In his essay, “Intellectuals and Socialism,” Friedrich Hayek asked how it was possible for a small group of people to have such influence on the ideas and politics that affected millions. He argued that it was because the socialists influenced the “influencers”–those “secondhand dealers in ideas” like the press, educators, and editors, who spread socialist thought into the mainstream.

A parallel can be seen in the cultural battles over religious symbols during the Christmas … I mean, the holiday season. One would think from media coverage that there exists an overwhelming consensus that religious symbols have no place on public property. But the reality is quite different. There may be a clear consensus among the secular intelligentsia, but it doesn’t hold for most Americans.

A recent poll showed that a majority of Americans are perfectly happy with displays of religious symbols and believe it is fine for schools to celebrate religious holidays.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 76% of adults believe religious symbols like Christmas Nativity scenes, Hanukkah menorahs and Muslim crescents should be allowed on public land. Just 13% disagree, and another 10% are undecided.

Eighty-three percent (83%) believe public schools should celebrate religious holidays. This figure includes 47% who think the schools should celebrate all religious holidays and another 36% who believe they should only celebrate some. The question did not single out which holidays should be celebrated and which should be excluded.

Only 14% think the public schools should not celebrate any religious holidays.

Additionally–news for retailers: “Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 72% of adults prefer “Merry Christmas,” while 22% like “Happy Holidays” instead.”

So why the widespread sense that Christmas is the holiday that must not be named? It’s another example of a small minority of Scrooge-like secularists spreading their gloom to the rest of us in the guise of enlightened tolerance, a secular Uniculturalism that strips America of our traditions and vitiates the human experience.

  • Ray
  • http://www.theupsstorelocal.com/4553/ PATRICK POWERS

    I operate a small retail shipping store and have found that by saying “you are now free to have a Merry Christmas”, rather than telling customers to have a Merry Christmas, lets the customer decide to be merry or a Scrooge. Most of my customers openly appreciate the Merry Christmas phrase and respond accordingly. We avoid the PC “Happy Holidays” phrase, and as do most of our customers. So far we’ve offered a Merry Christmas to over 800 people with no complaints.

    On the other hand, I don’t expect to see many anti-religious types sending Christmas gifts. Something about advertising to Scrooge and teaching a pig to sing have similar outcomes.

  • Dwane Anderson

    As an atheist, I can tell you that many non-religious and even anti-religious people celebrate Christmas. Christmas is pretty much a secular holiday today. As you no doubt know, Christmas was originally a pagan holiday that was “Christianized” a long time ago. If Christians can Christianize a holiday, then secularists can secularize the same. My relatives (all non-religious) put up Christmas trees, exchange gifts, have Christmas Dinner and so on. Remember, all of those traditions were originally pagan traditions.

    The non-religious people I know use the name “Christmas” and have no problem with it. The etymology of the word isn’t really important. Just like the word “holiday” is derived from “holy day.” We all know that “holiday” is now used for non-religious days too, such as Independence Day or Labor Day, so its original meaning isn’t important.

    The reason for saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” was to be courteous to all non-Christians, not just the non-religious. Apparently, many Christians have a problem with being courteous to non-Christians.

    The fact that most Americans support allowing religious symbols on public property is simply due to the fact that most Americans are religious. That doesn’t make it right to ignore the opinion of the minority opposed to it. 13% is about 1 out of every 7 or 8 people. That is not an insignificant number. Also, most non-religious people are not concerned so much with things like nativity scenes, but with things like posting the Ten Commandments in courthouses. We don’t want people trying to influence law or government with their religion.

  • Robineus

    What Dwayne is advocating is simply tyranny by the minority.

    I’m also curious why Dwayne has no problem celebrating the secular holiday of Christmas, but has a problem with people wishing him a merry one.

  • Neal Lang

    “Also, most non-religious people are not concerned so much with things like nativity scenes, but with things like posting the Ten Commandments in courthouses. We don’t want people trying to influence law or government with their religion.”

    So, in your opinion, non-religious folks, like yourself, have a problem with our laws and our court condemning things like murder, theft, bearing false witness. Interesting Worldview!

  • Neal Lang

    “The fact that most Americans support allowing religious symbols on public property is simply due to the fact that most Americans are religious. That doesn’t make it right to ignore the opinion of the minority opposed to it. 13% is about 1 out of every 7 or 8 people. That is not an insignificant number.”

    If the Ten Commandments send you “non-religious” around the bend, how do you guys feel about Creator Endowed Rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness? Is it your position that if 13% or more want to trash it – we should simply rescind our Founding Document on the basis of diversity? And what about the “rights” of the “7 or 8 people” who believe that without this God given, unalienable Rights the “non-religious,” like those who took over control of Russia, will soon be denying those rights to satisfry the “collective.”

  • Neal Lang

    “The reason for saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” was to be courteous to all non-Christians, not just the non-religious. Apparently, many Christians have a problem with being courteous to non-Christians.”

    Only an ignorant putz would object to someone wishing them a “Merry” time, no what their religion or non-religion. The entire premise of Christmas is “Joy to World” – the whole World, not just Christians. Christ was born and died for everyone, including the you atheists, which is why the celebration of His birth is a reason to be “Merry!” Only an atheist would think that wishing someone merriness was some sort of insult. Perhaps that is why most atheists are so droll.

  • Neal Lang

    Hey, Dwane, can you list the five greatest “non-religious” cultures in history? Just curious!

