December 11, 2011

"Don’t come down here and tell me there is no God."

"This nation is a Christian nation regardless of what those fruit loops and fruitcakes in Washington D.C. say. Hell will freeze over before I vote to have it removed."

So says Joe Hall, the Henderson County Commissioner, defending the Athens, Texas nativity scene from an attack by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which — for the record — is from Madison, Wisconsin.
The foundation asked for the baby Jesus to be removed, or for a sign to be put up next to his crib that would read: “At this season of the winter solstice may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
But while some believe Santa is “but myth and superstition,” no one has asked for a sign to be placed next to him, clarifying his non-existence. The town has several other seasonal decorations up, such as reindeer, garden gnomes and snowmen, but the nativity scene is the only decoration has been criticized as a religious symbol. As for Santa, he’s more of a tradition than a religious icon, so the foundation has not taken issue with him.

53 comments:

Jason (the commenter) said...

Both sides sound unreasonable. Baby Jesus would not approve.

Michael said...

Lovely place, Madison, filled with people who are a lot smarter and more sophisticated than most. Except people from NY, of course, but that is not from wont of trying and even reading, absorbing and quoting, the NYT on a daily or hourly basis. But now this group has come to Athens, Tx. I believe they will find this a very lovely but un nuanced town where they are unlikely to get their very sophisticated sign placed anywhere other than up their asses if they arent careful.

rhhardin said...

Argue that babies exist, so what's the problem.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Michael: I believe they will find this a very lovely but un nuanced town where they are unlikely to get their very sophisticated sign placed anywhere other than up their asses if they arent careful.

That's probably the plan. They sound like the left-wing version of that woman who protests at soldier's funerals.

Jason (the commenter) said...

They need an agnostic group to make a statement saying they aren't sure which side is right.

phx said...

Both sides sound unreasonable. Baby Jesus would not approve.

Nobody ever invokes Baby Satan. Not even Satanists.

Jason (the commenter) said...

phx : Nobody ever invokes Baby Satan. Not even Satanists.

Because he was never a baby. He's an angel that got out of line.

Michael said...

Jason. No, i think they have a little CHRISTmas display for their children in their very Christian town and would prefer to not have to be a battleground defending a 2000 year old religion against people insisting that their world be turned upside down because they say so.

I am offended daily without having to call the cops to disassemble that which offends.

We might soon be at a place where we have been pushed too far.

phx said...

We know that angels were never babies? That seems debatable, and worth a thread.

Mike Anderson ... said...

Historic evicence that there are, in fact, Angel Babies.

http://youtu.be/6LjxfNxbZM4

phx said...

Can I have my Baby Satan back then? Thank you!

phx said...

Don't come down here and tell me there is no Baby Satan.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Michael: No, i think they have a little CHRISTmas display for their children in their very Christian town and would prefer to not have to be a battleground defending a 2000 year old religion against people insisting that their world be turned upside down because they say so.

A Christian would turn the other cheek, especially when someone is trying to provoke them. They could have used this incident to highlight the noble qualities of their faith, instead they turned it into a shouting match.

caplight45 said...

So many good one liners are going through my mind. Alas, I shall abstain from posting them as it is the Lord's Day.

But "turn the other cheek" was in one of my ripostes. And I could even deliver it in Yiddish just to be ecumenical.

Anonymous said...

I'd probably hate Joe Hall if I met him, and he'd probably hate me right back (while loving my long-suffering soul), but all I can think to say at reading this exchange is, "you go, Joe!"

vet66 said...

When did 'turn the other cheek' trump Onward Christian
Soldiers? It is not a sin to stand up for your christian beliefs. Texas, outside some of the liberal bastions built around progressive colleges, is a bastion of sanity in the face of whiny, perpetual grievance mongers who take the joy out of life preaching their religion of secularism.

The secularists beg the question of why is their religion of secularism so puny that it constantly requires affirmation from others? Apparently it can't stand on it's own merits.

Bruce Hayden said...

My first idea was that the carpet baggers from Madison should go back up north where they belonged. My second was they should be either run out of town on a rail or tarred and feathered first.

And what they were demanding: “At this season of the winter solstice may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.” sounds just as religious as what they are complaining about. They can't prove that there is no god, and more than a believer can prove that there is.

caplight45 said...

Of course the FFRS counts on people like Joe Hall to respond as he did. That is part of the game. I think that any response should be measured and that doesn't mean giving in.

I am concerned about the use of the word "solstice" in as much as it is often used by Wiccans and other self avowed neopagan groups. I would sue them to replace the word solstice with "equinox" which is a more neutral term.

Lucien said...

Such displays should be allowed, but only where they include real gold Frankincense, and Myrrh. You see, if you put market forces to work . . .

Dark Eden said...

As someone who doesn't have a dog in this fight (Pagan here) I have to say that the militant atheists have crossed the event horizon and are now officially more annoying than proselytizing christians, which takes work because they have a history of killing people like me.

