By Teresa Welsh |
No, Christmas has not become too secular, because it can't be too secular. December in America today is a time to spread a message of good cheer by reuniting with family and friends, and it need not have anything to do with the sacred. To many atheist and agnostic humanists, this time of year transcends religion and deities, which is why it is enjoyed not just by the most faithful but by all who appreciate goodwill and community. Anyone can celebrate and participate in the traditions of the season, including giving gifts, hosting parties, and spending time with family and friends. In fact, many humanists take this opportunity to recognize America's diversity by celebrating not just Christmas, but Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Winter Solstice celebrations, among others. We like winter holidays so much we humanists even invented a new one, HumanLight! In a move that is very American at its core, we have taken the opportunity to come together and positively celebrate our diversity.
Those on the Religious Right claim there's a "war on Christmas" and insist that only Christmas be celebrated publicly and only in their distinctly sectarian way. That only fuels further intolerance of Americans of minority faiths and philosophies who enjoy this time of year and recognize Christmas and other December holidays for what they truly are--a time for peace and giving, getting together with family and friends, and celebrating humanity. This is not to say that Christians can't enjoy a sectarian Christmas of their own, though it's worth pointing out that many Christmas rituals and practices we observe today have ancient pagan roots and a long history of accepting adaptations from various cultures. But there's no doubt Christmas today has become a civic holiday that can be celebrated by all--and that's a good thing.
About Roy Speckhardt Executive Director of the American Humanist Association
Janice Shaw Crouse Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America's Beverly LaHaye Institute
J.P. Duffy Vice President for Communications at Family Research Council
Bill Donohue President and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights