Merry ‘X-mas’

    Being an atheist in the Christmas season can be hard. It’s easier in our increasingly secular age than it must have been 50 years ago, before the secular "War on Christmas" that Bill O`Reilly and his colleagues love to discuss. Major retailers now use "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" in their advertisements, and most people are aware of opposing viewpoints and act accordingly open-minded. But there are still some situations that require a deft hand if you want to survive the cold, desolate month of December.

    For those of you who celebrate Xmas rather than Christmas, here are some tips:

    "You’re a what!?"

    There are two types of non-religious folk: those that live to argue with the religious-oriented, and those that want to quietly live their life without having to debate every minute element of their beliefs (or disbeliefs).

    Visiting religious family members over the holidays can be excruciating for the latter group. If word gets out that you are an atheist, agnostic, or general heathen, you can usually expect to be bombarded with the equivalent of a miniature Spanish Inquisition. You can look forward to being asked, at least once, to back up your position with arguments. It’s easy to fall into this trap, because family members know very well that you can’t provide proof for the nonexistence of a god, just as they can’t prove that a god does exist.

    There is one trick to the atheist trade, however. When asked to provide evidence for your beliefs, simply state: "The burden of proof lies on those making the claim."

    When they get confused at your big-city talk, throw a smoke grenade and vanish like the godless ninja you secretly are.

    Another way to avoid uncomfortable conversation is to simply just stuff your face with food. If someone tries to initiate a debate, stand by the vegetable tray and fill your mouth with carrots. Hold your hands up and point to your mouth, excusing yourself to go stand in the corner, alone.

Prey on the weak:

    Inevitably, whether visiting family or your significant other’s parents, you will be asked to lead the family in a prayer. You could easily give in and spew some jargon about Jesus, God and bread, but for those who don’t like to sacrifice their morals, it can be trickier.

    First, look to someone in the room who seems to understand your predicament. If they’re kind, they’ll take the bullet for you–if not, you have two options (apart from making a beeline for the door).

    You can give a longwinded, excruciating explanation for your lack of faith, or you can just start rambling, which is better for everyone. Start by making a reference to the great meal and move on to how happy you are to be with family and friends. With any luck, they’ll be so pleased they’ll forget you haven’t even once mentioned that big wheel in the sky.

    Happy Xmas (There is no heaven!)

    The Xmas spirit can reach all of us, even those who are, without a doubt, going to hell. There’s nothing wrong with a little decorating, but if you’re worried about promoting something you don’t believe in, it can take some ingenuity.

    An easy way not only to celebrate the season, but also to promote your own beliefs, is to pair Xmas slogans with atheistic phrases. You could carry a sign that merely says "Happy Holidays," but the sign would be much more interesting if it said, "Millions have died in God’s name…Happy Holidays!"

    Daniel in the Lion’s Den:

    Church, after being away from it for a long time, seems a pretty bizarre world. The hour or so length of the service can really feel like an eternity, but thankfully, the church kindly provides reading material to get you through the service. The only catch is that your reading selections are limited to a book called the Bible.

    For a non-believer, it might seem hypocritical to open up the Bible and dig through it, but there’s some very fun stuff in that book. You never know what words of wisdom you’ll come away with. Here are a few:

    "Every one that is found shall be thrust through; and every one that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword. Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished." (Isaiah 13:15-16)    

    "How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock." (Psalms 137:9)

    And my personal favorite, Jesus the Samurai:

    "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." (Matthew 10:34)

    Best non-traditional Xmas movies:

    Die Hard ?” Explosions, guns and death…everything that makes Xmas great.

Gremlins ?” Little monsters running around in Santa hats = the true meaning of Xmas.

    Bad Santa ?” An alcoholic, sex-addicted, sociopathic Santa. The evil twin to Miracle on 34th Street.

    The Office: Christmas Special ?” This two-part BBC finale of The Office is the most uncomfortable and hilarious two hours you’ll be able to spend.

    Santa Claus Conquers the Martians ?” Martians kidnap Santa Claus, who proceeds to whup their ass with Xmas cheer.