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Off and On: Do not blame the message

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By Ralph Damiani

This is one of the best times of year, no matter what your persuasion happens to be. Ah, but therein lies the problem: some just won’t let others celebrate.At least they try not to.Christian bashing is a very popular sport in these modern times in our nation. Groups demand that Christ be taken out of Christmas, that there be no community celebrations allowed and that – in some cases – the holiday be canceled altogether.Now, they are of course right in saying they have the right not to celebrate, nor have any celebration shoved down their throat.So the line becomes a bit blurry when those who believe in Christ want to see their community celebrate – uh, their right – and that conflicts with those who do not want to see any such celebration – uh, their right.So we struggle with this and many communities try to find the right balance.Clearly, this is at its heart a religious event that should be celebrated in one’s church. But is it right to ban any reference?I don’t think so, but I have been wrong before.Anyway, it seems that at the bottom of all this is a fundamental hatred of Christianity.I will not be one to argue of the purity of the so, so many who have down through the years promoted themselves as Christians.Too much evil and harmful things were done in the name of Jesus – things He never would have approved of.Even today, there are those who are more like charlatans than Christians who pretend to follow Him.They do not.And there is the real problem here. Those who are protesting – in my view – are mixing up the message with some of the messengers. And they are not taking the right kind of look.It is true that you can find as many examples of the failings of the faithful as you want. From witch trials to the Inquisition to intolerance of some today, there are plenty of things wrong about Christians. They are, after all, people.But you know, there are even more things right.There are hospitals all over the world in poor nation after poor nation as the direct result of funding by Christian churches.No other faith makes this effort.Here at home, there are countless shelters, food programs, elderly care efforts and assistance programs as the result of caring Christians.No other faith makes these efforts, at least to the same extent.Christians are under no obligation to do any of this – they just do.And beyond this, is the message of Christ. His is not a message of intolerance – just the opposite.His is not a message of exclusion – just the opposite.When it comes to salvation, I do not see God as someone petty. God welcomes all to His table and leads each of us down the road we need to be on.It is all His will.Many will disagree, and that is their right.And that is just the point: we can agree to disagree and not harm each other in the process.We should be spending more time looking at what is in one’s heart and less over what is on their lips.Those who believe in Jesus and what He said, and stood for, should be allowed to celebrate.And those who do not, should not be forced to.I understand that when it comes to public displays this is a tricky thing. But when a TV station can’t say “Merry Christmas” without fear of a lawsuit, then we have gone too far.When a business can only say “Happy Holidays,” then we have gone too far.There is nothing wrong with “Happy Holidays,” if that is your choice. But if you believe and want to say “Merry Christmas,” you should not do so in fear.We need more of the love and tolerance that Jesus was all about in the first place.Merry Christmas to all of you.