#300 Post – Do They Know It’s Christmas Time (at all)

At the Washington State Capital, Freedom From Religion Foundation (headed by Dan Barker) was permitted to place a plaque next to the two (2) other Holiday displays. A “Holiday Tree” and a Nativity Scene. 

The plaque reads: At this season of the winter solstice, may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.

According to Mark Impomeni this is “an offensive message of intolerance.” (Taken from Dagoods blog ‘Christmas Message from Atheists’

SocietyVs’ response: 

I have to admit – I find the plaque pretty stupid – and I can see how it can be offensive.

The tree is a sign of the season – evokes no real response except ‘let’s decorate this green thing’.

The nativity scene, true or not, is basically a scene of people gathering together in a manger to meet Jesus (as a baby). The message is fairly open to one’s personal opinion on the said subject.

The plaque is a plaque with words and a message. Is Dan Barker’s atheists community that simple they could not create something for their own community – a symbol of some sort for the season? A globe would of been nice. But its a stupid plaque with a message on it – and that message is clear.

‘Religion is but myth’

That’s not creative and sure as hell not in the X-mas spirit of things – it’s too damn dumb to be worth decorating – and the message is actually more on the negative side with all its ‘no’s’.

I don’t know Barker – but I do suggest he take some type of activity designed to release his creative juices. A globe goddammit! 

What do you think of that Atheist message for Christmas? 

***Could it replace the great music song ‘Do they know it’s Christmas time’ with ‘Do they know it’s…then read the Atheist plaque”? 

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30 thoughts on “#300 Post – Do They Know It’s Christmas Time (at all)

  1. SO not fun!

    I agree (for once). Very unimaginative!

    Why do you think these guys are so bitter about what someone else believes?

    And if they want converts (which I’m assuming), could they be a little more positive? Like, “Top 10 reasons why Atheism changed my life” or something?!?!

    I mean, they could steal a page from the Joel Osteen playbook, you know?

  2. Actually, I find the plaque encouraging. It is good for me to remember that all of the idiots are not exclusively on the religious side. I can forget that fact sometimes as I see fundamentalist christians using people as their scratching posts. Fundamentalism is not the purview of the religious alone; each group contains folks who think their group is supreme. There are the gracious and the buffoons in each camp. Abandoning one group and joining another will never get one free of the intolerant.

  3. 300th post – 3 years of blogging – and I have gone from ‘losing my religion’ to laughing at an atheist plaque’ – oh good times!

  4. The fact that there is no symbol I think is actually the point I believe.

    I don’t consider Barker an idiot as Andrew states but seeking and expressing his freedom to say what he wants in this country of ours… regardless of whether or not you think it is dumb.

    “Religion is but myth” is the opinion of his group. It’s not meant to be creative. I think Barker would argue that the Bible is quite creative…and the myth of the nativity scene (which didn’t happen as it is often portrayed) is one of the most creative myths of all.

  5. “The fact that there is no symbol I think is actually the point I believe” (ScpSteve)

    I never quite considered that – makes sense – but something was included – a plaque with some scrawl on it that has a negative demeanor to it. I am not sure the tree or the nativity scene are that ‘negative’ in scope.

    “regardless of whether or not you think it is dumb” (Scp Steve)

    My knock is its creativity – not Barker as being dumb..creatively this was simple. I personally would of used a globe – it’s a symbol they could use and say – all of humanity is concerned with humanity or something? Now maybe that’s dumb – but if so – I approach an artist for such a work then.

    ““Religion is but myth” is the opinion of his group. It’s not meant to be creative” (SCP Steve)

    I agree – it’s not creative – but if not – then was his point to be a ‘downer’ during Christmas? To raise some controversy? To make a qualified point for atheism having a place with other Christmas symbology? Use Santa – he’s likely an atheist – he seems like one anyways – a very jolly one.

  6. Yeah – I agree Santa is a good atheistic symbol actually. The church has been trying to take Santa out of Christmas for a long time. Talk about not being fun!!

    I didn’t think you were saying Barker was dumb, but his act. I don’t personally know the guy either, but I respect what he is doing through his foundation. Yes there are extremists on each side of all subjects, but the majority is in the middle as is tolerance…it all balances out.

