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Bah Humbug! Or have yourself an atheist holiday season:

 1 Blue Ninja 0, Fri, 16th Dec '11 12:15:31 PM from The Middle of Nowhere Relationship Status: She's holding a very large knife
Slowly dying on the inside
http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/13/9420141-atheists-ramp-up-message-for-the-holidays-humbug

In Santa Monica’s Palisades Park this Christmas season, the baby Jesus had to make space for others at the inn — nonbelievers.

This year, all but a few of the 21 display spaces in the park that have housed Nativity scenes for nearly six decades were claimed for atheist displays.

Just as the winter season is a time when major religions to trumpet their beliefs, it is also a time when atheists spend extra energy pushing back against the influence of religion in public life, especially in government.


In Leesburg, Va., an atheist display depicting a skeleton in a Santa suit nailed to a cross caused a ruckus. The nonprofit American Atheists is putting up seasonal billboards calling for atheists to go public with their beliefs. And a group in Utah is taking the message to the heart of Mormonism.

“Religions are all alike – founded upon fables and mythologies, ” reads a banner in one of the Santa Monica displays, quoting Thomas Jefferson.

There the holiday display sites are made available through an application process run by the city. This year, applications outnumbered displays for the first time, said Barbara Stinchfield, director of community and cultural services. She said that an atheist group got nine spaces, and another group laid claim to nine for "Christmas spirit and solstice decoration."

"For 60 years, it's almost exclusively been the point of view of Christians putting up Nativity scenes for a whole city block, " said Damon Vix, who helped the nonprofits American Atheists and Freedom From Religion Foundation populate the display spaces.

The outcome, resulting in a two-block stretch of displays that are not primarily Christian-themed for the first time, sparked a stream of email and calls from the public, said Stinchfield.

"Most (people who inquire) are just confused about what happened, and we try to clear it up by informing of the restrictions we have, and the rights individuals have under the First Amendment, " she said.

'Coming out' as atheist Also this week, the American Atheists launched the second in a series of seasonal billboards that calls for atheists to go public with their beliefs during festivities with their families this holiday season: “Tell your family you don’t believe in gods… they just might agree.” The message, displayed on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel into New York City, is accompanied by pictures of Jesus and Poseidon.

American Atheists, born out of an early court challenge to prayer in school, advocates for the civil liberties of atheists and the absolute separation of government and religion.

The nonprofit organization Freedom from Religion Foundation brings its holiday greetings to Mormon-dominated Salt Lake City with new billboards declaring "Reason's Greetings" to passersby and another with a stained-glass motif asking its viewers to "Imagine no Religion, "— a reference to the John Lennon song.

"We want the nonreligious — freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and other skeptics — in Utah to know they are not alone, ” says Dan Barker, a former evangelical minister who now co-directs FFRF on the groups' Web site.

Another theme for the group is to remind people of "the real reason for the season — the Winter Solstice, a ‘natural holiday, ’ said Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co—president.

Insulted believers Another atheist display, depicting a skeleton in a Santa suit nailed to a cross, msnbc.com reported last week, caused a kerfuffle in Leesburg Va., msnbc.com reported last week. The macabre Santa was one of nine displays allowed on the grounds of the Loudon County courthouse, most of them with more traditional Christmas tableaus.

"I think that it's just extremely, extremely sad, " Leesburg council member Ken Reid was quoted as saying, "that somebody in this county who would try to basically debase Christmas like this. This really crossed the line."

The display didn't survive long. Someone tore the skeleton down by Monday night sparking renewed debate about free speech.

In 2009, Christmas displays on the courthouse lawn were banned after the constitutionality of a Nativity scene was questioned. Last year that decision was overturned and 10 displays were allowed on the lawn based on a first-come, first-served basis.
The article has pictures of one of the Santa Monica displays, and one of the billboards.

I'm curious how much of this is a backlash against religion, and how much is a backlash to just how overwhelming Christmas is becoming year round. I know personally, I have become more and more anti-Christmas* as time has passed, and it pisses me off to no end to see Christmas decorations up in stores before the goddamn school year even starts.

So, discuss what are people's thoughts on the religious-osity or lack thereof for the holiday season?
Once the avalanche has started, it is too late for the pebbles to cast their vote. - Ambassador Kosh
 2 CDRW, Fri, 16th Dec '11 12:27:13 PM Relationship Status: Mu
Must...love...and...tolerate...extremists. *eyetwitch*
Never Ask Me the Odds
Heh. My mom and stepdad were actually talking about the Santa Monica thing at dinner the other night. For reference, they're both liberal nonbelievers but my stepdad is older and from a Christian background and my mom grew up in the 60's and keeps her Jewish traditions (if not beliefs).

