(Photo: REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)
As atheists push to remove traditional Nativity scenes from public squares and advertise their own skeptic displays, one Christian apologist is pushing back, calling their efforts misguided and misleading.
“The skeptic groups behind these annual ‘campaigns for unbelief’ either don’t know their history or are twisting the facts intentionally,” Christian apologist and author Dr. Alex McFarland said in a statement Monday.
“It’s wrong that many people are being misled by these campaigns, especially during a time when so many are spiritually seeking,” McFarland said. “Further, the atheist’s doubt-inducing disclaimers do not pass the muster of honest historical investigation.”
Towns across the country are fighting for the right to display traditional Nativity scenes in their town squares.
Ellwood City, Pa., has erected a Nativity scene in front of city hall but not without protest from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The humanist group, which is co-led by an evangelist-turned-atheist, is demanding that the city put up a banner stating, “At this season of the Winter Solstice, LET REASON PREVAIL,” alongside the Nativity.
FFRF is also demanding that a town in east Texas take down their Nativity scene displayed at the Henderson County Courthouse in Athens.
The group wrote a letter to the Henderson County Commissioners on behalf of an anonymous resident. It states: “We request that … you take immediate action to ensure that no religious displays are on city or county property. Please inform us in writing of the steps you are taking to remedy this First Amendment violation."
FFRF also claimed that when the county displays a manger scene, it puts the “imprimatur of the county government behind the Christian religious doctrine.”
A group of pastors in the area have decided to challenge the group. They are planning a rally to defend the Nativity scene, and they have Henderson County Commissioner Joe Hall on their side. He called the demand "stupid," and said he would do what he could to stop the atheists. “I’ll tell you this – I’m going to fight this until hell freezes over,” he told Fox News and Commentary. “I hope and pray that we leave it up.”
One of the county commissioners said if the controversy continued it could place the county in a no-win situation. They could be forced to pull the display, making citizens angry, or continue to fight it in an expensive court battle that they can’t afford.
In Santa Monica, Calif., 14 life-sized nativity figures have graced Ocean Avenue for the past 57 years. But this year, there will just be three, after atheists applied for the previously uncontested spaces to display anti-religious messages ranging from “Happy Solstice” to “Religions are all alike, founded on fables and mythologies.”
With atheist groups making the “war on Christmas” an annual tradition, Christian apologist McFarland said it’s time that they come clean about their accusations and attacks against Christianity.
“Highly publicized assertions that Jesus’ birth is mere myth are beginning to be a regular December occurrence,” he said. “Atheist groups claim that early Christians somehow molded existing mythology into the story of Christmas.”
“Unlike the mystery religions,” he argued, “the New Testament deals with historical persons and historical factual events. Christianity almost begs, ‘Check it out, do the research.’”
McFarland pointed out that the New Testament and Christianity are all tied to history. No other religions claim to be reported via eyewitness account, as do the New Testament accounts of Jesus, he highlighted.
“The New Testament deals with historical persons and historical, factual events,” he stressed.
He also said that the mythical “savior heroes” in other religions were not of virgin births and none of the so-called “savior gods” of mystery religions died for someone else. “Jesus’ death on the cross was an unrepeated, once-for-all death, and He died voluntarily, in triumph rather than defeat,” McFarland said.
Mystery religions, he added, "contain nothing comparable to the New Testament concept of atonement for sin.”
McFarland has debated several atheists, including David Silverman of American Atheists, and has authored such books as The 10 Most Common Objections to Christianity and 10 Questions Every Christian Must Answer. His latest book is 10 Answers for Skeptics.