  • marc

    Fun fact – the US House of Representatives Chamber in Washington DC is graced by bas relief sculptures of great lawgivers in history, including Jefferson, Solon, Hammurabi, etc. The interesting thing is that all of the bas reliefs are profiles and are placed in such a way that they are all looking toward a central bas relief, which hangs in a position of honor and prominence and faces the speaker’s podium. The profile bas-reliefs are all “lesser lawgivers.” Who is the greatest lawgiver in history? Moses.

    I look forward to Dwayne’s explanation of how this acknowledgement of our cultural heritage and the contributions of Christianity to our society represents a dire threat to his liberty and the impending establishment of forced religious devotion on the populace.

  • MaryAnn

    Merry Christmas and God Bless us, everyone!

  • Bruce

    Christmas is the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus. It matters not what pagans/atheists believe about it, or about any pagan rituals surrounding it. Christmas refers to Christ’s Mass, and nothing else. You can try to spin it anyway you want, but it will always come out the same…Christmas is a Christian celebration, and even those who don’t believe that, still celebrate a Christian holy day.

    In other words, Merry CHRISTmas. That’s right! God exists and God is more wonderful than any human can ever imagine. Just because an atheist does not believe does not unmake God. God asks everyone to love Him, but does not require it. If an atheist would rather spend his or her life in darkness and sadness, along with his or her eternity, that is their choice. But let it be known, I am confident that in front of God upon death, there ARE NO atheists. Stick that in yer craw.

  • Patrick

    Bruce,
    Sixty percent of Atheists believe in heaven. I’d like to know exactly what an Atheist believes he must know or do to merit heaven, since the infinite love and mercy of God are not a part of atheistic thinking. For Christians, heaven is a gift to be accepted, based on the sacrifice of Jesus (It is no accident the baby Jesus is placed in a manger).

    I’d also like to know the percent Atheists believe in Hell or Purgatory.

  • Nilsinchina

    Hi Patrick,
    I firmly believe,
    that not all atheists are ‘non-believers’. Many atheists also subscribe to unquestioned authorities or untested assumptions they put faith in.
    But I also believe that there is no such thing as hell outside Africa where you are born as a baby and die as a baby starved and with flies all over you. As long as we humans collectively let this happen, every other discussion about beliefs and morality is hypocritical to the highest degree. This applies to every person on earth, including myself. In some of these poverty-polluted places, the church, christian or muslim, is very much present. And believe me, if Vatican so wanted, one by one of these poor nations could be fixed. One by one. Or look at southeast Asia, The Philippines, a strongly catholic nation. Getting married there, a matter of family pressure combined with romantic feelings after having had sex (usually) before marriage, costs you 30,000 pesos (500€). Many brides show up pregnant. The priests would then hastily marry those couples. All sinners aren’t they? Taken strictly, isn’t it a sin to have sex before marriage? Isn’t the institution of marriage perverted then? And a sin to charge astronautic fees, profiting from the state-of-affairs there? We don’t turn down these couples, right? But what about acknowledging a basic human instinct and at the same time enabling these young people to find the “right one”, not just the “first one”, to protect them and educate them, that unwanted pregnancy is the result if no responsible precautions are taken? The place is polluted and overpopulated – the ideal of the “happy big family”. Nowadays only upheld, with severe psychological pressure on those few lucky ones who make it through higher education and end up having to support the many siblings who are in turn hoping for a “free ride” (libre)? This is the problem in many places. Happy big family – China had been like that, too. Look what these atheists believed there: maybe they were part of your sixty percent who believe in heaven. Especially in hell – I have been there and I saw how many people….now imagine no one-child-policy having ever been imposed. Horror. Poverty. More cheap labor than the West has consumption. Not 1.3 billions but probably 4. Yes you can debate the disadvantages of having no siblings, but you can’t debate the disadvantages of having 300 kids in your classroom, or 300% more motor-rikshaws on the street. The infinite love and mercy of god, I venture, is only upheld by many christians as well. Unable to comprehend “actual hells on earth”, ignoring inconvenient truths, avoiding traveling to such places. Many atheists in China believe you should lead a morally good life. Same as elsewhere. They would probably say “my country is the world and my religion is to do good!” Or they would ask “What ‘infinite love’ are you talking about? The one that made you win the lottery when you were born in a convenient place that gave you the luxury of spare time to worry about people who don’t care who Jesus was?” Me, I believe in the infinite love of god. If there is a god, it must be the ultimate being, nothing less. You must know pretty well that such highest being isn’t concerned about who believes in what. Petty issues. Christians being all happy and atheists sad and suffering in darkness? I wonder where this assumption comes from? Have you, Bruce, ever observed an Atheist crying in darkness? Me, I haven’t. I have seen people praying when desperate. Myself I’m not an atheist, because I find both positions extremely arrogant and  blasphemous. If I say I can *know* the truth about *god*, I am putting myself on that level. Especially when I – as a limited human being – declare I know which religion is the *best* one. Atheists are equally blasphemous because they claim  god-like insights as well. How can any HUMAN being *know* about whether or not a god exists? Just as ants should avoid philosophizing about humans, we human beings should stop wondering whether there is a god or not, stopping to be blasphemous, and simply DO GOOD. Merry Christmas (yes, a christian holiday that has also incorporated a few heathen traits, one might say it’s based on pre-christian traditions and astrology) to you all!