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Who Won the 2012 'War on Christmas' -- Atheist Activists or Christians?


"Keep the Merry! Dump the Myth!"

The holiday season has officially come to a close, and with it, so too has the 2012 War on Christmas. While naysayers continue to dismiss this annual hoopla over atheist-generated battles against nativity displays and other religious symbols, this year brought with it some intriguing and fascinating spectacles and spats -- many of which we covered at TheBlaze. Considering all of the back and forth between believers and non-believers, one can't help but wonder who's winning the seemingly never-ending battle.

Photo Credit: HumanLight.org

Aside from exploring which camp -- atheists or Christians -- is the 2012 victor, we've decided to prepare a little recap to summarize all of the fascinating, entertaining and troubling stories we assembled this past holiday season. Let's start with "HumanLight," the non-theistic Christmas alternative that non-believers founded.

After all, nothing says "War on Christmas" like a new holiday intended to replace the annual celebration surrounding Jesus' birth. While HumanLight is far from mainstream (read about it here), it's observance is gaining traction in atheist circles across the nation. This, of course, is an extreme example of potential evidence that non-believers are waging an epic battle against America's most popular and revered holiday.

As always, there were plenty of other anecdotal (and, arguably, more relevant) instances of non-theists stepping up attacks against religious themes this holiday season. While some examples of purported anti-Christmas actions were more benign in nature, others were pointed and strategic. Let's begin with some lighter examples.

A public utility in Texas posted -- then removed -- a banner from the Knights of Columbus that read, "Keep Christ in Christmas" (naturally, the organization was less-than-pleased). In Mansfield, Massachusetts, the Jordan-Jackson Elementary School also raised some eyebrows after officials cancelled an annual holiday concert and replaced it with an anti-bullying program.

Now, let's look at some of the more targeted examples.

In New York City's Times Square, American Atheists, a non-profit devoted to spreading anti-theism, posted a banner mocking Jesus and the crucifixion. The sign read, “Keep the Merry! Dump the Myth!,” and featured an image of Santa with a photo of Jesus suffering on the cross. The “merry” corresponded to the traditional Christmas mascot, with “myth” (in caps) presented beneath the Christian savior’s picture, clearly in reference to Jesus’ death.

Photo Credit: American Atheists

In neighboring Pennsylvania, atheist activists were also fast at work taking their pokes at the holiday. So-called "Pastafarians" (members of a faux "religious" group made up of non-believers for the sole purpose of mocking Christians and other theists) advocated -- to no avail -- to have an atheist tree included at the courthouse in Chester County.

And in Little Rock, Ark., atheists created such a furor that students invited to a voluntary showing of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" were unable to attend and enjoy the show. Angry that the production was slated to take place inside of a church, non-theist parents advocated against children attending the show during the school day and the house of worship inevitably cancelled the event to prevent national and local controversy from further erupting.

And those are only a few examples here in the states. As reported, though, the War on Christmas didn't just hit domestic targets. In fact, it stretched overseas, with the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF), an atheist activist group, challenging the U.S. Navy to remove a live nativity tradition from public celebrations on a Bahrain base. The event was inevitably moved to a private chapel after atheists called the celebration "unconstitutional" and dangerous to U.S. servicemen.

Photo Credit: YouTube

Even the Minister Louis Farrakhan got in on the "War on Christmas" when, during a recent sermon, he called Christmas trees wicked and said that Santa Claus is a damaging lie that teaches kids "to look to white people." His comments were made while he was visiting the Caribbean for a series of Nation of Islam talks.

Clearly, many non-Christians had a busy holiday season. But while atheist activists had some major victories this year, people of faith -- particularly Christians -- also pushed back fervently. Take, for instance, believers in California who staged a successful "Nativity Flash Mob" inside of a mall to protest the Santa Monica ban on unattended nativities in a local park.

Oh, and in the actual public park where the 60-year-old tradition was banned, Christians, in a separate effort, got creative and staged a live nativity scene (something that, unlike the unattended displays, is not yet banned).

And in Pittsburgh, Penn., to combat atheist pledges to sue over a nativity scene in front of a municipal building, believers maneuvered around the threats by placing the traditional display on a trailer on the street out in front of the public building. Plus, who can forget Fox News' Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly delivering separate, yet equally-harsh on-air rebukes of atheist activists.

So, while non-believers scored a number of victories, their efforts did not go unmatched. Rather than sitting back and merely watching the War on Christmas pass them by, many Christians and the groups that represent them seemingly stood up and fought efforts to remove nativities and other religious symbols from their communities. And instead of merely relying upon rhetoric to respond to each incident, believers came up with creative alternatives and work-arounds.

So, what do you think about the 2012 "War on Christmas?" Who won -- the atheists or the Christians? Take the poll, below:

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