Sunday, December 18, 2005

Respect my disreligion

Apparently America has switched from "Merry Christmas" to "Happy Holidays". Undeniably useful, as it can basically be applied to everything, from Halloween through Winter-een-mas. The big argument in favour of it seems to be that it respects everyone's religion - or lack thereof.

The last bit is slightly redundant, in my opinion. We, the people who subscribe to Douglas Adams' distinction of "belief there is not a God" (as opposed to disbelief that there is one), are actually the least likely ones to get involved in a religious war or get offended by someone mentioning religion. I've mentioned before that I enjoy Christmas despite being an atheist, and I similarly enjoy Easter, and others; in Small Country, national holidays include Good Friday and the summer solstice, a.k.a. St John's Day. Both of these are religious holidays, one Christian, one pagan, but I am singularly unoffended by either. I'd be perfectly happy to celebrate Yom Kippur and the Chinese New Year if someone asked me.

One of my college teachers said that in Small Country, a religious debate consists of militant atheists on one side and any sort of believers in absolutely anything on the other. The CIA factbook says that the absolute majority of the people here are religious, Lutheran mainly, but in fact people here tend to believe nothing. In my experience, this improves one's social skills significantly. I certainly do think organized religion is a bad thing and has caused this world a lot of grief, but I am not offended by any religious symbols. I'm not even offended by Mormons. I'm not even offended by Jehovah's Witnesses. Any aspect of a religion, if implemented reasonably, is fine by me.

Merry Christmas.

1 comment:

Dennis Forbes said...

Good post, and very true. Christmas is indeed a largely secular holiday in the West, and while Christian origins can be spun out of the trimmings of Christmas, there are equally legitimate claims that much of the trimmings preceded the birth of Christianity, or came about independently.

Religious stats are a bit of a crock anyways. 75% of Canadians claim Christian association, yet very, very few of that 75% actually extends any effort or actually practices their religion: It's just a convenient title to call themselves. I was "born" and baptised Catholic as a tradition of my family, so following the norm I should call myself a Catholic (in reality I call myself an agnostic).

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