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SOME ATHEIST ENJOY CHRISTMAS,



Christmas isn’t just for Christians anymore.


Nearly half of adult Americans report they personally know someone who doesn’t believe in God but still will celebrate the yuletide this year, according to a survey of 1,001 people conducted by Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University.


Significantly more people will set up a Christmas tree than will attend a worship service on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. And Americans overwhelmingly believe the holiday has become less focused on the birth of Jesus than it used to be.


"Historically, it has been a struggle for America to find meaningful holidays that include a sufficiently broad number of people. But Christmas seems to have many modes of interpretation upon which we can set our own personal needs," said University of Texas historian Penne Restad, author of the scholarly book "Christmas in America: A History."


"Christmas has become as much a celebration of community as it has a celebration of religion," she said.


The survey asked if "you, personally, know anyone who does not believe in God but still celebrates Christmas?" Forty-five percent answered yes, 51 percent said no and 4 percent were undecided.


"Sure I know people like that. I’m one of them," said New Yorker Ron Barrier, a leader of American Atheists, a 2,500-member national organization defending the rights and interests of atheists. "As a free thinker, I believe the holidays are a great tradition regardless of the underlying basis for them."

TOO


SOURCE: "Some atheists enjoy Christmas, too" by Thomas Hargrove and Guido H. Stempel III, Scripps Howard News Service. December 10, 2002

http://www.insidevc.com/vcs/national/article/0,1375,VCS_123_1599466,00.html


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