Did the Angel Gabriel say anything about hanging up a big sock?

The Huffington Post asked 15 atheists some silly questions about Christmas, and there are a few amusing bits in the answers.

They put Dawkins at the top, of course, and what’s amusing about his answers is how in tune with his Twitter persona they are. It’s as if he thinks he’s been asked to perform “impatient” for a game of charades.

What does Christmas mean to you?

Unlike many a false caricature of an atheist, I have no problem with Christmas and no desire to rain on the Christian parade. I enjoy Christmas carols, especially when sung by a great choir like that of New College, Oxford, or King’s College, Cambridge. But only real carols about Jesus, NOT fake carols about Santa or reindeer or the loathsome “Jingle Bells”.

So he’s being grouchy about how carols should be about Jesus, god damn it, not bells or reindeer.

What do you do on the day?

People’s stories of how they spend Christmas are never interesting. Who cares when they open their stockings or when they carve the unfortunate turkey?


Would you go to church if family or friends wanted you to?

Yes. As a matter of courtesy if it means a lot to them, since it means nothing at all to me other than a little wasted time.

Of course, if he did go, he would be prone to angry outbursts every few minutes.

It’s amusing that Peter Tatchell is more militant on that point than Dawkins is.

What does Christmas mean to you?

Not being a Christian, it’s just a holiday period; a chance to have good meals with friends, watch films on TV and start preparing my next human rights campaign.

Do you celebrate it despite being atheist?

No. That would be hypocrisy and a form of mental schism.

Can an atheist celebrate Christmas and remain true to their own beliefs?

An atheist can make their Christmas a non-religious celebration but cannot, in good conscience, join in the religious elements.

Would you/do you attend church on Christmas if family or friends wanted you to?


Short and to the point.

They saved the best for last, which is Kate Smurthwaite.

Do you celebrate it?
Yes. Of course. I celebrate whatever the hell I like. It’s religions that tell people what they can and can’t do – not atheism. If I want to go to church, then mosque, then temple, I can. I can do what I like.

That’s a key point you know. Religions have arbitrary taboos, atheism doesn’t. The second option is the better one.

Do you see the event as still primarily celebrating Jesus’ birth? Or is it more of a commercial event?
It’s a pagan festival. Yule. It long predates Jesus. Aside from the name there’s almost nothing about Christmas that has anything to do with Christianity. Did the wise men bring a partridge in a pear tree? Did the Angel Gabriel say anything about hanging up a big sock? But it’s ok Christians, us godless heathens warmly welcome you to celebrate our festival with us…

We’re good that way.

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