I ran into an opinion article today titled:
By denying free speech and public display to religious individuals and organizations, our government is in fact enforcing a state religion of atheism.
The problem here is that the writer, like most of the “war on Christmas” crowd, fails to see the distinction between a public display of religious beliefs done on private land, like a church or ones own house, and public displays done on government land. Organizations like FFRF and American Atheists are not trying to prevent people from speaking about Christmas, from celebrating Christmas, or from putting up as many displays as they want provided they are not put up on government land.
This has nothing to do with enforcing “state atheism” in our country. I am an atheist, but I would roundly oppose such a thing for a variety of reasons.
The First Amendment does not give individuals the right to not encounter religion in public; it just states that any religion they encounter is not backed by the weight of governmental authority.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a person get it so completely and yet still manage not to get it. This is exactly the argument we use against allowing displays to be put up on state owned property. Of course the first amendment does not give individuals the right not to encounter religion, it also promises the government will not censor speech along with it’s promise to stay out of religion. The rub is that this also means you don’t have a right to not encounter atheism in public either. It is for every one’s benefit that the state takes no stance on which position is true.
Unfortunately, our government uses its judicial and police authorities to prohibit the free exercise of any religion other than atheism. The result has been a diminishment of our society and the loss of cultural diversity.
OK, first, atheism does not count as a religion as it is most commonly defined, but exactly when has the government stopped the free exercise of any religion? Last I checked, nearly everyone in the federal government (state as well) profess to believe in some religion, usually Christianity. I can drive down any road in my town and pass half a dozen churches and individuals who have put up various displays without the slightest hint of government involvement. There is no reason to think the government is persecuting Christians, and there is doubly no reason to assume such persecution comes at the behest of atheists, since the group is a minority who hold almost no public offices.
Christmas has been changed from manger and savior to mall and savings. Perhaps it’s time to start taking schools and mall owners to court to prevent their public displays of religion – atheism.
I agree that Christmas has become very commercialized, but I don’t see how atheism has anything to do with this. The reason Christmas is commercialized is because people want stuff and companies, based upon capitalistic drive, provide them that stuff in exchange for money. How exactly are atheists more responsible for it’s commercialization than anyone else who buys things?
Business owners are permitted to put up whatever display they want, and if their displays have become less religious it is because they want to appeal to more people and thus make more money, not because of some sinister plot to make atheism the state religion. So yeah, ahead and try to take a mall owner to court because their Christmas display lacks a manger, if you can find a lawyer crazy enough to think he will win that case.