When the city of Santa Monica decided that for the first time in 59 years it would not allow religious displays — including a nativity scene — to be displayed in a public park, there was the usual outcry from the religiously inclined. Bill O'Reilly invited an atheist on his show in order to call him a fascist; Fox & Friends urged viewers to reenact live nativity scenes in public; and a rabbi took to the pages of the Los Angeles Times to denounce atheists who don't think taxpayer-funded property should be playing host to religious imagery.
Those who advocate this separation of church and state are accused of waging a war on Christmas, as if purging nativity scenes from public parks truly ruins Christmas for members of the faithful. It doesn't. If anything has undermined the "true" meaning of the holiday for believers, let them look no further than their local mall.
I'm not a Christian but as I understand it, on Christmas, believers are supposed to celebrate the birth of Jesus, who, according the Bible, was willfully impoverished, and advised his followers to forgo their worldly possessions. Two thousand years later, this has somehow translated into a month-long holiday orgy that exhibits the worst aspects of consumerism. As everyone from Pope Benedict XVI to Bill Maher has noted, Christmas is becoming less about Jesus and family, and more about mindless materialism: