The annual “War on Christmas” has begun, sparked by efforts by FFRF and American Atheists.
American Atheists does many billboard campaigns throughout the year, including their annual holiday billboards for “atheist Christmas.” Each year, the billboard encourages people to skip church. In 2014, the billboard featured a child writing a letter to Santa asking to skip church. In 2015, the billboard pictured Santa with the phrase “Go ahead and skip church! Just be good for goodness sake.” This year, American Atheists have taken a page from Donald Trump’s campaign and reappropriated his campaign slogan with billboards reading “Make America Great Again. Skip Church!” The billboard mocks Donald Trump’s campaign promise that if he were to become president, everyone would say “Merry Christmas” again, instead of “Happy Holidays.”
The FFRF has always fought against the open display of religion in government-owned spaces because it can single out and show preference for one religion. For example, in 2007, FFRF sent a letter to the city of Menominee, Michigan requesting they remove a nativity scene from an amphitheater owned and maintained by the city because it violated the Establishment Cause of the First Amendment. After a nearly decade-long battle, the nativity was removed this year. Menominee City Manager Tony Graff explained the decision, saying “It was determined by the city attorney that we were looking at a violation of our own policy and so the decision was made to remove it” stopped displaying the nativity scene in public following a complaint by the FFRF.
Catholic League president Bill Donohue retorted to FFRF’s “anti-Christmas” behavior by labelling them as “radicals.” While he accepts that not all secularists are anti-Christians, he condemns the FFRF as being too radically charged and for waging a war against Christians.
The Wisconsin-based group published a response saying that it was not perturbed by Donohue’s comments. “If the Catholic League has nothing better to do than to sic its members on us, it is welcome to indulge itself,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “As frequent recipients of harassment, we will not demean ourselves by responding in kind.”
FFRF has issued a “Winter Solstice Survival Guide.” The guide provides ways to keep religion off government property, educates on the “real reason for the season” (the Winter Solstice), Winter Solstice greeting cards, freethinker gifts, and downloads of Christmas song parodies. It also celebrates their victory in Franklin County, Indiana, where multiple lawsuits resulted in the ban of private party exhibits at its courthouse.
The atheist's identity is parasitic: 'Make Christmas Great Again. Skip Church!' Says New Atheist Billboard https://t.co/sqLSa8sn4m
— Jay W. Richards (@FreemarketJay) December 6, 2016
— Joni Hannigan (@JoniHannigan) December 2, 2016
FFRF’s “Heathen’s Greetings” publication states the real meaning of Christmas is a celebration of the winter solstice and the pagan Roman god Saturn. The organization accused Christianity of robbing this festival from the pagans and recasting it as something of their own.
- Christian Examiner
- The Washington Times
- Catholic League
- FFRF -Michigan town removes nativity scene due to sustained FFRF effort
- FFRF Winter Solstice Survival Guide
- FFRF -Catholic League stalks the Freedom From Religion Foundation
- American Atheists