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Nov 22 2013

War on Christmas – Help My Child’s an Atheist and It’s Christmas

Revealing yourself to be an atheist varies from person to person.

For some it is the wrenching of the trenchcoat to reveal (Steady on!) to all and sundry that the person inside is an atheist. For others it’s a gradual process of simply stopping participation in religion.

I saw a letter of a desperate mother who fears her son’s atheism means that Christmas cannot be celebrated and I will say this.

When Diwali comes around in India despite it being a Hindu festival, Muslims and Christians come play with fireworks and put on new clothes and even put out the lamps that give the festival it’s name. When Holi comes there is no restriction on who may throw colours.

You don’t have to pray to enjoy the festival of Christmas. In our modern world the religion has made way for something that matters more.

Family.

Do you think Christmas Dinner is ruined because one person at that table does not believe in Jesus or in the tastiness of Brussel Sprouts? No. The Dinner simply moves past those choices. The son who doesn’t believe in Christ simply sits out the prayer portion and contrary to all belief the mere act of praying around an atheist does not move us to violent rage. We respect your right to pray just as we expect you to respect our right to not pray. The problem arises when you FORCE someone to pray.

You don’t force people to eat their sprouts, not unless you want an argument.

The presents? You don’t need to be religious to give or get gifts.

The social interaction? I find that Christmas arguments happen just fine without Jesus since NONE of my Christmases ever had Jesus involved in it.

Your son is lucky to have a mother who wishes to try and include him rather than fear his lack of faith and that’s what counts. Christmas is also a time of family, sharing and having fun.

You may see atheists argue against Christmas displays on public land and that’s because there is a rule in the USA that states that Public Land must be secular and invariably Christmas on such land is heavily Christianised. In effect it is forcing all and sundry to eat their Brussels Sprouts, even if they don’t like it.

Remembering that will help you understand that atheists can enjoy Christmas and so can Hindus and Muslims in the west by taking the secular ideas of Christmas and holding to those while not participating in the religious ones.

6 comments

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  1. 1
    richardelguru

    I love Brussels Sprouts, so if you don’t…
     
      
      
    more for me (Bwahahahah!)

  2. 2
    Wrath Panda

    richardelguru @ 1 – You can have mine too! Blech! Icky things.

    I am given to recall a recent tweet from the QI Elves that mentioned the reason why they taste so bitter (and hence nasty) is cyanide. I’ve always maintained that vegetables were trying to kill me; now I have proof!

    Re: OP. I would suggest to said frantic mother that her child may already have celebrated at least one Christmas sans religion. Only difference is now that they no longer wish to maintain the charade. We all know that charades should be played after the turkey any way!

    I’ll get me coat…

  3. 3
    Pen

    We’re about to have the reverse situation: a whole family of atheists celebrating Christmas with one Catholic (my sister-in-law). There’s no religious element in the house but we fit around her going to church and a couple of people usually go with her. Only issue: I think she would have liked there to be a crib, and we always had one (folklore, you know) until my American atheist husband objected to it before she came on the scene, we got rid of it. I regret it now. It was our folklore, not his, and bruv and I put a lot of effort into making it. We should have told him to chill.

  4. 4
    Samsara

    Where does it say in the Bible that Jesus’ birthday is on December 25th & celebrate this with exchanging gifts, a huge meal, lots of sweets, & cut down a coniferous evergreen tree- drag it in the house & decorate it with gaudy ornaments?
    No where that I’ve read.
    Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans & survived their conversion to Christianity in the Nordic customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmastime.

  5. 5
    mildlymagnificent

    For some of us, Christmas is simply about family and drinking white wine in the sun.

    Tim Minchin puts it best http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCNvZqpa-7Q

  6. 6
    John Horstman

    Word. I actually loathe Christmas for a number of the secular reasons many people like it (gifts, and especially the commercialization under a capitalist market system; family, in the sense of coerced interactions with the family members I hate – I like hanging out with *some* members of my family, but family-oriented holidays inevitably involve the members I detest; lots of meat-based food; monoculture mass-farming of short-lived, decorative trees) but that’s not really about me being an atheist, it’s about me questioning and finding wanting various cultural norms other than religion. As long as the concerned mom isn’t attempting to coerce participation in religious rites (the atheist son may still wish to participate for the sake of tradition or something similar, even without believing the magical parts), the religious aspects shouldn’t be an issue.

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