    I certainly think he is trying to raise a controversy to get his message out. This holiday that we have created as a symbol of Jesus birth has a history steeped in paganism. I suspect he’s trying to steal that back a little. But you are right, he could have been much less caustic in his wording, but what do I know… I run a site called Stupid Church People. Now, that’s subtle!!

  7. “but what do I know… I run a site called Stupid Church People. Now, that’s subtle!!” (SCP Steve)

    You extremist (lol). You don’t play with subtlties – I admire that about SCP actually – when most of Christianity dances around areas – you come head on into the collision. I think your points are valid – I need to hear all perspectives on this type of thing – to be well rounded.

  8. I am thinking of changing my name of this blog to the ‘Steve Attractor Project’ – it’s all Steve’s lately commenting:

    OldAdam – Steve Martin
    Revolutioninthespirit – Steve
    SCPSteve – Steve Chastain

    My one New year wish is the name Steve is used less for children 🙂

  9. I would not argue his freedom to say it, but it is still just as destructive and decisive – heart hardening and enslaving – as the religious folks, who’s noses he seeks to tweak, he would complain about. He is simply another shade of Dobson. He just rah-rahs his troops the way Falwell did. This is advancement?? No thanks. I like what Society said about the globe. That would be an ALTERNATIVE narrative. Barker is only inviting me out of one kind of caustic fundamentalism, that I am trying to free myself of, into another.

  10. “I wanna see him prove there is no God…”

    Hey I love your name Steve but the burden of proof isn’t on the Atheist or unbeliever to prove anything. Since God is unprovable to the rational mind (i.e. the leap of faith) the burden of proof (if you must prove it – which I am not arguing you do) is on the person that believes. Am I wrong?

    “No God = No atheists” Really that’s what you think… that’s not even a valid or rational argument. Hopefully you are aware of that were just trying to be funny.

    “religion is a myth…like myths can’t have truths” – let me help you get it.

    Words can have more than one meaning. Mythical stories which of course can involve truths we can learn from. But the word can also mean “a widely held but false belief”.

    You chose to take him out of context. He said “religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.” I would think there would be plenty of Christians that would agree with that statement.

  11. “did the guy actually make any false statements?”

    I suppose a response to that would vary from person to person. I am sure there are folks that would say he speaks lies and others declare his words truth that any reasonable person could see.

    For me, that is why intent weighs in as heavily as the words. Was he trying to bring people together, or stick his finger in the eye of folks he is annoyed with?

  12. Uhhh… and religion (i.e. Christianity, evangelicals, etc) tries to bring people together??

    You can’t follow Jesus… REALLY follow the Jesus of the Bible without being exclusionary.

    Wasn’t it Jesus that said you must be willing to hate your family to follow him?? Didn’t he also say that he was the stone that caused men to stumble?? Wasn’t it Jesus, who after gathering many, many followers preached a message so difficult that it caused many to leave him.

    Wasn’t it Jesus that overturned tables, and called the religious leaders of his day “white-washed tombs full of dead men’s bones”? If that’s not sticking your finger in the eye of folks you are annoyed with, I don’t know what is.

  13. i’ve come to put son against father, i bring a sword, i tend the fire until it blazes… all Jesus’ words. (both synoptic and noncanonical! look they agree!) Paul doesn’t help as he talks about the cross being a stumbling block as well.

    Religion can unite… but what are we bringing together? stereotypes and -isms and phobias? sometimes. condemnation! you betcha! that’s pretty wide-spread.. if you don’t believe in Christ (like we do) then you’re going to hell! the “like we do” is usually implied and unspoken.

    i hope to have my future church be open to all questions and comments. i tend to make friends with many atheists, but not the stalwart kind.. just like i don’t have many stalwart Christians friends. any person that says “this is THE way” is delillusional in my book.

  14. “You can’t follow Jesus… REALLY follow the Jesus of the Bible without being exclusionary. ”

    Ummm I can and do, I guess I just interpret stuff differently. And that is the point, interpretation. The question is, do we shout down people who do not agree with our interpretation? OUR way or the highway?? Be it Christian, atheist, or whomever, no group is free from intolerance and obnoxiousness and it is hubris to think my circle is immune.

