In one place there is controversy about Christmas trees because there is no decor for Hanukkah. In another, there is furor over a Nativity.

Some want only a religious Christmas. Others seek only a secular observance.

From our view, too many people are too convinced the world should see and do things only their way. Call it tunnel vision.

The world is not black or white, right or wrong, good or bad. There are plenty of gray areas. There is need for tolerance with regard to religious preference and practice. There is need for respect of others’ beliefs. People should have the right to observe Christmas – or not – without being wedged into a corner.

Nativity scenes have their historic place in the American Christmas. The nation has a Christian base given it by our founding fathers, who were wise enough to separate government and religion with a mandate that there would be no state-sponsored religion or control of religion.

That does not mean government cannot be associated with religion or that anything religious must be separated from government. Prayers at public meetings or the singing of a religious Christmas song at a public gathering are not to be outlawed under the law simply because they are religious.

Yet the same people who see the need for directly injecting Christianity into every aspect of Christmas must be respectful of those of other faiths – the very same people Christians are asking to be tolerant of conventional Christmas symbols and practices. There is room for people of good will to respect one another and learn from, rather battle over, differences.

Controversy over Santa Claus: The legend of St. Nick is a great one with a deeper meaning than the gifts given in his name. Look on the bright side of the scurrying about in the name of gift-giving. It’s appropriate that people at least one time a year come together bearing gifts in the name of showing others they care. The tradition no more undermines the religious nature of Christmas than it replaces the nature of the observance.

This is Christmas. The very name is based in Christ and Christianity. That should never change.

In the words of the late T&D columnist Austin Cunningham (T&D, Dec. 17, 2006):

“Even though historic Jesus’ message has been distorted and sometimes twisted into cruelty, his pure message comes shining through, inescapable and absorbing. No toleration for hypocrisy. Higher standards than anything achievable. Christianity requires constant improvement. Its outreach is all encompassing. Preach the gospel, the “good news.“ There’s plenty of room for gift wrapping, yule logs, stockings by the fireside stuffed with love and gifts. Love, Love, Love.”

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