of Scotland at that time, there was no notice taken of such an obviously pagan festival (possibly partly because Christmas included the word Mass, smacking of Popery), people went to work if it fell on a weekday, etc. Presents and the big celebration were on Hogmanay, unless you were really hardcore and celebrated the Old New Year 12 days later(ignoring that damned newfangled Gregorian nonsense, which also smacked of Popery). Probably still the case in parts of the west Highlands and the Hebrides.

  180. #181 negentropyeater
    December 8, 2008

    BobC,

    Also, like I said earlier, saying merry christmas to anyone is an insult, because you are implying that person is a christian retard.

    Nonsense !
    I lived three years in Malaysia. Most people were Muslim, Tamil, Hindhu, Shintoist, Confucian, … very few Christian, and yet, during the Christams period, everybody sad “Merry Christmas” to each other.
    Were they all implying to each other that they were Christians ?

    Who are you to decide what words or expressions signify ?
    For many non Christians, “Merry Christmas” means nothing else than “Happy holidays” at that period of the year. I think we don’t need anybody to decide for us what we should or should not say, or what it should or should not mean.

  181. #182 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    try saying merry christmas to a jew whose parents were murdered by christians, and then you will understand why that’s not a good idea.
    Also, I was wondering, do you think being anti-theist is a bad thing?

    And now you’re projecting on wowbagger… who never said, nor implied, any such thing.

    If this is your view, BobC, then fine… but I don’t think you’re going to find too many here who share it. I’m not even going to engage in trying to debate it, as I think it would be wasted.

  182. #183 Wowbagger
    December 8, 2008

    BobC, you might as well say that we should eliminate the German language because it was spoken by the people who orchestrated the holocaust and is therefore offensive to Jewish people – and the Nazis were as German as they were christian.

    I’d have as much right to demand that the word ‘English’ not be used because my ancestors were transported to Australia under England’s ridiculous, unjust laws in the 19th century.

    There’s nothing wrong with antitheism other than its impracticality. I’m fine with people having a security blanket; I just don’t want them making decisions based on what they think it whispers to them in the night.

  183. #184 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    December 8, 2008

    I don’t say merry Christmas to my Christian friends (at least 90% of the time).

    but I’ve been around when others have said it to my Jewish Friends.

    Doesn’t seem to be a problem.

    Do you have some link between the holiday of Christmas and the holocaust I am unaware of?

  184. #185 BobC
    December 8, 2008

    I was wondering if you atheist wimps also say Happy Easter?

    Sorry, but I think using religious words like Christmas is sucking up to Christian insanity.

  185. #186 Diagoras
    December 8, 2008

    @ #168 negentropyeater

    Lemon is a balancing test, mind you, to gage government involvement so excessive as to run afoul of the Establishment Clause. If the government is acting neutrally with respect to the messages displayed – it, as a general rule does not run afoul of the Establishment Clause. However, “when the government acts with the ostensible and predominant purpose of advancing religion, it violates the central Establishment Clause value of official religious neutrality, there being no neutrality when the government’s ostensible object is to take sides. A purpose to favor one faith over another, or adherence to religion generally, clashes with the ‘understanding … that liberty and social stability demand a … tolerance that respects the religious views of all citizens.’” (McCreary). Here, there is no evidence advanced that the atheist sign was given a preferential location, size, form with respect to the other displays – the government has acted viewpoint neutral, arguably. Here, the displays (with lack of evidence to the contrary, at this point) favor no religion, or lack thereof over any other viewpoint.

    The sign’s purpose may be to change minds about religion – but I don’t necessarily think that fulfills the notion that its “primary effect[is] to inhibit religion” in that the sign does not compell the recognition of the sentiments expressed by the theistically-inclined any more than creche compells the belief or support in the ideas/ideals of Christianity in the context of a viewpoint-neutral multiviewpoint display. If ONLY the creche was allowed to be displayed in the courthouse, that would run afoul of the establishment clause, with the primary effect of inhibiting other religions/promoting their own. Without other facts to support the atheist sign getting preferential treatment – it is difficult to state definitively that it’s primary effect is to inhibit religion.

  186. #187 Sastra
    December 8, 2008

    While most of the Nazis were Christians, and they used Christianity as part of their rationale, the Third Reich’s primary purpose was not to spread Christianity over the world, so its relationship with religion hasn’t lodged itself into casual public knowledge. The Jews today don’t blame Christianity: they blame the Nazis, the totalitarian and fascist mindset, and the particular distortions of religion and pseudoscience of the time which justified it.

    I’d say “Merry Christmas” to a secular or secularized Jew. If I knew they were observant, I’d say “Happy Hannukah” or “Happy Holidays.” Or maybe even “Merry Christmas,” since I think the word is losing its Christian connection, and I’ve no problem helping it along. It’s wicked and subversive, and bothers Christians, to do so.

