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Tip of the hat to the Friendly Atheist for introducing me to this ridiculous story. Leesburg, Virginia is the latest battleground in the war on xmas. As a supporter on the skeptics' side in this war, waged with such awful weapons of mass indoctrination as xmas decorations and the baby FSM in a manger, apparently I have become a terrorist.

Ok, admittedly the flying spaghetti monster is not a WMI. That was going a bit overboard.

The story goes that last year, a ban on all xmas displays was lifted, and holiday displays were opened up to allow all groups equal access to the yard in front of the Loudoun County Courthouse. Last year, the decorations on display had some amusing variety to them.

Skeleton Santa Claus hanging from a cross. A painting featuring the manger birth of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. A traditional Nativity scene. The local Jedi wishing that the Force is with our troops.
Naturally, the crucified skeletal Santa was repeatedly vandalized and no criminal reports were filed. And, also naturally, the local board of supervisors stepped up to defend the freedom of expression of their entire constituency...
“[This is] another example of putting fingers in eyes of shoppers and businesses and trying to make a mockery of Christmas holidays — that’s what they’re really about. They’re hell bent on trying to destroy people’s holidays,” said Ken Reid, a supervisor representing the Leesburg district.
Oh wait! They didn't. Sorry.  :)

Anyway, this year the board decided to fix that whole problem by revoking the permission on unattended displays. Oh, except for a select few: a Christmas tree, nativity scene, Santa and a Menorah. It must be pure coincidence that those particular displays are the only ones they liked in the first place, eh? So, anyone else who wants to put up a display on the courthouse yard has to either put it up for the day and take it back down in the evening, or else keep watch on it all night. For a month.

And so far, not one religious group has valiantly applied for a gratuitous nativity scene, and there's just one display to be found. Thanks to the American Atheists. See, it says 'American'. That means they're patriots or something. I think.

Rick Wingrove, the Virginia director for American Atheists, will have a booth featuring banners with quotations from historical atheists Albert Einstein and John Adams. It will also feature public readings of books such as Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species.” Mr. Wingrove also received a permit for his display in November, and has spent weekends this month minding the booth. He does not anticipate that someone will be on the lawn every day in December and, so far, the display has been taken down each evening.

“The board made it really onerous for everyone but religious groups to put up displays,” said Mr. Wingrove said. “We will not have the exposure as in the past.”

Wingrove also notes the special access and privilege given to religious groups that has been taken away from others. The special preference amounts to gov't promotion of those religious beliefs and a violation of separation of church and state. But credit where it's due, only the American Atheists have stepped up to do, well, much of anything else given the new policy from the board.

For my punchline I refer again to Ken Reid, Leesburg district supervisor.

“None of the religious organizations in the county have had any problem with what we’re doing,” he said. “It’s strictly this group of terrorists. They’re fanatics who basically want to stamp out religion in all public life and property.”
Wingrove has since defended himself from these scurrilous charges, claiming he is "a veteran, a homeowner, a parent, a taxpayer, a small business owner, and a patriot". Cripes, dude, laying it on a bit thick eh? Good to be thorough I suppose. And the Friendly Atheist rightly points out that the board could simply eliminate all the displays, religious and otherwise, rather than keep trying to carve out special exceptions for their favored god-concepts and such.

Until then, I guess I'm just a terrorist. I already got presents for my folks, my brother and my sweetie, but screw it. Send in Seal Team 666.

Two out of three, a clear majority, they must be right!

Sorry, working on getting out of a bad mood this morning. I should take this maybe just a little bit seriously, but I'm not really. If I get quote-mined by rabid fundamentalists and hauled off by Homeland Security, it's been fun.

I guess I'm just a terrorist.

Originally posted to The Tytalan Way on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 08:34 AM PST.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (20+ / 0-)

    Moving forward, consider the Congressional Progressive Caucus' Deal for All as a solution to the lame-duck budget and sequestration crisis. Democrats won, now use that!

    by tytalus on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 08:34:34 AM PST

  •  Now they've gone and done it (7+ / 0-)

    I'm gonna make a crucified Santa Claus.

    ¡Cállate o despertarás la izquierda! - protest sign in Spain

    by gjohnsit on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 08:49:56 AM PST

  •  It's not Xmas (0+ / 0-)

    It's Christmas and please call it that.

