Pat Robertson thinks atheists are miserable and want you to be miserable.

He said so himself:

You’re wrong, Pat. Most of us aren’t any more miserable than anyone else in the world. Nor do most of us want to “steal your holiday away” from you. Hell, many of us celebrate it — the secular aspects at least — right alongside you.

It’s not clear what brought your little bit of bigotry out on this occasion, but if I had to guess I’d say it’s probably the news item about the city of Santa Monica deciding to end its traditional holiday displays because some Christians are all butthurt about atheists getting in on the action the past couple of years:

Atheists’ move halts Christmas tradition in California, churches go to court to get it back

Santa Monica officials snuffed the city’s holiday tradition this year rather than referee the religious rumble, prompting churches that have set up a 14-scene Christian diorama for decades to sue over freedom of speech violations. Their attorney will ask a federal judge Monday to resurrect the depiction of Jesus’ birth, while the city aims to eject the case.

“It’s a sad, sad commentary on the attitudes of the day that a nearly 60-year-old Christmas tradition is now having to hunt for a home, something like our savior had to hunt for a place to be born because the world was not interested,” said Hunter Jameson, head of the nonprofit Santa Monica Nativity Scene Committee that is suing.

Oh noes! The city won’t let us put our displays on public land anymore so we’re gonna sue!

So what did the atheists do that prompted the city to shut it down? They had the gall to participate! Can you imagine that??

In 2011, Vix recruited 10 others to inundate the city with applications for tongue-in-cheek displays such as an homage to the “Pastafarian religion,” which would include an artistic representation of the great Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The secular coalition won 18 of 21 spaces. The two others went to the traditional Christmas displays and one to a Hanukkah display.

The atheists used half their spaces, displaying signs such as one that showed pictures of Poseidon, Jesus, Santa Claus and the devil and said: “37 million Americans know myths when they see them. What myths do you see?”

Most of the signs were vandalized and in the ensuing uproar, the city effectively ended a tradition that began in 1953 and earned Santa Monica one of its nicknames, the City of the Christmas Story.

Here’s the thing that a lot of folks don’t realize when it comes to religious displays on public property: It’s an all or nothing proposition. The government is not allowed to give even the appearance of promoting one religion (or the lack thereof) over another. Santa Monica came up with their lottery system to ensure that all voices had a chance to participate. The atheists played by those rules and won the majority of the spots. Then the Christians got all upset and decide to vandalize the displays so the city decided it was way more trouble than it was worth and shut it down this year.

Rather than do something reasonable like put their religious displays on private property — there’s gotta be plenty of churches in that city that could provide them with the space — the Christians have decided that they’re going to sue the city to force them to change their decision:

“If they want to hold an opposing viewpoint about the celebration of Christmas, they’re free to do that — but they can’t interfere with our right to engage in religious speech in a traditional public forum,” said William Becker, attorney for the committee. “Our goal is to preserve the tradition in Santa Monica and to keep Christmas alive.”

Yes, because if these displays aren’t put on public land then CHRISTMAS WILL DIE!

The thing is, the atheists aren’t interfering with their right to engage in religious speech in a traditional public forum. The city points out that people can still carol in the park, hand out leaflets, and even stage a play if they want. The atheists were perfectly willing to play by the rules for the displays. It was the city that decided to shut things down because the Christians couldn’t cope with having to share the space. And all of that has made Pat Robertson sad. Those damned, dirty atheists. Always trying to steal Christmas by participating where they’re not wanted.

It’s all or nothing, folks. Either everyone gets a chance to participate or no one does. The government isn’t allowed to play favorites.

Update: It looks like a judge has turned down the Christian group’s request for an immediate injunction forcing the park to allow displays: Judge denies bid for park Nativity displays. Naturally, they plan to appeal.

Whining about the War!On!Christmas! off to an early start.

The American Family Association is getting an early start on bitching about the so-called War!On!Christmas! already. Seems Sam’s Club just released the latest issue of their in-house magazine Source which included an ad for Christmas stuff that’ll be showing up in the stores very shortly and the AFA’s panties are all in a bunch because the ad uses the word “Holiday” instead of Christmas:

Randy Sharp, special projects director for the American Family Association, says it looks like Sam’s Club parent company Wal-Mart is adhering to the same “holiday” policy in the 2006 season as it followed in 2005. “Last year,” he says, “Wal-Mart refused to use the word Christmas in their advertising, and they were inundated by angry customers. And already this year they’re showing their true colors by again refusing to acknowledge Christmas.”

This past June, Sharp notes, AFA sent Wal-Mart a copy of a letter and more than 200,000 petition signatures that went to most major retailers in America, asking them not to ban the word Christmas from their advertising and promotions. He says there was no answer until the advertisement in Source came out.

“Last week the first Christmas ad came out, and that was for Sam’s Club, owned by the Wal-Mart Stores Corporation,” the AFA spokesman explains. “The ad is clearly meant to promote Christmas decorations and Christmas tree items,” he says, “but Sam’s Club refuses to refer to Christmas as Christmas. They simply use the generic term holiday.”

Sharp suggests that potential shoppers, especially Christians who celebrate the holiday, should let Sam’s Club know how they feel about this issue. He urges pro-faith, pro-family consumers to e-mail the company right away with their pleas that call the holiday by its true name.

Give me a fucking break. Leave it to Christians to make me dread my favorite holiday by being obsessive pricks about whether a store makes sure to use “Christmas” every time they advertise anything related to the holiday. Isn’t it enough that they managed to steal the holiday from the Pagans to begin with? Now they have to get all fucking uppity if someone refers to it as anything other than the name they bastardized it with. Only 118 days before all these assholes can stop whining about it until next year.

Hat tip to Dispatches from the Culture Wars.