    So Merry Xmas, BobC. ;)

  187. #188 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    December 8, 2008

    I was wondering if you atheist wimps also say Happy Easter?

    If I said Merry Christmas to my family members who are christian, I’m a wimp and they are idiots?

  188. #189 CJO
    December 8, 2008

    Celtic_E:

    No prob. man. All in all, my point is so thin you’ve got to come in sideways to even see it –that’s how I getcha! ;->

    Tone and the toobz, you never know how it’s going to go.

    No hard feelings from my end.

  189. #190 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    I was wondering if you atheist wimps also say Happy Easter?

    Whew… thank goodness for Arnold Schwarzenatheist here to stick up for the rest of us poor, sopping atheist wimps.

    You sagging, wimpy gurley atheists!

  190. #191 Feynmaniac
    December 8, 2008

    Every time I read something from BobC I think I begin to feel the same sort of embarrassment moderate Christians feel when they hear from the Westboro Church or Jerry Falwell.

    As for these displays, there’s only one way to settle this. Every religion puts up a symbol and then gets to use it as weapon in the inevitable battle. Unitarians, from what I’ve learned, get a flaming Chalice, which could do some awesome damage. Christians get a cross, which can be used as a sword. Jews can use Stars of David as ninja stars. Muslims can use the crescent as a Bat’leth (“Defend yourself, Worf!”). The Eastern religions are at quite a disadvantage. Really? Did you guys honestly think the syllable Aum, a Dharma wheel, and a ying yang would be very useful in battle? Anyways, the one religion left standing get to have their display up until next year when the bloodbath begins again. And thus a noble tradition was started……

    Or we can be adults, say the government endorses no religion and have all these displays removed.

  191. #192 Diagoras
    December 8, 2008

    Regarding the uttering of “Merry Christmas” – in Norway, it’s “God Jul.” (from the Germanic, Yule.) Yay for taking the Christ out of holiday greetings, as a country.

  192. #193 Dave
    December 8, 2008

    Therefore saying merry christmas to a jew is insulting.

    Wow. Just Wow. So Ive been insulting an entire half of my family all these years and never realized it? More spectacularly, they’ve all been willing to insult each other. (BTW, is is still an insult when the jews say “Merry Christmas” to the xtians?)

  193. #194 BobC
    December 8, 2008

    Do you have some link between the holiday of Christmas and the holocaust I am unaware of?

    Christians did virtually all of the murdering in the holocaust.

    Christians celebrate Christmas.

    Therefore saying merry christmas to a jew, especially to a holocaust survivor, is not polite.

    Why risk insulting people for no reason? Personally I feel a bit uncomfortable when some stranger says merry christmas to me. They expect me to reply in the same way. I won’t do that because of my contempt for their disgusting death cult. Also, I don’t like the implication they think I’m dumb enough to believe in the idiocy of Jebus.

  194. #195 Plex Flexico
    December 8, 2008

    @negentropyeater #168:

    In what way would you prove that it has an effect to inhibit religion that wouldn’t also apply to every other display?

  195. #196 strangest brew
    December 8, 2008

    ‘I was wondering if you atheist wimps also say Happy Easter?’

    I say ‘Happy Eostre’…folks think I have a speech impediment…never been pulled on it in 50 odd years… ;-)

  196. #197 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    CJO –

    Tone and the toobz, you never know how it’s going to go.

    Well, and I can at times be a hot-head and jump the gun… it’s a work in progress… blame the Irish-catholic upbringing. ;->

  197. #198 Holbach
    December 8, 2008

    negentropyeater @ 181

    No matter what you call or express it, the connotation is still religious, even if you said “happy holidays” or the “joys of the season”. You can never separate the religious aspect or it’s inference to a made up bunch of irrational crap and all it’s portents. Of course, being of the religious persuasion you will never divest yourself of it’s influence and criticsm.

  198. #199 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    December 8, 2008

    Christians did virtually all of the murdering in the holocaust.

    Christians celebrate Christmas.

    Therefore saying merry christmas to a jew, especially to a holocaust survivor, is not polite.

    Wow, logic fail.

    So are we atheists all responsible for Stalin’s, Mao’s and Pol Pot’s atrocities?

  199. #200 Wowbagger
    December 8, 2008

    BobC,

    Actually, I tend to avoid saying either ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Easter’, because of the christian connotations, which I dislike. But I’m not going to hold it against people who do, and I’m certainly not going to try and justify it with a ridiculous argument like the one you presented.

  200. #201 negentropyeater
    December 8, 2008

    BobC,

    Sorry about the godwin law thing, but any educated person should know the holocaust would have been impossible without christian thugs.

