Here's the thing about the so-called War on Christmas: It actually is happening. But it's coming from the other side.
The actual holiday of Christmas isn't really, and never has been, a celebration specifically about Christ's birth. There's a reason the Winter Solstice occurs at almost exactly the same time of the year: People have been celebrating the middle-of-winter holiday – with gifts and massive consumption of booze and eating like an asshole and getting together with family and friends – way before Jesus. And humankind will certainly be doing it long after the world moves onto whatever the next generation of religious belief is.
But instead, because some Christian leaders between the years 273 and 336 AD decided to co-opt the holiday that was already being celebrated (imagine: a rival deciding to throw a “rowdy get-together” on the same day as your birthday party), we now have plastic manger scenes laid out and lit up in the front of churches and suburban houses throughout America. (Christmas trees, meanwhile, are blatant leftovers from the original pagan celebrations; Santa is a later, creepier addition.) Which is all to say: The Christians are the ones encroaching on our winter fun. And by participating in parties at work, or get-togethers with family, or sales at malls, you're being forced to become a participant in a religious celebration. The idea that “Jesus is the reason for the season” is the best advertising con-job in history.
For most adults, it doesn't matter. We trade a week off from work for seeing a few extra crucifii and listening to songs about little drummers offering up shitty gifts to newborns. Not a big deal. But if you're an atheist/agnostic youth, still living at home under a Christian regime, being forced to attend mass and Praise His Name, it may feel like you're all alone. You're not. Don't worry. We're here. For now, just suck it up and head to church. But while you're listening to the priest's sermon, and spying on the parishioners who've gotten their best sweater out of mothballs, take some mental notes. They'll be helpful later, when you're ready to help defend against the true War on Christmas.
Onto the roundup!
- No, the world didn't end on December 21st. The people that were wrong include: (1) Followers of Warren Jeffs's Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; (2) a fringe Christian cult in China known as “Almighty God”; and (3) Russians! Meanwhile NASA – you know, the place that actually uses science to explore the universe – explained exactly why the world didn't come to an end.
- In case you'd like to arm yourself with knowledge about the terrible Westboro Baptist Church without having to actually comb through the articles that mention the highly inappropriate events they picket and outrageous things they say, head over to Boing Boing where they have an easy-to-read infographic about “the worst family EVER”.
- In Mali, Islamist radicals continued their assault on the historic mausoleums of Timbuktu, a city they've taken over, because they consider the shrines to be false idols. This was a day after the radicals cut the hands off two robbers.
- On January 1st, a law in California banning the use of gay “reparative therapy” was set to go in effect. Instead, an appeals court issued an emergency order to delay the ban until they take a look at it.
- In a series of coordinated attacks in Pakistan, the Taliban killed five female polio vaccination workers, most likely due to the rumour that the CIA used DNA collected from fake vaccines to locate Osama bin Laden. Since then, the UN suspended their campaign to try to eradicate the disease. Well done, Taliban assholes.
- The, oh, let's say religious-wing of the Tea Party believes the shootings in Newtown were caused by not having kids home-schooled (except, again, the shooter was home-schooled), unions and a whole bunch of sex on TV. Because, you know, God and stuff. Focus on the Family's James Dobson, though, thinks it was just because abortion and gays are allowed to marry.
- This 2003 Christmas commercial for Mr. Kipling cakes was banned after only airing three times because, well, you kind of get why once you watch. Still, it's awesome.
- An appeals court in the very Christian nation of Cameroon upheld a three-year jail sentence against a man who sent another man a text message saying “I'm very much in love with you.”
- In Pakistan, a suicide bomber blast at a political rally killed at least eight people.
- David Dykes, an American evangelist, went to Uganda to try to encourage them to continue their efforts to pass the controversial “Kill the Gays” anti-homosexuality bill.
- Auckland's St.-Matthew-in-the-City – a noted gay-rights church in New Zealand – put up a billboard just in time for Christmas that insinuates Jesus was gay. Which, you know, a dude who hangs out with 12 guys, walking around in those loose-fitting robes...
- A piece of original artwork by the amazing elderly Spanish villager who took it upon herself to “restore” a fresco of the painting Ecce Homo has sold on eBay for $1,400.
- Man, all of the religious leaders are getting on the social networks these days. First, the Pope gets on Twitter. And now Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei added Facebook to his digital realm of influence, following his already-existing account at Instagram.
- Speaking of the Pope, he pardoned his former butler for stealing confidential Vatican papers.
And Our Person of the Week:
The guy with the glasses who went to Times Square last week to hear anti-Islamist “preacher” Terry Jones spew a bunch of nonsense about the horrors of the Muslim community and started the crowd in an impromptu a cappella version of The Beatles's “All You Need is Love”. It's so simple to be jaded by videos like this – and, yes, just who the hell is this guy anyway, and why were the videos pointed in his direction? – but try to not get a chill.
Previously - The Great Paradox