Did you catch a glimpse of that anti Ramadan Billboard in New York City this past July?  No?  Missed that one huh?  Did you hear about the protest to change the name of San Fran’s large  “Mama Menorah” to the “Unity Candelabra” last week?  Yeah, me neither.  Maybe I’m thinking of the American Humanist Association’s large protest about Scientology?  What, that didn’t happen?

Feeling alienated yet?

Feeling alienated yet?

Maybe they were too busy threatening small school districts who have no working capital to defend themselves in protracted legal battles to bother.  After all, any program that encourages children to collect toys and other items for the needy threatens the very fabric of our nation, especially if it mentions Christmas, as in “Operation Christmas Child.”  They succeeded of course.  Faced with the threat of costly litigation, the stunned parents of East Point Academy in South Carolina walked away from what they were trying to establish as a tradition of selflessness and giving (concepts probably foreign to AHA).   Kudos however to the folks at SkyView Academy, a charter school in Colorado.  Receiving the same threatening letter that East Point did, parents, administrators and the kids recognized it for what it truly was; a bully tactic employed to strip the parents and children of SkyView of their constitutional rights to express their religious beliefs.  Period.  As in if you like your religion, you can keep it, period.   At the end of the day, the children still collected gifts for those in need and not a single atheist or humanist was hurt.  Or converted.

A recent Gallup poll puts 9 of 10 Americans believing in God.  Neat.  What that really says is that, whether they like it or not, Atheists are a minority in a largely religious country.  In a country I might add, that does not require one to profess one’s faith over another or any faith at all.  It is a country however, that protects one’s right to profess that faith.  And whether the AHA like it or not,  if a large majority of the public wants to display their solidarity and common belief in their own public square, the government has no right to forbid them to do so.  Maybe these folks are more confused than devious; don’t want to go to the lighting of the Menorah? Stay home.  The counter argument of course is that it’s their public square too.  Okay, go.  You’re afforded that right too.  How many Christians have kept you out of the square? How many have sued you for expressing your beliefs?  The last time an abortion rights rally was held in any large metropolitan square in this country, did you protest that too?  Why not?  Sorry, but that’s a belief system; like yours, like any other religion is.

In fact, the greatest fear for Atheists isn’t that they’ll be forced to convert; no it’s that people may be guided by their faith on matters of importance in the ballot box.  Can’t have people using their personal beliefs to make their own personal decisions now, can we?  Oh, the horror.  Everyone’s gotta believe in what the all-seeing, all-knowing state tells them is good and right.  We elect our gods nowadays.

Judy Saint (no, that’s her real name not a poor attempt at irony,) the president of the “Greater Sacramento Chapter of Freedom from Religion Foundation” said that the 55 billboards the group has paid for around the state are not intended to be anti-god.  Uh, okay.  Well, she may be right.  Maybe they’re actually pro-god, because her belief pretty much has people like her the very center of their existence.  Nothing is more important then they are to themselves.   All “ID” as Freud might say.  Or narcissistic, take your pick.  They don’t need to acknowledge any god other than the ones they see in the mirror.  She laments the fact that “many non-believers are alienated and some are cut off from family if they do not share their religion.”  Funny, that’s a common lament among a lot of families, and most of the time it’s not about religion at all.  People often feel alienated and families dissolve; and most of the time it’s due to the same narcissism and self-declared superiority she seems to espouse.  The stupid is strong with this one.

Given the crap surrounding what should be a time where we express greetings of joy and unity (Thank you for wishing me a happy Hanukkah even though I’m not Jewish) it makes me happy to see small stories like SkyView where people have had enough.  Mayor Andrew Przybylo of the small village of Niles got it right at his town’s first ever “Christmas Tree” lighting; “What all those attending will be doing is joining the spirit of Christmas. What all those attending will be doing is thinking about love and gifting. We will not be playing politics with our Christmas tree. And so all religious-minded, agnostics too, atheists also, and all those who choose to believe in family and community, I hope you are there and spread good cheer,” he said. Where does that alienation thingy come in again?

He’s not alone.  Mayor David Fried of Robbinsville New Jersey called it for what it is; “Enough is enough. It’s time to take the politics out and say it like it is,” Fried said during an interview last night. “We tolerate all religions. We tolerate all faiths. For 2,000 years, we’ve been saying, ‘Merry Christmas.’ The more politically correct we become, the more we forget who we really are.”  Even Governor Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island finally got the message, although he was simply resigned to the fact that the majority of the folks in his state were sick of the political correctness he prefers.  Rhode Island finally has a state “Christmas tree.”  And no one had to convert either.  I’m sure that Atheists were welcome to the lighting ceremony.  Maybe they were home looking in the mirror.

Sometimes the intolerance of the tolerant just grates on my nerves.  Wish me a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, or whatever good cheer you want to send my way.  I’ll take it and raise a glass in your honor.  If my wishing you a Merry Christmas offends you that much, I’ll raise a glass in your honor anyway.  Maybe out of pity.

But more likely because I’d hate to see a good Christmas martini go to waste.

Here are a couple more posts that might jingle your bells;