Christmas wars come early

By Petula Dvorak
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 11, 2010; 11:12 PM

If you've been appalled by this year's ever-earlier commercial Christmas creep - the profusion of red and green that bleeds into our lives before the orange and black have even left the shelves - just wait until you see how quickly the war over the meaning of Christmas is heating up.

This year's first big pre-holiday blow-up comes from atheists who are trying to take the religious edge off this time of year by featuring passages from the Bible and other religious texts that mention slaughtered men, plundered cities, severed heads and eviscerated women. You know, the cheery stuff.

The philosophical and religious wars have caught up with the holiday price wars. Why wait until next month when you can begin your existential debate early?

The American Humanist Association, both atheists and agnostics who think it is possible to lead a moral and ethical life without believing in a deity, rolls out its biggest ad campaign Friday night, a $200,000 splash with a TV spot during "Dateline," followed by Metro and bus ads that will brighten the morning commute Monday.

The group's ad campaign this year is aggressive and shrill. The ads pit particularly violent or archaic passages from religious texts against more inclusive, mellow and peaceful writings of secular humanists. They target the Koran as well as the Bible.

The Bible: "The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open." God, Hosea 13:16 (New International Version).

Humanism: "I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own - a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty." Albert Einstein, column for the New York Times, Nov. 9, 1930.

Taking on religion has become a new tradition with the godless set this time of year, when they aim to comfort those who feel a little lost in a world aglow in the celebration of Christ's birth.

But don't worry - this year, the Return-Christ-to-Christmas movement, led by the Liberty Counsel, is fighting back with a "naughty and nice" shopping list of stores where Christians can fuel the American economy by doing Christmas shopping. Pointedly, not holiday shopping.

Who would imagine that American Girl dolls are naughty? The counsel did a takedown of those plastic strumpets from their Web site, fuming that the word "holiday" was everywhere with only four items that mentioned "Christmas."

Kmart makes the nice list. How could it not, when its Web site features "Mr. Blue Light's Christmas Countdown"?

But let's say you don't really need to hear the word "Christmas" to feel kindness and charity toward your fellow humans.

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