Atheists Bring You The Saddest ‘Celebration’ Sign You’ll See This Season

By Tom Gilson Published on December 2, 2017

“Happy Winter Solstice!” the sign says. And why not? We’ve got a lot to celebrate in December, and the return of longer days is one of them (here in the northern hemisphere, anyway). I don’t mind admitting I’m happy for the solstice. Aren’t you?

But the Freedom from Religion Foundation wants to make it more than that. Their banner at Christkindlmarket in Chicago’s Daley Plaza reads:

Happy Winter Solstice!

From the Freedom from Religion Foundation …

At this season of the Winter Solstice we celebrate the Birth of the Unconquered Sun — the TRUE reason for the season. As Americans, let us also honor the birth of our Bill of Rights, which reminds us there can be no freedom OF religion, without having freedom FROM religion in government.

Happy Winter Solstice Sign FFRF Holidays Chicago - 900

The TRUE reason? No.

Jesus Is the True Reason

Skeptics love to tell us Christmas is a sham Christian holiday. They point out that no one knows when Jesus was born, but people have been celebrating the solstice forever. Pagans put lights on trees and decorated them for their festivals. Christians grabbed all that. They might have called it Christmas, but it’s really just a pagan holiday with baby Jesus trappings.

If there’s a problem there, I don’t know what it is. Yes, pagans used festive trees for their celebrations. So can we. The principle is spelled out in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8: Just because non-Christians use something for idolatrous purposes, that doesn’t mean Christians can’t use the same thing for good purposes.

Now, if you really believe Christmas trees are pagan, you’d better not put one up in your house. If you just think Christmas trees are pretty, fun and festive, though, then you’re safe treating their pagan past as irrelevant.

Maybe the “Birth of the Unconquered Sun” really was the “TRUE reason for the season” centuries ago. So what? That doesn’t make it my reason. Or anyone else’s.

As for the date of Jesus’ birth, the idea that December was picked for pagan reasons has a lot going against it. But I don’t care that much, myself. Maybe Christians re-purposed an existing celebration to mark Jesus’ birthday. Maybe the “Birth of the Unconquered Sun” really was the “TRUE reason for the season” centuries ago.

So what? That doesn’t make it my reason. Or anyone else’s, now or for the past couple of centuries at least, now that it’s been so thoroughly imbued with Christian meaning.

And look at the pagan turn these FFRF people have taken here themselves! What else could you call this business of the “Birth of the Unconquered Sun”? Of course they can’t really mean it. They must be saying it tongue-in-cheek. Fine. I don’t mind celebrating the return of longer days, and I can chuckle along with them over whatever paganism may be looming in the background.

Politics Isn’t the True Reason

But then (sigh) they had to go and ruin it.

They could have offered a festive — though somewhat ironic — holiday greeting from a pluralistic perspective. What they gave Chicago instead was a thinly disguised “humbug” with a cranky political point.

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I could get annoyed over grumpy partisanship of that sort. Instead I’m sad for them. For one thing, they’re missing out on the one-half of the reason for the season that isn’t controversial: fun, festivity and celebration. They touched down lightly on the celebration theme, but with a statement they obviously don’t believe. From there it only took another moment for them to harrumph their way over to poking passersby with politics.

It’s Their Sad “Celebration,” Not Ours

Where’s the fun in that? Do they even believe in fun? Every time I hear from this FFRF group, it comes across as dour, contrary, and quite often bullying. That alone is enough to make this the saddest “celebration” sign I’ve seen in a long time.

They can have their cranky Christmas. They can even accuse me of having a pagan Christmas. I’m planning to have a Christ-honoring merry Christmas instead.

And of course they’re missing out on the better half of the reason for the season: the love of God, delivered straight to our doorstep through the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Instead they’ve posted a sign to do battle with all that.

They’re probably looking for us to fight back. I’m going to grieve instead. And then move on just as quickly as I can, to get to the real celebration.

They can have their cranky Christmas. They can accuse me of having a pagan Christmas. I’m planning to have a Christ-honoring merry Christmas instead. 

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  • Char B

    Agreed! :))

  • Kathy

    I wrestled with the whole pagan thing myself for a while, but after speaking with a Messianic Jewish rabbi (they do not observe Christmas even though they are believers in Yeshua (Christ) ), I feel better about celebrating. He said as long as Yeshua is your focus and all of the festivities are just fun “side items”, there should be no problem with it.

