Here’s the latest tasty bit from Televanglesnakeoilsalesman, Pat Robertson:

“Well, it’s… well, Christmas all over again.  Uh, the Grinch is trying to steal our holiday.  It’s been so beautiful.  The nation comes together.  We sing Christmas carols, we give gifts to each other, uh, we have, uh, lighted trees and it’s just a beautiful thing.  Atheists don’t like our happiness.  They don’t want you to be happy.  They want you to be miserable.  They’re miserable so they want you to be miserable, so they want to steal your holiday away from you.”

I’m not making it up – watch the words come directly from him.

Pat Robertson and Black Friday

Today is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the single busiest shopping day of the year.  It’s been so named because it’s the day designed to put retailers experiencing sluggish sales “in the black”.  But frankly, it couldn’t be more appropriately named, given the now annual outbreak of violence erupting each year from greed-driven consumers willing to kill thy neighbor for a rock bottom deal.  Lets just take a gander back at the warmth of Pat Robertson’s Christmas, you know, the Christian way:

In 2008, a New York WalMart seasonal employee was crushed to death when a throng of holiday revelers (no doubt singing Christmas carols, holding hands and drinking eggnog, right Preacher?), at the 5 am bewitching hour, pressed the crowd so hard, the doors exploded in a shower of glass and Jdimytai Damour, 34, was thrown back onto the black linoleum tiles and trampled in the stampede that streamed over and around him.  Of course, the shoppers, upon realizing they had killed someone, were appalled, right?  From the New York Times, November 28, 2008: “Some shoppers who had seen the stampede said they were shocked. One of them, Kimberly Cribbs of Queens, said the crowd had acted like “savages.” Shoppers behaved badly even as the store was being cleared, she recalled.  “When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling, ‘I’ve been in line since yesterday morning,’ ” Ms. Cribbs told The Associated Press. “They kept shopping.”  That story should be enough to warm the heart of even the most hardened Atheist trying to steal their joy – eh?  I’m fairly certain that wasn’t a herd of Atheists who set out to kill some poor bastard who just wanted to make a little extra spending money to, you know, maybe provide Christmas for his own children, children who will now be spending their 5th Christmas without a father.

Heck, I don’t even have to go back that far.  Let’s just take a look at last year:

Porter Ranch, Calif. – 32-year-old Elizabeth Macias used pepper spray on fellow Walmart shoppers, injuring 20 people. Macias later turned herself in but has yet to face charges. According to the Los Angeles Times, police are unsure whether she used the pepper spray in an attempt to grab a discounted Xbox console, or in self-defense.

New York City: Crowds waiting to get inside a Hollister store busted through the locked doors and began looting around 1:15 a.m., according to the New York Post.

San Leandro, Calif.: 21-year-old Christopher Murillo was shot in the neck in the parking lot outside Walmart at about 1:55 a.m. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the incident was an attempted robbery.

Myrtle Beach, S.C. – A 55-year-old woman was shot in the leg during an armed robbery at about 1:12 a.m. outside Walmart, reported CBS affiliate WSPA.

And this is the headline from CBS News online today:

Oh, and in 2010, Buffalo, N.Y.: Keith Krantz, 28, was injured when he was trampled by a mob trying to get inside a Target store just after doors opened at 4 a.m.

In preparation for Black Friday, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued safety guidelines for stores.  The U.S. Labor Department is urging retailers to step-up crowd control. OSHA’s recommendations include on-site security and police officers, emergency procedures in case of danger and not blocking or locking exit doors.  I’m still trying to rationalize where Pat Robertson’s idealized vision of Christmas plays in to all of this and how the Atheists are responsible.

A dear friend of mine, a devout Christian, took his wife and kids to Israel this last week on a spiritual and educational retreat.  During the worst of the fighting (in the name of religion), he was kind enough to text me daily to let me know they were fine.  To be honest, he and his family have been in less danger of being hurt than a Black Friday shopper – and that’s really saying something.

Turning on the television this morning put me right in the spirit – click here to watch.  Listen carefully to the “traditional” Christmas carols they’re singing and I have to tell you, the point in the video where one shopper threatened to stab the guy behind him was particularly heart-warming.  People being tazed, shoving, ripping things out of people’s hands and carts and punching other people in the face… well, it all says “Jesus” to me.

Honestly, it doesn’t.  I was raised a Christian and was good student of the scriptures.  I also had the advantage of being brought up in poverty.  Advantage, you say?  Yes, advantage.  There’s something about understanding how being warm, being fed, feeling safe and being surrounded by loved ones was enough.  My folks both worked hard to scrape by and pay every bill.  They worked hard to make sure we kids had clothes on our backs.  Those clothes were hand-me-downs, they were given to us and sometimes, they were bought from a second-hand store, but they were clothes and we were glad to have them.  We slept multiple kids to a bed for warmth and my mother could feed an army with a pot of rice and a single chicken.  When the chicken was gone, I remember dinners of bread and gravy.   She would squirrel away enough chicken fat and pan drippings to make a gravy with flour and milk when there was little else, but we ate and we didn’t know how difficult it was for my folks to make that happen sometimes.  I often think the lively conversations about politics and history and my father’s wicked sense of humor filled us more than the rice and beans and pan drippings, but we never knew the difference at the time.  For us, it was simply enough.  When Christmas came, there was an artificial tree and a gift for each of us.  By the standards of today, they weren’t much, but to us, back then, in the early 60’s, they meant the world to us.  There was always one gift under the tree that was a sort of communal gift, forcing us to share.  They were Legos or Lincoln Logs or Tinker Toys or Pick Up Sticks and we loved them and shared them and built amazing things with them between the natural bickering and fighting all sibling experience.  Even then my parents understood how much I loved to read and learn, so I always got a book.  They had me figured out early and would get me something like The World

