The Grumpy Atheist
ER's Christmas episode had one of the last few acceptable stereotypes in the age of political correctness: the 'angry' or 'grumpy' atheist.
Let's get this straight once and for all. Atheists are perceived as being grumpy around theists because theists tend to condescend to, castigate, and attack atheists and atheists' lack of belief immediately upon learning of another's atheism. Atheists are also grumpy because they live in a society that is supposed to have religious freedom and yet in which Christianity is constantly rammed down their throats.
Not wanting to participate in Christmas stuff because of its religious meaning is no different than when Christians refused to give offerings to the divine Roman emperors. I imagine the Romans thought the Christians were 'angry' and 'grumpy' because the Christians didn't want to participate in religious rituals that the Christians did not believe in. But I doubt many modern Christians consider their party-pooper forebears to be 'angry' and 'grumpy.' I don't think Christians would think it was right for Christians to participate in a wiccan ritual, but the same Christians fail to understand why atheists wouldn't want to participate in a Christian ritual.
And, because of the big push by fundamentalists and evangelicals to "put Christ back in Christmas," by going around and proclaiming "Jesus is the reason for the season," (even though Mithras is the real reason for the season) and criticizing the use of the inclusive "Happy Holidays" rather than the exclusive "Merry Christmas," the religious nature of Christmas is more and more evident with each Christmas season.
Here's an analogy for all you theists out there who think atheists are grumpy:
Bob decides that any time he meets any guy who lives on Stewart Street, he is going to kick them in the nuts. That day, he takes a stroll down Stewart Street, kicking away as unfortunate men cross his path. At the end of the day, Bob goes home to his wife and says, "Boy, there's something wrong with the guys who live on Stewart Street. They all have this obsession with grabbing their nuts in public. It's weird."
That's what theists are doing. Theists act like assholes to atheists whenever they meet one, and then go away thinking, "Boy, atheists are angry and grumpy people. Atheism must make people angry and grumpy."
No, dumbass!!! ASSHOLES make anyone grumpy and angry!
Got it? The myth of the grumpy, angry atheist is just that: a myth. Atheists are no more angry or grumpy than anyone else. Since theists tend to act like assholes around atheists, atheists tend to be angry and grumpy around theists.
If you are a theist, you have almost certainly met an atheist at some point in your life who was perfectly nice. But that's because you were nice to the atheist because you didn't know the person was an atheist! It's only when you learn that a person is an atheist and start criticizing and trying to convert him or her that you "discover" how grumpy he or she is. Just like Bob, in the example above, wouldn't be able to identify guys who live on Stewart Street by their nut-grabbing, because the nut-grabbing only occurs after Bob learns the guy lives on Stewart Street and kicks him in the nuts. You see?
Or, look at this way. What if everyone who lived around you sold Amway products and kept trying, over and over, to get you to buy Amway stuff and sign up to sell Amway too. And you had no interest in being involved with Amway at all, since you know it's basically just a pyramid scheme. But every time you talked to one of your neighbors they brought up Amway and what a party-pooper you are because you won't participate in their Amway-related activities. You'd probably get pretty grumpy pretty quick. Would it be fair for your neighbors to attribute your grumpiness to your disdain of Amway? Or, when they say to you, "See, if you started selling Amway you wouldn't be so grumpy all the time," wouldn't you say, "Listen! It's not that I don't sell Amway that is the problem! It's that you're constantly pressuring me to sell Amway and telling me that I'm a bad person and bad things will happen to me if I don't sell Amway. Got it?"