She was arguing that no publicly owned land should be used for ANY religious display (which I really agree with strongly; although my response when she mentioned the atheist groups had won the lottery for the niches was more like, 'well well, I guess they should have bought more tickets if they didn't want the atheists to get spaces!' Trying to stifle atheist free speech really ticks me off and perhaps I was extrapolating from people making a big to-do and protesting similar things.). His argument was in favor of allowing transient displays at 'sensitive' times of the year for certain populations. Which implies more respect for tradition, community and culture than I have - if people on their own or in groups want to celebrate a holiday or have any sort of commemoration, fine. But it's not required to be supported by the entire community or use public land or expense to carry it out.

That being said... I can't support being actively antagonistic to believers either. It's immature and counterproductive. Encouraging them to think for themselves and educate themselves and letting everyone know that it's not some horrible crime to be an atheist, though? Absolutely.

edited 16th Dec '11 12:49:44 PM by TheGirlWithPointyEars

She of Short Stature & Impeccable Logic

My Skating Liveblog
 4 johnnyfog, Fri, 16th Dec '11 12:50:32 PM from NYC Relationship Status: They can't hide forever. We've got satellites.
Not entirely a douche

PHD in Thuganomics
Gunpla is amazing!
Thanks for making the rest of us atheists and agnostics look bad you jerks.

Princess Ymir's knightess
What a bunch of jerks. [lol]

[up][up]That's exactly what I was thinking.

If you hate Christmas, that's fine, but you don't need to turn it into a shit-tossing fest.
 
 8 Drunk Girlfriend, Fri, 16th Dec '11 1:12:30 PM from Castle Geekhaven
Eh, it's a bit over the top, but it's not any worse than the overwhelming amount of Christmas shit that starts hitting town in October.

It's also not any worse than people that get uppity about sales clerks saying "Happy Holidays". I swear, if I hear one more person shoving Christmas down my throat, I'm going to start punching things.
"I don't know how I do it. I'm like the Mr. Bean of sex." -Drunkscriblerian
[up]October? Mercy.
 
The only answer is to relentlessly mock anyone who takes the whole christmas thing too seriously (for or against). Aside from that: let the shopkeepers have their holiday.

She was arguing that no publicly owned land should be used for ANY religious display
The problem with such is that it's really just another version of "don't ask, don't tell".

edited 16th Dec '11 1:20:40 PM by GreatLich

 11 Drunk Girlfriend, Fri, 16th Dec '11 1:19:33 PM from Castle Geekhaven
@Disaster: Yeah, most of the local stores in my area had Christmas stuff out before the Halloween stuff this year. It's ridiculous.

edited 16th Dec '11 1:19:46 PM by DrunkGirlfriend

"I don't know how I do it. I'm like the Mr. Bean of sex." -Drunkscriblerian
 12 The Earth Sheep, Fri, 16th Dec '11 1:44:02 PM from a Pasture hexagon
Christmas Sheep
I always think it's great when people whine about others not letting them do their own thing, and then proceed to let the same people do their thing.

Edit: Dear God, that was awful grammar.

edited 16th Dec '11 1:44:31 PM by TheEarthSheep

Still Sheepin'
 13 USAF713, Fri, 16th Dec '11 1:50:03 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
Face Palm.

I knew it would be American Atheists.
I am now known as Flyboy.
[up][up]What? I can't seem to understand what you're saying.

edited 16th Dec '11 1:52:08 PM by DisasterGrind

 
 15 Ramus, Fri, 16th Dec '11 1:58:09 PM from some computer somwhere.
Lead.
Basically hypocrites all around, everywhere if I read that right.
The emotions of others can seem like such well guarded mysteries, people 8egin to 8elieve that's how their own emotions should 8e treated.
 16 Tzetze, Fri, 16th Dec '11 2:05:13 PM from a converted church in Venice, Italy
DUMB
Middleburg resident Jeff Heflin Jr. was the first of nine groups or individuals to erect displays on the county courthouse grounds in Leesburg Dec. 5. The skeleton, clothed in Santa's suit and affixed to a cross is intended to "depict society's materialistic obsessions and addictions and how it is killing the peace, love, joy and kindness that is supposed to be prevalent during the holiday season, " according to Heflin's application.

