The group known as American Atheists have once again launched their annual anti-Christmas billboard campaign. Two years ago, their signature piece featured a little girl with a mischievous look 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.”
This year, the group is once again urging folks to skip church. “It is important for people to know,” they write, “that religion has nothing to do with being a good person…” I agree. But it is also important for atheists to know that religion has nothing to do with being a good Christian. 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.”
Another of this year’s billboard ads is a parody of President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign slogan. The message calls on atheists to “Make Christmas Great Again” by skipping church. This particular campaign is specifically targeted at those who no longer believe but still occasionally attend religious services. This is kinda goofy since atheists have never regarded Christmas as great!
I have stated in previous years that I am neither offended nor threatened by these atheists 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 more about Christ at Christmas.
This Christmas season, as in previous years, the people of our church have invested lots of money and time in caring for those in need throughout our community and around the world — even places like Aleppo. We are feeding the hungry, providing water for the thirsty by drilling water wells in villages without a clean source of drinking water, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison, caring for the hurting, bringing hope to refugees, and more.
We are keeping the spirit of Christmas alive by doing for others what Jesus would do — by being His hands and feet throughout our community and in the most desperate places around the planet. We are about much more than going to church, we are about being the church. Ultimately, that is what will make Christmas great this season and throughout the coming year!