Richard Dawkins: ‘Happy Holidays’ Is Not Atheist War on Christmas

Richard Dawkins, founder of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science,promotes his new book at the Seymour Centre on December 4, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Richard Dawkins is well known for his criticism of intelligent design. (Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images)
Don Arnold/Getty

Professional atheist Richard Dawkins said that insistence on the language of “Happy Holidays” is not a war on Christmas by unbelievers, but a “pandering” to rival faiths that compete with Christianity.

“All that ‘Happy Holidays’ stuff (Holiday Parties, Holiday Presents etc) was never an atheist ‘War on Christmas’ but was simply pandering to equally foolish rival faiths,” Dawkins tweeted Monday in reaction to an article in the Independent.

“Ditto ghastly fake carols about reindeer, Santa, sleigh-bells etc.,” he said. “So, HAPPY CHRISTMAS!”

Dawkins suggests that people’s aversion for the explicitly Christian language of Christmas (a shortened form of Christ’s Mass) stems from a fear of offending the sensibilities of believers in other faiths rather than from atheists.

Whether or not that is always the case, it certainly seems plausible in some situations.

During this Christmas season, a group of educators in the north of Italy decided not to display the usual Nativity scene at local schools, saying the move was made in order not to “offend the sensitivity of children of other religions.”

As Breitbart News reported, the decision provoked a sharp reaction from Italy’s feisty interior minister, Matteo Salvini.

“We are in Italy and I think no child of any religion is offended by the ox, the donkey, and baby Jesus,” the minister said.

“I will put up a Nativity scene and I hope there is no educator who thinks that baby Jesus is going to offend somebody,” he added.

According to the Independent article, the use of “Happy Holidays” has increasingly been “linked to what some critics portray as a craven attempt to appease Muslims, sometimes coupled to claims that Islam is a threat to a country’s ‘way of life.’”

Whatever his thoughts on the correct language for the Christmas holidays, Richard Dawkins has never been one to pull punches in his attacks on religious faith out of respect for the sensibilities of believers.

In his bestselling atheist manifesto The God Delusion, Dawkins went so far as to accuse parents of “child abuse” for giving their children a religious education, arguing that faith “can be very, very dangerous, and deliberately to implant it into the vulnerable mind of an innocent child is a grievous wrong.”.

He also had particularly choice words to describe the God of the Bible:

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction,” he said, “jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

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