‘O Come All Ye Faithless
December 19, 2007
From the Christian Post:
A controversial Christmas card reading “O come all ye faithless” has been strongly criticized by Christians as an “ill judged and insensitive joke.” Borders book stores began giving away the card free with every copy of Richard Dawkins’ well known atheist work, The God Delusion, this Christmas.
The Rev. Jonathan Edwards, general secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain. said the idea was “crass.”
“I am quite sure that Borders intended their Christmas card as a joke. However, I personally find it an ill-judged and insensitive joke,” he said, as reported by Baptist Times.
He continued, “Christians have always been used to being punch bags but I would have hoped that, in a society in which we are seeking to show respect to all people and beliefs, we might have grown out of this kind of nonsense.”
I’m a little puzzled as to how the card either directly addresses any particular faith, or how an assertion of lack of faith is any more offensive to the faithful that an assertion of religious faith is to those without it. Just how is this using Christians as “punch bags”?
The Evangelical Alliance’s Thacker noted, “I think the atheists will love it because it’s bashing Christians around the head. It’s another thing to take a Christian festival and abuse it.
“Borders wouldn’t do this to any other religious festival. Borders [has] made a strategic mistake and Christians will boycott it.”
Right. I see. So the problem appears to be that a card making a joke about lack of faith and
- atheism is anti-Christian, and
- it is included with an anti-Christian book, and
- it is being done at Christmas, which is a Christian festival.
Firstly, the joke is about atheism not anti-theism. It is about an absence of religious belief, it is not necessarily against it.
Secondly, the God Delusion, while using Christian examples because of the authors cultural context, is not exclusively questioning Christianity, but rather all supernatural gods. It is not an exclusively anti-Christian book.
And thirdly, while Christmas is indeed a time of festival for Christians, it is not exclusively that either. Its origins date back to pre-Christian times, and its modern incarnation embraces (or at least claims to) peoples of differing religious and racial persuasions.
It’s a pretty mild joke really, not much more than a play on words. Is it really worth the controversy?