Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Holidays => Topic started by: Bluenomi on December 18, 2011, 08:56:15 PM

Title: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Bluenomi on December 18, 2011, 08:56:15 PM
So I've just been told I'm rude and a big fat meanie on another forum I visit and wanted to check with those who actually know what is rude and what isn't if I am  ;D

Background: DH and I are atheists so avoid any religious things for DD. It hasn't been too hard since none of our families are strongly religious and until recently the only time it came up was me seeing a cute Noah's Ark set and mentioning to MIL who I was with at the time that it was cute but DH wouldn't approve.

My step mum was out shopping with my sister for a present for DD for Christmas. DSis was texting me at the time to double check things as DSM was looking at them to make sure they weren't getting anything DD already has. DSM spotted the Little People Nativity set and since she really liked it she got DSis to check if DD could have it. DSis sent me a message saying 'is DD allowed to have the nativity set? It is really cute' (which I have to agree it is) and I replied 'It is cute but no, her athesist parents wouldn't approve'. DSM and DSis were happy with that and we exchanged a few more messages as they did more shopping.

So I mentioned on a forum that I told DSM not to buy DD the nativity set and someone replied that I was rude for telling DSM not to buy it and a meanie for not letting DD have it or a Noah's ark. She then compared it to not buying Thomas the Tank Engine things for people unless they were train spotters.

So was I rude for telling DSM should couldn't buy it for DD when she asked and am I a meanie for not letting DD have it?
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: AlwaysQuizzical on December 18, 2011, 09:01:01 PM
Nope, I think it's your right to refuse to teach a religion you don't believe in to your children. Especially since you were being asked if it was an ok present before the other person bought it. Also, it think it would be more rude if your DD was playing with her set in a way that assumed it was fake like, Thomas the Tank Engine, with a child who was religious.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Judah on December 18, 2011, 09:02:59 PM
Ridiculousness!  You are no more wrong than any other parent who puts limits on the types of toys their kids are allowed to have.  All parents have some sort of limit on such things. 
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Venus193 on December 18, 2011, 09:08:55 PM
No, you were not.  Per the other thread about gifts for kids you have the absolute right to reject a gift you don't approve of for any reason.

However, in view of how commenting on how "cute" a Noah's Ark set or Nativity set were in front of relatives, said relatives could regard that as "opening the door" (to use TV courtroom speak for this).  You need to be careful about this.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Roe on December 18, 2011, 09:35:48 PM
Forget the fact that the nativity has a religious aspect to it but I'm curious why you would be fine with accepting a Christmas gift if you are an atheist. Doesn't make sense to me and I do think that is a bit....'off' if not rude.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Veronica on December 18, 2011, 09:41:29 PM
Forget the fact that the nativity has a religious aspect to it but I'm curious why you would be fine with accepting a Christmas gift if you are an atheist. Doesn't make sense to me and I do think that is a bit....'off' if not rude.

A lot of people consider Christmas to be more of a fun, secular holiday than a religious one.  We have a Christmas tree up, stockings, Santa Claus figurines, etc. but we would never put up a nativity scene and would be offended if we received one from someone who knew we weren't religious. 
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: lady_disdain on December 18, 2011, 09:44:42 PM
My opinion is based on the fact that I am an atheist, raised by an agnostic and an atheist, but having very religious grandparents.

My parents never forbade my grandparents to give their daughters religious items. They explained to us that, to our grandparents, those items were meant as protection or for religious reflection and that it was up to us girls to decide if we wanted to display or wear them (I remember this from as early as 6 years old). Same thing for any folkloric item (such as evil eye talismans), things from other religions, etc. We didn't have overtly religious items in the public areas of the house, but if I wanted to display a nativity in my room, it was up to me. Personally, I like this approach.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Bluenomi on December 18, 2011, 09:46:23 PM
Forget the fact that the nativity has a religious aspect to it but I'm curious why you would be fine with accepting a Christmas gift if you are an atheist. Doesn't make sense to me and I do think that is a bit....'off' if not rude.

A lot of people consider Christmas to be more of a fun, secular holiday than a religious one.  We have a Christmas tree up, stockings, Santa Claus figurines, etc. but we would never put up a nativity scene and would be offended if we received one from someone who knew we weren't religious.

That's pretty much it. It's International Giving day in our house. We have a tree (admittedly a wall sitcker one so it is cat and toddler proof) but nothing else and we don't follow any religious aspects of Christmas. Even amoungst the religious people I know, Christmas has very little to do with religion
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: KenveeB on December 18, 2011, 09:48:20 PM
Forget the fact that the nativity has a religious aspect to it but I'm curious why you would be fine with accepting a Christmas gift if you are an atheist. Doesn't make sense to me and I do think that is a bit....'off' if not rude.

Lots of people celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday these days, or celebrate other gift-giving winter holidays.

And I don't see anything wrong with saying no to the nativity or the Noah's Ark.  I don't think that there's anything wrong with parents not wanting their children to be given gifts they don't approve of, whether it's pacifist parents banning guns, feminist parents banning Barbies, or atheist parents banning nativities.  Part of being a parent is deciding what you want to expose your child to and what world-views to raise them with. (Not that the child will decide to follow through with this world view as they age, but the parent gets to decide on the raising.)
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Rohanna on December 18, 2011, 09:54:35 PM
Lot's of people celebrate Christmas as a cultural event and not specifically a religious one. I hardly think that is a new or revolutionary idea worthy of telling someone their custom is "off". If anything, the idea of having festivals of one nature or another at this time of year is older than Christianity itself.

Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: CakeEater on December 18, 2011, 10:02:59 PM
Forget the fact that the nativity has a religious aspect to it but I'm curious why you would be fine with accepting a Christmas gift if you are an atheist. Doesn't make sense to me and I do think that is a bit....'off' if not rude.

A lot of people consider Christmas to be more of a fun, secular holiday than a religious one.  We have a Christmas tree up, stockings, Santa Claus figurines, etc. but we would never put up a nativity scene and would be offended if we received one from someone who knew we weren't religious.

That's pretty much it. It's International Giving day in our house. We have a tree (admittedly a wall sitcker one so it is cat and toddler proof) but nothing else and we don't follow any religious aspects of Christmas. Even amoungst the religious people I know, Christmas has very little to do with religion

With a complete lack of snark, what do you mean by the bolded?


My BIL and SIL are athiests, as far as I know. They had their daughters baptised, partly to appease a grandmother, and partly to get a step up in enrolling them into a private religious school. DH and I were godparents to the eldest. We promised to help her parents teach her the tenets of the religion.

I have no qualms at all buying her, especially, religious gifts.

Oops, edited to say that I wouldn't buy religious things for avowed athiests, whose stance I knew on the matter. However, things like Noah's Ark are so ubiquitous now as a decorating theme, that I might get something like that without even making the connection. Hey, look - cute animals!
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Bluenomi on December 18, 2011, 10:14:36 PM
Forget the fact that the nativity has a religious aspect to it but I'm curious why you would be fine with accepting a Christmas gift if you are an atheist. Doesn't make sense to me and I do think that is a bit....'off' if not rude.

