Perhaps no other holiday quite creeps me out as much as Easter. While searching online, I have found few accounts of atheists talking about how unpleasant the holiday makes them feel. Surely, I am not alone in this sentiment though? Last year, I was at the American Atheists convention partaking in what some dotingly called “the war on Easter” in downtown Memphis. This year, I am left to my own observations.
Easter, like many holidays in the US, is a compilation of strange traditions, symbols, and origins—dead Jesus, sex goddess, milk chocolate—that have achieved a widely consumer-based bend. If you were to search for how unnerving the holiday is, you would find Buzzfeed articles with photos of people from the 1950’s dressed as white, wild-eyed rabbits holding inscrutable, and other times screaming, children. The thing of nightmares, certainly. The holiday makes me uncomfortable for more conscientious reasons.
For kicks, let’s review the top 5 creepiest Easter sightings I saw in Tennessee this year:
5. Crosses, crosses… everywhere!
Leading up to Easter, theists and churches publicly decorate their yards with crosses, one of the best-known symbols of Christianity, and large-scale representations of the crucifix. Here’s one:
People in the south already have crosses all over the place. While driving down the highway or interstate, in between all the fear-mongering religious billboards, it’s not unusual to see a large cross that spans multiple acres of land. The fanaticism of Easter, however, breeds a whole new superfluous countryside scene. In my hometown, I doubt you can drive five miles without seeing such a display, and even that estimate of five miles is likely too generous.
In an attempted fairness, however, the hundreds of crosses dotting the countryside are appropriate for the holiday. An often overlooked line from the New Testament indicates that not only was Jesus “risen” on that day, so too were thousands of others. It was a good ol’ fashioned zombie walk. One theologian estimated that nearly 12,000 people rose up from their graves and walked the earth, which provoked Christopher Hitchens to make the claim that resurrection was, in fact, “commonplace.”
4. Risen (2016)
To celebrate the holiday this year, some Christians watched Risen, the latest biblical drama on the Hollywood market. It’s no secret that I find religious drama as fascinating and prescriptive as I do equal parts disturbing and insane.
Risen is a film about the resurrection. Some have praised the movie for following a new lead character named Clavius. Spoiler alert: Clavius is a non-believer who gets to see Yeshua’s ascension into heaven. Guess what happens next?
3. Undead Jesus Sings Gospel in Florida
Alongside all the pastel-colored selfies and egg hunt testimonials, I saw several video and audio uploads of Easter church services. (Some churches have sunrise services. That’s dedication!) One of my family friends uploaded a video from his church that featured a congregation of people inside this mega church cathedral. They are watching a musical performance with their arms and hands outstretched above their hands. And the lead of this contemporary gospel group? A dancing Jesus! Baffled by the video, I even messaged this family friend to ask if that was really someone dressed as Jesus dancing on stage and singing into the microphone. His response, unadulterated: “Yes! He HAS Risen!!”
2. Crucified Jesus Cookies
A family favorite?
To stress the absolute cringe-worthy quality of these cookies, if it isn’t already apparent enough, let me say that I actually made these exact cookies when I was a child. I remember making these cookies, not because of their horror or raspberry-jam shortbread tastiness, but because of the downright annoyance of them. The fingers would stick to the cookie cutter if not properly floured and produce these goblin-like elongated atrocities.
1. Indoctrination of Children
The indoctrination of children is one of the most toxic and necessary elements of Christianity and its survival. In my eyes, all the services and child-friendly activities are but another baited hook and cyclic opportunity.