Christians are always talking about the “War on Christmas,” but the fact is that no one has forced anyone not to say “Merry Christmas.” The same can’t be said for the greeting of “Happy Holidays.” So I don’t think the war is on Christmas at all. I think the war in on holidays and what is going on in my local area is proof of that.
This year, Chester County Pennsylvania has to consider whether or not to allow the Freethought Society’s Tree of Knowledge as well as the Pastafarian Holiday Tree. They are not expected to allow either.
The Tree of Knowledge did go up for three years in the county capital of West Chester, but then the religious right decided to kick us out. They put up a choo choo train and claimed that it represented secular residents. Apparently, legal experts thought that defense would be too difficult to fight. But the Pastafarian Tree for their religious holiday of Holiday might be more difficult for them to argue against.
If they do deny the Pastafarian Tree, they will be waging a “War on ‘Holiday.’” I wrote to Commissioner Farrell (the closest to a swing vote there is and he authored the restrictive policy). Here is my letter:
I am a former resident of West Chester (from ’93- ’06) and I currently live with my family in nearby Delaware County. During the three years the Tree of Knowledge was on the courthouse lawn, I took my family to see it. As a non-theist, it is difficult to feel accepted and to have a place where I can take my kids with pride and teach them about my values. The Tree of Knowledge gives us that opportunity.
Also, I value freedom and diversity. So I also want to express my support for the Pastafarians to have their display. If the county is going to allow Christianity to have a spot, they must also allow all other religious viewpoints. While it is true that atheism isn’t a religion, it is still protected as a religion in the same way that silent protests are protected under free speech.
Some religious believers claim that the Tree of Knowledge “offends” them. Well the crèche “offends” me! To me it is a representation of the hatefulness of the Christian religion which dictates that if we don’t believe in Jesus, we will be tortured in Hell for all eternity. Even though it offends me, I support the right of everyone to have an equal spot on the courthouse lawn. We don’t have the right in this country to be shielded from things that offend us. If the Tree of Knowledge “offends” some Christians, then that’s too bad. Atheists have every right to be treated equally under the law and our Tree of Knowledge should be granted equal consideration.
Personally, I don’t think any religious displays show be allowed on government land, but we aren’t going to win that fight. So this is the best strategy. If we can’t beat them, join them. If they are going to be there, then we should be there too. Let’s put it all out there in the free market of ideas. Let the best ideas win. Atheists have nothing to fear because religious ideas have no evidence and it is easy for us to point that out. Christians on the other hand are afraid to include us, because in the free market of ideas, their ideas lose!
UPDATE: Pastafarian Holiday Tree rejected! New video included in the article. Tracy’s awesome!
Please share some of my other article on the subject:
Pastafarians fight county commissioners for Holiday display
Tree of Knowledge: A new atheist tradition
In defense of the Tree of Knowledge
Atheists protest holiday exclusion with Human Tree of Knowledge