A lot of people consider Christmas to be more of a fun, secular holiday than a religious one.  We have a Christmas tree up, stockings, Santa Claus figurines, etc. but we would never put up a nativity scene and would be offended if we received one from someone who knew we weren't religious.

That's pretty much it. It's International Giving day in our house. We have a tree (admittedly a wall sitcker one so it is cat and toddler proof) but nothing else and we don't follow any religious aspects of Christmas. Even amoungst the religious people I know, Christmas has very little to do with religion

With a complete lack of snark, what do you mean by the bolded?


My BIL and SIL are athiests, as far as I know. They had their daughters baptised, partly to appease a grandmother, and partly to get a step up in enrolling them into a private religious school. DH and I were godparents to the eldest. We promised to help her parents teach her the tenets of the religion.

I have no qualms at all buying her, especially, religious gifts.

Oops, edited to say that I wouldn't buy religious things for avowed athiests, whose stance I knew on the matter. However, things like Noah's Ark are so ubiquitous now as a decorating theme, that I might get something like that without even making the connection. Hey, look - cute animals!

The religious people I know (those who got married in a church, go to church sometimes, christen their children etc) don't go to church at Christmas and it is all about the presents and Santa and the whole Jesus being born bit gets left out. I think with small kids around they get lost in the excitment of it all and forget about the fact it is based on a religious holiday.

The whole no religious presents for DD thing is more DH than me. He is very anti religion and views even the cutest of arks as an evil plot by the church to brain wash innocent children so if I can head off the issue before anyone gives DD something that will serioudly offend him I will. I was just upset about being called a meanie for doing it  :( The person on the forum has written a huge rant at me about it since I first posted this thread and has said some pretty nasty things about not letting DD have an ark or nativity set.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: O'Dell on December 18, 2011, 10:33:14 PM
You were not rude, nor were you a big meanie. The anonymous person ranting about it has a personal problem...don't make it yours. '

And I'm still trying to wrap my mind around how Thomas the Tank Engine/trainspotting has anything to do with religious gifts. That person seems to have a screw loose.

Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Palladium on December 18, 2011, 11:02:43 PM
You were asked a question, you responded politely and honestly, and the person asking accepted that response. That certainly doesn't make you a meanie.

Personally I would not want anyone buying my (hypothetical future) kids religious gifts (it sounds like your DH and I have similar views), so I think it's good that they asked first but were willing to accept that the answer was no.

As an atheist who celebrates Christmas in a secular way, I think of it as a time to be with family and friends and celebrate/close the year. We do exchange gifts in my family, because it's a way of showing our loved ones how much we appreciate them.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Sterling on December 18, 2011, 11:05:24 PM
You have every right to limit what your child plays with.  My fiancť and I are not Christian.  We do Christmas with my family but is about gift giving and family time.  The Jesus part is not part of our tradition.  Furthermore we are pagan and celebrate Yule on a different day.  I won't even get into the part about how one holiday stole from the other.

Personally I would not want my child to have the nativity set either at that age.  When they are a little older they can make choices but at that age no.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: CakeEater on December 18, 2011, 11:44:29 PM
Forget the fact that the nativity has a religious aspect to it but I'm curious why you would be fine with accepting a Christmas gift if you are an atheist. Doesn't make sense to me and I do think that is a bit....'off' if not rude.

A lot of people consider Christmas to be more of a fun, secular holiday than a religious one.  We have a Christmas tree up, stockings, Santa Claus figurines, etc. but we would never put up a nativity scene and would be offended if we received one from someone who knew we weren't religious.

That's pretty much it. It's International Giving day in our house. We have a tree (admittedly a wall sitcker one so it is cat and toddler proof) but nothing else and we don't follow any religious aspects of Christmas. Even amoungst the religious people I know, Christmas has very little to do with religion

With a complete lack of snark, what do you mean by the bolded?


My BIL and SIL are athiests, as far as I know. They had their daughters baptised, partly to appease a grandmother, and partly to get a step up in enrolling them into a private religious school. DH and I were godparents to the eldest. We promised to help her parents teach her the tenets of the religion.

I have no qualms at all buying her, especially, religious gifts.

Oops, edited to say that I wouldn't buy religious things for avowed athiests, whose stance I knew on the matter. However, things like Noah's Ark are so ubiquitous now as a decorating theme, that I might get something like that without even making the connection. Hey, look - cute animals!

The religious people I know (those who got married in a church, go to church sometimes, christen their children etc) don't go to church at Christmas and it is all about the presents and Santa and the whole Jesus being born bit gets left out. I think with small kids around they get lost in the excitment of it all and forget about the fact it is based on a religious holiday.

The whole no religious presents for DD thing is more DH than me. He is very anti religion and views even the cutest of arks as an evil plot by the church to brain wash innocent children so if I can head off the issue before anyone gives DD something that will serioudly offend him I will. I was just upset about being called a meanie for doing it  :( The person on the forum has written a huge rant at me about it since I first posted this thread and has said some pretty nasty things about not letting DD have an ark or nativity set.

Ahh, I see. I wouldn't class people who get married in a church and baptise their kids religious. Religious people I know (ie, those who attend church on a regular basis) very much see Christmas as a religious celebration. In fact, I think they sometimes go a bit overboard in finding religious meanings for all the secular symbols of Christmas.

Goodness, if it's mean to not allow your child to have playthings that go against your personal beliefs, there are a heck of a lot of mean parents out there.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Grape on December 19, 2011, 12:33:01 AM
On the religious aspect of Christmas... many of the traditions (tree, gift giving, etc.) were adapted from pagan celebrations. The Christian parts were added later. In any event, the holiday definitely has both secular and religious observers.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Ceallach on December 19, 2011, 12:38:37 AM
She asked, you answered.  That was perfectly acceptable.  It was considerate of her to ask, as it avoided a situation of you feeling awkward at an undesirable gift.    So that was nice of them to respect your wishes and check with you.   

If you threw a major tantrum about people exposing your child to religion or accused them of trying to convert her, then I'd say you were a SS.  But you weren't, you were having a mature dialogue with your family who are nice enough to consult you on these things.  No etiquette breach here.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: jassou on December 19, 2011, 01:47:01 AM
I agree all the above, but would like to add I kind of see where the poster on the other board is coming from. I don't agee you're a meanie, and I don't see the Thomas the tank engine- trainspotting link, but I don't think that exposing your children to religious stories (from a cultural upbringing perspective) is necessarily a bad thing. We tell our children all kinds of stories that are part of our culture (from brothers grimm, hans christian anderson, pixar even) and I think bible stories are part of that. Not because of religous value teaching, but in order to teach our children different cultural stories. It's our cultural baggage. I'm an atheist, but I think it important that my son knows of the ark of Noah when he grows up to be able to understand cultural references later in life.

