The War on Christmas Exists
Round 1: Pro will begin opening arguments in Round 1. Since I am placing the BOP on my opponent here, I am giving Pro both the first and last words.
Round 2: Con's opening argument and Pro's rebuttal.
Round 3: Rebuttals.
Round 4: Closing statements/conclusion. No new arguments from Pro in their final round.
War - an organized effort by a large organization to stop or defeat something that is viewed as dangerous or bad.
Exist - to be real.
No semantics, no arguing about definitions. By accepting this debate you are accepting the above definitions.
I am not looking to debate someone who only wants to give a brief opinion on the topic, but rather someone who is willing to present a well thought out, decently organized argument for the motion. This debate should be impossible to accept, so if you'd like to be Pro is this debate, please state your case in the comment section or message me.
As outlined by Con in the opening round, I have the BOP to show that there exists an organized effort by a large organization to defeat Christmas.
I understand “defeat” in this context to mean diminish the importance or prevalence of Christmas, and in particular the Christian conception of Christmas, in Western society. This is the way the phrase is used by those in media and politics who discuss the issue and so it is the best definition for this debate. Moreover, sine Christmas is not a physical entity that could be literally defeated, we can only interpret a war on Christmas to be a concerted effort to fight influence of Christmas in our society.
This debate is not about whether or not the war on Christmas has been successful or has had a huge impact. The simple fact that Christmas has been and remains an enormously popular and visible holiday does not disprove my case. A disastrously ineffectual war on Christmas is nonetheless a war on Christmas.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF)
With over 20,000 members, the FFRF meets the criteria of a large organization and participates in a wide range of organized efforts to promote the separation of church and state and educate the public on anti-religious ideology.
The FFRF has engaged in several organized efforts to diminish the importance of Christmas.
b) The FFRF advertises products to promote the war on Christmas. FFRF sells a large line of products aimed at displacing Christmas from the center of winter celebrations, including slogans such as “Yes Virginia...There is no God!” This is an attempt by the organization to co-opt the gift giving of Christmas to spread anti-Christmas advertising. This is a targeted effort to change how Christmas is perceived.
c) The FFRF co-president said “We see Christianity as the intruder, trying to steal the natural holiday from all of us humans.” This clearly illustrates that FFRF is directly motivated by hostility toward the celebration of Christmas.
d) The FFRF sent a threatening letter to a Michigan school after the school used the phrase “Christmas break” on their school calendar. After consulting the legal counsel, the school opted to change the language to avoid a possible legal battle. Here is a direct example of the legal resources of a large organization being used to prohibit even the use of the word “Christmas.”
e) FFRF complained until a small town changed the name of their “keep Christ in Christmas” parade.
f) FFRF lobbied and threatened lawsuits to get a Wisconsin town to remove a nativity scene that had been a 50 year old Christmas tradition.
g) Sponsored a billboard with a child writing to Santa that she is too old to believe in the fairytale of God:
2) The broader atheist community carries a strong vein of anti-Christmas sentiment. This sentiment coalesces into various anti-Christmas legal actions and grass-roots action against manifestations of Christmas in Western society. Through a constellation of student organization and local societies atheist group engage in ground-level initiatives to fight the war on Christmas. One Wisconsin group mocked installations meant to celebrate Christmas by creating several fake religious placards to place near Christmas installations. The group created a “Game of Thrones” religious sign to be placed near a nativity scene (seriously what is the beef with nativity scenes?!) featuring the phrase “the new gods are but myth and superstition."
They try to shape the narrative of the founding of America to minimize the importance of Christmas traditions in the US:
Some in the atheist community compare the “Dominant Culture” of those who celebrate Christmas to the “dominant” mentality of the Japanese and Nazis of world war II and urge individuals to shun organizations that support the dominant Christmas culture.
This rise in grassroots anti-Christmas activism has led to lasting local policy changes. For example, NYC public school policy prohibits the display of nativity scenes but permits the display of the Jewish menorah and the Muslim star and crescent.
Con may argue that the bulk of my examples are not actually examples of the war on Christmas but are instead issue of separation of Church and State, though this argument fails on several counts.
First, I have shown several examples of how the FFRF uses advertising and merchandise to try and displace Christmas as the premiere winter celebration. These examples are independent of 1st amendment issues.
