A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to appear on to the Fox News program “The O’Reilly Factor” to discuss a new Christmas-themed billboard put up by American Atheists. I’ve expanded on my thoughts about this issue in a new piece for CNN Belief:
The “War on Christmas:” what —or who—is it good for?
In recent years, one organization, American Atheists, has claimed the mantle of prime atheist promoter of the tired “War on Christmas” narrative.
This year, they ushered in the season with an electronic billboard in New York City’s Times Square carrying the message: “Who needs Christ during Christmas? Nobody.” The word “Christ” is crossed out, just in case their message wasn’t clear enough.
The American Atheists maintain that their latest entry in the annual “War on Christmas” saga is a message to other atheists that they are not alone. [Click here to continue reading.]
Here is the video of my Fox News interview, along with five of the main points that I argued:
1. Christians celebrating Christmas is not the most pressing issue that atheists face in the United States. That issue is likely the widespread distrust of atheists. This billboard probably doesn’t contribute to the destigmatization of atheists, or to combating how atheists are broadly excluded—in fact, it may exacerbate these issues.
2. If the purpose of the billboard is truly to let nontheists know that they are not alone, then the billboard would be more effective saying “Not everybody needs Christ in Christmas” or “Don’t celebrate Christmas? You’re not alone.”
3. The separation of church and state matters. The government should not endorse or privilege one religion over any others. If there are going to be publicly funded religious displays at all—a topic that is and should be debated—then there need to be displays for all religious and nonreligious expressions.
4. Christians benefit from a level of religious privilege in the United States—and that must be taken into consideration when unpacking these issues.
5. I would like to see much more of the “yes” of atheism and Humanism in the public square. We have important contributions to make in the public discourse on religion and ethics, and I hope to see atheists articulating those just as often—if not much more often—as we do our disagreements.
What do you think? Please let me know in the comments.