Fri. May 17th, 2024

By:  Khenpo Gurudas Sunyatananda

It happens every year, but this year the shrill whining of the religious-right over “the secularization of Christmas” and how “traditional family values” are under siege has come to a nauseating crescendo.

Stupidity and intolerance seem to have become the new vogue in America’s mainstream, and never is that more apparent than during the winter holiday season. It seems this is the time when every arrogant, disgusting Fundie McNugget® pulls out all the stops to spread their lies, innuendo, intolerance and unabashed desires to further disgrace this country, by turning it into the very theocracy our forbearers fought so hard to prevent.

The latest effort arrived in my email box, from a loved one unfortunately, who was unwittingly caught up in their duplicitous agenda. The email recommends that everyone send the American Civil Liberties Union a Christmas card and write the words “Merry Christmas” inside.

Now their claim that doing so would bring the ACLU to a halt only demonstrates the abject stupidity and ignorance of the morons who wrote the piece. That assertion is really too inane to even waste bandwidth responding. It is, however, the assertion that:

“For those of you who aren’t aware of them, the ACLU, (the American Civil Liberties Union) is the one suing the U.S. Government to take God, Christmas or anything religious away from us. They represent the atheists and others in this war.”

Once again, the Bible-thumping Fundie McNuggets® are clearly setting out to do what baseless wars.

No one is trying to “take God, Christmas” or any other ridiculous religious superstition away from anyone in this country. Well, that’s not entirely true. If left to their devices, the Fundie McNugges® would like to take away the gods of the Hindu, the Jain, the Wiccan, the Muslim, the Pagan, the Celt, the Nordic and the Native Peoples. They would like to remove any recognition or possibility of equal rights to religious freedom that those people (and to a lesser extent their Jewish forbearers) expect under the U.S. Constitution. But we can be absolutely certain, the dangerous element in this case is not the ACLU… it’s Christian Fundamentalists.

As a non-theist — someone who finds no use, logic, nor sense of mature spirituality in the notions and superstitious ideologies of literal and omniscient “gods” and “goddesses”, “saviors” or other primitive ideas — I am grateful for the ACLU, and have always been a staunch supporter of their work. Most intelligent people are as well.

As a semi-retired Eastern Catholic bishop and as a Buddhist contemplative (monk), I have taken vows to uphold the rights of every person on this planet to be respected, loved and free from suffering and persecution. And so I am not at all offended when someone greets me with “Happy Holidays”, which is, coincidentally, how I greet others during this time.

I am not offended that we’ve removed the Christmas trees, the menorahs, the manger scenes, and such from the public square… because they do not belong there. Period.

That some towns choose to have a “holiday tree” is something I tolerate, while still disapproving of how eerily close that is to still inflicting the Christian tradition upon others. So I make the best of it, and use the time to teach others that the “Christmas tree” was never really about Christmas at all, but was, like most Christian traditions, co-opted from the Pagan traditions and mythos.

I tell them about the Yule log, and of holly… about the reason there is an inperceivable Awen over our doorway, and how the Christmas story itself is nothing more than a 5000 year old astrological tale, complete with its allegorical “virgin”, the manger, the House of Bread (Bethlehem), star in the east (Sirius) and the “three kings”.

The secularization of the Solemnity of the Nativity of Jesus Christ is not a new phenomenon. It began when what would become the Holy Roman Empire (which was neither holy nor Roman), disguising itself as the Roman Catholic Church, decided to adapt the pagan feast of Saturnalia and Winter Solstice, along with many of its cultural traditions, and turn them into “Christmas”. Let’s not forget that there is nothing in the ancient tradition or in the scriptures that even suggests that Jesus was born in December. We hijacked the pagan holiday, and the 5,000 years of the exact same stories being told about the Egyptian “Sun God” and the Roman “Sol Invictus” — as well as having been told about 25-30 other mythical beings, before it was plagiarized, and adapted to become a posthumous “overlay” on the life of the great Palestinian Dharma Teacher, Rabbi Yeshua ben Yosef (Jesus) — and we’re whining about the department stores detracting from the real meaning of Christmas?

The “real” meaning of Christmas was obscured by those who co-opted the ancient mythos, and began the Greatest (Bullshit) Story Ever SoldTM, by pretending every word of it was original and historically accurate.

I was raised to understand the significance and importance of Christmas, as the celebration of the birth of Jesus — whom legend tells us was God Incarnate. Macy’s Christmas Parade never diminished that for me. Neither did the absurdity of the Mummers, or snowmen, or Rudolph or the fat, bearded guy, dressed like one of the Gabor sisters in all that velvet and fur! The significance of that Holy Night was bigger than all of that, and nothing anyone could do would ever diminish it.

As I matured, I came to realize that what humanity had absurdly attempted to personify as “God” or YHVH was actually a metaphor, which changed over time. At the time of the historic Rabbi Jesus’ life, the metaphor represented the violent, temperamental, bitchy and judgmental Cosmic Drama Queen, created in the manipulative and pathological mind of Moses the wealthy land baron, and perhaps first of the great Israeli terrorists.