Second, I have provided statements that show the FFRF explicitly views Christmas as an intruder and wants to displace it. This shows that the motivation of their efforts is not merely protection of 1st amendment rights.
Third, 1st amendment legal battles are the low-hanging fruit of the war on Christmas. Anti-Christmas organizations know they can have a big influence on the reach of Christmas by using well established legal tactics, giving them a high return on investment for seeking out these battles. That the war on Christmas manifests itself in 1st amendment legal battles does not disprove that the war exists.
Fourth, even if these legal battles are genuine attempts to maintain a severe separation of Church and State, they still represent the existence of a war on Christmas. Such attempts are still attempts to diminish the influence of Christmas by organizations that view it as a bad things.
My opponent will likely argue that the institutions, blogs, and individuals I cite above will all swear up and down that no War on Christmas exists. What the combatants in a battle claim they are doing is immaterial compared to the hostile acts they commit. I have shown many examples of how the atheist community works to diminish the importance and prevalence of Christmas in Western society. The loud protestation of these communities against the existence of the war on Christmas is no more than the “I’m not racist, but…” before their concerted effort against Christmas celebrations.
I am not willing to continue this debate under the context that Pro is trying to argue. My argument is based around the idea that there is no large organization attempting to put an end to Christmas. There are movements in place that look to diminish the importance of the Christian conception of Christmas, since that concept of Christmas is what dominates the majority of North American culture. The majority of people moving to diminish the influence of the Christian concept of Christmas are looking for an opportunity to celebrate their beliefs the way they would like and not have an opposing belief system forced on them. An attempt to diminish the importance of Christmas is not a war on Christmas any more than the women's rights movement is a war on men's rights, or the civil rights movement was a war on white rights. It might sound worse given the words that Pro chose (attempt to diminish the importance of Christmas). I would argue that what is really happening here is a movement for religious rights, and a movement for equality is not a war on the privelaged majority.
If Pro is not willing to accept this as the argument that I am putting forth, under the definitions that I laid out, then Pro can forfeit this debate or we can get it cancelled because I specifically stated that I am not looking to argue and bicker over semantics, and I will further clarify now that I am not here to argue and bicker over what we are debating. If Pro had a problem with my definitions, he should have taken it up with me prior to accepting this debate as I instructed.
For Con to state that I accepted this debate in bad faith and against his intent is incorrect and unfair. For Con to demand that I forfeit this debate is a disrespectful waste of my time. Con has no right to declare my arguments invalid because he doesn’t like them.Arguments:
First, nowhere in R1 does Pro state that he MUST be contacted before starting this debate. He says the debate “should be impossible to accept” but does not prohibit acceptance of the debate without his permission. I did not violate R1 terms by accepting this debate. At any rate, the debate was open for me to take. I didn’t realize Pro wanted to weed out challengers ahead of time- I thought this would be a fun Christmas time debate, read the definitions, then accepted. Usually when people want to prevent people from accepting the debate they make the debate impossible to accept; I assumed an open debate meant the poster didn't care. Don’t penalize me because Con accidentally made the debate open for acceptance.
Second, I have argued using the definitions presented in R1. I have argued that there is a large organization trying to stop or defeat Christmas. Con did not provide a definition of what “stop or defeat” meant, so I provided what I consider to be a reasonable understanding of this based on how the War on Christmas is understood by the media at large. The FFRF is trying to defeat Christmas by pushing it out of the public sphere and trivializing its importance in Western socierty. If Con had some special understanding of “stop or defeat” he should have provided it in R1. I am not bound to any definition other than what is presented in R1.
I did not and do not have a problem with the R1 definitions, I fully accept them. I DO have a problem with the definitions Con asserts in R2. My interpretation of “stop or defeat” is better than Con’s and my interpretation is all I need to prove to win this debate.
I am not a mind reader. Con instigated the debate and left it open for anyone to accept. He got to set the rules of the debate. Since Con had all the power in setting up this debate, he has no ground for complaint unless I actually violate the terms of debate.
Third, My definition of “stop and defeat” is not at all disingenuous since a) without my clarification of the term I could not have written my opening argument and b) my clarification is in line with a widespread understanding of the topic of this debate. Stop or defeat can mean many different things in many different contexts, my definition is best suited for the topic at hand and I assumed Con would have no qualm with my fairly common understanding of the phrase in this context.
