Opinion: "Respect Religious Diversity During This Holidays Season"

December 14, 2005

Source: The Decatur Daily


On December 14, 2005 The Decatur Daily ran an opinion piece by J. Brent Walker, an executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty in Washington, D.C. "Are 'Christian haters' and 'professional atheists' engaged in an all-out war on Christmas, as FOX News' anchor John Gibson claims? I don't think so — unless one is prepared to say that President Bush and the first lady are leading the effort. This year's White House greeting card extends 'best wishes for a holiday season of hope and happiness.' No mention of 'Merry Christmas' from the first family. About a dozen holy days are observed by various religious groups between Thanksgiving and New Year's. For decades we have been confronted by that 'December dilemma' of how to acknowledge and celebrate winter religious holidays, usually in the context of the schools, in a way that is constitutional and culturally sensitive. People of good faith, including the Baptist Joint Committee, have worked long and hard to develop guidelines that comply with the Supreme Court's interpretation of the First Amendment's religion clauses, and respect the amazing religious diversity in this country... Having settled many of the legal issues, some are now bent on fighting battles in a culture war against an enemy that does not exist... What irony and how sad — to be picking a fight over what to call a season that for many celebrates the coming of the Prince of Peace. We would all do well to take a deep breath and exercise some common sense as we think and talk about this season."