    The ridiculousness of your reasoning is astounding.

    I summarize,
    The holocaust would have been impossible without Christans.
    Christ is a Christian symbol. Therefore saying “Merry Christmas” to a Jew is insulting.

    Similar reasoning :
    The holocaust would have been impossible without Germans. Hamburg is a German city. Therefore proposing a Hamburger to a jew is insulting.

  201. #202 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    December 8, 2008

    The holocaust would have been impossible without Germans. Hamburg is a German city. Therefore proposing a Hamburger to a jew is insulting.

    Is it a Kosher Hamburger?

    i kid

  202. #203 BobC
    December 8, 2008

    I once spent December 25th with a Jewish family that included a holocaust survivor. That morning everyone said “happy santa claus day” to each other, and the word “christmas” was never mentioned. That day I decided to never say “merry christmas” ever again, because of the word “christmas” reminds some people of genocide.

    Also, the word “christmas” reminds me I live in a country of idiots who brainwash their own children, lying about Jebus and lying about science.

  203. #204 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    December 8, 2008

    That day I decided to never say “merry christmas” ever again, because of the word “christmas” reminds some people of genocide.

    You’re now modifying your argument.

  204. #205 Holbach
    December 8, 2008

    BigDumbChimp @ 199

    What a weak and indirect innuendo to something not of our doing, but used so many times for reference effect. Wow, logic misapplied.

  205. #206 Kel
    December 8, 2008

    Easter is Zombie Jesus day.

  206. #207 efrique
    December 8, 2008

    “It is time to chase out of the house of God all the unbelievers and evildoers,” Dunn said.

    So waitaminnit – Dunn thinks he got elected to church??

    Uh, and if we chase out all the unbelievers as well as all the evildoers, how many people would be left? Two? Three?

  207. #208 CJO
    December 8, 2008

    Therefore saying merry christmas to a jew, especially to a holocaust survivor, is not polite.

    Irony alert indeed; here we have BobC espousing politeness.

  208. #209 Celtic_Evolution
    December 8, 2008

    I once spent December 25th with a Jewish family that included a holocaust survivor. That morning everyone said “happy santa claus day” to each other, and the word “christmas” was never mentioned.

    Interesting, indeed…

    The fact that you spent christmas day with a Jewish family that celebrated it, in anyfashion, leads me to believe that they were fairly progressive to begin with. It would seem odd to me that such a progressive Jewish family would go out of their way to celebrate “santa clause day”, but consider saying the words “merry christmas” verboten. I would think that if the day was such a hot-button item for them and their holocaust survivor, they’d avoid celebrating it altogether…

    but maybe I’m just too wimpy to understand…

  209. #210 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    December 8, 2008

    What a weak and indirect innuendo to something not of our doing, but used so many times for reference effect. Wow, logic misapplied.

    No that is the same argument that BobC is making with the Jews are offended by Christmas because Christians are responsible for the Holocaust. Same stupid claim that is made about Atheists and the atrocities i listed above.

  210. #211 Wowbagger
    December 8, 2008

    negentropyeater,

    Heck, why stop there? I say we eliminate the eating of sauerkraut and shnitzels, the drinking of Jagermeister, the wearing of ADIDAS – and no-one is allowed to have weimaraners or dachschunds as pets, or drive Audis, Mercedes-Benzes or BMWs.

    I, for one, don’t know how I’m going to live without schadenfreude or the music of Rammstein, since these are a few of my favourite things. Oops! I guess I can’t quote The Sound of Music either…

  211. #212 Sven DiMilo
    December 8, 2008

    Oh, can we please keep Spaten and pre-1972 Volkswagens? Please?

  212. #213 BobC
    December 8, 2008

    The fact that you spent christmas day with a Jewish family that celebrated it, in anyfashion, leads me to believe that they were fairly progressive to begin with.

    The Jewish family did NOT celebrate christmas. They celebrated santa claus day. Christmas and santa claus day are two separate holidays that are celebrated on the same day. Idiots celebrate Christmas. Normal people celebrate Santa Claus Day.

  213. #214 tomh
    December 8, 2008

    Diagoras @#121

    All very interesting, no doubt, but I’m unsure what your point is. Are you trying to relate this information to the Washington case or to some hypothetical future case that might reach the Supreme Court ?

    The capitol building is a nonpublic forum until it is intentionally transformed into public forum

    Well, this is from the original complaint, so I assume that it was intentionally transformed into a public forum. Department of General Administration Policies, Procedures & Task Outlines (the CCF policy) allow a broad array of public access and expression on the capitol grounds, including private exhibits on and within the capitol building. The relevant GA policies are attached as (Ex. H.) The policies, of course, spell out the place, time, requirements,etc.

