Atheist Campaign to Hijack Christmas Launching

It is already a top-40 bestseller on Amazon — and it won’t publish until later this week. But the PR machine has been working overtime as atheists have learned that attacking Christmas is both lucrative and great for publicity. This week they launch their “Atheist Guide to Christmas” with an included essay from the grand poobah of atheism himself, Richard Dawkins.

On the surface it sounds absurd: folks who disclaim God claim Christmas for themselves. But it is not the first time absurdity made for world-wide headlines and a little extra jingle in the pocket. And besides, this is the same movement espousing the thought that “everything came from nothing”. We’re not exactly talking about the brightest bulbs on the tree here.

Atheist activists spend countless resources in high-profile settings mocking and attacking those who claim religion. Christmas is a raw nerve that presents plenty of opportunities. Christmas 2008 saw atheists stake a claim in the State capitol building in Washington state to openly — and legally — mock those who celebrate with sacred intent. On busses in London and on billboards in Washington they launched an ad campaign encouraging merry making at Christmas but skipping the worship of God.

Yep, our atheist friends just love Christmas.

What happened to the good old days when they locked themselves away on Black Friday, refusing to engage with holiday shoppers? What happened to those principled souls who decried the commercialism of Christmas as hypocrisy?

If you can’t beat them, join them, I guess.

Like the Grinch, they want it all. The Christmas Tree, they will say, isn’t Christian. It belongs to the ungodly. The wreath, the bell, mistletoe, eggnog and even jolly old Santa himself are all secular symbols with nary a religious connection between them.

Look out Christmas lovers, Atheists are taking over Christmas. With them there are no wise men, there was no manger and no angels were heard on high.

Your Christmas is about to be hijacked. Look to CNN for more details soon — guaranteed.

16 Comments Posted

  1. What happened to letting ‘God’ be the judge, Mr. Westover?!? Most people who do not find believing in ‘God’ to be sensible to them are just like everyone else. They may be smart, or not. they may be sensitive, or not.They may be caring, or not, JUST LIKE CHRISTIANS!

    I am a Santa, and I LOVE what I do in the season. I love the smiles on the kid’s faces, the cheer in many people’s voices, and the kindness that comes along with this time of year, especially since it is missing all too much in our world today! Sadly, you choose to be Grinchy, labeling every atheist as dumb, coloring us all as ignorant, and that we all are wishing to take something from you! Sorry, but that isn’t true, and you are just as ignorant to portray ALL OF US as such as those you condemn! You are taking a small minority of people, and making us all out to be like them. Well, the church-goers from the group that goes around protesting at military funerals claim to be Christians, so are you just like them?!? The crusades were a Christian scourge much akin to islamic jihadists found today. Are YOU a crusader? I hope not; I hope that you are a thoughtful, kind Christian, who just forgot to engage his brain before he condemned a whole, large group of people who, except for a small vocal minority, don’t deserve his wrath! Sadly, I see this type of hatefulness here, and elsewhere, sometimes in places where Santas gather. How sad to see people who claim to love others without pre-conditions espouse hatred so freely! Before you and the others start spouting off again, how about you really do question WWJD?! Would ‘he’ condemn me and the majority of us along with the rest? My understanding is, ‘
    HE’ wouldn’t even condemn the rest, as that judgment was to be his ‘father’s’. You claim the wise men, yet fail to speak with wisdom. You claim belief in Angels, yet speak in ways that shame them. You claim a manger, yet ignore the grace that was supposed to have been born in it!

    You don’t lump us all together, and I will go back to my relationship with Christianity, Judaism, and the other religions of the world, and adopt my typical live and let live attitude! You might be surprised that the vast majority of people who don’t believe just the way you do still live a decent, thoughtful and caring life, and don’t really care what you Christians do, so long as it doesn’t attempt to take over, belittle or denigrate what we believe, or those of us who believe what we do, as people. I don’t like or approve of the signs in Washington belittling religion, but I won’t stand by while others belittle what I believe, either! Do we have the right to a sign? Yes, but it should celebrate who WE are, not denigrate your beliefs, and your signs should show the same courtesy!

    I wonder if you will at least have the courage to leave this on your blog, or if you will deny others the right to see anything but pats on the back, egging you on to further rants.

  2. Sensible Santa? This “rant” coming from an individual who dresses in a costume, hides behind a mask, lies to children and then takes money for this so-called service has the nerve to lecture Christians on how to be Christian? How sadly typical of those who would profit from Christmas while advancing their politics.

    Sorry, Santa. I’m not buying it, you self promoting hack.

