The editorial pages of The Times and Democrat have been the forum for periodic exchanges about religion, including debate about Christianity, Islam and atheism.

The written words are indicators of the seriousness with which people stand by their beliefs. There is much passion in disagreement.

Yet even among those practicing other religions and faiths, or no faith at all, there is agreement that Christianity played a key role in the founding of this nation and continues to dominate the national religious experience.

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On this weekend, we’re using this editorial space to again note the importance of Christianity and its most sacred holiday.

Easter is the rebirth of hope.

For some, it’s a day marked by egg hunts, new apparel, chocolates, a ham dinner, school vacations, jelly beans and, of course, the Easter Bunny. But it’s much more.

It’s not just a “holiday”; it’s a “holy day” -- a time for Christians to joyously celebrate the central truths of their faith.

Christians have a different view of the world -- and a different sense of their purpose in life -- than non-Christians. This is because Christians believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Almost 2,000 years later, this supernatural event still cannot be explained by science or other conventional means; it must be accepted on the basis of faith and the testimony of Jesus’ contemporaries.

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The Gospels -- the word gospel means “good news” -- tell the story of an itinerant Jewish man named Jesus Christ who called himself the Son of Man. He was born of a virgin in a lowly manger at Bethlehem and learned the craft of carpentry.

At the age of 30, this man gathered together a dozen disciples -- men from disparate social backgrounds who likely would never have socialized with each other.

Then he embarked on a short but tumultuous ministry: performing miracles, showing exceptionally keen insight into the Jewish scriptures and showing love and compassion for the meek and the lowly.

This man, the Bible says, was loved and hailed by multitudes who hailed and adored him as a great teacher, a prophet and even the Messiah: the Son of God.

The religious and political elite, jealous of this interloper’s influence, plotted to rid themselves of him. On Good Friday, they nailed him on a cross to die a painful, lingering death under the mocking sign “King of the Jews.”

If this story ended here, history would have judged Jesus Christ as a well-intentioned man who did many good deeds, but a mere mortal who promised more than he could fulfill.

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Christians, however, boldly proclaim that Jesus Christ was resurrected to life and indeed still lives today -- a claim that makes Christianity unique among the world’s religions-- and this is why Easter is celebrated.

It is a rebirth of hope that our nation and world continues to need.

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