the art & adventures of tracy durnell


December 12, 2007


Atheists, Choose Your Battles!

This year I'm celebrating the winter solstice rather than Christmas. We're probably going to do the same things we do for our usual Christmas celebration, but a few days earlier, on the shortest day of the year. I mentioned this to a (fellow atheist) friend, and he said, "Oh, you're one of those atheists." Since I don't believe the religious foundations of the holiday, why shouldn't I celebrate the lengthening of the days instead? I actually care that we'll be getting more sunlight, and am excited to usher in a new season and a new year. I'm not waging a War on Christmas.

American atheists and agnostics number between 20 and 60 million--why do we have no political representation or respect? An Economist article claims we are choosing the wrong fights and giving people fuel to fight back against us by tackling ceremonial deism and public displays of religion in addition to 'more direct' or 'clearer' cases of government-sponsored religion like the 10 commandments being displayed in court rooms. To me, this makes clear that we MUST continue to fight against ceremonial deism etc because people still do not understand the symbolism of ceremonial deism.

Writing "In God We Trust" on our money and pledging "one nation, under God" constitute a governmental sanctioning of religion from a government that should be completely secular. Declaring our united belief and trust in god through civic rites and on government-issued funds is not merely ceremonial. The words are not meaningless because they are so commonly used. Nor is 'ceremonial deism' continued and fought for because it fosters civic responsibility and patriotism, as some claim. Ceremonial deism is as much government-sponsored religion as federally sponsored faith-based organizations and required prayer/'moments of silence' in public schools. Or how about House Resolution #847, passed 372-9 TODAY, whose stated purpose is to "recognize the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith"? Dear Economist--is this one of those 'ceremonial deism' issues I'm not supposed to be upset about? Maybe I should write my representative to thank her for being one of the nine against.

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