To all who celebrate their connection to a religion now or at any other time of the year, I bid you good cheer. It does not matter which religion, I am happy for you. Within my circle I say, “Merry Christmas.” It is not said to be aggressive toward other religions, I am simply celebrating Christmas.
We who celebrate Christmas must defend Christmas because some in our country would remove it. Example: A few years ago I wrote my annual Christmas column and was surprised when a local legislator publically called me an anti-Semite because I wrote favorably about Christmas.
I do not step back from my Christian beliefs despite name-calling. That column brought up an interesting question: Congress declared the Christmas holiday more than a hundred years ago. It specifically used the word Christmas. It seems Congress indicated this country is a Christian nation by such a designation.
People of other faiths can protest that our country has no business celebrating Christmas. Perhaps we should put it to a vote. Once and for all, let Congress vote Christmas or not. Then no one could destroy Christmas if Congress affirms.
Yes, I know that our political leaders will not put it to a vote because they have no guts. While I am not trying to force this view upon anyone, I am just stating the obvious. This is a Christian nation that is very tolerant of all religions.
In other countries, there is not much religious tolerance. In the Middle East, you would get your head cut off for expressing Christian beliefs. My issue is to tolerate other beliefs but not let those beliefs take over my country. I do not want to force my religion on anyone any more than I want to be forced into another religion.
Years ago I was the board chair of a campus ministry. Our building was rarely used on Saturdays in the summer. A different campus student union was working on its building and asked if it could use our building on Saturdays for a month. I said yes and brought it to the board.
Some board members were scandalized but I held firm. The issue that I felt most concerned about at a college campus was the un-churched. I was glad for every member of a student union. I had spent my undergraduate life at this student union. I still went to other campus student unions upon occasion and did not look at them as the enemy.
It was a bit of a tussle but the board finally approved the use of our student union building by a different denomination while it fixed its building. The interesting thing was, over the next few months we did a couple of joint projects with this other student union and it was great.
At Christmas, I hold all religions in my heart and pray that each serves its believers well. I have room in my heart for a love of other religions as long as they do not try to take me over. Again, I am defending my belief, not trying to put it upon anyone else. Further, if someone wants to work on a day I consider holy, all the best to them, and the same for me.
It is the season of giving in my religion. While going to college 40 years ago, the question of giving came up in one of our Bible study sessions. Some thought that the appropriate gift was 10 percent. Another student thought that we should give until it hurts.
I was sitting next to a student named Randy who shook his head, “You should never give until it hurts. That is ridiculous. Rather, what you should do is give until it stops hurting.”
It is my wish that all Americans can worship as they wish. Me, I will be the one singing and saying Merry Christmas.
(Michael Swickard hosts the syndicated radio talk show “News New Mexico” from 6 to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday on a number of New Mexico radio stations and through streaming. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.)