So it’s Easter Sunday. Happy Easter to my Christian friends. Happy Ostara to my Pagan friends. Happy Sunday to my atheist friends.
Apparently, I’ve been a bad boy because rather than participate in Christian belief, I have, like so many others, gone my own way. Or so I learned from Fox & Friends’ Anna Kooiman on April 18. It turns out that if you express your own opinion, and it does not match the “accepted” opinion, you are a hater and an enemy of religious freedom. They didn’t have to mention little old me by name. I know who I am. What I did.
This is bad. I mean, these are some very angry aberrochristians and they are not about to turn the other cheek when they can lie and whine and hate instead, you know, like Jesus did…oh wait… Um, well…anyway, the War on Christmas is just a war, but the war on Easter is an “unholy” war!:
The Freedom from Religion Foundation, an atheist group that already posted an anti-Easter sign in the Wisconsin state capital, is now erecting a massive display in Chicago’s Daley Plaza. Two eight-foot banners featuring Thomas Jefferson and President John Adams promoting the secular views of our founding fathers.
Oh no, somebody expressing a belief the Religious Right does not approve of! Oh no! That’s can’t be allowed! That’s hateful! C’mon, deep down inside, you always knew facts were hateful things, didn’t you? Don’t play ignorant.
One banner reads “In reason we trust”, the other will say “Keep state and religion separate.” The exhibit, aimed at countering the Jesus in Daley Plaza displaying a display that is going on today or going up today, it’s been going on for eight years there in Chicago, it’ll feature a nineteen foot tall cross and a 10-foot tall image of the resurrected Jesus. Has Easter evolved into an occasion to demean religious beliefs and Christianity?
As for the first, what’s wrong with that? As for the second, that’s what the First Amendment says when it forbids establishment of a state religion. As face-palm moments go, this one ranks right up there.
One of Kooiman’s guests, Faith and Freedom Foundation Deputy National Field Director Virginia Galloway, late compared reason signs to “God hates fags” signs: “They have a right to express their opinion, a Constitutional right…” but, she said, “It seems without class, like the Westboro crowd and the things that they did.”
The alleged War on Easter isn’t a new development, of course. Neither is Fox News’ religious bigotry. In 2006 Bill O’Reilly claimed to have actually prevented a war on Easter. It wasn’t long before his tune changed. World Net Daily asked where all the Easter parades had gone in 2011. Sean Hannity complained about the “war on Easter” that same year, as did Fox & Friends, and Bill-O is now claiming that the Religious Right won the war on Christmas and that the left has moved on to a war on Easter:
O’REILLY: More evidence that Judeo-Christian tradition is under attack in America. That is the subject of this evening’s Talking Points Memo. If you watch the Factor, you know that we won the “War on Christmas” battle. A few years ago some American companies ordered their employees not to say “Merry Christmas.” Remember that? We presented the facts to you, you told the stores you wouldn’t buy there. The crazy edict was quickly rescinded. Power to the people. But the war on Judeo-Christian tradition continues on in some public school districts. In 10 days it will be Easter Sunday. But in some schools you are not allowed to say the word “Easter.” On Long Island, the East Meadow school district, holding a Spring egg hunt — not Easter eggs, Spring eggs. Same thing in Prospect Heights, Illinois. Manhattan Beach, California. Flat Rock Elementary School in South Carolina, and a school district in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania. No Easter. They are having Spring egg events. Moderated by a Spring bunny, at least in San Diego. I know it’s stupid. You know it’s stupid. But it’s happening, and there is a reason why it’s happening. Secular progressives are running wild with President Obama in the White House. They feel unchained, liberated and they are trying to diminish any form of religion. The goal is to marginalize religious opposition to secular programs. [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 3/21/13]
Secular progressives running wild! Feeling unchained! He makes liberty sound truly horrible. And no surprise, since the Religious Right hates liberty like nothing else. Let’s face it, there is no reason to say the word “Easter” in schools unless you are going to call the holy days of other religions by their name in schools. You know, equal time. After all, other religions do exist [*gasp!*].
And unlike Christians, I have no objection to my child learning what Christians think Easter is if he also gets to learn about the holy days of other religions, and about what atheists believe and don’t believe. It’s called E-D-U-C-A-T-I-O-N. The study of comparative religions. It’s called understanding the world around you. Ignorance breeds fear; fear, as Yoda will tell you, breeds hate. You can tell there is a whole lotta ignorance over there at Fox News.
But education isn’t what the Religious Right wants. They want our children indoctrinated in Christianity. They want school prayer and when they say school prayer they mean Christian prayer, Godd*mmit. They want to be the only people allowed to express their religion in the public sphere. And if you fail to go along with that, you’re a hater and waging a war on Christianity and it’s holy days.
A world where people actually get to believe what they want and express that belief is inconceivable to them.
So be it. War it is. A war for true religious liberty. A war against the fascism of the Religious Right. A war against the superstition of the 13th century. A war for science and a fact-filled cosmos. A war for our future. That’s what it comes down to anyway and we might as well be open about it.
But it’s not a war on Christmas, and it’s not a war on Easter. It’s a war to give the rest of us the freedom to divorce ourselves from what passes for Christianity on the Religious Right. Nowhere does the Constitution say the rest of us have to go along with them when they celebrate Easter and Christmas or anything else (and why are they so hot about Christmas and Easter when they really don’t give a fig about Jesus and his teachings?). We have just as much right on those days to celebrate the things we believe in.
That’s what religious freedom is. And that is what atheists are exercising when they carry signs that say “reason” instead of “faith.” The new crusades have been launched not by a pope, but by Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes, but they have the same end in mind, and look out anyone who gets in their way.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.