I am not the one arguing semantics- Con is. I presented a case that directly addresses the substance of the Resolution while Con is trying to nullify my work by appealing to a narrow interpretation of the Resolution.
This may be a bit pedantic, but when my opponent points out that he said “stop or defeat Christmas” and not merely “defeat Christmas” he misrepresents the meaning of “or.” The word “or” means that at least one of the alternatives presented is true, meaning the definition is fulfilled by either the term “defeat” or “stop” or “defeat and stop.” I am a former policy debater, so I automatically interpret “or” in the correct sense. I don’t think this is super important to the debate at hand but I thought I would point it out for future reference. Con will probably complain about semantics here, but this is a pretty cut and dry case of a word having a specific meaning that Con is not adhering to. To be honest I just assumed his definition of "war" was a dictionary definition he pulled up to pin down the meaning for this debate, I really didn't think this would be a point of contention.
merriam webster: “or: used in logic as a sentential connective that forms a complex sentence which is true when at least one of its constituent sentences is true”
As a side bar: while I understand Con’s desire not to waste time arguing over definitions, it is my personal feeling that the definition in question is actually a substantive issue in this debate. What actually constitutes a “War on Christmas” may be a topic central to resolving the question of whether a war on Christmas exists. I think it is probably constructive for this definition to be a part of the debate
Fourth, even after R2 I am unclear on what Con’s specific intent is for this debate. He says he wanted to argue that “there is no large organization attempting to put an end to Christmas.”
How, exactly, would any organization “put an end” to Christmas? Does he mean to literally eradicate any trace of Christmas in the form of some atheistic “final solution” to Christianity? Does he mean to legally prohibit the celebration of Christmas? This is absurd and disconnected from the real world discourse about the War on Christmas. Actual discussions about the War on Christmas are centered on how organizations attack traditional celebrations of Christmas, as the FFRF did when it tried to end the 50 year tradition of displaying a nativity scene in small town Wisconsin. In the real world, people talk about the War on Christmas as an attempt to trivialize and minimize Christmas' importance in society.
Con’s claim that
“The majority of people moving to diminish the influence of the Christian concept of Christmas are looking for an opportunity to celebrate their beliefs the way they would like and not have an opposing belief system forced on them”
is false, and I have already shown this to be so. When Wisconsin atheists post signs for fake Game of Thrones religions next to nativity scenes and when Washington groups post signs claiming “religion is a myth that enslaves minds,” they are being overtly antagonistic and mocking. These are not efforts to find “an opportunity to celebrate their beliefs.”
My argument has clearly met Con’s definition that groups are trying to defeat Christmas.
Finally, the FFRF actually IS trying to build a world where Christmas isn’t celebrated. The FFRF believes that “nontheism” is superior so all forms of religion and actively proselytizes to promote the spread of theism. The far-reaching endgame of the FFRF is a world without religion and thus a world without Christmas. One only has to look at the billboards and bus signs the FFRF purchases to see that the clear desire of the FFRF is a world without Christmas. These signs feature such phrases as “Imagine no religion,” “Sleep in on Sundays,” and the the example I mentioned in R1 which features Santa stating “Yes Virginia...there is no God.”
The FFRF describes Christmas as an “intruder” and tries to replace Christmas iconography with traditionally pagan celebrations of Christmas. This all adds up to an effort to “end Christmas.”
I have constructed a well thought out, decently constructed argument in favor of the Resolution. I have defended the definitions in R1 and have not violated any of the R1 conditions. At no point have I tried to win this debate by engaging in frivolous semantics. Instead I have built a case backed up by research and references regarding real world entities involved in the war on Christmas.
In contrast, Con has changed the definitions of R1 mid-debate and demanded I forfeit. Con has not engaged any of my arguments or research, essentially disrespecting the time and effort I have put into this debate. Con has provided only the most meager of arguments and no research of his own, his primary tactic has been to try and bully me into forfeiting based on technicalities of R1.
The evidence I have presented leaves no doubt that a large organization is trying to defeat Christmas, and so I have upheld the Resolution.
