War Of Words Undermines The True Spirit Of Christmas

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A line has been drawn in the sand. On one side are the people who say, "Merry Christmas" and on the other are those who prefer to say, "Happy Holidays."

As people take sides, it widens the gap between us. Our country seems to be splitting into a kind of ideological civil war, and Christmas has become yet another battlefield for that war.

This divisiveness is damaging to families and friendships and it is dangerous for all the reasons that give truth to the saying, "United we stand, divided we fall."

Especially in the Christmas season, we should not let something as trivial as the wording of a greeting keep us from remembering the true spirit of this time of year.

At the newspaper, we receive daily e-mails about the "war on Christmas" from groups around the country. These e-mails are full of anger and read like a call to arms. They ask people to say, "Merry Christmas" defiantly.

We read the recent story of what happened in Seattle, where Christmas trees were dismantled in an overreaction to one rabbi's request to see a menorah among the display.

As we read these stories and letters, it seems something has been lost.

Senator John Cornyn of Texas was quoted as saying, "For generations, Christmas trees, nativity scenes, menorahs and other traditional public holiday items have been displayed in places of business and public squares, largely without objection. Groups could sing carols, schools could hold pageants, children could exchange Christmas cards ... Today, however, it seems the first order of business every December may soon be for Americans to consult their lawyers."

Who but a few in the United States believe that by celebrating a Christian holiday, other religions are suppressed?

It would be good to remember that the Constitution protects the freedom of all people by prohibiting laws that establish a religion or laws that prohibit the free exercise of religion. Both sides are protected. There is nothing to here to be won and much to be lost.

We believe America would do well to stop being petty, stop wasting time and resources suing each other over perceived slights, and practice the tolerance which religion generally promotes.

We have no objection to "Merry Christmas," "Happy Holidays" or a simple "Have a Nice Day."

This should not be the season of censorship. This should be a time when we look beyond the words, beyond the differences and see the humanity within our fellow man.

We share the same fears and struggles -- to support our families, to be loved, to find meaning in life.

This is the perfect time of year to remember that, not to perpetuate a war of words.

No matter what greeting you use this Christmas, the intention behind the words matters more than the words themselves.

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