Now, those who know me might find the title of this post to be somewhat contradictory, as I am fairly conservative and libertarian in my political leanings, and I don’t usually have an axe to grind against the Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. But today he happened, in the course of his usual campaign against the imagined “war on Christmas”, to opine as to the motives of the perceived villains who want to remove every scrap of Christmas cheer from public life:
The reason, I believe, is that atheists are jealous of the Yuletide season. While Christians have Jesus and Jews have the prophets, nonbelievers have Bill Maher. There are no Christmas carols for atheists, no pagan displays of largesse like Santa Claus. In fact, for the nonbeliever, Christmas is just a day off, a time to consider that Mardi Gras is fewer than two months away.
I shall, at this point, trot out my own bona fides, and point out that I appeared a few years ago on the WBAI radio program “Equal Time for Freethought” in New York City to defend Christmas– not as a Christian celebration, but as a celebration of the whole of Western civilization. I am a fan of Christmas, and I say “Merry Christmas” as often as I say “Glad Jol”.
Now, I’m not going to say anything about O’Reilly’s interpolation of the motives of atheists. That’s between him and them. But yikes, there is so much wrong with that quote…
- Atheists are not pagans.
- Pagans do indeed have “displays of largess” around this time of year. It’s called Yule, doofus.
- Santa Claus has his origins in Pagan Gods; there’s more of Thor in Santa Claus than Saint Nicholas.
- Mardi Gras is linked to the Catholic celebration of Easter. Atheists (and Pagans) aren’t any more likely to take note of it than anyone else.
- The Christian celebration of Easter is actually linked to the Pagan celebration of Oestara, but that opens up another can of worms…
Bill, I like your show, and you often make good points about policy, but you really need to shut up when it comes to Christians (the overwhelming percentage of the population) being the poor put-upon martyrs they play at being.
When there is a Hof or Temple on every corner, like there are churches, then whine to me.