But as a parent you are perfectly within your right to decide what are appropriate toys/stories for your children. :)
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Bexx27 on December 19, 2011, 11:24:19 AM
First, there is no way you were rude. Your sister asked an honest question and got an honest answer. (Non)problem solved.

Second, forum bully is crazy. Some people just hate atheism and will jump on any chance to be offended by something an atheist does. If you had accepted the nativity scene, she would have been offended because your heathen child wouldn't have the proper religious reverence while playing with it or something.

Third, Christmas as it is currently celebrated by the majority of the US population is primarily about Santa Claus, Christmas trees, gift-giving, and other non-religious cultural traditions. The actual birth of Jesus is not exactly at the forefront, at least in our popular culture. (I understand it's unlikely Jesus was even  born during the winter and Dec. 25 was mainly chosen to integrate pagan winter solstice celebrations.) I find it rude to say that non-Christians shouldn't celebrate the non-religious/non-Christian aspects of the holiday.

Finally, I'll add my own thoughts as an atheist parent. I'm pretty laid back because I was raised with religion (Jewish with some exposure to Catholicism on my dad's side) and have still been able to form my own beliefs. If DD's grandparents want to take her to Church/Temple, read her Bible stories, etc., I won't object if she doesn't (barring actual pressure to believe or convert). My feeling is that being exposed to different beliefs and cultures can only be a good thing. Personally, I wouldn't mind a Noah's Ark theme; it's a good story, and I'm a supporter of reading the Bible as literature because it's so ingrained in our cultural consciousness and Biblical allusions are ubiquitous in literature. I would be uncomfortable with a nativity set, however, and I'm not sure I can really pinpoint the difference.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Betelnut on December 19, 2011, 11:44:57 AM
Atheist parent here--I think you were fine.  You simply offered a preference and were respectful at the same time. 

I agree with prior posters about the need to educate the kiddos about religion but, in my mind, I will do that at my own pace and with my own style.  Plus, my daughter is going to Unitarian "Sunday school" and they cover religions diversity there.

As an aside, I am much more uncomfortable with the "cute" story of Noah's Ark than the Christian Christmas story which is mostly about poor people and a child's birth.  Noah's Ark involves the mass destruction of (almost) all life on Earth--not really a nice story!  Please don't give my child anything that promotes that story!

For other atheist parents on this forum, check out "Parenting Beyond Belief."  http://parentingbeyondbelief.com/parents/ (http://parentingbeyondbelief.com/parents/)
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Larrabee on December 19, 2011, 11:55:45 AM


Finally, I'll add my own thoughts as an atheist parent. I'm pretty laid back because I was raised with religion (Jewish with some exposure to Catholicism on my dad's side) and have still been able to form my own beliefs. If DD's grandparents want to take her to Church/Temple, read her Bible stories, etc., I won't object if she doesn't (barring actual pressure to believe or convert). My feeling is that being exposed to different beliefs and cultures can only be a good thing. Personally, I wouldn't mind a Noah's Ark theme; it's a good story, and I'm a supporter of reading the Bible as literature because it's so ingrained in our cultural consciousness and Biblical allusions are ubiquitous in literature. I would be uncomfortable with a nativity set, however, and I'm not sure I can really pinpoint the difference.

I am atheist but not a parent and I heartily agree with this.

I think some of the stories associated with various religions are wonderful, you don't need to be religious to enjoy them as a child.  One of my favourite toys was a felt and velcro Noah's Ark thing, I loved it because I loved anything to do with animals, nothing to do with God!

I also read the Greek and Norse myths and had a lovely illustrated book of creation myths from all different cultures, I went to the local Jewish Museum, I had Eid feasts with Muslim friends, received gifts of money in red envelopes from Chinese neighbours at new year.  We even had a nativity scene in the house at Christmas and I remained atheist despite all these exposures.

I actually think it does children a disservice to pretend religion doesn't exist and to try to 'shield' them from it as it were.  Its been a massive influence on humanity almost from day one.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Bluenomi on December 19, 2011, 04:03:12 PM
I was speaking to my SDM last night and she said she partly asked about the nativity set to tease me since she knows DH and I's opinion about it so she certainly wasn't upset about it all which is good  :)

I'm planning, when DD is older, to explain the whole religion thing to DD and she's free to make her own choices but at the moment I think she's a bit young. I want her to be tollerant of religion and understand how important it is to some people but also want her to understand that she doesn't have to have a religion just because it is the 'done thing' if she doesn't want too. PPs are right, she does need to have some understanding of religion since it is such a part of her culture but I want her to make up her own mind, not just believe in something because someone told her too.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Sharnita on December 19, 2011, 04:20:54 PM
On the flip side, as somebody who is religious, I'd rather people didn't have their kids treat a nativitvy set like it was some random weeble-wobble playset or something.  I get that they don't believe in it but it would bother me if there was not really any recognition of it as a meaningful display for other people if you know what I mean.  I certanly think it is absolutely acceptable for OP and her DH to decline the gift.  If somebody offered a display or jewelry denoting another religion to Christian parents I would think they'd be within their rights to decline as well.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Larrabee on December 19, 2011, 04:24:19 PM
On the flip side, as somebody who is religious, I'd rather people didn't have their kids treat a nativitvy set like it was some random weeble-wobble playset or something.  I get that they don't believe in it but it would bother me if there was not really any recognition of it as a meaningful display for other people if you know what I mean.


I don't think that's something you can decide for other families. 


Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Sharnita on December 19, 2011, 04:24:57 PM
On the flip side, as somebody who is religious, I'd rather people didn't have their kids treat a nativitvy set like it was some random weeble-wobble playset or something.  I get that they don't believe in it but it would bother me if there was not really any recognition of it as a meaningful display for other people if you know what I mean.


I don't think that's something you can decide for other families.

I'm pretty sure I'm allowed to offer my perspective.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: violinp on December 19, 2011, 04:28:52 PM
OP, you were fine. You have a veto on the kinds of toys your children receive, and that especially includes things of a religious nature.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: lady_disdain on December 19, 2011, 04:29:24 PM


Finally, I'll add my own thoughts as an atheist parent. I'm pretty laid back because I was raised with religion (Jewish with some exposure to Catholicism on my dad's side) and have still been able to form my own beliefs. If DD's grandparents want to take her to Church/Temple, read her Bible stories, etc., I won't object if she doesn't (barring actual pressure to believe or convert). My feeling is that being exposed to different beliefs and cultures can only be a good thing. Personally, I wouldn't mind a Noah's Ark theme; it's a good story, and I'm a supporter of reading the Bible as literature because it's so ingrained in our cultural consciousness and Biblical allusions are ubiquitous in literature. I would be uncomfortable with a nativity set, however, and I'm not sure I can really pinpoint the difference.

I am atheist but not a parent and I heartily agree with this.

I think some of the stories associated with various religions are wonderful, you don't need to be religious to enjoy them as a child.  One of my favourite toys was a felt and velcro Noah's Ark thing, I loved it because I loved anything to do with animals, nothing to do with God!

