"I may not agree with what a man says; but I will defend to the death, his right to say it.”
Circuit Court House
Feb. 24, 2006
Yesterday, spectators in the court room broke out in cheers as Judge Pat Robinson announced his decision: "I find you guilty and sentence you to three years in prison for denying our Bible." The defendant, Joan Doubter, is known as a notorious Christmas denier. Her knees buckled when she heard her fate. Doubter had objected to President George W. Bush’s lighting a "Christmas Tree," on the White House lawn, on Dec. 1, 2005. She also took issue with what he said as he was doing it: "God is on our side in Iraq. He guides me in all of my actions, since I was, mercifully, born again as a Christian. Praise the Lord."
Incensed over the incident, Doubter penned a letter to the editor of the "Starchamber Gazette" criticizing Bush. She wrote : "Christmas is a fairy tale and the President has crossed a First Amendment line, with his flaky actions." The Rev. Jeremiah Upwell, who is part of the town’s ruling clique, threw a hizzy fit when he saw the letter. He filed a criminal complaint against Doubter, an unemployed textile factory worker, for violating the state’s law. Upwell was also the main witness at the one day trial. No jury trial, under Common Law, is permitted in a blaspheme related case. The defendant also couldn’t afford a private lawyer. The judge, however, refused to appoint a public defender for her, ruling, "It would just be a waste of taxpayers’ money to do so." Doubter, an eloquent woman, was forced to act as her own counsel.
It is a crime in Tennessee-a felony, punishable by up to ten years in the slammer-for anyone to deny, as an historical fact, the birth of Christ, his life, crucifixion, death and resurrection. After Doubter’s indictment, the Special Prosecutor, Tom DeLooney, found out that the self-taught philosophy buff, and serial pamphleteer, had in her possession a book, "The Age of Reason," which was relevant to the charges.  It was put into evidence as state’s "Exhibit No. B." Doubter’s letter to the editor was offered as "Exhibit A." In the "The Age of Reason," Tom Paine, its author, who was an English-born freethinker, had written:
“I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church…" 
The Hang-Them-High, GA-based, "Jesus Loves You Always Center," welcomed the tough sentence. "While Doubter’s rantings wouldn’t be a crime in some ultraliberal states, like Maryland, Massachusetts or California, it’s important that we support Tennessee’s struggle to fight Christmas denial and Christmas revisionism," said Pastor "Jimmy Bob" Thornton, its spokesperson. The Rev. Ezekiel A. Doubling, head of the "Christianity AgiProp Trust," said: "Christmas denial is anti-Christianity dressed up as intellectual debate. Christianity is based on solid historical facts, not Hollywood fables. If we have to put some nut cases in jail every once in a while to make that point, so much the better."
Doubter did take the stand and testify on her own behalf. She insisted that the Jesus story was "a myth…a Jewish version of a pagan myth." She traced its origins to ancient Egyptian texts. They revealed, according to her, that "Osiris was a God who became man and wandered through Egypt teaching the people about religion and the right way to live. He was put to death by the forces of evil, but was magically restored to life and ascended into Heaven to become the judge of the souls in the afterlife. Egyptians believed that by worshiping Osiris and following his teachings they would enjoy eternal life." 
Judge Robinson could barely contain his rage listening to Doubter’s testimony. But, he allowed her to have her say. She continued, "The myth of the dying and resurrected God/Man was known by different names, like: Dionysus, Attis, Adonis, Mithras, Serapis, to name a few; and then, finally, Jesus. Initiates of the mysteries learned that the God/Man was a giant allegory, every element of which could be decoded to reveal profound spiritual truths that lead to the experience of gnosis. The Apostle Paul had declared that the great secret of Christianity was the mystical revelation of the ‘Christ in You,’ which represented the one awareness that is the true identity of all of us. It’s a big mistake for anybody," Doubter shouted, "to take the Bible literally." 
At that point, Judge Robinson cut Doubter off and roared at the handcuffed defendant, "I’ve heard enough from your foul mouth today, Madam. Your own damnable words in this court room," Ms. Doubter, "are more than enough to sustain your conviction. You are an unrepentant Christmas denier! And, the U.S. Constitution doesn’t protect vile hate crimes like yours."
I decided to contact the "League of Righteous True Believers" for a comment about Doubter’s trial and sentence. It had crossed swords with her in the past over her writings and was responsible for putting the harsh Christmas-denial law on the books in TN. and six other states as well. It is also working to enact the same tough law in a number of European countries.
Its fearless leader, Ms. Lizzy Tightbottom, told me: "Some matters, like Christmas, should never be open to question by anyone, particularly pseudo-philosophers. Even though, it’s history, it’s holy history. When someone openly rejects Christmas, like Doubter, it causes pain to all Christians. In order to avoid such cases, the government is needed to step in and pass a strict measure, with penal sanctions, to tell people exactly what they can think and what they can say on the issue."
"Wouldn’t it be better," I probed, "to leave the debate over Christmas to the marketplace of ideas and to combat the few naysayers, some of whom may be abusing their First Amendment privileges, in that arena?"
"No, that tactics just plays into the hands of the Christmas-bashers. Offenders need to be criminalized," she emphasized.
"How do you answer the critics," I followed up, "that say if matters, like the Black Slave Trade and the Genocide of Native Americans, can be disputed, then why shouldn’t Christmas?"
She replied sharply: "Because, Christmas is unique! There is nothing else like in all of recorded history!"
Finally, I asked Tightbottom, "Do you have any concerns that Doubter might become a cause celebre for those who oppose government-sanctioned censorship."
She answered: "Doubter is a very sick woman, a Christian-hater, without any support groups. It’s possible she could become a martyr for a demented few in this country, but it’s highly unlikely. Don’t forget that the Church executed one of its leading dissenters, Giordano Bruno, a brilliant philosopher and scientist, for heresy, in 1600. The world hardly blinked an eye at that outrage.  Doubter, on the other hand, is a loser, misfit and crackpot. She will quickly be forgotten!"
. "Tom Paine and Revolutionary America," by Eric Foner.
. "The Jesus Mysteries," by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy.