My complaint about the banning of Christmas cribs, nativity plays etc has drawn a number of responses, including the following in today’s Irish Independent:
Peter Molloy questions why atheists should feel offended at the sight of nativity cribs in public places (Letters, November 23).
Perhaps, like the Angelus and the Constitutional prohibition on atheists becoming the President or judges, it is yet another reminder to them they are not accepted as full active citizens in Irish society.
Let's reverse roles and imagine if atheists insisted that every public place display a sign saying: "God does not exist, religion is make-believe, the nativity is a myth" as an expression of their non-faith. Would Christians be offended by such signs, and demand their removal?
With the season that is in it, maybe atheists and Christians could come together in a spirit of inclusivity and harmony to foster respect and tolerance for the diversity and difference in our increasingly multicultural, multiracial, multiethical, multidenominational, and multidimensional society by accompanying every public display of a nativity crib with a sign dismissing it as superstitious nonsense.
If this is done, then neither atheist nor Christian could complain about religious discrimination because each would be equally offended by the public display of the other.
JASON FITZHARRIS, RIVERVALLEY, SWORDS, CO DUBLIN
This prompted the following response, published in the Indo on 30th November:
I was worried that the phrase “atheist bigots” in my original letter of Nov 23rd might be a bit over the top, but Jason Fitzharris (Letters Nov 28th) has put my mind at ease on that one.
He identifies the Angelus as a reminder that atheists “are not accepted as full active citizens in Irish society”, a situation which is confirmed to him by the sight of cribs in public places.
While offended by the sight of cribs in public places, he sees an equitable solution in sharing that offence by attaching a sign to each crib dismissing it as superstitious nonsense.
There is a world of difference between being offended and being oppressed. Mr Fitzharris's multi-everything world must be a very bland place to live if every word and action must first be held up to the light by him to see if it might just possibly offend anyone else.
Readers can draw their own conclusions as to which of us is most “off the wall“. Regards, etc.
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