    So – you can boot out the topic entirely, but you can’t allow one view in, while denying another based on viewpoint.

    Which is exactly what the settlement agreement specifies, and which has been repeated ad nauseam on both this and the O’Reilly threads, so again, I’m not sure what your point is.

    So – if the government allowed, as they did in a prior year a jewish holiday symbol while denying a christian one, this favors one faith over another and violates the Establishment Clause central tenet of neutrality.

    Which was one of the causes of action in the original complaint and obviously why the government settled the case.

  214. #215 Feynmaniac
    December 8, 2008

    Someone should make some sort of fighting game where every character represents a religion and name the game Holy Wars . They could use some of the suggestions I outlined in #191.

    It would be extremely controversial and funny.

  215. #216 Kel
    December 8, 2008

    I say we eliminate the drinking of Jagermeister

    You monster!

    Also, I needs my Rammstein.

  216. #217 Brain Hertz
    December 8, 2008

    BobC,
    are you being serious? I can’t tell.

    Also, what is necessarily Christian about Easter? Where I live it’s mostly a festival of pagan fertility symbols (which the Christians don’t seem to have a problem with, curiously).

  217. #218 Dave
    December 8, 2008

    The Eastern religions are at quite a disadvantage. Really? Did you guys honestly think the syllable Aum . . .

    Well not so much by itself, but give them a Weirding Module as well, and they could be dangerous.

  218. #219 negentropyeater
    December 8, 2008

    Plex Flexico,
    IMHO, neither the nativity scene nor the atheist sign pass the Lemon test. One has for primary effect to advance religion, the other one to inhibit it. Therefore both should be deemed unconstitutional.

  219. #220 Wowbagger
    December 8, 2008

    Technically, BobC, if you’re celebrating ‘Santa Claus day’ then you’re supporting christianity, ’cause Santa = Saint. And you can’t have saints without also having the sky-fairy, junior and the spook.

  220. #221 BobC
    December 8, 2008

    BobC, are you being serious? I can’t tell. Also, what is necessarily Christian about Easter? Where I live it’s mostly a festival of pagan fertility symbols (which the Christians don’t seem to have a problem with, curiously).

    Yeah. I’m seriously trying to convince atheists that Christmas is an offensive word that should never be used for anything. The world is going to never rid itself of religious insanity if even atheists continue to use religious words for holidays.

    I don’t know where you live, but here in Idiot America Easter is a Christian holiday that celebrates the dead Jebus becoming a stinking zombie.

  221. #222 SC, OM
    December 8, 2008

    BobC has repeatedly referred to Christians as “subhuman.” He has suggested that, even though abortion “disgusts” him, he would be happy if all fundamentalist women aborted. He has advocated the total elimination of Iraq and I believe also Afghanistan. The similarities of his thinking and genocidal rhetoric to those of the Nazis have been pointed out to him numerous times, and yet he persists. And he’s attempting to shame people over “Merry Christmas.” Takes your breath away.

  222. #223 CJO
    December 8, 2008

    pagan fertility symbols (which the Christians don’t seem to have a problem with, curiously).

    They’d better not. Practically all Christian symbolism has parallels in Pagan mythology and practice, right down to the fish and the cross. Even the theology is a pretty straight mapping of the Jewish messiah/redeemer figure onto the resurrected hero figure of the pagan mystery religions.

  223. #224 BobC
    December 8, 2008

    Santa = Saint.

    OK. I didn’t know that. At least nobody has ever been murdered for Mr. Claus. So I don’t think it would be offensive to say “Happy Santa Claus Day”.

  224. #225 Rey Fox
    December 8, 2008

    Well, I won’t be having Bob over for eggnog this year.

  225. #226 negentropyeater
    December 8, 2008

    BobC,

    Idiots celebrate Christmas. Normal people celebrate Santa Claus Day.

    The French word for Christmas is Noël. (I celebrate Noël). Noël comes from the Gaulois word Noio Hele (New light).

    Now, Noël is the translation of Christmas. Santa Claus day is “fête du Père Noël”.

    Does that mean that the French who celebrate Noël are all idiots ?

    I wonder who is the idiot here.

  226. #227 Wowbagger
    December 8, 2008

    The world is going to never rid itself of religious insanity if even atheists continue to use religious words for holidays.

    Get a grip. The world is never going to rid itself of religious insanity, period. Not going to happen. I’d love if it did, but it won’t. If you think anything different then you’re believing in an idea just as ridiculous and inane as that in which the people you despise do.

  227. #228 Holbach
    December 8, 2008

    BigDumbChimp @ 210

    First off, I will not use the “rev” in your moniker as I am loathe to make any recognition to religious reference.

