Offended By "Merry Christmas?"

merry christmas
merry christmas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Austin Cline recently posted a question he received on his forums asking why some atheists seemed to be offended by someone saying "Merry Christmas." At least for me, "offended" seems a bit strong. I'd prefer to use the term "annoyed" to describe how I feel upon hearing "Merry Christmas." I certainly notice it under the right circumstances, but I do not take offense at hearing those words.

What could possibly be annoying about hearing someone wish me a merry Christmas? I find it annoying because it is insensitive. The person making the statement is either incorrectly assuming that I am Christian (a reflection of Christian privilege), doesn't give a damn, or has not bothered to consider the potential impact of these words on persons with different beliefs. But since I encounter this sort of thing regularly here in Mississippi, I can't say I'm offended or surprised by it.

In these situations, I almost always assume good intentions on the part of the speaker. Instead of jumping to the conclusion that the speaker thinks everyone is Christian or that they don't care how their words might make me feel, I assume that they are trying to be nice and are simply operating in a state of blissful ignorance. It can be a bit annoying but is hardly what I'd consider offensive.