    You’re right to be critical of me calling all atheists dumb. I’m glad you see that condemning others for their misled beliefs is a worthless excercise. But where is your outrage when atheists do the same but only on a more massive scale?

    What I have done here is no less inflammatory than the outrageous attacks and public campaigns launched and targeting my children and leading them astray into lives without hope or meaning. It is no less inflammatory than a sign in capitol building calling belief in God foolish and then declare the same to be a Christmas decoration.

    In all my years of tracking the War on Christmas this is the first time where I have felt there is an actual war. It ia diabolical. It is calculated. It is meant to shape an ignorant and miserable agenda designed not on peace and love but on cold-hearted divisineess of the first order — an order that declares survival of the fitess as the only natural law that matters, that he with the most toys wins, that everything comes from nothing so get as much everything as you can.

    As Christians, we know well the phrase “by their fruits you shall know them”. The atheist movement to claim ownership or even connection to Christmas has nothing to do with Christmas itself. It is part of something bigger.

    For those who love Christmas and wish to keep it pure, we protest.

    It is offensive in the highest order.

  3. WOW, IS THAT what Jesus would do?!?!?!?

    Funny that you beg money from those same people in costumes, hiding behind masks that you supposedly support, yet belittle! HOW DARE YOU! Are you lying here, there (santa sites), or both!? You are so full of hate (among other things) that your heart has no place for Christ’s love, you poseur! I am not advancing ANY politics, THAT is YOU doing that, while you act in a most un Christ-like way! Calling me a self-promoting hack is the pot calling the flowery ceramic teapot black.

    Yiou are obviously beyond redemption. I try to get you to see the error of condemning a group for the actions of a small subset, and you further damn us all. You damn yourself with your hate! You even besmirch every Santa, while claiming to respect them. You owe us ALL a sincere apology for your hate-filled rant!

  4. Hate, Santa? That’s kind of strong. I never said anything about hate. And who am I begging money from? I don’t recall ever doing that.

    I don’t hate atheists. I don’t espouse hunting them, hurting them or even arguing with them. If you want to believe that life is fleeting, derived from nothing and ultimately meaningless more power to you.

    But don’t expect me to sit while your high-minded brethren spit on what is sacred to most of the Christmas-loving world – and then do it for profit.

    What would Jesus do?

    Well, I’m not Jesus, for one, and I wouldn’t be so presumptuous to know.

    However, He did throw the moneychangers out of the temple for mocking what was sacred and I don’t suppose I’m guilty here of anything more than that.

    I know who you are. You are one of those marauding Santas who prowl the Internet searching for ways to exploit your likeness to another sacred symbol of the season. You attack those who hold you responsible for your irresponsible actions. You are quick to label, to call names but you yourself are too much of a coward to use your own name. That would be bad for business.

    It is far easier to hide behind the cloak of cyber anonymity and throw your rocks.

    It makes me laugh to think you can condemn me for my beliefs and then have the audacity to even think you can tell me how one with my beliefs should act. You’re a real piece of work.

    Get thee hence.

  5. If anyone is spewing hate in this conversation it is Sensible Santa. It frightens me to think that someone this unstable has access to children. For one calling for Christian tolerance he sure sets a different standard for himself!

    As for Atheists writing a book about Christmas I find it pretty funny. But I think Mr. Westover is right — it is exploitative.

    The problem here is that Atheists have taken a page from the book of terrorists. They have no country, no flag, no population — so when they attack where does one go to defend against it? It is the same thing here. Atheists are not “organized” — there is no head man, no Vatican, no way to target those whose exploitation outrages. So the result is the offense that SensibleSanta is ranting about.

    The issue here is not Atheism. The issue here is Christmas and I think a point can be made about Atheists using Christmas to promote their “cause”. Surprising? No. Unethical? Maybe. Funny? Definitely.

  6. We know “SensibleSanta” in the Santa community very well. We are used to his rants and bigoted opinions. He attacked Mr. Westover and his religion behind his back on a private Santa board. He resents the fact that an independent website calls out professional santas for improper behavior so he attacks Mr. Westover any where he can. It is not surprising he is here doing this now.

  7. Gosh this is a very defensive article. I don’t recall any atheist adverts mocking Christians, they were just saying it is OK not to believe in God – in other words it is OK for atheists to exist and people who are not religious don’t have to feel guilty. Not like the Trinitarian Bible Society’s bus adverts in London which said atheists were “fools.”

