MERRY CHRISTMAS. Oh, and all you atheists: have a nice day. And get a life. Professor Althouse is a bit too kind to the Freedom from Religion Foundation, whose sign neatly encapsulates their pagan beliefs. Solstice? Come on. (And yes, I recognize that Christmas as we observe it borrows from pre-Christian Roman and German solstice rituals.)
That sign represents a concession to the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which is very critical of the tree. But the sign is extremely disrespectful to religious people and should be considered offensive not only by those who are religious but also by anyone who cares about treating other people with respect and about preserving a civil, pluralistic society. The sign can't properly be defended as a way to balance the tree, because the tree is not an expression of hostility to non-Christians. It is a festive, lovely object associated with the Christian holiday. I haven't looked closely at the ornaments, but I don't think they express hostility to atheists. If atheists want equal treatment, they might celebrate secularism or reason or nature, which the sign does up to a point. But about halfway through, it switches to outright nastiness. We wouldn't accept balancing a menorah with a swastika. Even atheists should object strenuously to this sign. The sign aligns atheism with reason, but what is reasonable about antagonizing the rest of the community? Reason demands that you align yourself with the facts, and the assertion that religion only "hardens hearts and enslaves minds" is clearly false.
And all because there's a Christmas tree in the Capitol rotunda. Perhaps my Puritan roots are showing, but celebrating Nature is the basis of primitive worship, echoed in some of the more extreme environmental cults, just as prone as primitives to blame storms on something we did wrong.

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