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Wednesday, September 17, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 40.0° F  A Few Clouds
The Paper
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Tell All: A nonbeliever's Christmas
Do atheists have rights during the holidays?

Dear Tell All: I'm a casualty of the War on Christmas. I'm not a Christian, or a member of any religion. I'm just a normal, non-proselytizing atheist - one who tries to treat others as I would be treated myself. But a lot of supposedly good Christians don't treat me that way during the month of December. For me, the holiday season is - if you'll pardon the expression - hell.

A few people at work buy into the fashionable idea that Christians are discriminated against at Christmastime. I find that laughable, since the whole country shifts into Christmas gear for a solid month.

I don't complain about the Jesus overload - for example, the assumption among shopkeepers and other strangers that it's appropriate to address me with "merry Christmas." I know this is an inescapable part of being an American citizen. But I do object to those on Fox News or at work who complain that people like me are raining on their Christmas parade. It's as if the mere fact of my being quietly nonreligious is an affront to them at this time of year.


Dear Scrooged: I can imagine how alienated you must feel. Two years ago, in mid-December, Isthmus ran an article about the local atheist group the Freedom From Religion Foundation and got angry calls about it. "How dare you write about atheists during the Christmas season?" one person demanded, as if it were a crime to pay attention to nonbelievers any time between Thanksgiving and Dec. 25.

Well, Scrooged, I agree that you have a right to exist during this month. One of the best things about the United States Constitution is its dedication to minority rights. And atheists are definitely a minority, according to polls - only about 8% of the population.

So how about it, fellow Americans? Let's call a truce in the War on Christmas and be gracious to those in the minority this holiday season. Christmas should be a time of peace, not war.

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