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I’m Going to Defend the Easter Bunny

It’s that time of year again when slanderous charges are leveled at the defenseless Easter bunny. I can’t sit idly by anymore while many Fundamentalists, neo-pagans, and atheists become little more than schoolyard bullies, preying on their fluffy-tailed victim. The time for justice is now! Here are three common myths about the Easter bunny and how to refute them:

The Easter bunny is a pagan fertility symbol

Rabbits may have been pagan fertility symbols­—although proof in this regard is somewhat lacking—but the Easter bunny? No way. Total hogwash.

Fundamentalists, atheist Richard Dawkins, and everyone else who doesn’t know what they’re talking about spread lies about the Easter bunny, creating clever memes connecting him to the pagan goddesses Ishtar and Eostre.

Ishtar was a Mesopotamian fertility goddess. She is associated with several symbols—a lion and various star shapes among others—but there is no association with rabbits. You might find a bunny somewhere in the pagan historical record but only if you play the ancient goddess version of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

The connection to the Germanic goddess Eostre is even more bogus. The only evidence we have that there was a pagan goddess by this name comes from a Catholic monk, St. Bede, in the eighth century. Bede explains in his work The Reckoning of Time that the ancient pagans worshipped this goddess, and nowhere does he mention any bunnies.

Bunny 1, Haters 0.

The Easter bunny is a money making gimmick

Some people claim secular corporations, for the sake of money, created our fuzzy buddy. I’m sure that some soulless executives in dark rooms plot ways to appropriate religious themes for their own gain, but they are not responsible for the creation of the Easter bunny. That distinction belongs to our separated brethren the Lutherans.

In Germany, the “Easter hare” played a Santa Claus-like role at the start of the Easter season, judging whether or not children had been obedient to their parents. Since that time, the character of the Easter bunny has spread and evolved in different places.

The symbolism is not particularly religious, but we can be reasonably certain that the Lutherans of long ago were not intending to teach their children about paganism or fertility. One could argue that this tradition is a holdover from their pagan ancestors, but I’ve already demonstrated why that claim has more holes than one of my old concert t-shirts.

Bunny 2, Haters 0.

The Easter bunny is a secular distraction

The claim that the Easter bunny is a secular distraction is probably the most frustrating of all the charges leveled at him. This claim often goes hand in hand with the idea that the Easter bunny is a moneymaking gimmick. In other words, corporations have successfully secularized Easter to sell you more chocolate bunnies, reducing Jesus to an afterthought.

The secularization of our holy days is just a reflection of the world around us. If our children do not understand the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection, then we have other work to do.

Like Santa Claus, the Easter bunny is something fun to do with the kids, and we can’t let him take the fall for us anymore. He only distracts from Jesus to the extent that we let him. I have it on good authority that the Easter bunny would not be heartbroken if you chose not to mention him to your children at all. But that’s up to you.

I hope I have given you the defensive ammunition you need for the “War on the Easter Bunny.” May he no longer be the skeptics’ whipping boy. And in all seriousness, I pray everyone reading this has an especially meaningful Holy Week.

Final tally: Bunny 3, Haters 0. Happy Easter!

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