    Second, you have the annoying habit of not referring your comment to the name and comment number so that we will not have to aimlessly scroll all over the damn page to find out who the hell you are answering. You are not the only one who does this and I am sure others have held the same opinion without mentioning it. Stop the smugness in your comments and get professional in spotting your commenters by name and number as most of us do.

  228. #229 BobC
    December 8, 2008

    The world is never going to rid itself of religious insanity, period.

    Come back in one million years wowbagger. If the human race is still here, I would bet religious people will be found only in mental institutions.

    If I’m wrong about that, wait two million years. I noticed Zeus is obsolete. Jebus will also be obsolete some day.

  229. #230 BobC
    December 8, 2008

    aimlessly scroll all over the damn page

    Holbach, I don’t know what kind of computer you’re using, but on my Mac Mini I just press the apple key and the letter F and I can find anything I want on any website.

  230. #231 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    December 8, 2008

    Holbach 228

    Second, you have the annoying habit of not referring your comment to the name and comment number so that we will not have to aimlessly scroll all over the damn page to find out who the hell you are answering. You are not the only one who does this and I am sure others have held the same opinion without mentioning it. Stop the smugness in your comments and get professional in spotting your commenters by name and number as most of us do.

    Ok Mr. Comment Police officer.

  231. #232 Holbach
    December 8, 2008

    BobC @ 230

    I do not have the capability to do so on my desktop.

  232. #233 tomh
    December 8, 2008

    BobC @#203 Also, the word “christmas” reminds me I live in a country of idiots who brainwash their own children, lying about Jebus and lying about science.

    Regardless of any of the rest of the argument, this is always a good thing to remember.

  233. #234 Wowbagger
    December 8, 2008

    I noticed Zeus is obsolete. Jebus will also be obsolete some day.

    Jesus might be. But what about Allah? What about Xenu? What about John Frumm? Gods are like weeds; you cut one down and two more grow in its place.

    If the knowledge we’ve attained and understanding of human psychology we’ve amassed already in today’s society isn’t enough to wipe religion out, nothing will be. It’s not about intelligence, it’s not about knowledge, it’s not about education. Plenty of pro-religion types are smart, well-read PhD graduates. Yes, they’re wrong, but how do you get them to understand that? It’s all there in front of them, and yet they cling to their beliefs regardless.

    Evolution didn’t kill off religion; neither did the discovery of DNA, or the fact the shroud of Turin is a fraud. There is no advance in science that will not be rejected by some as atheist lies or the work of Satan (or both).

    Remember, there are people out there who have proudly stated that there is nothing you could show them that would stop them beliving in god. Nothing. There have always been people like that and there always will be. Their faith tells them they will be tested and they believe it.

    While in a million years there might not be Jesus, I’m damned sure that if humanity still exists there are going to be those who believe in some sort of godlike being, even if they’re a tiny, powerless minority whose nonsense is irrelevant to the rest of society.

    If you think otherwise you might as well be praying.

  234. #235 Holbach
    December 8, 2008

    BigDumbChimp @ 231

    There you go, overreacting as usual. Is your life so bereft of enriching pursuits that inconsequentials upset you as they are wont to do? Wow, the logic appalls.

  235. #236 Rey Fox
    December 8, 2008

    “First off, I will not use the “rev” in your moniker as I am loathe to make any recognition to religious reference.”

    He’s subverting religious honorifics and thereby doing his part to remove their power.

  236. #237 Rev. BigDumbChimp, KoT, OM
    December 8, 2008

    There you go, overreacting as usual. Is your life so bereft of enriching pursuits that inconsequentials upset you as they are wont to do? Wow, the logic appalls.

    Trying to pick an internet fight Holbach?

    And using some non-sequiturs too.

    No thanks. I’m not sure what your issue is but you can flex your internet muscle all you want. I don’t really give a shit.

  237. #238 Cath the Canberra Cook
    December 8, 2008

    So, BobC, what do you call the days of the week? And do you also take care never to say “goodbye” or celebrate Halloween?

    In my world:
    etymology != religion
    culture != religion
    tradition != religion

  238. #239 Feynmaniac
    December 8, 2008

    BobC,

    At least nobody has ever been murdered for Mr. Claus.

    What you think happened to all those elves who tried to unionize?

  239. #240 BobC
    December 8, 2008

    Gods are like weeds; you cut one down and two more grow in its place.

    I noticed that myself. And unfortunately you could be correct about religions lasting forever. However it’s important to remember the man who killed God, Charles Darwin, lived only about two centuries ago. Two centuries is nothing compared to hundreds of thousands of years in the future. I like to be optimistic and pretend the human race will grow up some day and throw out superstitious ideas.

  240. #241 Kel
    December 8, 2008

    Gods are like weeds; you cut one down and two more grow in its place.