Congratulations, here's your giant gold plated douche trophy.

TMink said...

Fear makes people do weird things. I still cannot wrap my head around the fundamental weirdness of people fearing representations of things that they state do not exist. You don't see atheists going after the ghost hunting shows. So something else is going on. Many of these people should just fess up and say they hate God or Christians or both and be done with it.

I do not see this as applying to the atheists on this board who are kind and tolerant folks so far as I have read.

Trey

Dr Weevil said...

caplight45:
Go back to middle school and relearn your science. The solstices are in December and June. The equinoxes are in March and September. Completely different (though related) phenomena.

SGT Ted said...

FFRF are anti religious bigots trying to use the courts to shut down religious speech.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

If religion is a system of unprovable beliefs regarding the existence of Deity, then FFRS certainly qualifies as religion. "There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell" is pure dogma.

wv: pephoot-- "Delilah bring me my pephoot. I fear I'm going to sneeze."

caplight45 said...

@SGTTed

Mr Preston, my eighth grade science teacher, would be terribly disappointed in me. He was a good teacher and a nice guy.

mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

caplight45 said...

Oops, sorry, it was Dr Weevil not SGT Ted.

caplight45 said...

Make up work as in extra credit to bring my failing grade up:

A solstice is an astronomical event that happens twice each year when the Sun's apparent position in the sky, as viewed from Earth, reaches its northernmost or southernmost extremes. The name is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because at the solstices, the Sun stands still in declination; that is, the apparent movement of the Sun's path north or south comes to a stop before reversing direction.

An equinox occurs twice a year, when the tilt of the Earth's axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the center of the Sun being in the same plane as the Earth's equator. The term equinox can also be used in a broader sense, meaning the date when such a passage happens. The name "equinox" is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), because around the equinox, the night and day have approximately equal length. (Wikip)

While it may be mostly Pagans and Wiccans who celebrate the Yule holiday these days, nearly all cultures and faiths have some sort of winter solstice celebration or festival. Because of the theme of endless birth, life, death, and rebirth, the time of the solstice is often associated with deity and other legendary figures. No matter which path you follow, chances are good that one of your gods or goddesses has a winter solstice connection. See http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/yulethelongestnight/a/Winter_Sol_Gods.htm for a list of pagan god and goddesses associated with the winter solstice.

edutcher said...

Good for him. The only time you win over the Lefties is when you get in their faces and smack them in the mouth the way Hall is doing.

The Gospel According to Uncle Saul counts on the Right being nice guys. When the Right stands up for itself, as it's finally starting to do, it does a lot better.

Skyler said...

As an atheist I'm angry at these nut jobs trying to enflame Christians. If there is evidence of someone being discriminated against, then by all means we should object to otherwise innocuous displays of religious symbols.

But otherwise we should live and let live. They will never stop their beliefs even if you remove the symbols, but they can certainly strengthen their animosity to the minority atheists and Jews.

Michael said...

Jason. You are full of shit. Christians will not turn their cheeks from stupidity posing as sophistication. Nor should they. Also, they are not "shouting". They are simply saying "no". Which of course is shouting to a sophisticate not getting her way.

Skyler said...

On the other hand, we are a nation of laws. This is not an issue that is allowed by our courts.

Roy Lofquist said...

educher has it exactly correct. The only way to deal with these pushy, arrogant bastards is to say "up yours, sideways, with a halibut".

bagoh20 said...

"Socialism is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

Chef Mojo said...

@Dark Eden:

Totally agree.

traditionalguy said...

Joe is the name of a good man who would not turn in his betrothed Mary for adultery and stoning, and then the The Angel of God told him to accept the baby Jesus (he named him for Joe)and Joe did what he was told, took the pregnant Mary for a wife based on faith in God's word given to him.

So this guy named Joe has a tradition of Joes standing up to the religious accusers including the Atheist Truth Squads trying to do away with Jesus today.

cubanbob said...

Tyrone Slothrop said...
If religion is a system of unprovable beliefs regarding the existence of Deity, then FFRS certainly qualifies as religion. "There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell" is pure dogma.

wv: pephoot-- "Delilah bring me my pephoot. I fear I'm going to sneeze."

12/11/11 9:09 AM

Obviously those geniuses from Madison never heard of Pascal's Wager.

ic said...

How do the busy bodies know there are no gods? Isn't that an opinion, as valid as man-made global warming?

Alex said...

How do the busy bodies know there are no gods?

Too bad your primitive lizard brain can't function without the old superstitions.

Seeing Red said...

winter solstice

Pagan.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why belief or non-felief in God is such a controversial matter. The more fundamental question would seem to be whether or not there is right and wrong. The religious seem to believe so and religion provides them with some clarity on the making distinction and help living accordingly. A lot of people believe in right and wrong but not God. I guess they believe the law or politics or something will help them in the same way that religion helps the believers. Then there are those who reject "right and wrong" and have some kind of philosophy about gray areas and relativity etc and its not even clear to me that they believe what they are arguing. I guess it all boils down to what Bob Dylan sang:

You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride
You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side
You may be workin’ in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair
You may be somebody’s mistress, may be somebody’s heir

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

kimsch said...