I also read the Greek and Norse myths and had a lovely illustrated book of creation myths from all different cultures, I went to the local Jewish Museum, I had Eid feasts with Muslim friends, received gifts of money in red envelopes from Chinese neighbours at new year.  We even had a nativity scene in the house at Christmas and I remained atheist despite all these exposures.

I actually think it does children a disservice to pretend religion doesn't exist and to try to 'shield' them from it as it were.  Its been a massive influence on humanity almost from day one.


I think it is important to expose children to many religions, regardless of the faith (or lack of) that she is being brought up in. So many cultural elements come from religions and it also helps to develop tolerance.

Besides, if we were to remove all toys that originated from religious or legendary stories, the poor child wouldn't be able to play with unicorns, fairies, angels, ghosts, etc.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Larrabee on December 19, 2011, 04:42:17 PM
On the flip side, as somebody who is religious, I'd rather people didn't have their kids treat a nativitvy set like it was some random weeble-wobble playset or something.  I get that they don't believe in it but it would bother me if there was not really any recognition of it as a meaningful display for other people if you know what I mean.


I don't think that's something you can decide for other families.

I'm pretty sure I'm allowed to offer my perspective.

Oh ok, when you worded it as 'I'd rather people didn't' I thought you were implying that they shouldn't.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: magicdomino on December 19, 2011, 05:02:10 PM
It's no worse for parents to ask no religious items, than it is to ask people not to buy Barbie dolls or toy guns.  It doesn't guarantee that the givers will listen, any more than it guarantees that the child will never get a Barbie (But it's the Holiday Barbie!) or guns (But he pretends sticks are guns!). 

Now, I'm an atheist, yet would not be offended by someone giving my hypothetical child a cute Noah's Ark or Nativity set.  If nothing else, knowledge of those stories is useful cultural knowledge, much like knowing Greek mythology can be useful.  A Bible would be more problematic, although a simple childrens' version, much like the one I had while a child, might be okay.  But that is my call to make, and would hope givers would respect that.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Isisnin on December 19, 2011, 05:20:07 PM
Since DD is apparently a toddler (since the Little People series is for toddlers), she probably only wanted it because it's cute not because it represents a religious story.  the bully on the other site is turning a child's "I want a cute toy"  into the child being denied their religious preference.  ::)

FYI, apparently there is a Little Peoples Farm.  She'd probably like that  - it'll include most all the same animals!
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Ceallach on December 19, 2011, 05:26:59 PM
On the flip side, as somebody who is religious, I'd rather people didn't have their kids treat a nativitvy set like it was some random weeble-wobble playset or something.  I get that they don't believe in it but it would bother me if there was not really any recognition of it as a meaningful display for other people if you know what I mean.

I don't think that's something you can decide for other families.

I'm pretty sure I'm allowed to offer my perspective.

Oh ok, when you worded it as 'I'd rather people didn't' I thought you were implying that they shouldn't.

When somebody starts a sentence with "I'd rather..." it usually indicates they are stating their own opinion/preference, not suggesting that everybody else should necessarily share that view.   :)

I agree with you that nobody can stop other people using their possessions as they see fit, and I've actually seen this cause issues amongst families I know.  Ironically it's often between families who are both religious, but have different ideas about what is appropriate or place different significance on certain items.   Somebody who is religious can be greatly upset by seeing a child play with an item that has religious significance to them.  It's definitely an understandable position.  But it becomes a problem when they start saying "You can't do that" or chiding each other's children for playing with something that actually belongs to the child in question.  (Which I'm sure nobody here would do).
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Bluenomi on December 19, 2011, 05:33:00 PM
Since DD is apparently a toddler (since the Little People series is for toddlers), she probably only wanted it because it's cute not because it represents a religious story.  the bully on the other site is turning a child's "I want a cute toy"  into the child being denied their religious preference.  ::)

FYI, apparently there is a Little Peoples Farm.  She'd probably like that  - it'll include most all the same animals!

That's actually what DSM ended up getting DD and she opened it last night and loves it! It makes noises so is much cooler in DD's eyes than a nativity set which doesn't  ;D
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: kherbert05 on December 19, 2011, 05:42:37 PM
OP this is no different than not wanting your child to have princess stuff, Disney stuff, toy guns and so on. They politely asked, you politely answered. So all is fine.

For the purpose of debate I would turn this around on the bully. "Fine so it is ok for an atheist to give your child "The Magic of Reality" by Richard Dawkins, right? After all it is beautifully illustrated science book."

Once I was trapped with this woman who kept insisting that praying in school wouldn't hurt (insert non Protestant religions) to pray. I finally said fine when I'm a teacher I'll teach your child the Hail Mary the first day of school. She sputtered and said she didn't want her kids learning "that". I said and that is how  (long list of nonprotestant religions) feel about your prayers being forced down their kids throats. Professor wasn't particularly happy - but the the woman would not shut up and the professor let her go on for 1/2 an hour in a 50 min class.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Isisnin on December 20, 2011, 03:05:14 AM
Since DD is apparently a toddler (since the Little People series is for toddlers), she probably only wanted it because it's cute not because it represents a religious story.  the bully on the other site is turning a child's "I want a cute toy"  into the child being denied their religious preference.  ::)

FYI, apparently there is a Little Peoples Farm.  She'd probably like that  - it'll include most all the same animals!

That's actually what DSM ended up getting DD and she opened it last night and loves it! It makes noises so is much cooler in DD's eyes than a nativity set which doesn't   ;D


Well, the nativity was a silent night! LOL!
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: zyrs on December 20, 2011, 10:05:08 AM
You were not rude at all.  You were respected and respectful during the exchange about the nativity set.  You are also totally within your parental rights to limit what things your child is exposed to at such an early age.  And it is wonderful that your family respects you and your husband so that they ask first.

Ignore the forum poster and let them flame out.

Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: SamiHami on December 20, 2011, 10:17:13 AM
Just curious-and not being snarky, I promise-but it seems to me that Christmas is a Christian celebration of the birth of Christ, yet atheists and people of non-Christian faiths choose to celebrate it as a "secular" holiday, which it isn't. Yet you never hear of atheists choosing to celebrate Chanukah or Ramadan or other non-Christian celebrations in a secular way. It just strikes me as odd and sort of a double standard.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: 567Kate on December 20, 2011, 10:30:57 AM
Just curious-and not being snarky, I promise-but it seems to me that Christmas is a Christian celebration of the birth of Christ, yet atheists and people of non-Christian faiths choose to celebrate it as a "secular" holiday, which it isn't. Yet you never hear of atheists choosing to celebrate Chanukah or Ramadan or other non-Christian celebrations in a secular way. It just strikes me as odd and sort of a double standard.

To be fair, I don't get Chanukah or Ramadan as a day off from work, along with my entire family.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: O'Dell on December 20, 2011, 10:31:08 AM
Just curious-and not being snarky, I promise-but it seems to me that Christmas is a Christian celebration of the birth of Christ, yet atheists and people of non-Christian faiths choose to celebrate it as a "secular" holiday, which it isn't. Yet you never hear of atheists choosing to celebrate Chanukah or Ramadan or other non-Christian celebrations in a secular way. It just strikes me as odd and sort of a double standard.

