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Religion Last Updated: Dec 31st, 2005 - 13:52:10

Atheist group making Falwell's dream come true by making 'War on Christmas' fantasy a reality
By Jeff Nall
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Dec 23, 2005, 00:29

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On December 5, Beyond Belief Media (BBM), the group responsible for the less than impressive film The God Who Wasn�t There, made Jerry Falwell�s dreams come true. Under the control of president Brian Flemming, BBM officially declared 'war on Christmas.' In a press release Flemming stated that: "Christian conservatives complain nonstop about the 'War on Christmas,' but there really isn�t any such war."

Most recently Bill O�Reilly, Falwell and other religious fanatics have complained about retailers and other agencies opting to use the slogan "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas" during the 2005 holidays. Such pundits found Boston's decision to name its annual Christmas tree a "holiday tree," particularly distressing.

While most sensible people have treated such half-witted rhetoric accordingly, Flemming's decision to make the "War on Christmas" a reality does nothing but lend support to the religious fanatics. It also undermines those like Joe Conn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who has publicly stated: "There is no war on Christmas . . . This is in large part a publicity stunt and a fundraising maneuver by Jerry Falwell." Not to mention Rev. Barry Lynn, who properly observed that "Jerry Falwell has found that this war on Christmas is a very good, healthy, fundraising mechanism."

Flemming says his group is waging a real war on Christmas in order "to demonstrate what it would look like if Jesus� birthday were truly attacked." Unfortunately, this kind of activism, which is really nothing but cheap advertisement for the company�s lack-luster film, plays into the Religious Right's persecution propaganda. Already an October 2005 poll conducted by the Anti-Defamation League shows that 64 percent of the nation feels religion is "under attack." The last thing atheists need to do is heighten such illogical fear, particularly when such will inevitably inspire Christians everywhere to send Falwell more money. Secondly, such a "War on Christmas" will put-off ordinary people who are already disgusted by Falwell�s nonsense.

As it is, atheists already have enough of an image problem to overcome, particularly the perception that they have nothing to affirm but aversion. Considering that just four days before BBM's announced assault, a group of college students at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) made headlines with their "Smut for Smut" event, in when they gave away pornography in exchange for religious scripture, it's clear they�ve got their work cut out for them. While these kinds of clever spectacles succeed in garnering media exposure, they never fail to play into the Religious Right's hands by casting atheists in a misanthropic light; showing atheists as people endlessly plotting to ruin religion or just plain antagonize believers.

The sooner atheists realize that spiteful antics and attitudes of superiority sadly mirror the presumptive, "all-knowing" mentality of the Religious Right, the sooner they can move beyond religion and form a truly vibrant freethought movement. One would do well to remember the lesson of the Enlightenment wasn't that the enemy of reason was/is belief in God. It's that religious fanaticism, or any other fanaticism for that matter, is the true enemy of rational minds.

This article was originally published in the Humanist Network News.

Jeff Nall regularly contributes to publications such as the Humanist, Online Journal, Toward Freedom, the Humanist Network News, and IMPACT press. His recent work, "A New Vision for Freethought: Reaching Out to Friends in Faithful Places," is slated to appear in the 2006 issue of the journal, Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism. Jeff lives in Brevard County, Florida, with his wife, Desiree, and their daughter, Charlotte.

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