1) Pro claims I did not state one must contact me before accepting. What I said was "if you'd like to be Pro is this debate, please state your case in the comment section or message me". Pro did neither.
2) In the opening post I clarified that I would use my round 2 argument for my opening argument only, meaning I would not offer rebuttals to Pro's post until round 3 of this debate.
Pro seems to have ignored my opening post on multiple levels and just went straight in to arguing what he felt was the point of this debate. The entire reason I asked to be contacted (and meant to have this debate impossible to accept) is to avoid someone trying to debate from a stand point that would lead to a pointless debate. I did offer a very brief argument in my 'opening arguments' round, but I was not going to waste a ton of time putting forth an argument that agrees with Pro on the majority of points.
Pro tries to use a definition of defeat that is not a common use for the word. When someone says we are starting a war in order to stop or defeat you, who would focus only on the word defeat and then assume that it simply means to try to diminish the importance of something?
Here are the top definitions of the word defeat:
- to win a victory over (someone or something) in a war, contest, game, etc.
- to cause (someone or something) to fail
- to control or overcome (something) 
I do not know where Pro got his definition of defeat, but it is not on any dictionary site that I looked into and Pro offered no source as to where he obtained his definition. The reason I gave Pro the option of forfeiting this debate or us getting it cancelled is because he opted to argue an obscure definition of the word defeat that results in us basically arguing the same thing in most cases.
Having said that, if Pro wants me to carry on with this debate, I will do so in order to show why Pro's unwillingness to comply with the request I made in my opening round has resulted in a mess of a debate.
1) I agree with Pro on this point. There are movements to push Christmas celebrations out of the public sphere. There is no reason that everyone in the world should be forced to celebrate a holiday in which only specific groups actually believe. Trying to diminish the importance and prevalence of a religious holiday is not a war on that holiday though. If Christians are allowed to post signs and nativity scenes regarding their specific beliefs, so are others. Moving Christmas out of the public sphere is not trying to defeat Christmas, nor is it trying to put an end to Christmas. It is an attempt to equalize things for everyone involved.
The Christian community is massively privileged in North America. There are publicly funded Catholic schools in Canada . Major Christian holidays are national holidays in both Canada and USA, while no other faith has a religious holiday recognized nationally . In two countries that do not declare any one specific national faith (despite what many Christians might say) , the government has created national holidays based on Christian beliefs. As I stated in my brief opening argument in the first round: "a movement for equality is not a war on the privileged majority." In other words, trying to have the influence of Christmas be diminished is not an attempt to stop or defeat Christmas, it is a move to have Christmas treated like other religious holidays, rather than have it treated as something better than the rest.
Points 1a-1g) These are all examples of people trying to diminish the role of Christmas in the public eye. No one, however, is trying to force people to stop believing in God or celebrating Christmas. Yes, groups are posting their beliefs on Christianity, the same way that Christian groups constantly try to convert others to their faith, or scare them into believing  . Is this a war on atheism or secularism? No. The nature of religious beliefs (or lack there of) is to want other people to believe what you believe, but trying to convert non-believers of your faith is not waging a war on another faith, and this debate is not even about faith vs faith. This debate is about non-Christians not wanting to be forced into celebrating a holiday that has nothing to do with their faith. No large organization is trying to put an end to Christmas, as people will always be allowed to celebrate their religious holidays in the comfort of their own homes. Trying to diminish the importance of Christmas on a national level, to the extent that it is treated more on par with other religious holidays, is not a war on Christmas.
2) I already addressed much of what Pro argues in this section, but I do want to point out two things in particular:
a) The blog post that Pro sites, regarding the ties between the War on Christmas and Pearl Harbour, makes many valid points in favour of my argument. Specifically, when it states that many people claim that Christmas (and Christianity) are the dominant culture of America, and because of that, we should just accept that Christmas is a cultural thing in America, not a religious one . The author is not trying to say that Christmas is like Nazism. The author is pointing out the danger in a group trying to force their views on others, purely because those views are already held by the majority. Asking non-Christians to shun groups that push for the dominant Christian culture makes sense if you are not a Christian. Why would you want to be forced to practice something in which you do not believe?
b) There is an article Pro posts that likens nativity scenes to a Star of David or Muslim Crescent . In what world are those similar? Two of them are single symbols representing a faith and the other is an entire scene depicting the birth of their saviour. When schools start outlawing crosses (the equivalent of the star or crescent) or if those same schools allow depictions of scenes specific to another faith, then maybe one can start screaming for inequality.
