Why Should Non-believers get Christmas Day Off?

A few days back I shared a link on Facebook about a military psychological survey measuring soldiers for their “spiritual fitness.” The article, posted by an atheist soldier, took offense that the survey implied that his lack of faith somehow made him less than fit to be a soldier. As a fellow Free Thinker, I wanted to support his right to express himself by reposting.

Maybe it was too close to Christmas, but one of my Facebook friends (an old high school classmate) took umbrage to my repost. He chided by writing:

“It is there [sic] God given rite [sic] not to believe. I agree. As an Army veteran I think they should be allowed to work and cover all the shifts on Christmas Day. This way, it will be just another day in their military life. I was an M.P. and we worked 24 hrs to keep others safe. God bless you all.”

I responded by questioning if only atheists should be required to work Christmas Day or if it applied to the whole spectrum of belief systems outside of Christianity. Granted, he is not the first I’ve encountered that has espoused these views – it appears that some Christians are genuinely annoyed by having non-believers reveling in (or at least enjoying a day off) on baby Jesus’ celebrated birthday. It did evoke an image of non-believers being lined up to work jobs on Christmas Day while Christians sing Yule-tide carols while roasting chestnuts on an open fire – especially this year when Christmas Day falls on a Saturday, and most people’s place of business is likely closed – we would have to make up jobs for them to work so as not to take any enjoyment in baby Jesus’ birthday.

So I don’t want to work on Christmas, but give me Festivus in return, a day off in late December, I might consider it; but the truth is, our home is decked out, thanks to my wonderful wife, in Christmas regalia. Our tree is beautiful, stockings are hung, Santa’s spirit abounds and we shared our gifts with our children on Christmas morning – and it was still morning when they were able to get themselves out of bed at 10ish…

Yes I think Christmas is a made up holiday, but it is nice to have a holiday meant for family and to express how much they mean to us. In our household, Christmas is one of the rare times of the year that we are able to have all four of our kids home at the same time and when everything slows down long enough for us to be with each other for a few hours without interruption. If my “friend” had his way, I would have been working at cross-point (pun intended) instead of enjoying this day with my family.

What ego and arrogance on full display! Oh, and presumption as well! I have a “God given rite [sic] not to believe”? Seriously? Look, I respect and support everyone’s right to believe in whatever they choose to believe in. I understand the intrinsic desire and pull toward Christianity. The idea of a god that cares about every move you make, died for your sins, ticket to a golden afterlife – what’s not to like? I get it – just because I don’t buy it, doesn’t mean I don’t understand and respect others desire to do so.

Christianity is big in America, but in respect to the larger world outside, it is hardly the end-all-be-all. Check it out:

Religion Adherents
Christianity 2.1 billion
Islam 1.5 billion
Hinduism 900 million
Buddhism 376 million
Animist religions 300 million
African traditional/diasporic religions 100 million

I was heartened to see the Irreligious (et. al) at such a high number – over a billion strong! Recent Gallup polling and Pew Research studies show that 16.1% of Americans are irreligious. Since the irreligious do not have sects, like protestants (along with the myriad sub-sects under that banner) and Catholics, the irreligious tends to be an umbrella term for atheists, agnostics, free thinkers, secular humanists, humanists, etc., etc. Most non-believers default to a term of description simply for others convenience – primarily as they don’t waste too much thought on describing a “belief system” (or lack thereof) except when engaging those with belief systems. Given the last census pegging the American population at 308 million people, that would make for nearly 50 million Irreligious people walking among us.

So what does all this have to do with Centrists politics? A basis of respect to start – America was founded on principles that give people the right to worship as well as not to worship, freedom for religion as well as from religion. As I told my “friend” in response to his post:

Plenty of people on FB use their status updates to extol their religious proclivities – I would never deign to jump on someone’s post to ridicule their faith – I always find it surprising when people feel the need to do it when expressing an alternate viewpoint….

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2 Responses to Why Should Non-believers get Christmas Day Off?

  1. Steve says:

    Sean, i am so glad that you relish and cherished your day off with your family. Even if it was Christ Mass. A day to celebrate the birth of others saviour. I do not believe that Jesus was born in DEC. And i know that this is actually a pagan holliday date. And, the tree is ruted in old Europe and pagan tradition. But, his love, in my eyes, shows through. Just by the love, and joy, expressed by you, with your family, on that day off. And,, I am glad you were off work to enjoy that with them.

  2. Anonymous says:

    hell yeah I'll work on christmas, but I'll take an extra day at 4th of July! Weather is nicer.I love this train of thought; your friend, like many believers don't realize that a day off for 'some' people and not others based on religion would be a Huge discrimination lawsuit, and they ironically don't see the irony when christians are persecuted in middle eastern countries that are majority muslim. Treat others as you would want others to treat you (in another country).

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