I hope that's not a necessarily atheist feeling.
Never Ask Me the Odds
She was arguing that no publicly owned land should be used for ANY religious display

The problem with such is that it's really just another version of "don't ask, don't tell".

Not really, you'd still be perfectly able to put up whatever you want on your own property or your own businesss. Just that since the government can't endorse one religion over another, publicly owned land shouldn't have displays that take sides either.

And yes, in fairness, that would mean no explicitly atheist displays on public land either.

edited 16th Dec '11 2:20:49 PM by TheGirlWithPointyEars

She of Short Stature & Impeccable Logic

My Skating Liveblog
 18 Radical Taoist, Fri, 16th Dec '11 2:19:50 PM from the #GUniverse
scratching at .8, just hopin'
This dude with the skeleton - is he atheist or theistic? I can't tell.

Anyways, I would have chosen a different phrase; something more positive.
 19 USAF713, Fri, 16th Dec '11 2:21:55 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
It's public land. I.e. for the public to use, usually.

I would say that it's wrong to discriminate against one religion or another, but "no organizations/individuals of X faith apply to use the land while others of another faith do" is not the same as "we won't let X faith use public land, but this other faith can."

I would object if they funded it, but I don't see the point in denying people freedom of expression (on their own dime). If we let Nazis hold public rallies, we let religious folk put up a holiday display.
I am now known as Flyboy.
 20 Drunk Girlfriend, Fri, 16th Dec '11 2:24:38 PM from Castle Geekhaven
[up] And as such, they're letting non-religious put up displays as well. According to the article, the slots are granted via lottery.
"I don't know how I do it. I'm like the Mr. Bean of sex." -Drunkscriblerian
 21 Joesolo, Fri, 16th Dec '11 2:25:41 PM Relationship Status: watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ
Indiana Solo
"She was arguing that no publicly owned land should be used for ANY religious display"

You want us to accept you belief, or non belief really, right? Then you have to accept ours.

I really dislike atheists like this around this time of year. I don't mind them but they don't want us forcing the truth down their throats, they shouldn't shove their shit down ours. Their displays are disturbing sometimes too, like that "dead santa" nailed to a wall. That's just freaking insane. At least the religious displays are positive, or just display a symbol. EG, Baby Jesus, or a menorah, or something else like that. Dead santa nailed to the wall? huge poster telling us were idiots for believing in God and Angels? Not positive, just rude and disturbing.

[up] The lottery system is ok, but they should really set it by having each group get them based on population in the town. Or votes. Lottery can result in a bunch of dead sanatas nailed to a wall, instead of a mix of all beliefs.

edited 16th Dec '11 2:27:03 PM by Joesolo

I am going to shove the sunshine so far up where the sun don't shine that you will vomit nothing but warm summer days -Belkar
 22 Wicked 223, Fri, 16th Dec '11 2:25:55 PM from Death Star in the forest
This part

"For 60 years, it's almost exclusively been the point of view of Christians putting up Nativity scenes for a whole city block, "

took away any fucks I have to give.
You can't even write racist abuse in excrement on somebody's car without the politically correct brigade jumping down your throat!
 23 USAF713, Fri, 16th Dec '11 2:27:25 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
And as such, they're letting non-religious put up displays as well. According to the article, the slots are granted via lottery.

Fine with me.
I am now known as Flyboy.
 24 Drunk Girlfriend, Fri, 16th Dec '11 2:31:36 PM from Castle Geekhaven
@Joe: Ah, but if you set it by population or by popular vote, you still wind up with problems.

For one, how do you determine the population of religious believers? It's not collected by the Census, if I remember right.

For another, if you allow it to go to a vote, then the Christian majority will just shut the non-believers and alternate beliefs down, which isn't fair either.

With a lottery system, then people can buy more tickets if it's important enough to express their beliefs.

EDIT: Besides, I'm glad to see more atheists speaking out. Granted, I'm from the Midwest, but I'm getting a little sick of Christian entitlement around this time of year. It's good to see people pointing out that they can't lay claim to an entire freaking season.

edited 16th Dec '11 2:33:42 PM by DrunkGirlfriend

"I don't know how I do it. I'm like the Mr. Bean of sex." -Drunkscriblerian
 25 USAF713, Fri, 16th Dec '11 2:34:37 PM from the United States
I changed accounts.
I think the Census does do that. If not, somebody does, because we have reasonably good statistics on the matter...
I am now known as Flyboy.
Total posts: 367
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