The Godless Unholiday Tree

Margaret Downey, formerly of the Atheist Alliance International (which I commented on here) and founder of the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia, is promulgating her particular and peculiar form of atheist unholiday cheer.[1]

To read/Or not to read

Margaret Downey erected a tree, at the old Chester County Courthouse in West Chester Pennsylvania, adorned with copies of book covers amongst other things. The Bible and the Koran (Qu'ran) are hanging on the tree, which is referred to as the “Tree of Knowledge.” Yet, the focus of the tree is anti-theist rhetoric. The tree is peppered with covers from Ibn Warraq, “Why I Am Not a Muslim” Christopher Hitchens, “A Portable Atheist,” Randel Helms, “Gospel Fictions,” Rene Salam, “The Myth of Nazareth,” Bart Ehrman, “Misquoting Jesus” (see Misquoting Truth and Misquotes in Misquoting Jesus) and from the photo I thought that I discerned Richard Dawkins, “Growing Up in the Universe” (which I reviewed).

An onlooker asked, “Why do they have do that now?” I suppose it is because while celebrators of Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, Ramadan and even the Solstice and Festivus are merry making, Margaret Downey sect of atheist cannot go without expressing prejudice and they must be on the offense at all times and thus, be offensive.

Staks Rosch, a member of the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia, stated, “I’d like to break up that monopoly so we have a free market of ideas - just to balance things out.” Fair enough, but a majority is a majority and will have a majority showing. Also, have atheist not had their fair share of books, articles, movies, lectures, debates, TV and radio interviews, etc.? I say, again, let them have their own holiday although sadly the atheists on the forefront of pushing an atheist holiday are the militant-activist-anti-theist sect who give the friendly atheist next door a bad name—sorry.
Staks Rosch also stated, “This tree of knowledge is a celebration of good ideas, of science, of history.” Of course, it is more than that, it is about belittling and besmirching. For example, I have yet to see a Christmas tree with copies of Vox Day’s “The Irrational Atheist” hanging on it or anything of the sort. By the way “The Irrational Atheist” is available on Amazon.com or as a free PDF file—hey, this is not a Christmas tree :o) Nor have I seen a copy of Arthur J. Lelyveld’s “Atheism is Dead” hanging on a Hannukiah (aka: a Hanukah menorah).

It is rather interesting that Margaret Downey is promoting her own brand of prejudicial cheer and stated “We’d love to see Kwanza candles and a Buddha statue, too.” Yet, in 2001 she “sued the county to remove its large [81 years old], bronze Ten Commandments plaque from the face of the stately courthouse.”

As I have stated before, Margaret Downey seeks to put a happy face on atheist as a self-appointed PR agent—I say mazel tov, nice try but, and keep trying.

[1] I gleaned David O'Reilly, The 'Godless Holiday Tree' Goes Up


  1. lol as if anyone really will give a shit its quite pathetic actually, Merry Christmas everyone

  2. "who give the friendly atheist next door a bad name—sorry."

    Well OK, but why are you highlighting this atheist's work instead of that of the friendly majority? Is it so that you can express the atheophobia (fear/hatred of athiests) that you feel after having read about the bizarre tree, or do you actually have a reason to stir things up?

    Merry Christmas, btw.

  3. You frequently make the statement that some atheist or atheist group is expressing prejudice but, frankly, I have not seen any prejudice expressed at all. Now to be honest, I've watched only the first half of the video because I'm heading off to a Christmas party. But from what I've seen all that Downey has been expressing are reasonable and thoughtful ideas.

  4. Margaret Downey has spoken at various CFI events I've attended. Great lady. You might want to also check out Juliia Sweeney's one-woman show, "Letting Go of God".

    Charting your own course without resorting to supposed "revealed knowledge" from the "sacred" texts isn't that scary.

    From: "Life of Brian"

    Brian: Look, you've got it all wrong. You don't need to follow me. You don't need to follow anybody! You've got to think for yourselves! You're all individuals!...You've all got to work it out for yourselves.
    The Crowd: Yes! We've got to work it out for ourselves!
    Brian: Exactly!