by Jesse Galef –
That’s right: religion is ruining the true spirit of Christmas. That’s my argument in today’s US News & World Report Debate topic “Has Christmas Become Too Secular?” Believe me, I had a lot of fun answering. The secular submissions are dominating the religious ones – go upvote the ones you like!
US News gathered four secular representatives:
- Me, with the Secular Student Alliance
- Roy Speckhardt of the American Humanist Association,
- Annie Laurie Gaylor with the Freedom from Religion Foundation, and
- Herb Silverman for the Secular Coalition for America
They also got five people to take the other side, representing:
- Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute
- Traditional Values Coalition
- Family Research Council
- American Family Association
- Catholic League
Yup, that’s some of our favorite groups, including our old friend Bill Donohue. Here’s a taste from his answer:
Having gotten about as far as they can by swinging their legal club, the secular dogmatists switched gears by seeking to blunt Christmas celebrations with contrived competition. So now we are told that December is “Diversity Month,” a time when we must recognize the multiplicity of races, ethnic groups, religions, and cultures around the world. It’s as political as it is pathetic.
I went for the moral high ground, claiming that Christmas is about secular values:
Take a look at the most important parts of Christmas: togetherness, compassion, and peace. Those are secular values. A secular Christmas is an inclusive Christmas true to the spirit of the holiday.Some might claim that the “most important” part of Christmas is a particular religious belief. But do we really want to put faith before family? Doctrine over charity? No. If anything, religion is distracting us from the real meaning of Christmas.
I celebrate a secular holiday about family and the spirit of giving. I call it Christmas – the federally-recognized holiday occurring on December 25th. It confuses some people because a Christian holiday has the same name. But as you know, winter celebrations have changed over time (evolved, if you will). From Saturnalia to Solstice, Christ’s Mass to today’s secular Christmas, we’ve seen it happen. And we can take it further.
If you don’t want to celebrate Christmas because you think it’s too closely associated with religion, I understand. Give it time. Before you know it, Christmas will be focused on the things that matter: family and charity. And atheists celebrating it our way helps claim that focus. I like this framing because it make it clear: WE have the moral high ground. We’re focused on the real aspects of morality.
By the way, it probably isn’t in the “true holiday spirit”, but I do enjoy seeing the point spread between my answer and Bill Donohue’s:
For the record, there are only 9 spots. He’s in last place with negative 500 votes. It’s as if we atheists have a strong online presence or something!