Seeing this, Jesus dispelled the need for such an unhealthy metaphor, and introduced the metaphor of the Cosmic Papa Bear — Abba, or Daddy in Aramaic. But He made it perfectly clear (to those who are paying attention) that there was no literally “dude in the sky” and not even a “higher power” existing separate from us, when He taught: “The sovereign domain of the Divine exists within you.” Of course this was mistranslated from the poetic Aramaic context into the errant Latin text, from which we ended up with, “The kingdom of God is at hand.”

So I grew to view the Solemnity of the Nativity as a sacred metaphor, which fit perfectly into the celebrations of Diwali, Chanukah, Winter Solstice and the Birth of the Great Sun. It didn’t matter to me that someone chose to intertwine the mythos with the life of the great Christ — the Anointed Maitreya, Jesus. And it even seemed “natural” to use His life as a model for the metaphor, which celebrates the fact that Divine Love becomes incarnate in humanity, so that humanity can liberate (redeem) itself by realizing its nature, and thus uncover the Divine, we have always been.

Our current president has gone far to offer wonderful, inclusive and respectful greetings in his YouTube messages, during each of the many cultural and religious holidays celebrated in this country. I was disappointed that he missed Samhain. But perhaps next year our Wiccan and Druid sisters and brothers will be on his radar.

Santa Claus is not the issue… And the whining rant that we need to “put Christ back in Christmas” is a good idea. But the only people who can take the blame for taking him out are the Christians themselves. It’s their tradition, and if it’s fallen to disrepair, then they need to fix it… in their homes… in their churches… and in their private schools. It has no place whatsoever in the public forum. Period.

While I may not personally agree with many of the superstitious, intolerant and even intrusive ideologies of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and find them, like all fundamentalists to be sorely lacking when it comes to really understanding that the bible was never intended to be literally taken or written by some imaginary god, at least they have had the presence of mind to recognize the “Christmas tradition” for what it is. And while it’s unfortunate that their founder apparently had some deep-seated psychological issues, and was likely manic (evidenced by his abolishing of celebrating birthdays, etc.), at least he had the courage of his convictions to demand that the mythological birth of Christ be observed with respect and dignity. No Christmas trees there… no gaudy, tacky light displays… just the occasional intrusion on a Saturday morning, when you’re trying to relax. I can live with that.

But to suggest that we attempt to interfere with and endanger the work of our nation’s guardian of liberty and human rights, is not something I can live with.

My brother is a Muslim. I would not expect him to be anything other than insulted and hurt if I sent him a Christmas card. I would not demand that he have a Christmas tree in his living room either. I would never do such a thing.

The American Civil Liberties Union is an awesome organization that looks out for the rights of ALL Americans, not just the moronic Fundie McNuggets® and Bible thumpers. It is insolent and arrogant and sickening for these so-called (imitation) Christians to insist that everyone observe THEIR religious tradition.

The morons, who wrote this, are poor examples of what Christ taught, and those sending them out are examples of how easily we forget that Christ taught compassion, charity, diversity and inclusion… not hatred and intolerance (that’s only something Christian fundamentalist imbeciles teach… not Christ). He didn’t try to convince the woman at the well to become Jewish. He accepted her AS SHE WAS, and RESPECTED HER TRADITION. He didn’t tell the Roman centurion to become a Jew before he would heal his boy either.

I am utterly and completely DISGUSTED by this email. The founding fathers were NOT Christians, they were Deists. This is NOT a Christian country, and I pray it NEVER becomes one, because in my opinion, people like this are the most dangerous, disgraceful, sickening and vile of all scourges.

If these Fundie McNuggets® truly want to put Christ back in Christmas, my recommendation is that they begin by striving to become a little more mindful of the compassion, tolerance, kindness and respect Rabbi Jesus showed for all people and then working to emulate that. Yes, the secular trappings of the holiday season are an annoyance to me but so are the plastic, light-up manger scenes, the electricity wasted on elaborate lighting displays, the money spent on decorations in a world where people will go hungry or shiver on the streets in the cold. But if those things help you to become more mindful of the “reason for the season”, then I will never try to dissuade you from employing them in your observance of the holidays.

Christ was never born in a manger… but the Cosmic Christ… the Indwelling Light that, according to the legend, represented the Perfect Love, in which all that is Divine became human, so that all of humanity could become Divine…CAN be born in the still, small, humble manger of our hearts.

For me… that is the true value of Christmas.

(And to my fellow secular humanists and civil libertarians, I remind them with equal gentleness that if we are ever going to succeed in creating a world in which diversity and plurality triumphs over intolerance and oppression, we need to lead the way. Let’s encourage townspeople (not governments) to bring their cultural diversity to the celebration of the winter holidays. Let’s ensure that everyone’s voice is heard. Let’s not let one person’s choice to observe nothing oppress another’s right to celebrate the Light or the Love in whatever form that expression takes.)