In conclusion for this round, I hope I have made my views on this more clear. The move to diminish the importance of Christmas in the public sphere is not a war on Christmas, it is a move towards equality. Christmas is held up on a pedestal above all other celebrations. This is a movement towards equality. Since it would be completely unreasonable to attempt to bring all other religious holidays up to the same level of prominence that Christmas continues to maintain, the only realistic option is to diminish the importance of Christmas so that it can be treated like the important holidays of every other faith... which would be that it is important to the people who follow that faith, but not forced down the throats of the millions who don't.
The FFRF are aggressive about their views, but they are not focused on stopping the Christian practice of Christmas. They are merely moving to enforce the idea of separating Church and State. When a government endorses a specific holiday or religious celebration, it is showing favouritism to that specific faith. I haven't seen any articles showing that the FFRF are attacking churches or religious groups for promoting their faith. All examples provided by Pro are in reference to government organizations promoting Christian ideals.
As I stated in my brief opening argument, a movement for equality is not a war on the privileged majority. This point was left alone by Pro. I also likened the move to diminish the importance of Christmas to Women's Rights or Civil Rights movements. Would Pro be willing to argue that the Women's Rights movement was a war on men, or the Civil Rights movement was a war on white people? This is the most important part of my argument and I hope that Pro will address this. I, unlike Pro, will not attempt to assume what my opponent is going to argue though. I will wait to see what he has to say first.
The reason I claimed that this debate was pointless, and the reason I urged Pro to forfeit, is because Pro ignored my request in the opening round and started debating me on a topic that we both technically agree on. We both agree that there is a movement to diminish the importance of Christmas in the public sphere. If Pro had contacted me prior to this debate as I requested, we would not be having this debate right now. The only point of contention here is whether a move to diminish the importance of Christmas should be constituted as a war. If Pro insists on having this debate, the points about groups trying to diminish the importance of Christmas are irrelevant, since we both agree that it is happening. The BOP is on Pro to show that this is in fact a war. My argument is that it is not a war, it is merely a push for religious equality.
1) I don’t deny Con requested that challengers message him before accepting the debate. I argue that this is ONLY a request- Con said “please message me” not “you may only accept this debate with my permission.” Con ASKED to be contacted but did not REQUIRE it. There is DDO functionality to prohibit unwanted challengers- Con could have made the debate impossible to accept. I made an honest mistake when I accepted this debate, and I apologize for not adhering to Con’s wishes, but I did NOT break any rules. This debate was open to accept so I assumed Con was fine with any challenger. At any rate this debate is happening and clearly we have substantial disagreements to debate.
2) Con talks about what he “meant” to do, but this debate only concerns what he actually did do. The R1 definitions left ambiguity to the Resolution, so I offered a reasonable interpretation. As I said in R1, Christmas is a non-physical concept so what constitutes “defeating” Christmas requires contextual interpretation.
“to win a victory over Christmas in a war, contest, or game.”
“to cause Christmas to fail”
“to control or overcome Christmas”
These statements are nonsensical. Christmas is not a thing to be defeated in a contest, it cannot "fail," it is not an object that can be overcome.
We need an interpretation that applies to Christmas as a cultural celebration. This is what I provided in R1 and what Con has failed to provide. The prevalence of Christmas and its entanglement with social tradition and history means that to “defeat” Christmas is to dethrone it as the pre-eminent winter celebration and diminish its importance.
My interpretation of “defeat” is not arbitrary, it fits the context of the “War on Christmas.” What constitutes “defeat” is very different in the context of the “War on Obesity,” “War on Terror,” and “War on Christmas.” When people in the REAL WORLD talk about the war on Christmas, they mean malicious attempts to push Christmas out of the public sphere, diminish the importance of Christmas, and erode Christmas’ traditional role in society.
“Every year...we report Secular Progressive assaults on the traditions of Christmas...The secular progressives want a new America and traditional Christmas isn't a part of it.”
