Survey: Christmas and religion November 22, 2007Posted by Teen Atheist in family, interviews, issues.
Tags: atheism, Christmas, family, holidays, religion
A journalism student in London recently sent me a group of questions through my Contact page that he would like answered for an article that he is writing. I hope you don’t mind that I answered them here instead of replying via email!
Please let me know when you’ve read them, Marc!
1) Figures show that on Christmas the attendance in church is much higher than at other times of the year which shows that for many Christmas is the only occasion they will go to church for. Therefore, do you think – if Christmas was “cancelled” – the people’s “last link” to religion be taken away?
Not necessarily. My family is an example of the kind of people who only attend church on Christmas, but that doesn’t make them any less Catholic than the people who attend mass regularly — they’re just lazier. They still live by the other doctrines and principles of the church, one of which, unfortunately, is “atheists are OMG TEH EVILZ.”
2) There’s also a debate going on whether it actually is okay to wish someone a “Merry Christmas” who doesn’t celebrate it. Because of that some stores (especially in the US) already changed their display and advertising slogans from “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays” or something similar. What is your opinion on that? Do you think the religious origin of Christmas gets pushed into the background too much and it’s more or less all about consumerism?
Hell, I hope it becomes all about consumerism. I can see the point of “Happy Holidays,” but I don’t like being told what I can and can’t say, and frankly, this “politically correct” bullshit bores me to tears. I’ll say “Christmas” if I want to, damn it!
I would be sensitive enough, though, to change that to “Hanukkah” or “Kwanzaa” when speaking to someone of a different religion. There’s no Hanukkah or Kwanzaa where I live, however, so I just say “Christmas.”
3) Then of course there are the atheists like you, who don’t celebrate Christmas at all or – if they do – for who it has nothing to do with Jesus’s birth or anything else religious, but is just a holiday. Do you think religion is necessary to celebrate Christmas?
When someone mentions “Christmas,” I think of a day when you can sit down at the table and eat really good food with your family, exchange presents, and generally be cheery as you feel the chilly Christmas wind blow past. Jesus is the last thing that comes to mind. There are some people (ahem, mom) who insist that only Christians should celebrate Christmas, but I don’t see why the rest of us should be denied our presents just because we believe in one less god than they do. Maybe I can’t celebrate with them, but I’ll certainly find a way to actually have a good time, with or without the family.
4) Generally, do you feel religion is as important today as it was, let’s say, fifty years ago, especially in terms of Christmas?
I think people are getting lazier when it comes to religious practices. My family used to go to church every Sunday, and blah blah blah all of that, but they eventually decided that it wasn’t important. God’s presence is still as strong as ever, but the way they decide to go about getting in touch with Him has changed. I just hope that one day, they decide to do away with the discrimination.
5) Why do you think people celebrate Christmas today? How big do you think the role that religion plays in people’s motivation to celebrate Christmas is? Why do you yourself celebrate it?
It’s culture and tradition. Everybody else does it. I celebrate Christmas because I like the weather, the food and the presents.
6) When was the last time you heard the word Jesus?
I use it all the time. “Jesus H. Christ!”
7) So do you think Christmas should be cancelled?
I don’t see the point in canceling Christmas (it’s still my favorite holiday next to New Year’s Eve!), but I do hope that it becomes accepted as a secular holiday. Then again, it has the word “Christ” in it, so I guess I should just say that I’m celebrating ‘Mas this year. Yeah.
Merry ‘Mas, guys!