  15. Somebody got a “word for the day” calendar… hubris… nice one! 🙂

    By being inclusive do you mean that you are not opposed to having dinner with people of different faiths to discuss our differences (i.e. Muslim) OR do you mean that you believe that they could also be right and have found another path to heaven?? Are you being inclusive in the eternal sense or in the politically correct sense??

    In my opinion the Jesus of the Bible claimed to be the ONLY way to heaven. Do you agree that Jesus is the only way Andrew? If so how is that not exclusionary (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

  16. “In my opinion the Jesus of the Bible claimed to be the ONLY way to heaven” (SCP Steve)

    I have actually discussed that statement with many Christians (and others) and I think there are a variety of takes on that statement – not just some literal feel of that passage.

    One has to remember that gospel (John) is filled with symbolism and allegory – like Jesus is bread or Jesus is light. Is this human person actually those things or is this a symbolic term relating a point from the author? I think it’s symbology.

    When John says Jesus ‘is the way’ (also truth and life) – isn’t that also symbology. Think about it for a second. How can some human being be a ‘highway to heaven’ – it has to be symbology meaning something. Also being called the truth and the life are similar terms to the ‘way’. So what does it mean for this person to be the ‘way’?

    For me, it is conclusive this path is the way (it’s about heaven) – this type of life and teachings Jesus gives to his followers (and people in general) is the thing ‘the way’ is. If you become someone that is concerned with humanity and becomes a responsible person – that’s going down the pathway. To avoid things the promote truth or life – is veering off that pathway (and no longer truly loving your neighbor).

    I guess not everything has to be looked at literal – but what point is being expressed in that passage. Someone being the way is a strange interpretation of that passage that can only be understood as that person meaning ‘something’. What does Jesus mean then to you? To me its more about ‘following Jesus’ – and by that I mean ‘following his teachings to advocate for a concern of God’s – humanity’.

    As for being exclusionary and being someone of faith – this doesn’t need be exclusionary – depends on one’s view of those scriptures. For me the real dividing line between people is ‘morality’ – not ‘confessions’. I like people and want to be around people that ‘are nice’…fact. I don’t want to be around people that desire hurting others in some way – whatever way they choose to do that by – I outright condemn that behavior since it destroys us (and the person will eventually destroy me if they can get away with it). Morality is the matter – the line in the sand – how we behave is the key concern of any faith.

  17. Ditto on Society’s statements. My take is that Jesus offered the way to life, not that he was setting himself up as a passkey. I think western Christianity has transformed what early Chrisitianity had as a “way”, and turned our faith into a set of doctrinal propositions to be believed. I think Jesus was calling people to “give up your way of thinking about the world, and take on mine”. That is where life is. I do not think people need to be a follower of Jesus to be on the same way. I think that is why Jesus tells the story of the sheep and the goats…. people who had no idea who Jesus was, yet took care of their neighbors. It is they who receive life.

  18. I agree with what Adam and Jason have said in these last 2 statements. This is what I am coming to believe.

    As far as whether the burden of proof lies with atheists or theists…..God can’t be proven or disproven. But as an atheist, if all you believe in is what can be proven or what is empiric, you will be closing yourself off to a great deal of truth.

  19. Fair enough… I do find it interesting that you use the words symbolism and allegory and yet had some issues with Barker calling religion (Christianity) a myth. The whole Bible is mythical to me.

    So does following the way lead to a literal heaven for you guys or is that symbolic as well?

    So can’t an atheist be on the path that you describe Andrew?

    Did Jesus literally die and raise again or was that symbolism for you guys? And if it’s literal, then what was the point if he was just pointing to a path.

    I’m seriously wondering. Listen, I’ve pretty much thrown out the faith thing all together, so in many respects I am probably right there with you. I completely believe that there’s a right way to live but that Christians don’t even come close to having the corner on it.

  20. “I’m seriously wondering. Listen, I’ve pretty much thrown out the faith thing all together, so in many respects I am probably right there with you. I completely believe that there’s a right way to live but that Christians don’t even come close to having the corner on it.”