Note that Con still has not explained his understanding of “defeat Christmas;" he has not yet given a definition of this phrase. Con says that the FFRF's actions are not a “War on Christmas” but at no point explains what he thinks a War on Christmas would be. How can Con say the FFRF isn’t waging a War on Christmas when Con can’t explain what a War on Christmas would look like?
I have demonstrated that the FFRF is overtly antagonistic to Christmas, is trying to push Christmas out of the public sphere, and trying to diminish the importance of Christmas in our society. The FFRF’s long term desire is for the total abandonment of Christmas. This meets any realistic interpretation of an attempt to “defeat” Christmas.
Funding Catholic schools is irrelevant. There are good public policy reasons to subsidize private educational institutions; Con’s arguments are only relevant to this debate insofar as they demonstrate that organizations like the FFRF have a broader end-goal of fighting every manifestation of religion in our society.
Con wants you to believe that the War on Christmas is only “a movement for equality,” but the evidence I have presented overwhelmingly demonstrates that the FFRF and other atheistic organizations engage in activity that doesn’t further any “equality” driven agenda.
The atheists in Madison already had equal access to the forum where they placed their “Game of Thrones” religion sign. Instead of using that equal access to celebrate their beliefs, they used it to mock a nativity scene and put up hostile comments.
The FFRF was not fighting for equality when it put up a billboard featuring Santa saying “there is no God” nor the American Atheists when they put up a billboard featuring a small girl saying “Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is to skip church!”
These are not attempts to “fight for equality.” These are ad campaigns that try to subvert Christmas images and promote anti-religion politics.
Con may say these billboards merely provide a minority a voice, but compare these billboards to campaigns by other minority groups such as the LGBT community. This community is recognized for its overwhelmingly positive campaigns that actually focus on raising awareness and promoting acceptance.
"Equality” is not at stake when the FFRF tries to end a 50 year traditional nativity display. Equality would be fighting to establish its own tolerant tradition rather than tearing down the traditions of others.
Con dismisses my 1a-g by stating “no one is trying to force people to stop celebrating Christmas" - this is irrelevant. Michelle Obama isn’t trying to force people to stop eating candy, but the war on obesity still exists. An organized effort to defeat Christmas can be accomplished by a number of antagonistic tactics.
Con asks if the evangelism of Christian groups is a war on atheism- I loudly answer YES. Attempts by Christian groups to get rid of atheism absolutely constitute a war on atheism. Christians describe their efforts as a war; Chuck Norris talks about atheism as a “formidable foe” and says “I believe theistic patriots need to be wise to atheists’ overt and covert schemes, exposing their agenda and fighting to lay waste to their plans.”
2a) Atheists aren’t forced to practice Christianity, I fail to see the relevance of his claims to the debate. Christmas displays do not force anyone to celebrate Christmas.
The article I cite demonstrates that the atheistic community views the War on Christmas as a culture war, making militaristic analogies between Christmas, Pearl Harbor, and Nazism and urging atheists to shun Christmas affiliated organizations.
The article illustrates that the War on Christmas goes beyond an effort for “equality.” A store displaying a “Merry Christmas” sign is not forcing anyone “to practice something in which you do not believe,” as Con states. But the article I cite asks you to shun such a store.
2b) A nativity scene and a star of David are both religious iconography that inspires reverential religious feelings. My argument is that the War on Christmas has led to the exclusion of Christmas imagery.
Con’s argument confuses political “equality” with an “equality” of popularity. The dominance of Christmas is cultural. It is only “held up on a pedestal” because the overwhelming majority of people celebrate and enjoy the holiday. Political equality can be achieved by targeted political reform, but this is not what we see in the War on Christmas. The War on Christmas is a broad sweeping cultural campaign aimed at fighting the popularity of the holiday. The “equality” it seeks could only ever be achieved by attacking the popular front runner.
Con essentially concedes this debate when he says of “a movement towards equality”:
“the only realistic option is to diminish the importance of Christmas”
Even if the end-goal of the FFRF is "equality," the tactics it uses are antagonistic attacks attempting to knock Christmas down. No matter what the end goal is, organized attacks are a war on Christmas. Pro can call the War on Christmas a “movement for equality” all he wants- but when a movements consists primarily of concerted efforts to tear down and attack a target, the movement is best described as a war.