Skylar,

Freedom From Religion people are not atheists, they are ANTI-theists.

If Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand can sing Christmas songs...

n.n said...

Jason (the commenter):

You mischaracterize agnosticism in principle. To be agnostic you have to acknowledge what you know, don't know, and are incapable of knowing. Once that is done, then you develop what you do know, you learn what you are capable of knowing, and, ideally, consider how it all will serve to elevate the human condition.

Why, pray tell, would it be incumbent upon individuals to accept one faith over another? What advantage does the secular faith offer?

There is no value to accept one set of beliefs based on a permanent condition of limited, circumstantial evidence, over another with the same basis for its existence and integrity. However, at least religious people describe their beliefs as faith, whereas adherents to the secular cult cannot muster the intellectual honesty to do the same. At least distinguish between science and philosophy.

Science is a faith necessarily constrained to a limited frame of reference. Let's hope our environment remains consistent and predictable.

Furthermore, the secular cult has proven to be the impetus for the greatest loss of life, enslavement, destruction, and dispossession of any group, save for Islamic imperialists; but, where the latter accomplished in over 1000 years, the former did in less than 100.

Each of your faiths should rightly be judged on the principles they engender. The secular cult has demonstrated time and again, throughout the world, that it, along with other interests realized through totalitarian principles, is progressively incapable of preserving individual dignity and, in fact, devalues human life.

I will not condemn all atheists, because there is no uniformity to that position, and there are individuals who identify and practice principles which are compatible with both the natural (i.e. instinctive) and enlightened (i.e. conscious) orders. I will not condemn all Muslims for the same reason. I will not praise all religious people, or anyone else, because we are all vulnerable to the corruption which follows from dreams of physical, material, and ego instant gratification, principally through redistributive and retributive change, but also through fraudulent exploitation.

The conflict in this context is, as with every other conflict, principally about competing interests pursuing the pole position. That it is centered around competing faiths only ensures that it will not be easily or permanently resolved.

richard mcenroe said...

How terrified do Wisconsin atheists have to be of the frailty of their own creed that they'll travel 1000 miles to root out someone who disagrees with them.

Until someone shows me a draft of the Declaration that reads "endowed by random cosmic forces with unalienable rights" I'm with Texas on this one.

sorepaw said...

They can't prove that there is no god, an[y] more than a believer can prove that there is.

Atheism is merely disbelief in a god or gods.

Logically, the burden of proof is on the believers.

That said, being an atheist doesn't require one to try to shut down a nativity scene in Athens, Texas.

sorepaw said...

Science is a faith necessarily constrained to a limited frame of reference.

I think you've bought the CACCistocrats' claim that they are scientists.

Carol_Herman said...

Nietzsche was crazy when alive. And, is now deader than a doornail.

As to religious symbols all are welcome. The American Indians bring feathers.

While "my" slogan for the coming Holidays is: Put the Han back in Hanukkah. GREETINGS.

EMD said...

We know that angels were never babies? That seems debatable, and worth a thread.

I once had to digitally remove tiny, near microscopic penises from a set of cherubs in an advertisement after the client complained.

Godot said...

Althouse said:
As for Santa, he’s more of a tradition than a religious icon, so the foundation has not taken issue with him.

First they came for the nativity scenes
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Christian.

veni vidi vici said...

How did these nosey douchebags even find Athens, TX? Talk about a fatal case of "Get a Life Disease" amongst that particular cabal of Madisonians. Wow.

Methadras said...

Jason (the commenter) said...

Both sides sound unreasonable. Baby Jesus would not approve.


Are any groups out there forcing nativity scenes onto public squares or private citizens? If there are I'd like to know who they are. It appears that the only unreasonable ones always tend to be the atheists. Imagine that. What are they so afraid of?

SoCalMike said...

The city of Athens is doing nothing wrong. The Supreme Court said it. Lynch v Donnelly, 1984. Look it up.

karrde said...

Well...Santa Claus may be fiction, but he based (loosely) on a religious figure and historical character.

I was shocked when I realized that I had been told the truth about Santa Claus, and most of the other kids thought that the truth was something else.

http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/

http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/origin-of-santa/

http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/jeremy-seal/

Seth said...

Look I live about an hour away from my home town I know people that live there and they will not take lightly to the sign that was tied to a tree. If you did that in my town you would be shot on site. Im in the sorry ass state of Wisconsin. And I can tell you right now the reason that they're starting shit is because when there's no football on tv its boring as fuck. Go stick each other in the butt. Its called freedom of speech and of religion the reason the founding 'pilgrims' sailed over here so they could believe what they wanted. And why east Texas? You could bitch about the 'christmas tree' that for the first time since the 80's has been called a 'holiday tree'.