Please google the history of christmas if you are confused by this. There are plenty of online articles that should provide clarity. :)
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Ereine on December 20, 2011, 10:44:54 AM
Christmas is part of my culture (and in my culture it includes many non-Christian elements, including the name) and has been celebrated by my ancestors for hundreds of years. It's also the biggest celebration in my country and everything is about Christmas for weeks. I could could celebrate the 17th of February of course but it lacks all the athmosphere, days off and traditional foods. Plus in a cold dark country it seems like a good idea to celebrate the return of the sun (as evidenced by the countless celebrations around this time of year). I have none of that connection to Ramadan or Hanukkah and though there are people in my country who celebrate them, they're not part of my culture.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: SamiHami on December 20, 2011, 10:48:47 AM
Just seems like a double standard to me.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Larrabee on December 20, 2011, 10:51:11 AM
Just curious-and not being snarky, I promise-but it seems to me that Christmas is a Christian celebration of the birth of Christ, yet atheists and people of non-Christian faiths choose to celebrate it as a "secular" holiday, which it isn't. Yet you never hear of atheists choosing to celebrate Chanukah or Ramadan or other non-Christian celebrations in a secular way. It just strikes me as odd and sort of a double standard.

Very briefly:

Pretty much every culture in existence has come up with a way to have a nice celebration of food, light and good cheer somewhere around the winter solstice where the days are short and everybody could do with a bit of a boost.

Early Christians took elements of older pagan and Roman festivals and beliefs and incorporated them into Christmas to make the transition easier.  You'll notice that there are no mentions of Christmas trees, turkey dinners, yule logs etc. in the bible, and no indication that Jesus was actually born on the 25th December.

For lots of non religious people in western countries, Christmas is celebrated as a mid winter cheer up festival, a chance to enjoy good food and drink with good friends and family, a time to have a day off work and do a little celebrating when its otherwise cold, dark and generally depressing.  It makes sense to do this at Christmas rather than Eid, Diwali or Chanukah as its a national holiday, the logistics are easier and Christmas is part of their culture even if its not part of their religion.

Neither way of viewing Christmas is more right than the other.

(I do actually celebrate Diwali in a non religious way by attending the awesome fireworks display in my city.)
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Betelnut on December 20, 2011, 10:52:14 AM
Just curious-and not being snarky, I promise-but it seems to me that Christmas is a Christian celebration of the birth of Christ, yet atheists and people of non-Christian faiths choose to celebrate it as a "secular" holiday, which it isn't. Yet you never hear of atheists choosing to celebrate Chanukah or Ramadan or other non-Christian celebrations in a secular way. It just strikes me as odd and sort of a double standard.

I live in a predominately Christian society (the U.S.), have Christian holidays off from work and come from a Christian background (although my folks were both atheists).  I'm sure if I were raised in Israel or Saudi Arabia and came from a Jewish or Muslim family (but were still atheist) I would celebrate some of the holidays and abide by some of the fun aspects of those religion's traditions.

Plus, Christmas is a very secular holiday once you start looking at it.  Lights? Food? Tree?  Presents?  All secular.  And,   frankly, it is all about the fun and warm fuzzies I get.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Betelnut on December 20, 2011, 10:52:51 AM
Just seems like a double standard to me.

What standard am I doubling?
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: violinp on December 20, 2011, 10:56:36 AM
Just seems like a double standard to me.

What standard am I doubling?

I'm assuming that SamiHami thinks it odd for someone to celebrate a holiday centered around a specific event in a specific religion when the celebrant doesn't believe in that religion.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: zyrs on December 20, 2011, 10:57:38 AM
You donít need to believe in Yule, the Scandinavian fertility God, to enjoy the tradition of Yuletide carols & greetings.

You donít need to be Wiccan to enjoy the tradition of wreaths or decking the halls with holly.

You donít need to be a Druid to enjoy the tradition of hoping for a kiss under the mistletoe.

You donít need to believe in the ancient God Saturn to enjoy the tradition of decorating a Saturnalia tree in your home.

You donít need to believe in Thor, Odin or St Nicholas to enjoy the tradition of a visitor bringing gifts at night.

You donít need to believe in Sleipnir, Odinís flying eight-legged horse, to enjoy the tradition of listening for the sound of hooves on your roof top.

You donít need to believe in Mithras to enjoy the tradition of celebrating the sunís rebirth on December 25th.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Betelnut on December 20, 2011, 11:03:34 AM
Just seems like a double standard to me.

What standard am I doubling?

I'm assuming that SamiHami thinks it odd for someone to celebrate a holiday centered around a specific event in a specific religion when the celebrant doesn't believe in that religion.

Well, it can be argued that Christmas is primarily based on non-Christian celebrations.  Anyway, I don't feel it is a double-standard since I'm not telling anyone else that they can't celebrate Christmas.  It would be a double standard if I celebrated Christmas but told other non-Christians (including atheists) that they couldn't do so. 

Hypocritical might be a better word to use although I wouldn't agree with that characterization either.  I don't actually celebrate very much of the religious aspects of Christmas.  I focus primarily on the secular parts like the Christmas tree, lights, music, food, good feelings, presents, fun movies, The Nutcracker, Santa, Rudolph, etc.  I do like a lot of the sacred music so maybe I shouldn't listen to it because I'm not Christian? (Just kidding, I'm not giving that up!)
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: SamiHami on December 20, 2011, 11:23:50 AM
Christmas, by definition, is the celebration of the birth of Christ. of course we don't know the actual date of of his birth; but it's the day that we celebrate that event. I know that lots of other thing unrelated to his birth are associated with it, but ultimately it is a distinctly religious holiday.

I'm not saying who should and who should not celebrate any holiday any way they wish to; I'm merely observing that a lot of people pretending that it is not a Christian holiday they are celebrating is disingenuous. Sure, celebrate the fun of the season, and exchanging gifts, and all the goodies; but don't pretend it is any less a Christian holiday than any other religions' holy days.

What next? Is Easter not a religious holiday anymore either? Anyway, I'm not trying to argue with anyone. Just tossing my observations out there as fodder for thought.

Merry Christmas to all!
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Larrabee on December 20, 2011, 11:47:51 AM
Christmas, by definition, is the celebration of the birth of Christ. of course we don't know the actual date of of his birth; but it's the day that we celebrate that event. I know that lots of other thing unrelated to his birth are associated with it, but ultimately it is a distinctly religious holiday.

I'm not saying who should and who should not celebrate any holiday any way they wish to; I'm merely observing that a lot of people pretending that it is not a Christian holiday they are celebrating is disingenuous. Sure, celebrate the fun of the season, and exchanging gifts, and all the goodies; but don't pretend it is any less a Christian holiday than any other religions' holy days.

