Our last two Questions of the Week were about surviving and thriving during the holiday season, a potentially emotionally charged time for most everyone. Readers told us how they celebrate the holidays (if they do), how they deal with family members, friends and colleagues who are believers and when, whether and how they voiced their lack of faith and views on religion.
With Hanukkah under way and Christmas coming next week, we thought everyone might benefit from the wisdom, humor and viewpoints of the RDF community. So we decided to share excerpts of our favorite comments here.
They have been lightly edited for grammar and length.
Michael: “Get them out of the house. This year, I’m taking my parents to New Orleans for Christmas. Get them out of their comfort zone and in the mindset (ahead of time) to accept new things with the excitement of traveling. It’s easier to be yourself when you’re not in their environment….”
William: “…December 25th is a mid-winter excuse to meet with family. We sing songs (including Christmas carols, because what other music can a 96 year old sing with her 5 year old great-great-grandson?) We give gifts to children, we have a big meal, and we drink a bit too much wine and we cherish the day as the most special on the calendar. …”
Katy Cordeth: “Fundamentalist Christian, fundamentalist atheist. Spot the difference. Those invited to spend Yuletide at Casa Cordeth will not be required to display their non-believer credentials on arrival. Any guest who wishes to pray during this festive period is more than welcome to. I for one am actually rather fond of Midnight Mass. Oh sweet Jesus I think I’ve begun to feel Christmassy. ”
Lidia: “I usually get in a heated argument and have to leave the room. I regret (it) and promise myself I won’t do it again.“
Sharona: “This will be my first Christmas as an atheist! … I haven’t ‘come out’ yet, and am not sure how to do so, judging from how I was almost disowned for marrying a non-believer. …
“I guess the key is to look at the type of religious person you are dealing with and cater your response accordingly. Crazy, conspiracy-theory-loving, doomsday religious mother? Grin-and-bear it and probably never tell her. Decent, educated christian friends? Heck yeah, tell them the truth and hope to deconvert them!! …”
Rayhana: “… Why can’t we have holidays like Newton Day? Merry Gravity? Happy Faraday? On Michael Faraday’s Birthday? Also, why not Relativity Day? On Einstein’s birthday?”
Dee: “… Have a secular party where something natural is celebrated like the winter solstice. People can bring canned goods for a food bank and celebrate their non-faith in the same joyous way that others do in their places of ‘faith’. When friends talk about praying for two hours (true story), I talk about reading Stephen Hawking for two hours. I don’t comment on their practice, I just jump in with enthusiasm for mine. …”
headswapboy: “I don’t think I want to fight for a secular society, but if they’re up for it I’d be more than happy to take on the pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Dalai Lama, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Kim Jong Un and any other current religious leaders in a dance off. …”
Dave: “… We may abhor the irrational beliefs that religion presents, but we can cherish the beautiful traditions, art, and music they have brought us over the centuries. …”
Linda: “For those who have an imaginary friend in their lives, I treat them the same as everyone else, knowing too well that I have been dumped by family & friends for not joining them in their psychotic journey, I live & let live. Their loss for dumping me for their imaginary friend!”
Hera2u: “As an italian american atheist and vegetarian, if my nona disallowed me my chance to go to her house to pick the meat out of her lasagna and play copious amounts of canasta on christmas, i would be very hurt and am glad she accepted me and my ‘modern’ choices.
“… if one of the children came to me in years time as a believer … i would be as accommodating to them and their ‘modern’ friends as my nona was to me. ”
Sean W.: “I still feel the need to defend somewhat at least the idea of not inviting people or not going to see them just because they are family.
… If a family is largely homophobic, racist, or generally unpleasant, then the fact
they make a great lasagna really means squat. If they aren’t, then what exactly do we imagine we’ve overcome by tolerating their company? …”
SaganTheCat: ” … It’s like saying, is there a way to fight for sexual equality or gay rights without believers getting all self-righteous or jihady. This question was answered long ago by Gregory House: ‘If you could reason with religious people, there’d be no religious people’. anyway must dash, this war on christmas won’t fight itself….Chaaaaaarge!!!”
Michael: “I would suggest an evolutionary approach: To develop a secular society we need to have more children than religious people and teach them to think not believe.”
James: “… Show them we include everyone in our acceptance. … Don’t berate anyone for their opinion, but do gently remind them that we accept them, so they should please accept us.”
Ryan: “it shouldn’t be a goal of secular organizations to try and appease believers and their feelings. We’re fighting for a better future, one free of dogmatic, poisonous and overbearing religions that keep a large portion of our fellow humans in a primeval, archaic and academically dangerous world view. …”
Wishing everyone a Merry Xmas and a Secular New Year. ”