The Atheist Shibboleth

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It seems that media coverage of conflicts over christmas displays in public places is usually framed as Atheists against Christians (the only true Americans). Of course conservative media loves to pound on this one, and it is a brilliant way of bonding your audience to you and your corporate sponsors by uniting all against the common enemy of change, diversity, multiculturalism, globalism, satan. It’s a WAR on Christmas, and we all need to join ranks against the mongrel hordes who clearly want to…be more included in things? I dunno.

All that aside, it’s fascinating to me that atheists are featured in the forefront of those who object to the tacit public endorsement of christianity inherent in nativity or other religiously inspired displays on government property. Atheists are easier to target explicitly than other actual religions (although apparently a number of the christies think atheism itself is a religion!) so the implicit denunciation of atheist’s declaring war on their sacred day is a good cover for what they’re really afraid of, i.e., change and difference, of any kind.

I suspect that those Americans like me who are not atheists, but don’t believe that any religion’s beliefs and symbols belong in the public square–because we don’t have a state sponsored religion, and because we have a plurality of religious faiths whose adherents shouldn’t have to be bombarded with symbols and ideas of one religion. Even though we already ARE. Conservatives rail about the fact that christianity used to be everywhere in public life as if that’s EVER been a viable reason to do anything—well we used to put children to work in factories at age 5, we used to think slavery was a-okay, that leeches cured all disease, holy shit—the number of horrible things we USED to do is endless. Some of us non-christians are just trying to keep working toward putting some more things onto the list of horrible things we USED to do.

 

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