The annual struggle for control of America’s Yuletide cultural battleground is off and running early this year. Perhaps that’s fitting, since the Christmas shopping season seems to begin in June these days.
First we’ve got the mournful conclusion to a story that broke on the national radar screen last year, but has actually been in progress for three years now. A park in Santa Monica, California had a sixty-year tradition of hosting big Nativity scenes, constructed by a coalition of churches. These displays were so renowned that Santa Monica became known as “The City of the Christmas Story.”
But starting in 2009, a small group of atheists – originally just one guy named Damon Vix, but he eventually recruited ten others – began putting up increasingly ugly anti-religious displays next to the Nativity. Vix started out with a simple sign carrying a Jefferson quote, “Religions are all alike – founded on fables and mythologies,” coupled with a “Happy Solstice” message.
As reported by the Associated Press, they graduated to juvenile antics “such as an homage to the ‘Pastafarian religion,’ which would include an artistic representation of the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster.” Another sign included images of Poseidon, Jesus, Santa Claus, and the Devil along with the message “37 million Americans know myths when they see them. What myths do you see?”
The atheists eventually won control of 18 out of 21 spaces for displays at the park, leaving two for Christmas and one for Hanukhah. There were reports of vandalism against the atheists’ signs, and the city found itself compelled to invest a great deal of money and manpower administering the formerly placid business of granting permits for displays. The whole affair has been shut down as of this year, and on Monday a judge rejected the pleas of the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee to permit their Christmas display while they press a lawsuit against the city. Space for unattended displays remains available in other parks around the city.
The most sadly amusing part of the controversy was atheist Damon Vix’s reaction to the judge’s ruling:
For his part, Vix said he was pleased with Monday’s ruling, but was also saddened by the anger being directed against atheists since he hung his first anti-God sign in 2009.
“So many people don’t understand atheists,” he said. “If you read the signs we put up, one said, ‘Love is all around you.’ That’s really a better understanding of who most atheists are.”
Well, then maybe you should have restrained yourself to “Love is all around you” instead of the jackass Flying Spaghetti Monster stuff. I doubt many Christians or Jews would have much of a problem with such signs peacefully orbiting their holiday displays.
There’s no particular reason these atheists had to put up displays hostile to religion, any more than those Christmas and Hanukhah displays are aggressive hostile or insulting toward atheists. But of course, hostility is what defines modern militant atheism, especially around Christmastime. It’s all about weaponized intolerance, wrapped in arrogance. Perhaps Vix is right, and “most atheists” aren’t arrested-adolescent jerks like him and his buddies… but the jerks are the ones who get all the news coverage, and a dozen of them can find ways to kill beloved 60-year-old traditions.
Over in Little Rock, Arkansas, one atheist is trying to shut down a stage performance of “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” which is one of America’s most beloved holiday tales. Why are atheists out to pull the Yuletide football away from poor old Charlie Brown? If you’re a fan of the animated TV special, or remember it fondly from your childhood, you already know why. Take it away, Linus:
Fox News sets the stage in Arkansas:
Students at Terry Elementary School had been invited to attend an upcoming performance of the show at Agape Church. Teachers sent home letters informing parents that a school bus would shuttle children to and from the school-day show.
Pamela Smith, the communications director for the Little Rock School District, told Fox News that students were not required to attend the performance and as far as the district is concerned ??? there is no controversy.
???The teachers wanted to provide an opportunity for cultural enrichment for students through a holiday production and are supported by the principal,??? Smith said. ???Because it will be held at a church, as some public events often are, a letter was sent home with students so parents who took exception and wished to have their children remain at school could do so.???
She said to date no parent has expressed an concerns to the school principal.
But one parent, who wishes to remain anonymous, decided to run to the local atheist group, the “Arkansas Society of Freethinkers,” who have serious problems with free thinking that ranges beyond the fences of their ideology.
???The problem is that it???s got religious content and it???s being performed in a religious venue and that doesn???t just blur the line between church and state ??? it oversteps it entirely,??? attorney Anne Orsi told Arkansas Matters. ???We???re not saying anything bad about Charlie Brown.???
Orsi is vice-president of the organization. She told television station KNWA that the concerned parent did not want to be identified.
???The parents that we know in this this situation are reluctant to speak up because they are concerned about their kids being singled out and bullied,??? she told the television station.
Ah, the noble atheist: forever beset on all sides by primitive, presumably violent enemies who don’t want their culture steamrolled by little bands of malcontents. It’s not good enough that this parent could keep his or her own child from seeing the stage play; nobody else’s children can be allowed to see it, either. Drab conformity is demanded by people who love to slap “Celebrate Diversity” bumper stickers on their cars, and “free thinking” turns out to require an awful lot of censorship.