  • Andrew Mason

    Aren’t the FFRF being hemispheric? Christmas means summer in the Southern hemisphere. And what of countries other than America, which don’t have a Bill of Rights – can they not celebrate it? As Gilson says, the FFRF are attempting to turn Christmas into a political debate. Perhaps they share Ebinizer Scrooge’s view of Christmas 🙁

    • Ken Abbott

      Even more, they’re being solticistic, because they apparently don’t give equal status to the summer soltice! I won’t even go into equal rights for equinoxes (? equinoctes)!

  • Trilemma

    I know there’s no actual Santa Claus so I think of Santa Claus as the personification of Christmas. Many non-Christians say they like Jesus but they don’t like Christians. So, there’s a concept of Jesus apart from Christianity and the Bible. If I ever decided Jesus never existed, I would probably view Jesus as the personification of good will toward man and still celebrate Christmas.

    • Ken Abbott

      The only reason those non-Christians say they like Jesus is that they’re generally ignorant of him. It’s nonsense for them to claim they approve of him as a good man or a good moral teacher and yet reject practically everything he said about himself.

      And if you ever decide Jesus never existed–congratulations, you’ll have joined the lunatic fringe of Internet conspiracy theorists!

      • John Connor

        Opinions vary Ken….

        • Ken Abbott

          And everybody’s got one.

      • Trilemma

        What are some of the things Jesus said about himself that non-Christians reject?

        • Ken Abbott

          Necessarily this will not be an exhaustive list:

          “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven….Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

          “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

          In response to Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, he replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”

          He told his disciples on several occasions that he would be condemned by the religious leaders in Jerusalem and would be killed by crucifixion, but would rise from the dead.

          “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”

          When charged by the high priest to tell the assembled leaders if he was the Christ, the Son of God, he replied, “Yes, it is as you say. But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man siting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

          In one of his final meetings with his disciples after his resurrection from the dead, he said, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.”

          All of these are just from Matthew’s gospel, and I did not cite many of the longer passages. Taken from these alone, though, unbelievers reject that they will be held accountable by God for how they regard Jesus, that he is God (which is what “Lord of the Sabbath” means), that he rose from the dead, that he will come again in judgment over all mankind, and that he possesses all (not a little, not a lot, but all) authority in the universe.

          • Trilemma

            Jesus didn’t actually write anything so what we have in the Bible is what unknown writers claim Jesus said about himself. This makes it easy for non-Christians to reject anything that makes Jesus appear to be more than just a man. Non-Christians who think Jesus was a good teacher don’t reject his crucifixion. In the parable of the sheep and the goats, Jesus teaches that people should do good works for the less fortunate and that they will be judged on how they treated others. Non-Christians don’t reject the idea of doing good works and being judged by those good works and not by their beliefs or faith. Many non-Christians do not reject that Jesus was the Jewish messiah.

            Non-Christians do reject that Jesus is God but Jesus never said he was God. There are many Christians who don’t believe Jesus is God. So, yes, non-Christians reject anything Jesus may have said about himself that would make him out to be more than just a man but that’s not all he said about himself.

          • Ken Abbott

            “Jesus didn’t actually write anything so what we have in the Bible is what unknown writers claim Jesus said about himself. This makes it easy for non-Christians to reject anything that makes Jesus appear to be more than just a man.” But if we cannot know for certain what Jesus said about himself (according to your claim), we can’t trust anything these writers are supposed to have put in his mouth, including his ethical teachings and parables. Why should we trust that people should do good works for the less fortunate? What if some unscrubbed Jewish peasant with a perverse sense of humor just made it all up?

            Your last sentence contradicts your entire argument (“but that’s not all he said about himself”) because you started out claiming we can’t know what Jesus said about himself. So which is it? Can we know what Jesus said or can we not?

          • Trilemma

            When I said, “But that’s not all he said about himself,” I meant as recorded in the Bible.

            “What if some unscrubbed Jewish peasant with a perverse sense of humor just made it all up?”

            That is a very real possibility. I think it’s a very remote possibility, but a possibility.

            “Why should we trust that people should do good works for the less fortunate?”

            The golden rule is not unique to Christianity. Even non-Christians live by it.

          • Ken Abbott

            “When I said, ‘But that’s not all he said about himself,’ I meant as recorded in the Bible.”

            We have another reliable source for what Jesus said about himself?

            Possibilities? How about probabilities? Is there any historical or manuscript evidence to support an unknown fraudulent author for the gospels? At some point, we have to stick to realities and not spin silly hypotheticals.

  • Vince

    Lots of hoax hate crimes, where atheists put up some sort of display, then when it gets vandalized, they blame the Christians. Much more likely the atheists are doing it themselves. They get really nasty this time of year.

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