Imagine a group launched an organized attack on the US, claiming that the end goal was only to diminish the importance of the US so that all countries could be equal- not a war at all! We would roll our eyes at this assertion, knowing that an organized attack on the US constitutes a war regardless of the motives and goals.
Con is wrong when he says the FFRF or only focused on separation of Church and State. My billboard examples disprove this, as do the antagonistic holiday placards targeted at Christian displays.
Con is incorrect that all my examples involve government organizations, my b) c) and g) are not. Additionally, here is an example of the FFRF buying billboards solely to bully a church- proof that they have a broader anti-religion agenda:
Con’s comparison of atheist placards stating “religion enslaves minds” to Civil Rights marches protesting voter discrimination and Jim Crow laws by facing police dogs and water canons is insulting. The Civil Rights movement was a fight against political discrimination, not a media and legal battle over a winter time holiday. I ask Con to please desist with this disrespectful argument.
I have provided multiple examples of how the FFRF is not fighting for equality, they are fighting for a religion-free society. Should all of the FFRF’s perceived 1st amendment violations disappear overnight, the FFRF wouldn't close their doors and declare mission accomplished. Instead the FFRF would increase the already existing billboard and outreach campaign to promote secularism and fight the influence of religion in society. The FFRF’s broad goal is to eradicate the “intruder” of religion and Christmas.
- to win a victory over (someone or something) in a war, contest, game, etc.
- to cause (someone or something) to fail
- to control or overcome something (Meriam-Webster Dictionary)
I have argued that attempting to remove the Christian ideals from public celebrations put on by government organizations is not a war on Christmas. There is no large organizations trying to prevent people from being able to celebrate Christmas in the comfort of people's own home, this is a movement to get a specific religious practice moved from public, government funded organizations. Anti-religious propaganda does not constitute a war. Everyone group wants to spread their beliefs and Christian groups are at least as guilty as atheist groups for spreading their own views on other faiths.
My opponent then cites an article about atheists mocking Christians about the rapture not happening as proof that this argument is not only about government. Not only is the article irrelevant because it has nothing to do with Christmas and mockery is in no way an act of war, but this is one instance where the Christians were proven to be 100% wrong in their prophecy. When someone tells people to sell everything they own and give up your entire life, the they turn out to be complete frauds, mockery is warranted. That is I no way related to the war on Christmas.
In summary, my opponent clearly ignored my opening request to clarify definitions prior to accepting thins debate, then he went on to use an obscure definition to formulate his entire argument. This debate comes down to whether or not an attempt to diminish the importance of Christmas so that it can be treated on par with other religious holidays is a war on Christmas or not. I would argue that this is not a war. I am sorry to anyone who read this debate hoping for an actual, decent debate. You could have saved time by looking up the definition of the word defeat in the dictionary.
As outlined in this debate, to uphold the Resolution I must show that the war on Christmas exists.
In R1 Pro specified that a “War” is:
“an organized effort by a large organization to stop or defeat something that is viewed as dangerous or bad”
I have put forward that both the FFRF and the atheist community at large are engaged in a campaign that meets this definition of war. My case is built on a litany of efforts carried out by these organizations to push Christmas out of the public sphere, undermine the influence of Christmas, and subvert Christmas by turning traditional Christmas celebrations into a secularized “winter holiday.” I have provided a great deal of evidence supporting this claim, none of which is disputed by Con. My case is entirely based on proving that there is a large organized effort to defeat Christmas.
My opponent’s case consists ENTIRELY of claiming that what I have described does not constitute a “war on christmas.” He has offered no argument for this claim other than to repeatedly protest that my case does not constitute an effort to “defeat” Christmas.
This means that the only way Con can win this debate is if he has provided a better definition of what an effort to “defeat” Christmas and if he has proved that I do not meet his definition.
I put forward that Con has not offered ANY explanation of what it means to “defeat” Christmas. Con certainly has offered definitions of “defeat,” this I fully acknowledge. But Con has not explained what these definitions mean in the context of the War on Christmas. What does Con think it means to “win a victory over Christmas?” He has provided no explanation of what a war on Christmas WOULD look like, so he has no ground to claim that the actions of the FFRF is NOT a war on Christmas. I have repeatedly asked the question “If the FFRF’s tactics do not constitute a war on christmas, what would?” and Con has consistently failed to answer.
