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Tough Time of Year for Atheists

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Postby sandra » Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:40 pm

"Atheists at Christmas: Eat, drink and be wary
by Patrick Condon, Associated Press
December 12, 2009


Minneapolis (AP) — Angie O'Neill recently moved into a new apartment complex for seniors and she's trying to make new friends. But Christmas is a tough time of year for an atheist.

"All the planned activities at this time of year revolve around the church," said O'Neill, a retiree and an atheist for decades.

O'Neill sought an escape this week, joining a group of her fellow nonbelievers for a weekly "Atheist Happy Hour" at a suburban Mexican restaurant. The group, Atheists for Human Rights, is active year-round but takes it up a notch this time of year with a Winter Solstice party, a charity drive and good attendance for the weekly gathering at Ol' Mexico.

For one thing, it's a chance to share coping techniques during this most religious time of year. They range from the simple, like warning about certain stores that blare religious Christmas songs, to tougher tasks like how to avoid certain topics with certain family members. These atheists describe adjusting some customs to make them their own, like Nancy Ruhland, a pharmacist who sends out Christmas cards to friends and loved ones - but makes sure to find ones without a Christian message or subtext.

Even as they chafe at the omnipresence of Christmas, many of the atheists here are quick to stress their belief in the pagan roots of a yearly celebration near the winter solstice. Before Christianity and other organized religions, many cultures would mark the point where days started getting longer again with a "festival of light" that included parties, gift exchanges, even placing trees in homes. Some of those rituals were religious, but usually in a polytheistic way.

"Baby Jesus is just an excuse for a lot of people to party, anyway."
- Alena Castle"What we're celebrating this year is the promise of the sun returning. That's S-U-N, not S-O-N," said Bill Weir, a retired marketing executive from Plymouth.

"Then the Christians stole it," added Marie Alena Castle of Minneapolis, the 82-year-old founder of Atheists for Human Rights and an atheist activist for two decades. It's a season of celebration for the Jewish faith as well, with Hanukkah.

Still, none of the atheists interviewed for this story expressed a wish to be left out of Christmas entirely.

"Food, we like. Presents, we like. Seeing family, we like," said Val Woelfel of St. Paul, an aspiring archaeologist. Woelfel, 47, and her boyfriend, Bjorn Larsen, 32, planned to erect a tree in their living room: "Sacred trees are an ancient custom. It's pretty, it smells nice and it's pagan," Woelfel said.

Some of the atheist attitudes toward Christmas seem the result of well-practiced defense mechanisms. Castle, for instance, gets just as irritated when people tell her "Merry Christmas" as some Christians do when people tell them "Happy Holidays." O'Neill, who declines to give her age, said she wished parents would tell their kids there is no God at the same time they pass along certain information about Santa Claus.

But a number of the atheists who have issues with Christmas said their feelings come in part from years of discrimination.


Bjorn LarsenLarsen, a mechanic, said his ex-wife suggested his atheism was a character flaw in court filings during a contentious divorce with the custody of their children in dispute (he lost custody). Another man at the Atheist Happy Hour declined to reveal his last name, saying his employer is a conservative Catholic who would not tolerate a committed atheist on the payroll.

Still, most participate to some degree in Christmas celebrations, particularly those from Christian families. Larsen said he and Woelfel would join dozens of his relatives for a Christmas brunch at his parents' house on Dec. 24. But he would likely stay behind when most head to church afterward.

"It's the biggest family event of the year, and for me it's about seeing the family," said Larsen, an auto mechanic. "It's about taking the good and leaving the bad."

Ruhland, the pharmacist, said she "came out" as an atheist eight years ago to her family, most of whom are active and traditional Catholics. She still spends time with them at Christmas, and said most have learned to avoid the topic of religion when she's around. "I just sit in the back while they pray, and keep my mouth shut," she said.

For some atheists, the proximity to believers is even closer. Jim Wright, a retired merchandiser, lives with his 92-year-old mother in St. Paul. She "believes all that crap," he said.

"She wants me to come back to God, but I can't because he never existed," Wright said. This Christmas, he said, "I told her if she wants lights on the side of the house that she needs to do it. She's long since given up on the tree."

Castle, the veteran activist, said people shouldn't cave in to the notion that Christmas belongs to Christians.

"Baby Jesus is just an excuse for a lot of people to party, anyway," Castle said. "Enjoy your friends. Eat, drink and be merry.""

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A good time to feel for atheists, right :mrgreen:
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astonishment. “I never heard of such a thing!”
“—but there’s one great advantage in it, that one’s
memory works both ways.”
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Postby greeney2 » Tue Dec 15, 2009 1:20 am

No, this is their choice, so they have to live with it, like anyone else that makes choices in their lives, they know will not be accepted well by parents and family. Decisions like this, in families that were raised a certain way, creates a conflict between religious beliefs. Do you really think a Catholic family that believes in the Sacraments of the church will, or can, accept one of their Baptised children to tell them God does not exsist? My take, on the gist of this post is the Atheists assumption God never existed, is what athests want to convince others. They want to be recognized for their belief, and in the same breath expect everyone to produce some miracal, to give them iron clad proof God exists.

