Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | December 7, 2014

‘Tis the Season

‘Tis the season, once again, when atheist activists bash the reason for the season. In previous years, atheists groups have targeted urban audiences in places like New York and London. This year, however, the group known as American Atheists have launched their anti-Christmas campaign in residential areas in Bible Belt states. Their signature piece this year is a billboard featuring a mischievous-looking little girl writing her letter to Santa. “Dear Santa,” she writes, “All I want for Christmas is to skip church! I’m too old for fairy tales.”

2014 American AStheist Billboard
Atheists are still under the mistaken impression that Christianity is about church or religion. Christianity is, instead, about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Of course, atheists believe that Jesus Christ is a myth. At least that’s the message American Atheists promoted in their 2011 anti-Christmas campaign. That year they featured billboards with images of Poseidon, Jesus, Santa, and a devil-like figure with the words “37 million Americans know Myths when they see them.”

Scholars Burridge and Gould, authors of “Jesus Then and Now,” comment in their book that respectable scholars do not deny Jesus’ existence (p. 34). James Hannam, a scholar who came to Christianity from a scientific background, said that to claim that Jesus never existed “requires selective skepticism about which sources are reliable and how others are interpreted.” He continues, “In the end, if Jesus did not exist, it makes Christianity a much more incredible phenomena than if he did.”

In last year’s “Who needs Christ during Christmas?” campaign, the American Atheists group included personal testimonies by atheists who declared that they needed neither Christ nor religion to enjoy the season. Ironically, the added testimonial element made this campaign feel somewhat religious. This year, they have taken things a step further by featuring a child in their campaign.

When I saw the child in this year’s billboard campaign, I thought about all of the things the kids at our church have accomplished over my years at Kingsland. Our kids have helped change the world for the least of these in our own community all the way to the ends of the earth. They have helped orphans and kids at risk and young girls rescued from brothels and unaccompanied refugee kids and raised funds to build schools and clinics and more. These are actual life-saving initiatives that continue to make a difference.

I have stated in previous years that I am neither offended nor threatened by these irreverent attacks on Christmas. Instead, I have come to regard them as opportunities for non-believers and believers alike to think deeply and to dialogue openly about the meaning of Christmas and the Person of Christ. And that’s not a bad thing. We should think and talk about Christ more at Christmas.

As believers we are called to love God with all of our mind, to own our beliefs, and to be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). While we can’t stop atheists from exercising their First Amendment rights, we can use what they say as a springboard to share an opposing view. And, we can and should look for ways to continue teaching our kids to love a world in desperate need and to act intentionally and responsibly to make a difference.

The little girl featured in this year’s atheist campaign can write all the letters she wants to Santa. Her letters are not going to change anything. I remain committed to teaching our kids the value of loving and serving others and responding to real hurt and need in a compassionate way, just as Jesus would. These are the kids who are making a difference in our troubled and needy world. And, that’s no fairy tale.


Responses

  1. Omar,
    Once again, well written. As Christians we really need to control the knee jerk reaction to signs like these and love our enemies. Keep Christ in Christmas.


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