    ScpSteve,

    That’s too bad. “The faih thing” is all God is really after. All that Jesus as example stuff and righteous living…nobody does anyway and the one trying the hardest are the biggest phonies or the most self-righteous.

    Jesus said thet He wants to bring rest to us. That “His yoke is easy.” The hard yoke, the hard way, is doing it ourselves. He has already taken care of that.

    So now, we are free. Free to live. To love and laugh and cry and live. Free from worry about having to live up to God’s standards (we can’t). But He can and did…for us.

    That’s the gospel.

    Merry Christmas!

  21. So now, we are free. Free to live. To love and laugh and cry and live.

    If its not about life and changing your behaviours, then Im also free to rape, murder and pillage. Afterall the perfection idea was Jesus’s thing and I cant live up to that. So now that I “believe” hes taken care of it. IM FREE.

  22. “So does following the way lead to a literal heaven for you guys or is that symbolic as well?” (SCP Steve)

    How literal is the real question and is a matter of context (and the writings themselves). I think there is a heaven (an afterlife) – and the path is clear – concern for your fellow humanity (or love for one another). However, if someone does not think there is anything after this – I am cool with that also – since the focus of the teachings is ‘here and now’irregardless.

    “So can’t an atheist be on the path that you describe Andrew?” (SCP Steve)

    Yes.

    “Did Jesus literally die and raise again or was that symbolism for you guys? And if it’s literal, then what was the point if he was just pointing to a path.” (SCP Steve)

    The reason I feel that is not symbolic – is because all the authors kind of agree on a few things – Jesus was a real person, Jesus died, and he resurrected. The stories of the resurrection and Jesus’ life are framed as stories – but the letters kind of back up these claims (and they are not framed as stories). There seems to be some concensus for their following Jesus as the messiah.

    The point is – God opened that path to all (my opinion). Prior to this the select group was Jewish in nature – Paul puts serious questions on who is part of the chosen now – and to some extent Jesus. The whole point of Jesus’ life is inclusion into this pathway to God (access for all bar none). Nothing too radical in today’s light of things – but radical in his time. Gentiles inclusion into the holy of holies…all people in there – all people as priests – everyone with the same access – no more mediator on earth – etc.

    The point is the pathway – and these ethics are valid in all places, communites, and regions. In a nutshell, the teachings are about our personal responsibilities for our actions and motives – the call to change behavior for the benefit of our neighbors. This faith helps to do that – lots of faiths do in fact.

    To take Jesus as the literal ‘way’ makes no sense – since it cannot be adequately explained. If I called you the ‘way’ – what do I mean by that? Are you literally some kind of ‘way’ (road)? No…it is here we see that this is symbolic of an actual meaning.

    For example, one time I said ‘I am RAPA’ (Regina Aboriginal Professional Association). RAPA is a 12 group professional association seeking the networking for the Aboriginal community in my city – I was one member. So was I literally RAPA? In a way ‘yes’ – but in actuality ‘no’ (I am 1/12th’s RAPA). The point was I embodied the beliefs of RAPA in my daily living that I could say such a thing ‘I am RAPA’ (my example was fairly spot on to what they desired).

    So if someone tells me Jesus ‘is the way’ – I am going to have to evaluate what that means – to me it means ‘he embodied what it meant to be the way to heaven’.

  23. “So can’t an atheist be on the path that you describe Andrew?”

    I believe so. In fact, I think that often people who are trying to work for a better world through their tradition will find themselves having more in common with folks in other traditions who are on a similar path, than with people in their own tradition. As an example, I am Christian, but I probably have more in common with the Harvard Humanist Chaplin Greg Epstein at times, than I do with many of my own faith tradition. I wrote about his stuff here: http://mrhackman.blogspot.com/2008/03/humanism-does-not-have-to-be-anti.html

  24. Interesting stuff guys. Thanks for sharing your insights. I really appreciate your thoughts.

    Not sure I buy it, but I can certainly tell it is well thought out and reasoned. There’s so much to still learn isn’t there?

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