I’d suggest a new tact… that we’ll defeat the fundamentalist morons by ensuring that Christmas is NOT removed from the public square, by ensuring that Christmas, Chanukah, Yule, Diwali, Saturnalia and Kwanza are all freely celebrated, reflected, and respected in those communities in which they are celebrated. Let’s work on that.

And so, from the Punk Monk, “Happy holidays, Bitchez!”


khenpo gurudas sunyatananda


“Chenrezig, Treasure of Objectless Compassion;
Manjushri, Lord of Stainless Wisdom;
Vajrapani, Destroyer of all adversarial forces;
O Je Tsong Khapa – Losang Drakpa —
Crown Prince of the Sages of the Land of Snows,
Humbly at Your Lotus Feet I ask your blessing.”


Drawing on the essential teachings of the great spiritual teachers, philosophers and freethinkers throughout time, Khenpo Gurudas Śunyatananda (retired Archbishop Francis-Maria Salvato, O.C.) has been regarded as a provocative, revolutionary “voice of reason” within the field of religion and spirituality, since 1983. Having the distinction of being one of the few openly non-theistic, openly-gay and post-denominational thinkers ever to serve as Bishop-Exarch and spiritual leader of the autocephalic Eastern Catholic Franciscans in North America, Gurudas is the author of more than 600 articles, eight books and currently serves as the spiritual advisor for a non-theistic, intentional spiritual community, The Spiritus Project. He can be reached at:

Copyright ©2010, Khenpo Gurudas Sunyatananda (The Most Reverend Dr. F. Francis-Maria G. Salvato, M.Sc., O.C.). All rights reserved. This material may be reproduced, blogged, quoted or distributed, provided the entire copyright including contact information remain intact. It may NOT be altered in any way, without express written permission.

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9 thoughts on “Santa’s Not the Problem, People…”
  1. So well written and expressed except for “the absurdity of the Mummers” … are you out of your mind .. if there is a God he/she has to be a mummer ..

  2. As to the whole “Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays” hoopla – I prefer to make a mockery out of both of them and instead refer to this time of year as “The Day of Commericalism.” Let’s face it: regardless of what religion (or lack thereof) you subcribe to, the holiday persists in our culture for one reason and one reason only – to get people to buy shit (often shit they don’t need).

    Now, I’m not saying don’t celebrate or get gifts for people you care about (I still get those I care about something practical – like a new tactical 12-guage or .308 rifle), but at least be aware of what it is you are doing as you do it.

    So, from Nihilist cynics like myself the world over I now wish you all a happy day of commercialism – go forth and shop to your heart’s content!

  3. Great to hear from you, Rich! When y’gonna come see the new house and chill with us in Hummelstown/Hershey?

    As for the Mummers, Cher called and she said her back-up dancers need their drag costumes back. 😉

  4. Thanks for weighing in, Christopher. And while I am inclined to agree about the commercialism, my own approach is that this is one time of year I personally choose NOT to engage in the commercialism (not purely for altruistic motives however). I give gifts to my loved ones throughout the year, particularly after the holidays, when the mark-ups are significantly lower.

    But then they say that my people (on my beloved maternal grandmother’s side) wandered in the desert for forty years… because someone dropped a nickle. 😉

  5. [Quote=Khenpo Gurudas Sunyatananda]And while I am inclined to agree about the commercialism, my own approach is that this is one time of year I personally choose NOT to engage in the commercialism (not purely for altruistic motives however).[/quote]

    While I don’t believe that anyone’s actions are really “altruistic” (there’s always self-interest at the core of every human action) I can relate to not wanting to spend a whole lot of money on unnecessary items – so do whatever floats your boat.

    For me and mine, this time of year is perfect for stocking up on essentials from the local gun shows – as plenty of weapons and accessories are sold for ridiculously low prices during the holiday seasons: sticking to the tradition is in my interests, thus I go forth and shop. If you and yours do otherwise, that’s your perogative.

  6. I just love that we get to see Christopher getting into the shopping spirit here…(I kid)

    A timely and senstive way to approach the season. We need to remember to honor others.

  7. [Quote=grainnerhuad]I just love that we get to see Christopher getting into the shopping spirit here…[/quote]

    Only when it involves firepower and related accessories…

  8. My son wants a black powder rifle for Christmas. His reasoning is, if ammunition becomes scarce, he can always make his own gun powder. Personally, i was hoping to get by on a few twenty dollar gifts, although twenty dollars isn’t going to get him much more than after-shave. It’s kind of weird these days. I remember a time when we didn’t have much, but the bills were paid, and Christmas was a time we could feel a few essential needs we’d been putting off all year, like new clothing, household appliances, tools for the men… Now, the men all need a new garage to place all their tools in, the women have more gadgets in the kitchen than they have food supplies, the clothing is something we constantly need to weed through, bag up and send to Big Brothers and Sisters, but the bills don’t get paid because the energy rates are too high. The best Christmas gift i could get would be someone covering my electric bill.

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