Despite renewed attacks on Christmas, one Christian columnist says in the grand scheme of things "it's not a war" because Christian principles are deep within U.S. and world customs.
Gary McCullough, director of Christian Newswire, says he is annoyed and bothered by the latest atheist attacks on Christmas and the story of Christ's birth. He asserts that Christians have already won the culture war by using their principles to "co-opt" rituals and holidays in America and abroad.
"We take them over, we make them our own and we mock their pagan roots," insisted McCullough.
Since launching its newest atheist Christmas billboard just before thanksgiving, the group American Atheists has spearheaded a media blitz, first on its television program and most recently on FOX News, criticizing Christmas as a stolen holiday that millions don't believe in.
According to the American Atheists website, Christianity is one among a long list of "mythologies" claiming Winter Solstice as its major day. The humanist organization also boasts this on a new billboard advertisement.
The latest billboard, depicting the wise men visiting baby Jesus in the manger, reads, "You know it's a myth. This season celebrate reason."
American Atheists President David Silverman says the ad campaign is a rally cry for the nation's 50 million "closeted" atheists to rise up against the celebration of Christmas. "This is a fiction," he says of the Christmas story.
McCullough, who has written several columns about this same claim, asserts the legitimacy of the Bible. "Our holiday is true," he maintains.
However, he agrees with atheists that Christians stole the times and symbols of their holidays from secular celebrations. "I don't have any problems saying that Christians, especially in America, … have a habit of changing things," he told The Christian Post.
He explained that as Christianity began to spread throughout the world, early Christians began changing the celebration of past holidays to commemorate significant biblical events. Christians also took pagan symbols and injected them with new meaning. The tree, which McCullough guesses was a winter offering for a good harvest, is now as symbol of Christ's birth. Other symbols, such as the rabbit as a sign of fertility, he says, have been neutralized of its pagan meanings thanks to the Christian celebration of Easter.
McCullough says Christians are simply using celebrations and symbols everyone recognizes to spread the Gospel. He likens it to Paul reaching into Roman culture and proclaiming the unknown god to be the God of the Bible. McCullough says the changing of pagan culture is part of Christians' duty as the light and salt of the world. As a result of those cultural changes, he says Christmas and Christianity have been introduced to the world.
He criticized the American Atheists' appeal to "closeted atheists" as a ploy to become the victim in the debate.
Silverman has insisted that atheists are forced to observe Christmas.
"It is a Christian holiday that is forced on every citizen in the country because our governments shut down, our banks shut down, the stock market shuts down, everything shuts down; no mail, nothing. You can't do anything but take the day off," he claimed on the Atheist Viewpoint show.
To that, McCullough responded, "There is no Christian that is forcing you to buy a tree or to say 'Merry Christmas.'"
"They are pretending to be a victim to get their way," he noted.
And their way, McCullough said, is to forcibly remove Christianity from the public and replace it with the "atheist religion."
Sending a clear message to the atheist community, he stated, "Christianity and worship of the one true God is part of America whether you like or not."
The American Atheists billboard is currently up on the New Jersey of side of the Lincoln Tunnel.