    Never be afraid to voice your opinion and fight for it . Corporations aren't people, they're Republicans (Rev Al Sharpton 10/7/2011)

    by Rosalie907 on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 09:04:39 AM PST

    •  Don't make me call it Sparkle Season, I'll do it! (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Vatexia, radarlady, Mortifyd, Cedwyn

      Even if they did give up on that back in Pittsburgh.

      (assuming you're joking, if not, I will refer you to here)

      Moving forward, consider the Congressional Progressive Caucus' Deal for All as a solution to the lame-duck budget and sequestration crisis. Democrats won, now use that!

      by tytalus on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 09:11:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  actually, it's saturnalia or yule (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tytalus, john07801, Mxwll, exatc, Mortifyd

      please call it that.  

      the practice of 'x' being shorthand for christ is centuries old, anyway.

      Please don't dominate the rap, Jack, if you got nothin' new to say - Grateful Dead

      by Cedwyn on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 09:16:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Xmas = Christmas. (7+ / 0-)

      The Greek character Chi (X) has often been used as an abbreviation for the full Greek word, Χριστός (Christos)—most notably in the chi-rho, the ancient symbol for Christ.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 09:18:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I only learned that a few years back. (0+ / 0-)

        Prior to that, I assumed "Xmas" was a respectful abbreviation so as not to take Christ's name in vain.

        (I attribute that to coming from a subculture so determined not to take God's name in vain that some of us will hyphenate the term Hashem, a word to be use in place of God's name outside of prayer, literally meaning "the name".)

    •  It's another wingnut conspiracy theory. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tytalus, Mortifyd, Cedwyn

      It's another wingnut conspiracy theory, to be filed along with the Proctor & Gamble Satanism icons and LOL = "Lucifer our Lord."  It's an abbreviation with at least three centuries of history in the English language.

      •  For the record (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassandra Waites, Cedwyn

        I tend not to abbreviate Christmas as a matter of style. But I categorically reject revisionist history that attempts to frame practices and language as part of the "War on Christmas." That includes things like "happy holidays" and "season's greetings." "Happy holidays" was popularized by the same musical that gave us "White Christmas" while "season's greetings" goes all the way back to the Victorians as inclusive of Advent, Christmas, Boxing Day, New Year, and Epiphany.

        •  Ah, but who wrote that music? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tytalus, madhaus, Cedwyn

          Yes, it was an evil plot by that Jewish guy who wrote the songs White Christmas and Happy Holidays.  You know, Irving Berlin.  So you see,  70 years ago, we Jews were making terrorist attacks on Christmas.

          If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? When I am only for myself, then what am "I"? And if not now, when?

          by betorah on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 03:32:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I'm sure I've seen weirder Mexican skeleton art. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tytalus, kyril

    Like typically, skeleton Santa on a cross would have a cigarette in one hand & a bottle in the other.

    Who cares what banks may fail in Yonkers. Long as you've got a kiss that conquers.

    by rasbobbo on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 09:13:18 AM PST

  •  Huh? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril
    Rick Wingrove, the Virginia director for American Atheists, will have a booth featuring banners with quotations from historical atheists Albert Einstein and John Adams.
    I'm pretty sure neither John Adams—sans-Quincy or Quincy—was an atheist. The elder held to a curmudgeonly mixture of Puritanism, Deism, and humanism, and the younger was a Unitarian who clearly believed in the supernatural.

    Sure, the right-wing revisionists want to make them both out to have been right-wing evangelical Christians who wanted to found a Christian nation, but I don't think the proper response to their historical hackery is to go equally revisionist in the other direction and make them out to be atheists when they weren't.

    Maybe Wingrove was referring to another John Adams, or he misspoke or was misquoted?

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 09:14:43 AM PST

    •  He's probably just mistaken... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      wouldn't be the first time skeptics and believers fought over some historical figure. They do as much with Einstein too. I don't see as much value in it myself.

      Moving forward, consider the Congressional Progressive Caucus' Deal for All as a solution to the lame-duck budget and sequestration crisis. Democrats won, now use that!

      by tytalus on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 09:32:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  He's being ecumenical. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      It's right christian of Mr Wingrove, to be reaching across the aisle like that.  Perhaps the quoted Adams is the atheist author of "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy", Douglas Adams.

    •  A Deist (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      Adams, like many of his contemporaries, was a Deist in general principle.

