Foxboro Christmas - Snowy Lightpost Foxboro Commonby Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter 12/2004 and the Boston City paper 12/2007

In recent years, and especially recent weeks, there has been a continued attack on all things Christian and God. Once again, Christmas is under siege. Department stores are especially guilty — don’t mention the C word (Christmas) but by all means make as much money as possible on it. No Christmas parties — it’s a holiday party. And no songs that use the C word.

I am fed up with the politically correct BS being forced at us demanding that we stop “offending” people by saying Merry Christmas or celebrating our faith.

In a recent opinion piece I came across in one of the Boston papers, someone wrote, “It is not America’s responsibility to continually try not to offend you in any way … As Americans, we have our own culture, our own society, our own language, and our own lifestyle. This culture, called the “American Way” has been developed over centuries of struggles, trials, and victories by millions of men and women who have sought freedom… Our forefathers fought, bled, and died for this.”

Well said! Even today, thousands fight to preserve our way of life and preserve our safety. Millions have died for that freedom, that safety. If you believe in God, say a prayer for them. If you don’t, have a good thought for them, at least. They deserve your support.

The writer continued, “In God We Trust” is our national motto. This is not some off the wall, Christian, Right Wing, political slogan – it is our national motto. It is engraved in stone in the House of Representatives in our Capitol and it is printed on our currency. We adopted this motto because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation and this is clearly documented throughout our history. God is in our pledge, our National Anthem, nearly every patriotic song, and in our founding documents. We honor His birth, death, and resurrection as holidays, and we turn to Him in prayer in times of crisis. If God offends you, then I suggest you consider another part of the world as your new home, because God is part of our culture and we are proud to have Him … Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game. “But it’s a Christian prayer,” some will argue. Yes, and this is the United States of America, a country founded on Christian principles.

Why can’t people be more tolerant and respectful of other’s beliefs without getting hostile? I have no problem with other beliefs and religions (except of course, the fanatics who want to kill us in the name of God).

I know at least two people who don’t believe in God. I am friends with both of these people — we have different beliefs and faiths — I am not offended by their lack of belief — in this land, they can believe anything they wish.

I have great affection and respect for a young woman who is Pagan. She is one of the smartest, most spiritual people I know. She is wise for her youth. She and I have different names for the creator (or creators) of the Universe, but we both agree on so many things, especially that there is a supreme force that created the universe that loves us very much. She respects my beliefs and I hers. I’m not offended by her celebrating Pagan holidays, nor do my beliefs offend her.

I have heard about examples of respect for other religions that are simply staggering. Years ago, I read a story of a man who risked his life and raced into a burning Jewish temple to successfully rescue the holy scrolls used by the temple. The man was not Jewish, but he well understood the significance and importance of those scrolls to the church. The man had nearly died to help preserve sacred relics from a church that wasn’t his, for a faith he did not share. He didn’t need to be a member of the faith to understand the importance of those scrolls. He respected the faith.

Sadly, this respect for other’s beliefs (or non-belief) seems to be waning rapidly across this country. To those people, I say this: You can believe or not believe whatever you wish. You can protest against anything you want while your fellow citizens are dying across the world to protect that right to protest. But please, even if you don’t agree with someone’s religious belief, as long as that belief does not cause physical or mental harm, RESPECT IT.

Recently I read this: “If I went to a football game in Jerusalem, I would expect to hear a Jewish prayer. If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad, I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer. If I went to a ping pong match in China, I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha … ”

And here in America, at Christmastime, if you don’t like the nativity set, or Christmas tree, or any of our Christmas traditions, then please be quiet and respect our traditions. You don’t have to believe. But you’re in America, and we celebrate Christmas here. RESPECT IT.

I don’t consider myself a model Catholic and I am not a religious fanatic, but I am a Christian and my faith in God — even when it has been shaken to the core (and it has been) has sometimes been the only thing that has allowed me to continue going on.

No one is going to take away my God-given right to pray, to attend church, to put up a nativity set, or to say “Merry Christmas.” Does my Christmas holiday offend you? Well, your lack of respect and tolerance offends me.

Believe what you want. Don’t believe in anything. No one is forcing you to pray. No one is asking you to honor or believe in God or anything else. But respect others right to practice the very faith upon which this country was founded.

As so many billions of people across the planet — not just Americans — but BILLIONS of people — celebrate the birth of Christ and all that his life means to us, I wish you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS, and no matter what your beliefs, I wish you peace and joy.

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