12/22/12

Keeping Christ in Christmas

Here in Mississippi, I have seen several vehicles on the road with decals depicting a nativity scene with the text "Keep Christ in Christmas" underneath the image. I do not remember these from previous years, leading me to believe that they represent a new development in the "war on Christmas." A little Internet research revealed that the decals are not new and that the Knights of Columbus has been selling them for some time. But for some reason, they really seem to have caught on this year.

What has become increasingly clear to me is that the "war on Christmas" is a very lucrative myth for those pushing it. Churches and other religious organizations have monetized the "war," creating various products for the gullible. Conservative political organizations have exploited the fears of ignorant supporters to solicit donations. And of course, Fox "News" pundits have boosted their ratings in one of the safest ways possible (i.e., attacking those evil atheists).

It is not that I am complaining here. The annual "war on Christmas" has become the thing I like most about the holiday. I guess I am just sort of wondering aloud whether we should get in on this fundraising ploy in some way, even if only to raise awareness and promote atheism.

Should we atheists be intentional participants in the Christmas wars? Given that we are already being used in the "war on Christmas" and that this is going to continue as long as it is effective no matter what we do, doesn't it make sense that we might ask whether there could be something in it for us? Perhaps this could be a real opportunity to promote atheism and educate the public about the importance of separation of church and state.

I suppose some atheists are already doing this. I have seen a number of atheist holiday cards, t-shirt designs, and bumper stickers for sale that address the "war on Christmas." One could even argue that David Silverman's willingness to repeatedly subject himself to Fox "News" is largely about raising awareness and raising money for American Atheists. And of course, the annual Christmas wars have fueled a great many posts throughout the atheist blogosphere.

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