      "The United States of America governments have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses."
      John Adams

      Don't confuse my lack of religion for a lack of spirituality.

      by Mxwll on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 10:13:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A few points. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tytalus, Mxwll, Cassandra Waites

        I've read quite a bit on the subject of the religion of this nation's founders, since my dissertation is about Christian Right attempts to paint them all as evangelical Christians and so I'm also reading all of the books by actual historians pointing out that the Christian Right's "history" is bullshit.

        One thing I'm struck by in reading stuff by actual historians is that the historical record on the religious beliefs of the nation's founders were, in many ways, quite ambiguous (reflecting, I think, a certain ambiguity in their own thinking about religion). One day, a founder like Adams would write something that sounded deist, and then the next day he'd go on about the providence of God in American affairs (which is rather incompatible with deism) or the importance of the Bible.

        There is no shortage of quotations from Adams pere suggesting that he was, on some level, a theist and probably a Christian. There's also no shortage of quotations (like the one you highlight) that lean more in the direction of deism. To proclaim with any kind of certainty that he was a Deist is no less a sin against the historical record than to proclaim with any kind of certainty that he was an evangelical Christian—because the information we have (and perhaps the beliefs themselves) paints a much more ambiguous picture.

        But... even if he were a deist, deist ≠ atheist. Deists still believe in some kind of higher power that designed the universe and set it in motion; atheists do not believe such a higher power exists.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 11:32:06 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tytalus

          Definitely not an atheist, and the dichotomy of their writings makes it difficult to pin them down to any specific viewpoint. I do like the deist perspective (wind the watch and set it aside to run as it will), so I tend to be personally biased. Thanks for thorough reply.

          Don't confuse my lack of religion for a lack of spirituality.

          by Mxwll on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 01:41:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Was Einstein an Atheist? (0+ / 0-)
      ‘I am not an atheist, and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations.’ (Quoted in M. Jammer, Einstein and Religion, Princeton 1999, p. 48.)
      Certainly he was sceptical of religion, that is quite logical a stance, however he said he wasn't an atheist. I'm taking his word on it.
  •  Xmas who™? n/t (2+ / 0-)

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 09:19:33 AM PST

  •  It was ridiculous (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tytalus, kyril, madhaus

    For what it's worth, we were all over Supervisor Reid for his crazy comments:

    http://loudoundemocrats.org/...

    Progress is a continuum, not a light switch. http://www.loudoundemocrats.org

    by Paradox13 on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 09:24:48 AM PST

    •  Good for you! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      I understand from some of the news I've read that Reid has since offered some weak apologies, but he deserves to be lambasted.

      Moving forward, consider the Congressional Progressive Caucus' Deal for All as a solution to the lame-duck budget and sequestration crisis. Democrats won, now use that!

      by tytalus on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 09:33:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Republished to Street Prophets. nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril
  •  Tired of Nativity (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    terrypinder, Mortifyd

    Town to town, on every common, Baby Jesus lay in a manger.  It is just another myth, one in fact ripped from a much older god story; Mithras, born on the solstice to a virgin and attended by three wise men...a full two thousand years before Christ.  The success of Christianity owes much to the co-opting of older religious holidays and some serious guerilla marketing in the part of the Romans.

    My two cents.

    Don't confuse my lack of religion for a lack of spirituality.

    by Mxwll on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 10:18:49 AM PST

  •  But isn't Santa (0+ / 0-)

    a terrorist? He spies on you all year long and uses that knowledge against you if you don't conform to his ideology. Kids live under the constant fear that they may not get anything, or even worse coal, if they disobey him. And judging by how many of them I've seen freaking out on his lap I think they feel pretty damn threatened.

    "The next time everyone will pay for it equally, and there won't be any more Chosen Nations, or any Others. Poor bastards all." ~The Boomer Bible

    by just another vet on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 10:40:17 AM PST

  •  Instead of Santa we have a big Santana display (0+ / 0-)

    every Christmas with Black Magic Woman blaring.

    "I smoke. If this bothers anyone, I suggest you look around at the world in which we live and shut your fuckin' mouth." --- Bill Hicks

    by voroki on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 12:52:58 PM PST

  •  I find it interesting (0+ / 0-)

    that both Pat Roberson and the Loudoun Co. supervisors are so eager to make sure that shoppers, business people, and gift givers are taken care of.  After all, we can't have any interference with commerce, can we?  Never mind the whole Savior's humble birth thing....

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 01:00:42 PM PST

  •  A good diary (0+ / 0-)

    that turned mean-spirited at the end.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 07:54:02 PM PST

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