world almanac

Even at the tender age of 5, this was my Happy Place

Almanac.  1100 pages of facts and figures and history and statistics and ya’ll wonder why I’m such a facts nerd?  That book would be read from cover to cover and I’d memorize things from it.  The sheer amount of information I could cull from that $1.50 volume was all it took to keep me happy for a year and I never fought over the Lincoln Logs.  My mother, for all her faults, could put on a holiday feast that couldn’t be beat.  Turkey, dressing, fresh-baked bread, mashed potatoes and the traditional date nut roll with a dollop of freshly made whipped cream for desert.  The wonderful smells that filled the house and the days off school where we could invent new ways to play with our toys, while Dad enjoyed the football game on the black and white TV that got the worst reception out on the prairie.  I can still smell the food in the old oven mixed with Dad’s pipe tobacco.  I remember all of those things about our Christmas because it wasn’t about things.  It was about a poor family, struggling to get by every single day.  It was about a family who took comfort in one another and grew strong and healthy, not in things, but in love.  And somehow, it was always enough. My parents never discussed their financial struggles within earshot.  They never placed adult problems on a kid’s shoulders.  We had clothes, we had heat and somehow, we always had something to eat amid the lively dinner conversation with a father who was deeply engaged with his children.  And through those things, we felt safe.  Really, what else does a kid need?  But do you think we didn’t know we were different?  I’d go back to school every January 2nd and listen to the other kids talk about their Easy Bake Ovens, their Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, their chemistry sets and I watched as they would bring in the expensive porcelain dolls for Show and Tell.  Do you think I didn’t feel different when I held up the volume of facts and information in front of my little classmates?  Do you think they didn’t snicker, as the girls all sat in their fancy new store-bought dresses while I stood there in a threadbare dress that had been handed down through three other sisters, hoisting a book I could barely lift?  I felt different and they snickered and I didn’t care because at the end of the day, I knew that what my parents gave me would last a lot longer than that Easy Bake Oven or the pogo stick or the shiny new bicycle.  In the end, I realized my parents didn’t just give me a book.  Their understanding of my thirst for knowledge meant they could give me a sense of self-worth, of knowing that the value of anything lay within me and they gave me the means by which to find it – in real knowledge.  And it was enough.

Part of the scruffy ragtag band of Baker kids circa 1964

The scruffy ragtag band of Baker kids circa 1964. The bad seed is in the front row, second from the right.

Which of course brings me back to my black heart that is two sizes too small as I prey upon unsuspecting Christians, trying to ‘steal their happiness and make them as miserable as I am’.  Just one problem there, Preacher Man… I’m not miserable and frankly, I have no interest in depriving anyone of their Black Friday joy of killing one another over crap that will be forgotten by this time next year if not sooner.  While Pat Robertson wants to convince people that Christmas is all about singing Christmas carols while holding hands around the tree with a cup of spiced cider in one hand and a Bible in the other as this deeply divided nation comes together in a big Kumbaya national love fest, it just isn’t so.  Christmas has been turned into an ever-increasingly money-grubbing capitalistic orgy of consumerism that doesn’t have a damned thing to do with Jesus.  I’ve read my Bible from cover to cover (several times) and for the life of me, I can’t find the passage in the Holy Scripture describing how the natives slept out in tents in front of the local “Bedouin, Bath & Beyond” to get those blockbuster deals to honor the Savior ‘better’ than thy neighbor and at astounding prices!  Joseph and Mary’s story was one of poverty and humility and grace, much like mine – and it had nothing at all to do with trees and lights and songs about chestnuts roasting on an open fire.  History teaches us those are pagan symbols.

Yes, I’m an Atheist.  No, I don’t hate Christmas.  No, I’m not miserable, nor do I wish to make anyone else miserable.  I wish nothing but happiness for everyone.  Those who accuse me of not having the right “values” don’t understand the meaning of the word.  I want people to spend the season instilling a sense of family and security and love and sharing not of things, but of themselves, because in the end, those won’t end up in a landfill.

So when people like Pat Robertson shake their head in frustration over the Atheists’ mythical desire to steal every light, every tree, every song from your heart, please listen to this Atheist, as I ask you to watch the video again, only this time, picture Pat Robertson’s mug over the green face as he continues to share his message of hatred, exclusion and greed.

I’ll wish for Peace on a healthy Earth and good will toward every man, woman and child, regardless of their race, color, belief or non-belief.  Peace is a pretty simple concept that shouldn’t have to be interpreted within religious or political bounds. I’m thinking if there really was a God, he’d be on my side.  As for Pat Robertson, I’d like to address him directly and share some scripture with him from his own God who heard what he said about me.

John 11:35 – Jesus wept.

Carol Baker is a free-lance political writer and sometimes satirist.  She is a regular contributor to Here Women Talk.

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