A Christmas Sermon by Robert Green Ingersoll - 1891


The good part of Christmas is not always Christian -- it is generally Pagan; that is to say, human, natural.

Christianity did not come with tidings of great joy, but with a message of eternal grief. It came with the threat of everlasting torture on its lips. It meant war on earth and perdition hereafter.

It taught some good things -- the beauty of love and kindness in man. But as a torch-bearer, as a bringer of joy, it has been a failure. It has given infinite consequences to the acts of finite beings, crushing the soul with a responsibility too great for mortals to bear. It has filled the future with fear and flame, and made God the keeper of an eternal penitentiary, destined to be the home of nearly all the sons of men. Not satisfied with that, it has deprived God of the pardoning power.

And yet it may have done some good by borrowing from the Pagan world the old festival called Christmas.

Long before Christ was born the Sun-God triumphed over the powers of Darkness. About the time that we call Christmas the days begin perceptibly to lengthen. Our barbarian ancestors were worshipers of the sun, and they celebrated his victory over the hosts of night. Such a festival was natural and beautiful. The most natural of all religions is the worship of the sun. Christianity adopted this festival. It borrowed from the Pagans the best it has.

I believe in Christmas and in every day that has been set apart for joy. We in America have too much work and not enough play. We are too much like the English.

I think it was Heinrich Heine who said that he thought a blaspheming Frenchman was a more pleasing object to God than a praying Englishman. We take our joys too sadly. I am in favor of all the good free days -- the more the better.

Christmas is a good day to forgive and forget -- a good day to throw away prejudices and hatreds -- a good day to fill your heart and your house, and the hearts and houses of others, with sunshine.

Robert G. Ingersoll.


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Comment by Chris Moran on December 17, 2010 at 3:07pm

I wish I had known about Ingersoll when I was young.  I didn't find out about him until I was in my 30's, but better late than never.  I constantly bring him to the attention of history buffs and people in my group.  I did this sermon as a reading at out Humanist party up here in MA...

Comment by Jim DePaulo on December 17, 2010 at 1:37pm



Robert Ingersoll had a major impact on my Atheism.  I've been an Atheist all my thinking life; I had no reasons for being one other than I thought it was all bullshit.  But, when I was 17 I read my first Ingersol - the writings reveled to me the reasons for being an Atheist in clear and eloquent essays.


The Christians, for the most part, swiped the entire day from every culture they polluted.  Even the day that is celebrated as the birthday of Jesus is wrong.  It was placed on the 25 of December because the Roman celebration of Mithra's birth was already in place as was the Saturnalia and at the time the Romans were the biggest dog on the block. The trappings of Christmas are largely pagan  in origin – conifers, holly and mistletoe, green symbols of life in the midst of Winter. Feasting, opening the winter stores, gathering of the clan, tribe or extended family and celebration were all in place before the alleged birthday of Jesus.

They did the same with the other Christian holiday (holy day) – Easter (aka Estra /Ishtar/Isis goddess of rebirth and fertility).

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