What next? Is Easter not a religious holiday anymore either? Anyway, I'm not trying to argue with anyone. Just tossing my observations out there as fodder for thought.

Merry Christmas to all!

You mean the celebration of the goddess Eostre?  I don't remember the brightly coloured eggs or generous rabbits in the bible!

Nobody here is trying to say you can't celebrate Christmas in the way that is most meaningful to you, please extend the same courtesy to others and refrain from making uncharitable insinuations, which, after all, aren't very Christian.  ;)
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Ereine on December 20, 2011, 11:50:11 AM
It's not actually called Christmas in my country, it's joulu (see Yule, the Scandinavian god of fertility in zyrs's post), which as a name is distinctly non-Christian. Our gifts are brought by the joulu goat (who these days looks a lot like Santa but isn't) and the "elfs" are spirits of places that people actually believed in until 19th century. We visit graves to light candles so that the spirits of our ancestors won't come to bother us during our celebrations and we put an almond in our traditional rice porridge to bring luck to the one who gets in. None of that is remotely Christian and what seems to me like a double standard is people saying that they can take parts of other people's celebrations, including the name (and the tree and the food and the traditions) but other people can't do the same.

I actually celebrate Easter too, for pretty much the same reasons. Public holiday, part of my culture and spring is a good reason for celebration. Also if Ēostre doesn't mind Christians stealing her name for the celebration then she probably doesn't mind if I do the same for mine (that goes for joulu too, I doubt Yule minds me or Christians doing it).   
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Moray on December 20, 2011, 11:53:10 AM
Christmas, by definition, is the celebration of the birth of Christ. of course we don't know the actual date of of his birth; but it's the day that we celebrate that event. I know that lots of other thing unrelated to his birth are associated with it, but ultimately it is a distinctly religious holiday.

I'm not saying who should and who should not celebrate any holiday any way they wish to; I'm merely observing that a lot of people pretending that it is not a Christian holiday they are celebrating is disingenuous. Sure, celebrate the fun of the season, and exchanging gifts, and all the goodies; but don't pretend it is any less a Christian holiday than any other religions' holy days.

What next? Is Easter not a religious holiday anymore either? Anyway, I'm not trying to argue with anyone. Just tossing my observations out there as fodder for thought.

Merry Christmas to all!

Well, actually, it's not that it isn't religious, but many of the "secular" trappings, like rabbits, eggs, etc. associated with Easter have far more to do with ancient celebrations of fertility and springtime than the Resurrection of Christ. Even the name "Easter" comes from an ancient word for spring: "eastre."

Think about it this way: as Christianity spread throughout the Pagan world, people were reluctant to give up their old traditions, so they incorporated them into the celebration of their new faith. Those traditions and celebrations, like the Yule tree, are not inherently Christian; they can be enjoyed by all as part of Winter festivities.


ETA: Regarding the quote below: This agnostic with Pagan leanings celebrates a secular Hanukkah with her secularly (is that a word?) Jewish/Christian blended family. We like the tradition of gathering together for 8 nights and re-telling the story of the epic military victory of the Macabees over the forces of oppression and the miracle of the oil that continued to burn. My father grew up with this tradition, and although it has lost all religious significance for us, it is still a beloved family tradition. Actually, although Hanukkah is frequently touted as the "Jewish Christmas", it's actually a fairly minor holiday, so none of the Jews I know get bent out of shape if anyone wants to play dreidel or buy bags of gelt.

Just curious-and not being snarky, I promise-but it seems to me that Christmas is a Christian celebration of the birth of Christ, yet atheists and people of non-Christian faiths choose to celebrate it as a "secular" holiday, which it isn't. Yet you never hear of atheists choosing to celebrate Chanukah or Ramadan or other non-Christian celebrations in a secular way. It just strikes me as odd and sort of a double standard.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Sharnita on December 20, 2011, 11:59:26 AM
There is some overlap between fertility and the Chirstian concept of rebirth/resurrection.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Moray on December 20, 2011, 12:07:34 PM
There is some overlap between fertility and the Chirstian concept of rebirth/resurrection.

Exactly! It was a natural fit, and truly, how better to celebrate the Resurrection of one's Savior than by honoring all aspects of renewal...Souls/nature/etc.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: portugo on December 20, 2011, 12:20:05 PM
I'm not saying who should and who should not celebrate any holiday any way they wish to; I'm merely observing that a lot of people pretending that it is not a Christian holiday they are celebrating is disingenuous.

Holidays are different for every family; there is no one definition that is written in stone.  I do not celebrate Christ's birth.  I celebrate the winter day when my family gets together and exchanges presents and food and joy.  That is my day and my celebration, and for someone to say that I'm "disingenuous" for following my own personal traditions is rude and insulting.

Also, if I may extrapolate from a Jehovah's Witness's point of view:  "I'm merely observing that a lot of Christians pretending that it is not a pagan holiday they are celebrating is disingenuous."
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Bexx27 on December 20, 2011, 12:35:53 PM
It would be hypocritical/a double standard for Christians to incorporate other religions' traditions into Christmas (trees, wreaths, lights), then say that only Christians should celebrate any part of Christmas.

And what's stopping, for example, non-Jews from celebrating Hannukah in a secular way by playing dreidel, eating latkes, lighting candles, etc.? I can't imagine most Jews would have a problem with that. The reason it doesn't happen (that I'm aware of) is that Christmas is the dominant US winter holiday - it pretty much takes over our popular culture for the month of December, and it's associated with a ton of fun stuff.

Right now, public buildings and streets are decorated with lights and wreaths. Every store is playing Christmas music and grocery stores have huge displays of wrapping paper, ornaments, Santa-themed candy, etc. right at the entrance, not to mention the Salvation Army Santa Claus out front. Every show on TV has a Christmas episode and every other commercial is Christmas-themed. Everyone is talking about holiday plans and gifts. Am I supposed to somehow keep my DD apart from all this because I don't subscribe to any religion? I can explain to her that we don't celebrate the birth of Christ, but she will not see the connection between that and Santa Claus and the other trappings of Christmas, and frankly, neither do I.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: magicdomino on December 20, 2011, 02:15:42 PM
Just curious-and not being snarky, I promise-but it seems to me that Christmas is a Christian celebration of the birth of Christ, yet atheists and people of non-Christian faiths choose to celebrate it as a "secular" holiday, which it isn't. Yet you never hear of atheists choosing to celebrate Chanukah or Ramadan or other non-Christian celebrations in a secular way. It just strikes me as odd and sort of a double standard.

I have to admit, I've been tempted to light a Menorah simply because I think the custom is really cool; however, my heritage is Christian rather than Jewish, and it would feel a bit like faking.  I'd like to attend a Passover Seder sometime.  Ramadan doesn't interest me because of the whole fasting thing, although I can appreciate the thought behind it.  Diwali sounds interesting though, and I wouldn't say no to an old-fashioned Yule log.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: bah12 on December 20, 2011, 02:31:57 PM
Leaving the religious aspect of out of this, the point of asking a parent if it's ok to buy any gift for a child, is because the parent has a right to decide that it isn't ok.