    Wouldn’t a better description be that gods are like the Hydra?

  241. #242 cyan
    December 8, 2008

    From reading many regulars here at Pharyngula for several years, I know that several of them and probably many more had nice childhoods and became atheist due to a gradual progression of logical thinking (my case, too).

    However, I’m just conjecturing that if one was abused throughout childhood by a sadistic person who thought being a christian was important, that the child would become an adult filled with horrendous distaste for all that the abuser valued, including christianity and anything that had to do with it, because the mere mention of it would bring back all the memories of fear, pain, and helplessness.

  242. #243 Wowbagger
    December 8, 2008

    Wouldn’t a better description be that gods are like the Hydra?

    I dislike gardening more than monsters from Greek mythology.

    However it’s important to remember the man who killed God, Charles Darwin, lived only about two centuries ago.

    He only killed god for the intellectually honest; sadly, a minority even today.

  243. #244 negentropyeater
    December 8, 2008

    BobC,

    I like to be optimistic and pretend the human race will grow up some day and throw out superstitious ideas.

    I agree with this. We know what’s required, critical reasoning abilities and education, especially in Science, understandng what is evidence from bullshit, it’s not miraculous. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to improve gradually on these and reach over a relatively short time (less than 10 generations) a level where superstitons have completely dissapeared.

  244. #245 Holbach
    December 8, 2008

    BigDumbChimp @ 237

    And with that, the last comment is yours.

  245. #246 Wowbagger
    December 8, 2008

    There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to improve gradually on these and reach over a relatively short time (less than 10 generations) a level where superstitons have completely dissapeared.

    You’re right – in that there’s no ‘reason’ why it shouldn’t – but there’s no ‘reason’ why people believe even now. They believe not only withoutdespiteit.

    As long as there are people capable of deluding themselves you will have religion.

  246. #247 Wowbagger
    December 8, 2008

    I don’t know what happened with my last post – some sort of tag fail on my part. That’s supposed to read: ‘They believe not only without reason, but despite it.’

  247. #248 tsg
    December 8, 2008

    But arguing that you can, anytime you want, start using a symbol to mean whatever you want it to (whether or not it used to mean that) and expect to be understood is arguing the Humpty Dumpty line.

    Nobody is. The point is, again, that many, many people already use it in a secular fashion, whether Christians like it or not.

  248. #249 Emmet Caulfield
    December 8, 2008

    So, BobC, what do you call the days of the week? And do you also take care never to say “goodbye” or celebrate Halloween?

    Or use “bloody” or “damn” as expletives or intensifiers. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it were impossible to maintain a normal vocabulary while extirpating every hint of religious etymology.

  249. #250 Owlmirror
    December 8, 2008

    If Jews were celebrating Dec. 25 as a holiday at all, I suspect they called it “Santa Claus Day” more out of having a problem with the religious connotations of “Christmas” than out of anything to do with the Holocaust.

    (At first I wondered if maybe someone was confusing “Christmas” with “Kristallnacht”, but that also seems unlikely).

    I think Sastra explicates the psychological reasoning @#99:

    I’ve also seen it coming from nonchristians (and their supporters), who have strong religious views of their own, and don’t want to taint the purity of their religion by putting up a pretty tree lest people not think they are Orthodox Something-Else enough. Keep people divided by religious beliefs, and call it “respect.”

    So celebrating “Santa Claus Day” is a sort of compromise between not celebrating at all, and celebrating with the name of a holiday that evoked real Christianity to them.

    The history of Christianity and Judaism and Christian anti-Judaism is very complex, and I while think a lot of Christians would become very uncomfortable to think about that history, Christianity is not necessarily anti-Jewish — but I also think that Nazism would not have arisen without that cultural heritage of Christian anti-Judaism.

    However, with the growing liberalization of Christianity, and the secularization of Christmas, that is, or should be, moot.

    Unless the family explicitly said that they were not calling the holiday Christmas because of the Holocaust (which I find very unlikely), I am pretty sure that they were just applying a verbal taboo so as to provide a fig-leaf in the direction of attempting to preserve the purity of their Judaism.

  250. #251 Brain Hertz
    December 8, 2008

    Yeah. I’m seriously trying to convince atheists that Christmas is an offensive word that should never be used for anything. The world is going to never rid itself of religious insanity if even atheists continue to use religious words for holidays.

    In that case, I think you really need to get over yourself. Religious conflict will not be solved by engaging in more tribalism.

    If Christians want to celebrate Christmas that’s fine with me. So do I. I don’t find it necessary to accept a literal belief in ancient mythology in order to engage in a traditional seasonal festival based on it, any more than Christians feel the need to constantly explain that they don’t believe in a literal Santa Claus in order to justify pictures and other likenesses of a large man with a beard in a red suit littered around their homes this time of year.

