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December 23, 2008

On the Right Side: What are the atheists afraid of?


Christmas is upon us, one of the three most important dates in Christianity. I was hoping to get through the season without any atheistic zaniness, but that didn’t happen.

Starting in Olympia, Wash., and spreading to two or three other cities, atheists couldn’t stand by and not attempt to draw attention to themselves.

Olympia originally simply allowed a Nativity scene and a Menorah, two symbols important to Christians and Jews, to be displayed on public property.

The atheists predictably demanded a display themselves. Their wish was granted when city officials caved, but rather than being a statement of their nonreligious, unbelieving “faith,” they chose to denigrate and insult my religious beliefs.

I, and many other Christians, simply won’t sit still for this behavior. I know I have friends who are either self-proclaimed or silent atheists, and this column is not about them (even though I can’t understand their decision and know they are making the biggest mistake possible). This column is for the radical members of their group.

Why are you so afraid of religion, and Christianity in particular? What do you fear? It’s easy to declare yourself an atheist, especially out of laziness, since I’m sure very few of you ever attempted to give religion a serious chance through exploration and introspection. Isn’t it also quite egocentric to not acknowledge a supreme being greater than yourself?

Instead of proudly proclaiming your stance and backing it up with research that led you to your ultimate decision, you choose to exhibit nastiness and hate toward my religious faith.

You post a sign next to the above-mentioned displays that says, “There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but a myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

Christianity has been around for more than 2,000 years. Our country was founded on Christian/Judean principles. I could fill many columns with quotes and speeches from the Founding Fathers to back up this claim.

Christmas has been a national holiday since the late 1800s. Polls show that there are only 3 percent of Americans who consider themselves atheists (still way too many), 92 percent who believe in God, and 84 percent who consider themselves Christians.

Is this why you’re afraid? Is this why you feel that you have to remove all references to God and religion from the public square? Are you worried that a child could see a Nativity scene and wonder who this baby Jesus really was? Of course you are.

Here’s what you should do, and I won’t protest your right to do so. Pick a day, any day you choose (probably not a work day since it will never be declared a national holiday). Spend it celebrating your atheism. Have an atheist tree, exchange atheist presents, have a nice atheist dinner, wish each other a happy atheist day.

Maybe some of you who believe there is no being more supreme than yourselves can sit on a stool in front of a mirror and praise yourselves all day. Just don’t trample, insult or show condescension toward my religious convictions.

I promise I won’t bother you (but I will still worry about you and pray for you). The saddest part of all this are your children. I’m sure you won’t even give them the opportunity to make an informed decision on their own. Why wouldn’t you do this? You’re afraid of the choice they might make. In last weekend’s edition of The Daily Star, there was an article titled “Israel celebrates Hanukkah tale.” It tells of an Israeli village where the re-enactment of the Hanukkah story takes place, which I believe is an annual event.

A person is quoted as saying, “Thousands of Israeli children have visited here.

They learn about the Maccabees and understand their nationalism, and their religion becomes stronger.” Is this what you are afraid of? That they might hear the story of Jesus and make a decision different from that of your own? People, we are on the right side of this issue. We have the numbers to effectively boycott films and stores that pander to this atheistic theme.

A perfect example was Bill Maher’s film “Religulous.” It was highly promoted and a total flop. Compare that to the movie “The Passion of The Christ.” This was produced by Mel Gibson with his own funds since Hollywood rejected its religious theme. It ended up being 12th of the top 1,000 grossing films. So we do have some clout and can exercise it if pushed too far.

So let’s switch the focus back on Christmas. As Nathan Tabor, a columnist, says, Christmas isn’t anything without Christ. On that note, I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, but more importantly, happy birthday, Jesus.

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Tom Sears is a professor of accounting at Hartwick College in Oneonta. He can be reached at SearsT@hartwick.edu. His column appears every other week.