If it's rude to say "no, don't buy that" then what is the point of asking in the first place?  While I would never outright reject a gift in front of the giver, as a parent, it's my responsibility and authority to have my child play with toys I feel are appropriate for her.

Just the other day, my brother asked me if he could buy an art set for DD (paints, markers, easels, etc).  I told him "no" because she would just make a huge mess out of it.  She's not ready.  If he had purchased the gift without asking me, I would have thanked him without comment, then put the set away until DD was a little more ready to use it.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: jassou on December 20, 2011, 03:48:16 PM

I'm not saying who should and who should not celebrate any holiday any way they wish to; I'm merely observing that a lot of people pretending that it is not a Christian holiday they are celebrating is disingenuous. Sure, celebrate the fun of the season, and exchanging gifts, and all the goodies; but don't pretend it is any less a Christian holiday than any other religions' holy days.

If we were to call the  atheist' celebration of 'christmas' (tree, lights, food, present, etc etc) 'yuletide' in stead, would that change things for you?
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Isisnin on December 20, 2011, 03:53:31 PM
Christmas, by definition, is the celebration of the birth of Christ. of course we don't know the actual date of of his birth; but it's the day that we celebrate that event. I know that lots of other thing unrelated to his birth are associated with it, but ultimately it is a distinctly religious holiday.

I'm not saying who should and who should not celebrate any holiday any way they wish to; I'm merely observing that a lot of people pretending that it is not a Christian holiday they are celebrating is disingenuous. Sure, celebrate the fun of the season, and exchanging gifts, and all the goodies; but don't pretend it is any less a Christian holiday than any other religions' holy days.

What next? Is Easter not a religious holiday anymore either? Anyway, I'm not trying to argue with anyone. Just tossing my observations out there as fodder for thought.

Merry Christmas to all!

People aren't pretending it's not a Christian holiday.  they are just continuing the winter celebration traditions that their ancestors a couple millennium ago celebrated.  One honors family and society when one carries on the traditions. 

Plus, just because the Christians took over non-christian traditions and declared those traditions to in celebration of Christ's birth that doesn't mean the non-Christians had to stop celebrating those traditions.  Practically, many non-christians did stop publicly declaring and celebrating  their pagan and other religious beliefs in order to stop being persecuted.  But in terms of etiquette, it would have been fine for the non-christians to continue to have trees, wreaths, etc.

I disagree with your prior statement that said ..."Yet you never hear of atheists choosing to celebrate Chanukah or Ramadan or other non-Christian celebrations in a secular way. It just strikes me as odd and sort of a double standard."  Athesits celebrate those too, it just doesn't get the media attention.

I grew up going to the Jewish neighbors' for Chanukah celebrations, etc. and they came to our house for Christmas celebrations.  My mother was Catholic, but often bought Jewish food during those holidays.  there was always a both matzos and jelly beans in the pantry each spring. 

When I was in Egypt during Ramadan, many non-Muslim tourists would not eat dinner in a restaurant until after sundown.  It just felt rude to start eating while all the other diners were not. 

Similar in Japan, many tourists went to shrines and temples for Buddhist and Shinto celebrations and said prayers and purchased talismans.  just like many tourists at the Vatican purchase talismans of a patron Saint (e.g. of good health, lost causes, etc).  the Vatican doesn't ask the buyers to confirm their religion. 

Personally, I just plain enjoy diversity.  I'm hopin' Holi becomes popular around here!  Looks like fun!
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Ceallach on December 20, 2011, 03:55:29 PM
I'm not saying who should and who should not celebrate any holiday any way they wish to; I'm merely observing that a lot of people pretending that it is not a Christian holiday they are celebrating is disingenuous.

Holidays are different for every family; there is no one definition that is written in stone.  I do not celebrate Christ's birth.  I celebrate the winter day when my family gets together and exchanges presents and food and joy.  That is my day and my celebration, and for someone to say that I'm "disingenuous" for following my own personal traditions is rude and insulting.

Also, if I may extrapolate from a Jehovah's Witness's point of view:  "I'm merely observing that a lot of Christians pretending that it is not a pagan holiday they are celebrating is disingenuous."

Very true.  It reminds me of this:  just because I don't believe that I'm my father's property and he can't "give me away" doesn't mean I couldn't have him walk me down the aisle at my wedding.  I had him do so because I wanted him there and he wanted the honour of accompanying me.  Yet occasionally I'll hear somebody passionately arguing what an archaic tradition it is and that nobody should do it.  But to the vast majority of people it simply has a different meaning to what was traditionally intended, and there's no reason why we shouldn't have father/mother anybody we please accompany us, regardless of historical roots and the origins of the tradition.

So I agree re Christmas:  if a person is not observing the religious aspects of Christmas, they're simply following their own family traditions or making their own choices as to how they spend their day.   To suggest it's some kind of all-or-nothing situation whereby a non-Christian person must reject all Christmas traditions entirely would be odd.   Even within Christian communities the Christmas traditions vary significantly, so there is no 1 standard for a Christian Christmas celebration either.  Dec 25th has a different meaning to everybody.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Perfect Circle on December 20, 2011, 04:31:47 PM
Just curious-and not being snarky, I promise-but it seems to me that Christmas is a Christian celebration of the birth of Christ, yet atheists and people of non-Christian faiths choose to celebrate it as a "secular" holiday, which it isn't. Yet you never hear of atheists choosing to celebrate Chanukah or Ramadan or other non-Christian celebrations in a secular way. It just strikes me as odd and sort of a double standard.

I went to an international college where we had students from all over the world from many religions. Many non-muslims chose to take part in Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, to support our friends who weren't eating or drinking during the daylight hours. Those who did were invited to take part in the non-religious part of Eid ul-Fitr at the end of Ramadan.

Nothing wrong with that at all. We had wonderful late night dinners. So, yes, sometimes atheists, Christians, Jews etc can take part in religious traditions not their own.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Searcher on December 20, 2011, 04:44:26 PM
And what's stopping, for example, non-Jews from celebrating Hannukah in a secular way by playing dreidel, eating latkes, lighting candles, etc.? I can't imagine most Jews would have a problem with that. The reason it doesn't happen (that I'm aware of) is that Christmas is the dominant US winter holiday - it pretty much takes over our popular culture for the month of December, and it's associated with a ton of fun stuff.

The candle lighting is religious-prayers are said, and it is done to commemorate a religious moment-the miracle of oil being available for eight days instead of one to light lamps in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem.  The "miracle of the oil" is also behind the eating of latkes (fried in oil) and the dreidel game was based on attempts to distract Greek soldiers who were persecuting ancient Jews away from Jews who were trying to observe their religious traditions.

Hanukkah, although fun to celebrate, isn't about "fun."

