# # Freedom From Religion

Brother, I Can See Your Skull.

Brother, I Can See Your Skull. - The Coreyshead Blog

Freedom From Religion

According to various news sources, a sign has been put up near a nativity scene in Seattle by the Freedom From Religion folks reading:

“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.”

Now I may wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments of this sign (and I do) but I find it to be tantamount to, and thus as offensive as, any of the unasked for religious proselytizing the group claims to be protesting.

Part of what I don’t like about religion is its tendency to be presented overtly and self-righteously. If you want to believe that little fairies help you through your day, that’s just fine but don’t try to force it down my throat. Equally, if I don’t believe in Santa Claus, that’s my business but screaming it at children on Christmas Eve is nothing more than the very type of crass bullying that turns my stomach.

Were the above mentioned sign placed near a billboard like the one I’ve seen along a major thoroughfare in southwestern Washington reading “There IS A Hell,” I’d be applauding -but I think a nativity scene is a far cry from such in-your-face rhetoric.

Some argue that a nativity scene is just that – needlessly insisting that we all believe in one particular god – but I don’t think it is. All a nativity scene does is carry on a tradition for a group of people to whom it holds comforting significance. If McDonald’s can advertise that its burgers are tasty without harming me, than Christianity can advertise that its most important icon was born in a shed on December 25th – what do I care? Neither one is forcing me to kowtow to their message; I walk past both with equal disdain, unharmed.

Further, the problem with religion isn’t its seasonal trappings but its presence in government. I’d display a nativity scene in my front yard year-round if I could get god out of the White House, Pentagon, Senate, House, and Supreme Court.

One of the reasons I agreed to move my daughter from one school district to another was that the first took great pains to suppress traditional things such as the celebration of Christmas in the school in the name of “liberal progress,” this despite the fact that in the district, as in our nation, Christianity holds the majority.

Now I’m not, nor have I ever been, religious in any way, yet I enjoy and celebrate Christmas. I’ve even gone so far as to make sure my daughter knows exactly what Christmas is about: the celebration of the birth of Christ (albeit a made-up one, designed to supplant the winter solstice as the season’s holiday of choice).

Of course, I also tell her that I think the basic tenants of all religions are utterly ridiculous (that there is some huge, all-knowing, all-seeing boojum in the sky who loves us) but then I make sure to mention that this is just my opinion and I could be totally wrong: she’ll need to figure it out for herself.

I like Christmas and the Christmas “spirit”, i.e.; the spreading of good cheer and expressing love and appreciation towards all those around us via not just presents but song, dress, and colored lights during an otherwise drab and cold time of year – what could be finer? The fact of its relatively recent hitching to what I perceive to be a spurious tale about some perfect child bothers me not a whit.

What the Freedom From Religion folks seem to be missing is that displays of this kind do not forward the atheist cause any more than the Pastor Fred Phelps sign “God Hates Fags,” displayed at an event like the funeral of Matthew Sheppard, forwards the anti-gay movement.

If you intend to get into a war with Christianity via overt messages in this country, you’re going to lose – you’re outnumbered, outgunned, and frankly, what have you done that’s any better?

Compassion, understanding, and tolerance is the key to all successful human interaction. If you really want to create change, the place to start is the creation of a substantial number of atheist-based organizations that offer aid and social programs around the world as many religious groups have always done, not squeaking angrily at an otherwise inoffensive and traditional display of devotion. This latter only makes atheists look as many of the devout already see us: rude, evil bastards.

We’re not. (at least not all of us)

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One Response to “Freedom From Religion”

  1. Roger says:

    Bravo. I felt the same way about Bill Maher’s “Religulous.” I agree with the sentiment, but not the way it was said.

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