Con has no explanation of what it means to apply his definition of “defeat” to Christmas, but I do.
I claim that since Christmas is a pervasive and public cultural celebration, a defeat of Christmas would be to erase Christmas from the public sphere, to make Christmas inconspicuous, and to replace Christmas with a cultural celebration. These things would constitute a “victory over Christmas” and these are all things the FFRF is actively trying to do. My definition of “defeat” is merely an interpretation of Con’s definitions in the context of the debate, not some radical reinterpretation of common english words.
My understanding of what a war on Christmas would look like matches the common understanding of “war on christmas.” When people on television or the radio talk about the war on christmas, they are talking about an effort to delegitimize and diminish Christmas.
Con has claimed that the FFRF merely wants religious equality, but this is a gross mischaracterization of their efforts.
First, the broad reaching goal of the FFRF is a world without religion. The name of the organization is the “Freedom From Religion Foundation;” the name is pretty explicit about their goals. The FFRF has supported ad campaigns with the phrase “Imagine no Religion.” They do not fight for equality, they mock existing religions by launching malicious ad campaigns against private churches. Con can claim the target of this ad “deserved” to be mocked, but the bottom line is buying a billboard just to make fun of someone is malicious and demonstrates you have a vested interest in harming the target. The FFRF wants a world without religion and by extension a world without Christmas- this isn’t a matter of debate its a fact the FFRF is open about. Under any definition of “defeat” or “war,” an organization working to eradicate another entity is certainly waging war.
Second, the actions of the FFRF aren’t aimed at recognition of their beliefs, they are attempts to silence and attack the beliefs of others. The FFRF didn’t make their voice heard by ending a 50 year old nativity scene tradition, they only ruined a time honored celebration. The FFRF had the opportunity to make their voice heard in Washington state and used that opportunity to post a sign saying “religion enslaves minds” next to a nativity scene. When atheists urge a boycott of stores displaying the phrase “Merry Christmas,” it is not a protest of freedom. Rather, it is an attempt to coerce private individuals into silence. At best, the FFRF has a perverted view of “equality” which can only be achieved by attacking those who have different beliefs.
Third, atheists already have equality - thats why they could put up their own displays in Washington and Wisconsin. They chose to use their equal access to a public forum to berate and mock Christmas. The FFRF had the freedom to put up their billboards, they aren’t being suppressed.
Finally, there are plenty of groups fighting for equality in our society that do not engage in the antagonistic tactics of the FFRF. Regardless of the end goals of the FFRF, their tactics are attacks on existing traditions. Rather than engaging in a war on Christmas, atheists should wage a campaign focused on tolerance and acceptance. Such a campaign would not involved billboard featuring a little girl declaring “all I want for Christmas is to not go to church.”
As a technical point of order, Con has no grounds to claim I violated the R1 terms. I accepted this debate in good faith, did the research for this debate, and wrote up substantial arguments. I adhered to the definitions provided in R1; our only dispute is over a word that Con did not define in R1. Moreover, I didn’t start the argument about definitions- Con did! I never disputed any of Con’s definitions, he disputed mine. I thought I understood what Con meant by “defeat Christmas,” but clearly Con had some other definition in mind (though I still don’t know what). I don’t know how I could have debated this on Con’s terms when he never explained what his terms were- either in R1 or later.
Nowhere in R1 did Con prohibit me from taking this debate. He requested that challengers contact him, and I did not see this request, but Con did not prohibit my acceptance. The debate was open for anyone to accept, and so I accepted it. Con is trying to win this debate on a technicality, but I technically did not violate his rules. I don’t like having to make arguments about technicalities, I wish Con would have just debated this straight, but it would be unfair to invalidate all the time and effort I put into this debate because I accepted a debate Con accidentally left open for acceptance. Con made a mistake, but we could have had a vigorous debate regardless. It isn’t fun for me to have to defend myself from allegations that I cheated when I put the time into a fairly involved opening argument. I would have rather argued about the Resolution.
In conclusion, my description of what constituted a “defeat” of Christmas is the only one presented in this debate. My description is compatible with Con’s definitions of “defeat.” I have shown the FFRF is working toward a world without Christmas, which by any measure would be a defeat of Christmas.
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