    The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas is not mocking either. People who have reviewed it on Amazon said it was funny, thoughtful and moving. Atheists who live in countries like the USA or UK have grown up in cultures where Christianity has dominated for many centuries and have fond childhood memories of family Christmasses just like anyone else. Just because we might no longer be able to believe the Christian story does not mean we have to just cut ourselves off from the holiday celebrations at this time of year (which existed before Christianity anyway in one form or another). The book is about what Christmas means to atheists like these, how they spend the season etc. and there are some funny sections like Richard Dawkins’ one which is a parody of PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster stories (he posted it on his site). What’s more, all proceeds are going to a charity.

    The fact that atheist’s as you claim, say everything came from nothing, in my opinion, is no more absurd than saying everything came from an all-powerful being who always existed and never needed a creator. And although it is true that science cannot really explain what started the Big Bang, it is said that time and space themselves were created in it, so to ask what was “before” in a sense is meaningless. However from that point on, things were created by forces understood to science, not just “nothing” or mere randomness. Believing in a loving God with a plan for us then only gives you such headaches as trying to explain why all the suffering exists, both human and animal. If on the other hand you see the universe as essentially lacking any specific interest in us, then you can see why things just happen as they do, from cause and effect and natural forces. That leaves us to just try to make this world as good as we can make it and be loving to each other, not because a higher being says so, but just because it feels good and makes society work better (which is what the atheist philosophy of Humanism says – and the original Atheist Bus Campaign was for the BRitish HUmanist Society). There is no evidence that atheists are less able to be loving than anyone else and some countries that are not very religious, like in Scandinavia, are among the most peaceful societies.

    And if you think atheists are poisoning things for your children etc, you should have more confidence in the truth of your religion. If it is true then that should shine out, and the fact that we have a free society where people can express other theories should not be such a big deal. In any case, why is atheists expressing their “wrong” ideas any worse than Buddhists (who don’t belive in a god by the way) expressing theirs, or Hindus – some of whom belive in many gods – or Muslims who belive in a god who’s prophet was Muhammad etc. Why not just live and let live?

  8. Thank you for the reasoned response. And yes, you’re right it is a very defensive article. I intended to provoke a response and I freely admit to having a bias in this area that is intensely personal.

    I appreciate your level-headedness and patience with me. That being said, there are a few things I’d like to respond to.

    First of all, my greatest problem with this whole book project is in the use of the word “Christmas”. The Freedom from Religion Foundation (an atheist organization) makes it their work to attack the use of the word “Christmas” in just about any public setting. They say it promotes Christianity.

    So why then would Atheists use the word Christmas to promote a book? Why not call it the Atheist Guide to the Holidays or something similar?

    For the same reasons atheists are offended at the use of the word Christmas some are offended by those who mock that word and use it for gain in the marketplace. I know the argument I will hear is that Christmas is a secular as well as a sacred term. That argument doesn’t hold water either way — whether it is used on a school calendar or on an Atheist’s book. You can’t have it both ways.

    The idea that ads used by Atheists that say “There is no God” is not targeting Christians is no less offensive than my labeling all Atheists “not the brightest bulbs on the tree” (and I was most definitely wrong to do that). It is an attack on anyone who believes in God — just as much, as you point out, of Christian ads labeling all atheists as fools.

    I hope and I think we will someday get beyond that and, frankly, I suppose that should begin with me.

    But it is difficult to resist when provoked. And that is why I call this book an exploitation.

    My point in highlighting this book was not to debate the merits of one belief system over another. It was to merely point out the hypocrisy in the Atheist movement over the use of the word Christmas.

    For your claim that Christmas didn’t exist before Christiantity, I take humble exception and ask you to do a little more homework on that thought.

    Perhaps the pagan symbols — like the “holiday” tree were in fact never religiously tied to Christianity until long after the time of Christ — that doesn’t mean they aren’t religious symbols now nor does it mean that they cannot be used, celebrated and enjoyed by the faithless as well. But they are hardly proof that Christmas didn’t exist before Christ. For many of is with religion Christmas was celebrated, as the scriptures say, “before the foundation of the world” when all men “jumped for joy”.

    As for the book itself, I will give it a read. I hope it is as you describe. And to be fair, if I read it that way and think so, I will say so.

    I do believe that “Christmas” is for all people, even Atheists.

    I just don’t want to see it watered down nor used against those who hold Christmas as a religious observance. As you point out, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims have very contrary beliefs than Christians. But unlike our Atheist friends, I don’t see them openly mocking religion and then using our terminology against us and to promote themselves at the same time.

