Posted by: pendrops | December 5, 2008

nativity as hate?


I had awakened early. Far too early. 4:40 a.m. early. And laying in bed for three hours waiting for the alarm to go off was not an option. So I tucked my pillow under my arm, tiptoed out of the bedroom, and nestled into the cushions of our couch. It was raining, drips and drops squiggling down the window panes. I followed a few drops for several minutes and rubbed the small bump where Baby Barmer is growing, thinking the glow of Christmas tree lights in the reflection along with the sound of pattering rain would put me to sleep. No luck.

So around 6 o’clock I turned on the TV. As I flipped through infomercials and predawn local news, I happened upon Fox and Friends just as they introduced Dan Barker of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. He was joyfully explaining why his group had recently posted a sign at a nativity scene at the Washington State Capitol that read in part, “There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world.”

As Dan discussed the issue with Catholic League President Bill Donahue (was this guy really the best opposing viewpoint they could find?), he labeled the nativity scene as “hate speech” and a “direct attack on good human values.”

I muted the TV after the short and heated exchange and thought about the nativity as hate speech. As I searched my heart and mind, rifled through a vast history of memories and experiences, and considered my own journey of belief and doubt, I realized that I had no paradigm for Barker’s brand of reasoning.

“The nativity as hate speech?” I instinctively reached for my growing belly, silently apologizing to my baby for this world, and listened to the rain splat harder. Certainly, the religion of Christianity has made vast errors in judgment throughout its 2,000 year history. No one can argue with that. We followers of Christ can get it way wrong. I never fault anyone for being frustrated with Christians – I’m frustrated with them most of the time myself.

However, throughout the history of all space and time, the only message God has ever sent us has been a message of love. A message of grace. A message of mercy. A message of redemption. He is endlessly sending us gospels of love. In mountain streams and mountain peaks. In wildflowers and wild seas. In unknown universes and in the grains of sand. In a kiss, a laugh, a tear, a sigh. For all the hate in the heart of humanity, I am convinced that the God of the universe is madly in love with us.

And the nativity is just one of our reminders. A soft December rain on a sleepless morning is a good reminder, too. So is the heartbeat of life inside a mother’s womb.



  1. I came across your blog while tag surfing and thought it was an interesting topic…..
    Of course I can’t speak for Mr. Barker; however, I can kinda feel where he may be coming from – – as I too feel that the nativity is a reminder of the many things that are wrong and the hateful things that have been done in “Jesus’ Name.”
    Much of the OT is, in my opinion, not very “loving” or “mercifuL,” in fact, quite the contrary. The NT is a little better; however, when violence, hate, injustice or inequality is called for, the OT is the first thing that is quoted.
    Christians don’t talk about love and mercy when discussing gay folk, war, women’s “rights” – – a message of hate is spread.
    Why wouldn’t someone question Jesus’ love/mercy when you hear Christians say things like, “fagots should burn in hell,” “women must follow their husbands,” “we must kill the ‘terrorists,'” “military members are killed because god hates fags,” – – the list goes on and on.
    I do think Mr. Barker, Fox News and everyone who is up-in-arms about the athiest sign, missed the point…..everyone has the right to freedom of speech – – and if the Christian community can put out their baby Jesus statues, the Atheist group can put up their sign.
    I am actually very glad that you don’t have a paradigm of which to understand why he would say this; however, try to imagine those who might.
    Anyway, just the fact that you posted this means that you are thinking about it – – which is a good sign. 🙂

  2. efilyzarcym,
    I greatly appreciate your comment. Like you, I am sickened by the violence, hate and injustice perpetuated in “Jesus’ name.” I have seen, first hand, signs reading “fagots should burn in hell,” and all I can do is weep.

    This is a tricky subject and in my little pocket of web, I typically don’t touch on such hot-button topics, but for some reason this one just broke my heart.

    Like you, I firmly believe in freedom of speech. As an author and an avid reader, censorship and anything that would steal away the ability to speak freely on American soil devastates me.

    However, the heart of the issue for me (while I know it may not be the heart of the issue for others) is the fact that though followers of Christ have admittedly gotten it wrong time and time and time and time again, all Jesus came to do was show the love of His Father. He is literally the definition of love wrapped in flesh and walking on the earth.

    Christians may, in many cases, be absolutely inadequate at displaying Christ’s love. But Christ was always perfect in His love.

  3. I can understand where you are coming from and I truly wish that people (who choose to believe in a higher power) would focus on only the good; however, it just is not so – – and the people who suffer in the name of whatever higher power is being symbolized through hate and violence, understandably can (and probably will) have adverse reactions to the symbols of said religion.

    Shortly after reading your post, I came across another which had a YouTube video embedded – – I posted the video on my site. It was just another example of how people mis-use the name of Jesus – – and why people like me can look at the symbol of a baby Jesus and see it as a “hate message.”

  4. Seems very much like my nights currently.
    Beautiful though I like to think..

    – Jon

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