Author Topic: Religious presents for athiests' children  (Read 8595 times)

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Perfect Circle

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #60 on: December 20, 2011, 05:31:47 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.
In all this talk of time
Talk is fine
But I don't want to stay around
Why can't we pantomime, just close our eyes
And sleep sweet dreams
Me and you with wings on our feet

Searcher

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #61 on: December 20, 2011, 05:44:26 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."

Wordgeek

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #62 on: December 20, 2011, 05:57:49 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?

Searcher

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #63 on: December 20, 2011, 06:01:50 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."

Larrabee

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #64 on: December 20, 2011, 06:26:56 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.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2011, 07:09:31 PM by Larrabee »

immadz

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #65 on: December 20, 2011, 07:52:59 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.


Bexx27

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #66 on: December 20, 2011, 07:58:10 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.  ;)
How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these. -George Washington Carver

Veronica

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #67 on: December 20, 2011, 08:15:55 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

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Wordgeek

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #68 on: December 20, 2011, 11:54:37 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.

Ehelldame

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Re: Religious presents for athiests' children
« Reply #69 on: December 21, 2011, 06:34:49 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.