So, yes, I as a Jew would have a problem with some non-Jew doing that "just for fun."
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Wordgeek on December 20, 2011, 04:57:49 PM
The thread has wandered from the original point, which happens.  It has also wandered from productive discussion.  Reminder:  Religion as a topic is allowed only if you're working to increase tolerance and understanding.  An atheist or other non-Christian explaining a Christian holiday to a Christian doesn't qualify, any more than if a Christian or other theist tried to explain atheism to an atheist.  Each person gets to represent their own views, not speak for others.

To refresh everyone's memory, here's the OP:

So I've just been told I'm rude and a big fat meanie on another forum I visit and wanted to check with those who actually know what is rude and what isn't if I am  ;D

Background: DH and I are atheists so avoid any religious things for DD. It hasn't been too hard since none of our families are strongly religious and until recently the only time it came up was me seeing a cute Noah's Ark set and mentioning to MIL who I was with at the time that it was cute but DH wouldn't approve.

My step mum was out shopping with my sister for a present for DD for Christmas. DSis was texting me at the time to double check things as DSM was looking at them to make sure they weren't getting anything DD already has. DSM spotted the Little People Nativity set and since she really liked it she got DSis to check if DD could have it. DSis sent me a message saying 'is DD allowed to have the nativity set? It is really cute' (which I have to agree it is) and I replied 'It is cute but no, her athesist parents wouldn't approve'. DSM and DSis were happy with that and we exchanged a few more messages as they did more shopping.

So I mentioned on a forum that I told DSM not to buy DD the nativity set and someone replied that I was rude for telling DSM not to buy it and a meanie for not letting DD have it or a Noah's ark. She then compared it to not buying Thomas the Tank Engine things for people unless they were train spotters.

So was I rude for telling DSM should couldn't buy it for DD when she asked and am I a meanie for not letting DD have it?
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Searcher on December 20, 2011, 05:01:50 PM
Going back on topic, I do think that if you, OP, don't want your kids to receive religious gifts, it would be the course of wisdom not to indicate that you think they are "cute" or otherwise have positive qualities, because others may hear that as giving permission to give your kids such items as gifts.  You could say, "Thanks, but that's not something I would be comfortable with my kids receiving as a gift."
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Larrabee on December 20, 2011, 05:26:56 PM
The thread has wandered from the original point, which happens.  It has also wandered from productive discussion.  Reminder:  Religion as a topic is allowed only if you're working to increase tolerance and understanding.  An atheist or other non-Christian explaining a Christian holiday to a Christian doesn't qualify, any more than if a Christian or other theist tried to explain atheism to an atheist.  Each person gets to represent their own views, not speak for others.



Can I officially question this policy please?

Several knowledgeable and intelligent posters have explained politely the various ways in which Christmas is not just a Christian holiday, it seems to me they have definitely done this in order to promote tolerance and, in this case especially, understanding.

To ignore all these thoughtful contributions and have a moderator tell them they are wrong (which they aren't) and that they aren't allowed to discuss it anymore seems draconian and, well, wrong.

The idea that a non Christian can't have an interesting discussion about Christmas, a non Jew can't contribute to a thread about keeping Kosher etc. is very limiting, very dismissive, divisive even, and I'm uncomfortable with it.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: immadz on December 20, 2011, 06:52:59 PM
The thread has wandered from the original point, which happens.  It has also wandered from productive discussion.  Reminder:  Religion as a topic is allowed only if you're working to increase tolerance and understanding.  An atheist or other non-Christian explaining a Christian holiday to a Christian doesn't qualify, any more than if a Christian or other theist tried to explain atheism to an atheist.  Each person gets to represent their own views, not speak for others.

To refresh everyone's memory, here's the OP:



Respectfully, that is not what happened here. A Christian questioned why non-Christians would or whether they even should celebrate the secular aspects of Christmas. Other posters have volunteered with their knowledge on the history of Christmas celebrations and why the secular aspects of the celebrations was historically never unique to Christianity. I don't see any non-Christians explaining the religious aspect of Christmas to a Christian.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Bexx27 on December 20, 2011, 06:58:10 PM
I don't see why atheists explaining why we celebrate Christmas to someone who asked does not count as an attempt to promote tolerance and understanding. Promoting tolerance and understanding is exactly what I was trying to do and I resent the implication that I was trying to explain Christmas to Christians. I was trying to explain how Christmas can still be meaningful for non-Christians. Again, responding to a question that was directed to non-Christians.

Searcher, I understand and respect your point of view, and I never intended to speak for all Jews. Most of the Jewish people I know are Reform and would probably not have a problem with it. Of course, it's an academic argument because AFAIK non-Jews are not exactly lining up on Black Friday for dreidels and menorahs.  ;)
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Veronica on December 20, 2011, 07:15:55 PM
Wordgeek- I think there has been some confusion.  The others are correct that the topic was opened by a Christian questioning the practices of non-Christians. I can understand closing down that side discussion, but I think your summary missed the point
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Wordgeek on December 20, 2011, 10:54:37 PM
Thread closed.  See the forum rules for clarification.

I tire of explaining the forum rules to regulars who ought to know them by now.  They're not hard.
Title: Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
Post by: Ehelldame on December 21, 2011, 05:34:49 PM
Oh, goodie!  A religion debate! 

First, OP, your question, when boiled down to the essential etiquette, really doesn't pertain to religion.  It's all about parental choices and your mother politely asked if a toy was appropriate and you replied that it was not.  It is no different than a parent deciding that Barbie dolls, Brat dolls, violent action figures, guns, etc. are not suitable for their children.   What a nice mother you have that she called to ask! 

As for the thread hijack....I've known for years the history of celebrating December 25th and that the icons typically associated with Christmas have their roots in pagan customs.   The Plymouth Pilgrims banned celebrations of Christmas in the belief that it was rooted in paganism which put them at odds with their less pious shipmates who wanted to celebrate it (read Gov. William Bradford's firsthand account in the book "Mort's Relations").    But I am also aware that since the 300's, Christians have been celebrating "Christ's Mass" on December 25th by attending Catholic mass and "Christ's Mass" has been observed as a religious holy day by millions ever since.   I can see SamiHami's perspective  but from an orthogonal view.   Christians in 300-ish A.D. changed the name of a December 25th pagan holiday to one that reflected their Christian beliefs, i.e. Christ's Mass which over time was shortened to Christmas.  Yet people today celebrate something quite different while still using the Christian name for the holiday.    I personally believe the name of Christmas should be reserved for religious observance of December 25th and those wanting secular or pagan celebrations can opt to change to a name which better reflects their beliefs. 

 If one is not celebrating "Christ's Mass" but rather Saturnalia or Yule, then it seems confusing to refer to one's celebration as "Christmas" when it is really "Yule".    Make sense?  I think a lot of the confusion is over the semantics and meanings of the words.  If you wish me a "Merry Christmas" or regale me with tales of your Christmas merry making, I think I could rightly assume you celebrated a Christian holiday.  If you were to tell me about your Yule party or the family Kwanzaa get together, there is no doubt in my mind what you celebrated.   

Perhaps this topic is better suited for the main blog.  Anyone want to submit something for posting?  PM me.