Have you ever wondered where the term Easter comes from? I’m a Christian, and I honestly did not know. It comes from a Anglo-Saxon goddess called Eostra with roots going all the way back possibly to Bablyonia and ancient Egypt. Eostra is a pagan goddess of fertility whose festival is to be celebrated near the vernal equinox. Hence the Easter eggs. Eostra is also the “dawn goddess” which may explain why many Christian Easter services begin at sunrise. Legend has it Eostra turned a bird into a rabbit, and voila – the Easter bunny.
These facts are interesting cultural and historical footnotes for this time of year. But to the Religious Right, they portend of the coming of the anti-Christ. Richard Reves over at the far-right website WorldNetDaily writes: “Easter has nothing to do with Jesus and everything to do with pagan abominations condemned by the Bible.” He concludes: “Theologians are well aware of the pagan nature of Easter. So are modern day anti-Christs. Non-biblical aspects of traditional Christianity are now being legitimately challenged by those who would turn us away from Christ, and many are falling for their deception.”
So now there is a War on Easter (a la the War on Christmas)? This is just ridiculous. Pagans did not co-opt Easter away from Christians. Christians co-opted Easter away from the pagans.
And it is the Religious Right who have attempted to secularize Christianity in order get more Christian symbols and text to be publicly displayed. Many Religious Right organizations told the Supreme Court that the Ten Commandments could be constitutionally displayed on public land because of the secular meaning behind that religious text. By making this argument, the Religious Right was actually attempting to strip the Ten Commandments of their religious meaning. And the Supreme Court bought that argument, but Justice Antonin Scalia called it a “Pyrrhic victory.”
Now the Religious Right is complaining about the non-Christian influences of Easter. That is a little ironic.