I feel a lot more at Christmas time for those who have no place to go, maybe separated from their family due to work, or other things like divorse, deaths, and they have no place to go. I have a lot more concern for sick and elderly who are shut ins, homeless people who have lost everything in life, but still believe in the Lord. Sorry, but I'm a little tired of the atheist who thinks that for his reigious freedom to be exercized, it means schools and any public places, should not be allowed to have Christmas parties, Christmas greetings, or display things like Christmas trees or Stars of David in Public places. The same people want "Under God" taken out of the pledge, and remove the 10 commandments from a federal court house in the south a few years ago. They think in order for their beliefs to be equal, ours have to stop exsisting. Now every workplace tells us, You may not say Merry Christmas to anyone anymore, you can wish them only a Happy Holiday.
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Postby Dark-Samus » Tue Dec 15, 2009 3:11 am

I so understand why most people wants to be treated equally, but that people now don´t have the freedom to say " Merry Christmas " to anyone is just plain pathetic.

I mean what, are we all going to sort out everyones beliefs now aswell?
It will take even longer than the salvation of thid planet :lol: :lol: :lol:
FFS just take it as a respectful gesture for the love of everything that is still good . :evil: :evil: :evil:
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Postby Dark-Samus » Tue Dec 15, 2009 3:17 am

I also want to add that, regardless of religious or cultural origin the family have had.

If their kid someday do not believe what they do, the least both sides can do is respect eachother's belief, what´s worse specially when it comes to many religious,cultural or fanatic people is that their beliefs means more than their own kid in the end, and it´s wrong.

Personal beliefs is acceptable aslong as it does not conflict with their family.
I would never EVER take my personal beliefs before my family.
They are my equals, my Gods and life as I am to them.

And all of you that does not have this kind of closeness to their family well it´s your problem, but do not take it out to the rest of the world.
Just do me a favour and commit suicide will you. :lol:
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Postby humphreys » Tue Dec 15, 2009 5:49 am

Never had a problem with it myself. I love Christmas.

Being English, we're generally not insane religious nuts who would make family members feel awkward for different beliefs, either, so it's just a fun, albeit expensive, holiday.
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Postby frrostedman » Wed Dec 16, 2009 9:41 am

humphreys wrote:Never had a problem with it myself. I love Christmas.

You mean, you love giving and receiving gifts. And maybe drinking a few too many ciders while decorating an artificial fir tree.
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Postby humphreys » Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:04 am

frrostedman wrote:
humphreys wrote:Never had a problem with it myself. I love Christmas.

You mean, you love giving and receiving gifts. And maybe drinking a few too many ciders while decorating an artificial fir tree.


I mean I love Christmas.
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Postby sandra » Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:30 am

greeney2 wrote:No, this is their choice, so they have to live with it, like anyone else that makes choices in their lives, they know will not be accepted well by parents and family. Decisions like this, in families that were raised a certain way, creates a conflict between religious beliefs. Do you really think a Catholic family that believes in the Sacraments of the church will, or can, accept one of their Baptised children to tell them God does not exsist?


My mothers side of my family is catholic and I was babtised catholic. My grandmother would have my head on silver platter Christmas eve. They would rather I told them I was a Lesbian...thank god I wont be telling them either. :mrgreen:


My take, on the gist of this post is the Atheists assumption God never existed, is what athests want to convince others. They want to be recognized for their belief, and in the same breath expect everyone to produce some miracal, to give them iron clad proof God exists.


My take- They intuitively know God exists, but have a serious denial Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

I feel a lot more at Christmas time for those who have no place to go, maybe separated from their family due to work, or other things like divorse, deaths, and they have no place to go. I have a lot more concern for sick and elderly who are shut ins, homeless people who have lost everything in life, but still believe in the Lord. Sorry, but I'm a little tired of the atheist who thinks that for his reigious freedom to be exercized, it means schools and any public places, should not be allowed to have Christmas parties, Christmas greetings, or display things like Christmas trees or Stars of David in Public places. The same people want "Under God" taken out of the pledge, and remove the 10 commandments from a federal court house in the south a few years ago. They think in order for their beliefs to be equal, ours have to stop exsisting. Now every workplace tells us, You may not say Merry Christmas to anyone anymore, you can wish them only a Happy Holiday.


I agree. I posted this article for that reason, I came accross a few of these articles (this article comes from a neighboring city where I live) and thought 'theres more to wrry about'!! And thers a picture of an Atheist putting up their Christmas tree...LMFAO! whatever.

The other night I took my neices to their Christmas concert, my mother was a little upset by one of the songs....it sang about a mother maybe meeting Jesus tonight, how they were poor and wanted to buy her a new pair of shoes, something along those lines. I said yeah it was sad, but atleast they are still allowed to sing about jesus in a public school!
“Living backwards!” Alice repeated in great
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“—but there’s one great advantage in it, that one’s
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Postby frrostedman » Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:44 am

humphreys wrote:
frrostedman wrote:
humphreys wrote:Never had a problem with it myself. I love Christmas.

You mean, you love giving and receiving gifts. And maybe drinking a few too many ciders while decorating an artificial fir tree.


I mean I love Christmas.

No. You don't. You love the benefits, the day off from work, and the time of year. :P
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Postby humphreys » Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:48 am

frrostedman wrote:No. You don't. You love the benefits, the day off from work, and the time of year. :P


I love Christmas. You can't deny me loving Christmas just because, technically, what is being celebrated is something I do not believe in.

Straight people can love gay pride parades, and white people can love ebony magazines, although I'm not one of them!

Does it pain you that someone who is not in "the club" enjoys the celebration as much as you do? :lol:
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