What do you think of the American Humanist Association's new "Godless Holiday" campaign? The ads, displayed on transit systems in five major U.S. cities, will say: "No God? . . . No Problem! Be good for goodness' sake. Humanism is the idea that you can be good without a belief in God." Is this another front on the so-called secular "war on Christmas"? Or is this another example of the pluralistic strength of America? And would you agree with the premise "No God, no problem"?
Sally Quinn and Jon Meacham on November 23, 2009 12:03 PM
The American Humanist Association's appeal for us to "be good for goodness' sake" is timely and reasonable. I hope they take their own message to heart when it comes to respecting the rights of the rest of us to celebrate a religious holiday with religious language, symbols and special acts of goodness.
Posted by Michael Otterson, on November 25, 2009 4:33 PM
I am not too worried about the new humanist campaign against God. People see soon enough that the world of the humanists is a cold, dead world. They seek, once again, the warmth of divine Love that lies hidden in a manger.
Posted by Thomas G. Bohlin, on November 25, 2009 2:42 PM
If Humanist organizations are celebrating the holidays more publicly these days, it is because the holidays are not about God. In fact, the holiday season is all about human problems. None of these holiday rituals -- lights, gifts, family gatherings -- requires a belief in any sort of God. It'd be absurd to suggest that only religious people can or should celebrate at this time of year.
Posted by Greg M. Epstein, on November 25, 2009 12:24 PM
Believe in God, many Gods, a merciful God, a wrathful God, impersonal God, personal God, Goddess, or no God at all. The pluralism of of America guarantees you your space. Intensely personal or wear-it-on-your-sleeve, we express our faith or no faith with abandon and celebrate our choice in our homes and sometimes in public.
Posted by Aseem Shukla, on November 25, 2009 12:16 AM
I believe the Christian Church should engage the real debate and not these periphery issues. Is the theistic God the only possible definition of the Holy? I do not think so, but I also do not want to spend my time trying to do artificial respiration on the corpse of yesterday's religious definitions, which is what the religious response to this humanist agenda really is.
Posted by John Shelby Spong, on November 24, 2009 4:41 PM
As for the American Humanist Association's "Godless Holiday Campaign," this promotional effort strikes me as a bit superfluous. Do people in America really need any encouragement to believe that they can celebrate without God?
I wish Christian fundamentalists felt less alienated from our culture and were more on target with moral critique. I also wish humanists and atheists felt accepted enough in the public square that they didn't need to defend themselves with an ad campaign.
Posted by Robert Parham, on November 24, 2009 11:22 AM
We evangelical types have paraded enough of our own in-your-face stuff in public places, so why should we complain when the unbelievers do the same? Nor should we get too worked up when those same folks insist that morality is possible without a belief in God. Actually, the Bible itself teaches that such is the case.
Posted by Richard Mouw, on November 24, 2009 10:03 AM
"Be good for goodness sake" is a line in the pop Christmas song, "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town." The line embeds the expletive, "For goodness sake!," which is a euphemism for the blasphemous "For God's sake!"
Posted by Willis E. Elliott, on November 23, 2009 10:40 PM
Humanism isn't the same as atheism. To that extent, the American Humanist Association has co-opted a word and distorted it for their own purposes. Even so-called secular humanism, a distortion by the religious right, doesn't preclude a deep desire to be a spiritual seeker.
Posted by Deepak Chopra, on November 23, 2009 8:31 PM
I was a member of the first media outreach committee of the American Humanist Association, and we struggled over the best kinds of ads that would both promote our worldview and would not be perceived as anti-religious.
Posted by Herb Silverman, on November 23, 2009 4:50 PM
The humanists are pointing out the obvious. American public holidays are about consumption, not God. Even worse, the Christian faith has internalized this message of cultural Christmas. Christians themselves often forget what Christmas is really about. The humanists really can't do any more harm to Christians about Christmas than we've already done to ourselves.
Posted by Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, on November 23, 2009 2:34 PM
If the American Humanist Association feels a specific "Godless Holiday," would offer them a place in the pantheon of religious holidays, we should let them have it. Though Congress might balk at the enabling legislation, marketing people would go for it. Good luck and God bless you!
Posted by Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, on November 23, 2009 1:28 PM
Something has gone very wrong with anyone who derives pleasure from the pain of others, and that something has to do with the inner man or woman. And when the inner man or woman is twisted, no deity wielding a lightning bolt or the threat of the eternal flames of hell can rescue human beings who have condemned themselves to a living hell. Right here on earth.
Posted by Susan Jacoby, on November 23, 2009 1:18 PM
No God, no problem is exactly right. No problem doing what you wish so long as you can stomach the consequences, or avoid them. No problem disregarding the notion that something beyond you makes demands.
Posted by David Wolpe, on November 23, 2009 1:05 PM
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MarianoApologeticus: The ads are mere propaganda that answers to an argument that no one has made. The claim is not that atheistic lack of morals but a lack of m...
gkrehbiel: The relevant question here is not why any individual chooses to be good, and whether belief in God is required to make that choice.
WmarkW: Theists like to say that being moral requires a belief in something bigger than yourself. Fine; I believe in something 6 billion times as b...