    I don’t know where you live, but here in Idiot America Easter is a Christian holiday that celebrates the dead Jebus becoming a stinking zombie.

    I don’t know if Oregon qualifies as Idiot America, but I think you missed my point, which was related to the above. Symbolism means different things to different people, and Christians have managed to completely forget the pagan origins of the various symbolic traditions that Christianity has subsumed.

    Given that a majority Christian population is still working diligently to transform what used to be their most sacred of religious dates into the annual wintertime retail festival, I don’t see why I shouldn’t help it along.

    Consider this: the fact that people continue to accept the symbolism of the Easter bunny without any thought for its origin has not helped to preserve paganism. Why should we imagine that continuing to use the word “Christmas” has any bearing on the preservation of Christianity?

  251. #252 BobC
    December 8, 2008

    Or use “bloody” or “damn” as expletives or intensifiers. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it were impossible to maintain a normal vocabulary while extirpating every hint of religious etymology.

    How about “gosh darn it”?

    I think expletives are an appropriate way to use religious words. I just have problem with the overuse of the offensive word “Christmas” when “Santa Claus Day” can be used instead.

    I would eradicate the syllable “Christ” from the English language if I had my way, except of course when used as an expletive.

  252. #253 BobC
    December 8, 2008

    Unless the family explicitly said that they were not calling the holiday Christmas because of the Holocaust (which I find very unlikely), I am pretty sure that they were just applying a verbal taboo so as to provide a fig-leaf in the direction of attempting to preserve the purity of their Judaism.

    Actually this entire Jewish family, as far as I know, were all atheists, who I’m guessing were not big fans of the religious people who wiped out their ancestors (Christians). The father of this family was almost murdered himself, but his slave camp was liberated in time.

    I’m going to play it safe and never say Merry Christmas. It offends me and I’m quite sure it offends other people. I strongly doubt “Happy Santa Claus Day” would offend anyone.

  253. #254 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    December 8, 2008

    Merry Beermas

  254. #255 Wowbagger
    December 8, 2008

    BobC,

    Problem with ‘gosh’ and ‘darn’ is that they’re what truly pious christians instead of ‘god’ and ‘damn’, which they’re technically not meant to say.

    To follow through with your suggestions would require changing the names of many things – including the months and the days of the week, since almost all of those have religious origins.

    You don’t feel like you’re giving Thor a boost when you say Thursday do you? Or acknowledging Janus, the two-faced god of the Romans when you say January?

    We’re not going to diminish religion by pretending it never existed. We’ve just got to accept that our forebears were unfortunate enough not to have had what we have (critical thought and science) and consign religion to where it belongs – history.

  255. #256 BobC
    December 8, 2008

    You don’t feel like you’re giving Thor a boost when you say Thursday do you?

    “I’ll see you Thursday” is not going to offend anyone. I was only suggesting “Christmas” is offensive to some people (including myself because of my extreme disdain for death cults), so why risk unnecessarily offending people for no reason.

    The Rev’s suggestion, Merry Beermas, works for me. I might start using that from now on.

  256. #257 Owlmirror
    December 8, 2008

    There is indeed something very ironic about having a verbal taboo for a word referring to a God-figure in a religion which encourages verbal taboos for its God-figure(s).

    Say, how about this Christ:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peaches_Christ

  257. #258 Emmet Caulfield
    December 8, 2008

    The Rev’s suggestion, Merry Beermas, works for me.

    I’ve always liked “Merry Crassmas”.

  258. #259 Capital Dan
    December 8, 2008

    Holbach | December 8, 2008 7:25 PM

    BobC @ 230

    I do not have the capability to do so on my desktop.

    I think you could use Ctrl+F to bring up the search box.

    At least, that’s how it is in Firefox, but I’m pretty sure IE is the same.

    Hope that helps. I’m a little late to the conversation. Might have missed a lot. Or everything.

  259. #260 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    December 8, 2008

    F3 works too

  260. #261 nick nick bobick
    December 8, 2008

    I suspect BobC’s next religious war will be an attempt to get Spanish speaking people to eschew “adios”.

    BTW, has PZ ever put a stupid atheist in the dungeon? If not, I think we have an excellent prospect here.

  261. #262 windy
    December 9, 2008

    Therefore saying merry christmas to a jew is insulting.

    I guess “Achtung X-mas” is definitely out, then.

  262. #263 RickrOll
    December 9, 2008

    How many times to we have to go over this?! The sign ISN’T intollerant, just mean. But everyone is a jerk around christmas. Big deal.
    My fave is festivus. Sorry guys. You know, families that are half-Jewish and Half Christian don’t decorate for both, do they? Or do they take turns? Interssting stuff.

