Saturday, December 6, 2008

On atheism and antagonism.

Okay. Most of you know by now that I'm an atheist. If you didn't before, you do now.

So, with that being said, I'm really pissed off about this whole Nativity scene debacle at the capitol building in Olympia, Washington (my home state, for those of you who have been paying attention). In the name of equality and tolerance and free speech and a bunch of other crap, a group of atheists managed to get the following sign posted near the Nativity scene in Olympia (article is here):

Folks, this is not a case of "we want to be represented, too", no matter how much the Freedom From Religion Foundation claims that it is. I realize that winter solstice celebrations have gone on since the dawn of time and Christianity hardly has any kind of monopoly on such things even though in our culture, Christmas is a pretty widely accepted happening during the month of December. But the fact is, Christmas has become part of our culture, and there are religious icons associated with it.

If you object to the presence of a Nativity scene, I can live with that. I don't particularly like seeing them in public (as in, government operated) buildings either. I don't like the government endorsing any kind of religion, whether explicitly or implicitly. The secular things (Santa Claus, etc.) don't bother me personally because they are on the cultural - not religious - side of Christmas and are things that many Christians and non-Christians both enjoy. Want to really balance things out? Put a Christmas tree next to the Nativity so we can acknowledge the pagans who started the whole winter solstice thing in the first place.

However, moving past its presence on government property, nothing about the Christian Nativity display is openly or backhandedly hostile towards any other religion. We can argue all day long about the Bible and its messages regarding other religions, but I'm talking specifically about a Nativity display in the spirit of Christmas. There is nothing backhanded, snide, or insulting about it.

The sign posted by the atheist group, however, is. While a Nativity scene implies the existence of the biblical God, it doesn't come out and blatantly say "guess what, you're wrong, you morons" like that sign does. I can't imagine how anyone thought that sign would be accepted as anything other than a thinly veiled snipe at religion, particularly Christianity.

I am not a religious person, but I respect those who are. As an atheist, I'm embarrassed to be associated with a group of people who are willing to shamelessly post something that incendiary under the guise of demanding religious tolerance and free speech. Just because you can say it doesn't mean you should.

For fuck's sake, it's Christmas, people. This season is stressful enough without this kind of crap. If you want to set up a display of your own during the holidays wishing people an enjoyable holiday season, fine. But if you're going to demand that one group's religious icon be removed from a public building (such as the Ten Commandments on display at a state courthouse), don't be a damned hypocrite and put up a display that's going to make people think atheists are a bunch of self-righteous holier-than-thou bastards who want to make religious people feel like asses. Get over yourselves, get off your high horse, and let people enjoy their holiday.

Merry Christmas, assholes.


  1. ...don't be a damned hypocrite and put up a display that's going to make people think atheists are a bunch of self-righteous holier-than-thou bastards who want to make religious people feel like asses.

    I don't agree with the way that the sign was phrased either, but here's the thing: We don't get a vote. We didn't write it, commision it, pay for it, or install it. The FFRF did.

    If you want a voice in what they do, then join the organization and make yourself heard. Convince enough of your fellow members and you will be able control what next year's sign says.

    Or put up your own sign. You say whatever the heck you want on your own sign.

    The point is NOT what's on the sign, or in the nativity display. The point is that when a government agency - like the Governor's office of the State of Washington - starts allowing religious displays in their rotunda, then they are prohibited by the Constitution from denying any other reasonable request. "Negative speech" is still protected.

    What you're pissed about is being painted by the same broad brush - being associated with the message by virtue of your own atheism. That's unfortunate, but the only way the moron Christians doing the painting will ever understand that not all atheists march in lockstep with each other, that atheism is NOT a religion where we all hold the same basic beliefs and follow the same dogma - is to speak up and exercise your own freedom of speech and expression.

    Which I guess you've done with this post. Heh. My bad. :)

    (Dang. I just defeated myself in an argument!)

  2. You know what the sign is stupid. I think it would have been better to put up a sign saying something like

    "no matter your beliefs ,or non beliefs, may you find peace in your heart during this holiday season and throughout the year. May we also take this time to wish peace and prosperity for all our community in the coming year"

    A group of atheist put up a similar sign in my home town years ago and although people tried no one could really find anything to gripe about because it was so pleasant and inclusive.

    It was basically a 'lets all be friendly and happy message'

  3. Brent, Yes, I think you got what I was saying by the end of your comment. ;)

    1. I don't like ANY religious display in a public building. Period.

    2. Putting up a display that is obnoxious or backhanded is even more irritating.

    3. It's their RIGHT to do so, but it's also my right to disagree with it...and I do. Strongly.

    Even if I were not an atheist myself I would object to this sign, but being one just makes it get under my skin that much more, because I'm tired of people accusing atheists as a whole of being hostile towards religion, trying to silence religion, etc.

    Bottom line - they can say whatever they want, but so can I, and I think what they're doing is hypocritical.

  4. Hi. I just happened by your blog... Great post. I totally agree.

    By the way - I LOVE 30 Seconds to Mars too :-)

  5. Enjoyed reading your blog.

    Keep the (un)faith. We had a discussion today, in Oshkosh, WI, about this issue. There seems to be division across the Bright spectrum about the advisability of putting up a contentious sign during the so-called Christmas season. I've been in favor of attracting bees with honey, myself, but others do have their point. I do think that you win more hearts and minds with sincere wishes of health and prosperity, etc, rather than scolding comments about religious idiocy... especially in the context of a seasonal decoration at a gov't facility.

    I'm an atheist writer and artist, too. Good to see that I'm not alone.