The ‘War on Christmas’: A holiday tradition for all

The much-ballyhooed "War on Christmas" has become a predictable holiday tradition, with Fox News as both director and producer of this manufactured war, presumably for better ratings. Comedians also love the war material they have to play with, so both Fox and comedians have become war profiteers

Atheists, who are usually marginalized or ignored by media, use this seasonal opportunity to join the war by supporting diversity. Christmas for some atheists is a time to promote freedom of expression on billboards and buses. Atheists put up signs that say "Be good for goodness' sake" or "This season, celebrate reason," and Christians protest.

Christians have been engaged in several Christmas wars: Christmas has its origins in the winter solstice festivals that most ancient civilizations observed, and Mithras, who was a Persian savior-god with a sizeable Roman following, was born on Dec. 25. By appropriating this day for the birth of Jesus, Christians felt they could more easily convert those wayward pagans. Centuries later, some early American Puritans even prohibited Christmas celebrations because of its pagan origins. So a good case can be made that Christians initiated the first war on Christmas.

Nowadays, verbal wars occasionally erupt over nativity scenes on government property. Nobody complains about nativity scenes on private property, but the government should not be promoting one religion over another or religion over non-religion. That's why atheists and others who care about church-state separation oppose these displays on government property. Government neutrality toward religion is not the same as hostility toward religion. What divides us on this point is not so much our theological differences, but the degree of commitment we have to equal freedom of conscience for everyone.

Read remainder of article at the Washington Post's On Faith.


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