  9. Thank you as well for posting my comment, and for your own reasoned and balanced reply. I would say one reason for the use of “Christmas” is just it makes a memorable name (partly because of the surprising combination of “atheist” and “Christmas”, which I would agree is a little bit challenging and provocative, but do not think is meant to insult).

    Also it is more immediately meaningful and saleable than something called “the atheist’s guide to the holidays.” Especially in Britain, where I come from, and where the book is being published, we don’t talk about the “holiday season” much or say things like “happy holidays” – whether people are devoutly Christian or not Christian at all we talk about that time of year as Christmas. I don’t personally feel that it is such a problem, it is traditional. There are precedents, for example the use of Pagan god names for weekdays and months, or the use of a Pagan goddess name for the Christian spring festival of Easter, which bother no one.

    However I do see where you are coming from, that it seems to you atheists are maybe trying to water down your celebration etc. On the other hand I would say a lot of very vaguely culturally Christian, but not practising, people in the UK already do that anyway, when they follow all the decoration and present-giving and food and drink traditions etc, without giving any real thought to Christian beliefs about what it is all meant to be for.

    By the way you misinterpreted me if you thought I was saying there was nothing like Christmas before Christianity – I meant the opposite. However for many centuries now in western countries the end of year celebrations have been linked to Jesus and known as “Christmas”, and to try to create something completely separate, called Winter Holiday, or Solstice or whatever, is not so easy or natural as people would have no emotional connection to it and no traditions to follow.

    If you read the book I hope you like at least some parts of it. For example one reviewer on Amazon.co.uk says the illusionist Derren Brown has written a moving article which shows atheists can be caring and moral too. I have it one being sent, but have not got it yet.

    About atheists being insulting to Christians again, I agree some are, and some are for a while after becoming atheist, because they might, for example, feel bitter about having been brought up to believe something they now think is not true, or (in some cases) having been scared before by threats of Hell etc. Not all atheists are bitter or angry though and Ariane Sherine, who edited the book and came up with the Atheist Bus Campaign is a very likeable person. One reason for activities like these are just to help remove prejuduce against non-believers, to show there are quite a lot of them, their opinions are not necessarily ridiculous and they are not necessarily bad people. You know, in America, a survey a few years ago showed atheists were the least-trusted group in society, and President George Bush Snr once said he thought they were not proper citizens and patriots. That is quite harsh just for having a skeptical turn of mind.

    Happy Chistmas (or Holidays) anyway – even if it is a bit early to be wishing that!

  10. Just one last thing, say it turns out there is a God, as I am not a believer I would just hope it turns out as well that actually beliefs matter less to him than many religious people think, and he is more interested in people’s hearts and minds and actions. Atheists don’t disbelieve as some sort of fad or rebellion (usually anyway, I am not saying some teenagers might not be like that), just that they don’t find they have enough reason to believe and find the evidence unconvincing. Who knows, even if it also turns out that Jesus’ sacrifice played some cosmically important role in the human story, maybe its effect too is not so bound up in believing certain things about it or not.

  11. Thank you and, likewise, Merry Christmas 🙂

    I think one of the things this exchange is teaching me is the broad difference between America and the UK — at least in terms of the subtle perceptions of both Atheists and Christians.

    I could be wrong but I think “Atheism” is thought of more in the USA in political terms, rather than in “religious” terms. This is a cultural flaw, to be sure, and we see it across nearly all belief groups no matter who they are. Maybe it is our passion for Free Speech or Freedom of Religion (a right more clearly spelled out than Freedom From Religion). Our perhaps it is just the way we are.

    You’re right, there is hypocrisy aplenty, too. Many who claim religion fail to practice it. And many who claim no faith are nowhere near as passionate about keeping religion and its symbols out of the public space as many passionate atheists do.

    I recall seeing some of the British media response to the busses — and I know well what the response was here. But from where you sit, how did the public respond there, if at all?

    I hope you stick around and watch this season with us.

  12. I suppose it is true of any belief system that there are extremists to be found anywhere.

    My fear — and perhaps it is more paranoid ignorance — is that a profound adherence to atheistic thought COULD lead –just as any other perversion of religious thought that has been shown in countless ways through the ages — to violence, dominion and anarchy by a charismatic leader who would twist and distort to control.

    What we, as believers, sometimes fail to demonstrate, is the very basic of what we say we believe — that God is love.

    If we are indeed children of God then that love is an inherited trait. Just as you can’t change, say, the nose on your face you cannot change that within you (well, technically).

