Christmas Without Christ

American Atheists New York Christmas 2012 Billboard campaign reading "Keep the Merry, Dump the Myth" and featuring images of Santa and Jesus.While reading an article about the new American Atheists billboard in Time Square (pictured left), a statement jumped out at me.  David Silverman, president of the American Atheists said:

” We know that a large population of ‘Christians’ are actually atheists who feel trapped in their family’s religion.  If you know god is a myth,
you do not have to lie and call yourself ‘Christian’ in order to have a festive holiday season. You can be merry without the myth, and indeed, you should,”
If you were to step into the mall this time of year, how much of Christ would you find in Christmas?
It’s a very astute observation by Mr. Silverman and very condemning of Christianity if as an outside observer he can confidently say “many Christians are actually atheist”.   He’s so sure of his assessment that he knows he can run an ad attacking the core of a belief system and catch less flack than if he had run an ad saying “give up the myth, Santa is a fraud”.  Few Christians will bat an eye at the billboard, much less be upset about it.
But what he misses in the billboard is that Christmas seems to have become more and more merry and less and less Christ centered without the need of atheist intervention.   Sure plenty of churches have nativity scenes and Christmas programs, but beyond the traditions have Christians lost focus of Christmas?  Like Easter with the resurrection, without the birth of Christ all of this for naught.  So often we miss the eternal consequences of the birth of Christ.  Christmas is a celebration of birth, but it’s more than a birthday party.  It’s the climax of the contract God made with humanity for it’s redemption.  And yet how often do we overlook that fact for another cup of eggnog?
Or has Christmas come to a point in society where the religious significance is secondary to the spirit of giving and receiving?  Can such a thing happen?  Christians spend lots of time and money giving.  Giving to loved ones, giving to those less fortunate, and even giving to those we may never meet in this life who suffer in poverty continents away.  Do we get so caught up in the merriment of giving that we forget why we give?
I’m no better.  I’ll admit I’ve failed to explain to my children the significance of the birth of Christ.  What it meant for a king to be born in a stable.  Why he had come to earth.  It’s more than “a birthday party for Jesus” as my five year old would put it.  It’s a celebration of a creator/god/king who ransomed his life for those he longed to restore to him.  And yet reading the story of the birth of a savior simply feels like a stall tactic holding them back from the pile of presents I’ve merrily shopped for.
I find it most sad how the American Atheists can use Santa (a myth) to promote dispelling another “myth” and no one will question the logic.  We’ve set up a comfortable world where belief doesn’t equal action, and Mr. Silverman can call all us on the carpet for it.   His ad isn’t a call out of darkness into knowledge, but a condemning acknowledgement of what Christian’s have allowed Christmas to become.  How much different would this world look if Christians took the Christmas season to truly commemorate the birth and life of Christ?  Where we can say “Keep the Merry, Mr Silverman, give me Christ”.

2 thoughts on “Christmas Without Christ

  1. You make some interesting points, and you express a lot of the struggles many feel. Even though I don’t identify myself as “Christian” in my religious affiliation, I do have Christian values, and I live in a Christian nation. As for Christmas, I think we celebrate two holidays–the secular and non-secular Christmas. Christians need the former; our economy needs the latter. At least they both value giving to others…


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