Is it hypocritical for an agnostic or atheist to wish others a “Merry Christmas?” I suppose one might say so, but it seems to me like no more than an innocent, good-natured pleasantry, the sort of low-cost thing one does to be agreeable. Albert Mohler takes exception, though. Writing of Richard Dawkins, the author of recently-published The God Delusion, he snarks:

The self-identified “post-Christian atheist” argues that Christmas long ago ceased to be a “religious festival.” He dislikes silly Christmas songs on the basis of aesthetic judgment (a judgment shared, by the way, by many Christians) and is happy to “wish everyone a Merry Christmas.”

How charitably secular of him. Nevertheless, Professor Dawkins should be more careful. He obviously misses a fascinating irony here. The title “Christ” is a transliteration of the Greek word for “the anointed one” — the Messiah. He mocks the holiday but declares the fact that Jesus is the Messiah every time he wishes anyone “Merry Christmas” — whether that is his intention or not.

The book of Ecclesiastes declares that “the voice of a fool [comes] through many words” [Eccl. 5:3]. For Richard Dawkins, it just takes two words. Merry Christmas.

So: we’ve got Donald Wildmon, of the American Family Association, running around demanding that everybody say “Merry Christmas,” and raking in the cash for his trouble, and Albert Mohler, the very mightiest of the Southern Baptist theologians, explaining that those who say “Merry Christmas” without belief in Jesus’ divinity are fools.

Whatever is one to do?

For the record:

  • Merry Christmas!
  • Happy Hanukkah!
  • Good Kwanzaa!
  • Cheery Solstice!
  • Happy Rohatsu!
  • Have a great Saturnalia!
  • Lovely Lenaea!
  • Good Festival of the Sun!
  • Happy Shabe-Yalda!
  • Happy Ramadan!
  • And on and on … after all, it’s the Solstice, the reason for the season.

And to all you bothersome noisemakers:

  • Go to hell.

Bob Felton

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