    I believe that central tenet holds true for anyone who leaves this life and faces their creator — regardless of what they believe. We are all products of our upbringing and enviroment. Some, if any of us, may never encounter full and absolute truth nor have the opportunity to do so. We are the sum of our experiences and overcoming whatever our circumstances are to reconcile who we really are, where we came from and what comes next is the great test of intelligence for all of us.

    I believe the glory of God is intelligence. That reaching beyond what is plainly in front of us is necessary in order to find it.

    Others, quite obviously, feel differently.

    As you say then, to each his own.

  13. Your comment about how the religion/atheism debate is more political in the USA I am sure is true. British politicians tend not to “do God” very much (ie. talk about their beliefs – though Tony Blair, famously is now “doing God” in quite a big way since he retired – having started a “Faith Foundation” and converted to Catholicism).

    The same is probably quite true of British people, in that beliefs are, while open to discussion, a fairly private matter and most people are quite easy-going about what someone else believes (or doesn’t believe). To be honest though, although I am British, I live in France these days and so can’t say exactly what the response of the average member of the British public was to the bus campaign, though I followed it with interest on the net. It would have depended on their beliefs. I think most religious people did not get very worked up about them and might have found them mildly irritating at most or just have thought it was fair enough as religions people also run adverts (though I saw that a few Christians were upset about them and said so), and non-religious people seem to have found them refreshing as they made not believing more out in the open and mainstream. Also the campaign, which was headed by a pleasant young woman and which used some humour and bright colours in its logo and website etc, helped to show atheists do not have to be dour and grumpy.

    The thing is that while most Britons are not especially “religious” (it’s quite rare to find someone who talks passionately about their relationship with Jesus, for example), the country is still by tradition and culture quite Christian – for example the Church of England is still the official state church and one third of primary schools are run by them and all state schools are officially supposed to have daily assemblies of a broadly Christian kind (even though many do not). Also quite a lot of respect is also given to other “faith groups” such as Muslims or Sikhs (for example politicans often like to be seen to have consulted with them before making decisions). So a campaign openly proposing atheism as an acceptable alternative (as opposed to just a quietly-held private view) was something a bit different.

    France is different again – people here are probably even less religious than the British on the whole but as well the state is officially secular. People are free to believe what they want but religion plays no offical role in state matters and is not even taught in state schools (though since it stopped, many years ago, an arrangement was made that younger children have time off every Wednesday afternoon when parents can send them for religious instruction if they choose).

    I disagree with your implication that the proper application of intelligence leads us to a belief in God necessarily. I think that use of intelligence and reason often fails to provide that result (which to my mind is one argument against religion – it seems to me its truth should come out all the more as we study and question, if it is the true nature of things). Perhaps faith in religion also requires some other element – it might be a gift of God, it might be a natural sensitivity to religious experience that atheists lack, or on the other hand it might be that religious people are more swayed by their emotions and imagination than atheists are or more in need of psychological comfort or place more importance on the traditional and social elements religion can bring.

    In any case, the bus campaigners only said they thought God “probably” did not exist, so as not to be too dogmatic about it. The campaign was also partly a response to similar bus adverts by a Christian charity. I don’t recall the original message these carried, but bus campaign founder Ariane Sherine was upset by a passage on the website to which the Christian adverts linked which said all non-Christians could expect to spend eternity in a lake of fire. That was the origin of the “stop worrying” bit of her slogan.

    Thanks for the welcome 🙂

  14. PS, re. the imagination and emotions comment, I only mean that (if God doesn’t exist) that is one possible explantion for religious people believing in him anyway (and the comment only relates to people’s outlook on “meaning of life” issues – that in this area, where we can know less for sure than in daily life matters, they are more willing to allow imagination and emotion to play a part than atheists are). Another possibility is that some religious people have more tendency to think there can be “different kinds of truth” and that we do not have to apply quite the same sort of day-to-day reasoning and standards of proof to meaning of life matters as we do to practical, mundane things. Also where I said reasoning did not seem to necessarily lead to belief in God, I accept that sometimes very inteligent people who have thought through their ideas do have a belief in God, I just mean that some other intelligent people who reason things through sincerely do not end up with this result.

  15. Then again, you also get some intelligent people who apply reason to their beliefs and say they believe in God, but then in turns out their ideas of God are so vague to be almost indistinguishable from atheism – like I have heard liberal theologians saying God is just “being”. How could anyone argue that “being” does not exist?

  16. Can I just correct you on a small point. There is an asseertion that the profits from this book are going into the pockets of the authors. This is not true, they are going to the Terrence Higgins Trust, a charity which works with sufferers of HIV and AIDS.

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