  263. #264 Brain Hertz
    December 9, 2008

    You know, families that are half-Jewish and Half Christian don’t decorate for both, do they?

    Those that I know do, actually ;-)

  264. #265 BobC
    December 9, 2008

    nick nick bobick, I’ve never seen your name before, so most likely you’re a sockpuppet. Most definitely you’re a stupid asshole.

    Sockpuppetry: Like morphing, but with a specific intent: creating multiple identities supporting a position to create a false impression of popularity

  265. #266 Diagoras
    December 9, 2008

    @ #214 tomh
    Point 1 – you indicated the capitol building was designated as a public forum. It is not. Once something has been designated a public forum, there’s no take-backsees. It stays that way. The Capitol is still completely within its rights to say no holiday displays at all (content-restriction). A public forum, by contrast, can only limit free speech with time, place, and manner restrictions (or, when it limits content/viewpoint, there’s strict scrutiny of the government action, with an eye that it uses the least restrictive means for its goal.) {I misstated this point in my earlier post, at #141, when I said “regardless of forum type.} [Sorry, I occasionally suck.] The settlement (which I’ve now re-read, since whenever that Billo thing was) agreement places it argueably within the category, still, of “nonpublic forum” since it very much retains control of where and when access is allowed, and is not “specially designated as open to public expression.” At best, the Capitol is a “limited public forum” which allows the govenment to restrict as to subject matter or class of speaker. And, as a limited public forum, it can shift back to a nonpublic forum. Celtic Evolution was right – still a big gap between a public forum park, and the capitol – even with the settlement. So – I’m relating it to y’all’s discussion supra.

    And now my point number 2 is – the settlement agreement does not explicitly transform the Capitol into a public forum. That is a legal term of art. There are far more restrictions than time, place, manner reserved by the Capitol than as per a public park or the like. In a public park – you can’t say no religious/irreverent shit all up in this park without running afoul of the Freedom of Expression clause. You can say no in the Capitol. You can say none of y’all can tack your stuff up in here because of content. (I earlier defined content as per the legal definition supra at #121) [mainly because non-lawyers get all tetchy and start spouting off about "you can't limit my free speech except for time, place and manner, you dirty government, you." except, in a non-public forum, or a limited public forum, they completely can. Thus why on the discussing content v. viewpoint. Legal terms.]

    So – point three – I went on to discuss the Establishment clause in reference to this topic as we lawyer-types would discuss it. Mainly because you were claiming it irrelevant based on this settlement agreement. (It’s not.) That agreement is like a contract, held binding by the court; breach can result in being sued, or the case being reopened (depending on the law in the jurisdiction.) So – it isn’t as restrictive as you think – and it certainly doesn’t have the force of an actual litigated decision by the court. So I went with a cursory analysis of the issues in play here with attention to binding case law – McCreary, etc, rather than the rather weak wording of the negotiated settlement and your subsequent interpretation of it.

  266. #267 kemibe
    December 9, 2008

    BobC @240:

    it’s important to remember the man who killed God, Charles Darwin, lived only about two centuries ago.

    If Darwin killed God, how is it that this thread and the controversy behind it can even exist? Whoever it was that said that some fraction of believers (and that fraction is not yet small) will continue to dismiss findings that further marginalize the Bible, and with pride no less, in order to maintain their fucked-up believe system is plainly right. You’d think the theory of evolution would have been a death blow, but all it’s done is enrage and galvanize the faithful. They’re like a bunch of wasps on angel dust when presented with “Darwinism.”

    Also, I suggest you shift your ire from the use of a harmless word to the aforementioned Ken Hutcherson, a (nominal) Christian who is easily the most vile human being to surface in this kerfluffle.

    Read his Wikipedia entry. Not only does he literally travel the globe agitating against gay marriage, gay civil unions, and gaiety in general, but he goes so far as to try to prevent the enactment of anti-discrimination laws or have existing ones repealed.

    It should be clear that anyone who tries to make it easier for society at large to discriminate against any group of people (including the most squint-eyed, hypocritical fundies) is a walking piece of shit who should be punted to the fringes of society. And speaking of punting, I think an appropriate fate for Hutcheson, now 56, would be a forced return to the NFL, where he would line up across from today’s hGH- and steroid-riddled monster trucks who can run the 40 in 4.6 despite being 6′ 6″ and 300 pounds. Surely there’s a huge gay offensive lineman that would love to tear his misshapen head off.

    Wowbaggwer @211:

    ADIDAS

    No, no, no! adidas is all LOWERCASE, not all uppercase. And no one should ever drink Jagermeister for any reason–I don’t care whether it’s made by Germans, Eskimo Jews, Laplanders or the !Kung people, the shit is flat-out vile.

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