I am appalled by the assertion that there is some sort of “war” against Christianity and Christmas in this country. This is one of the more bogus and ridiculous claims that I have ever heard.

Once again, the strategy here is to make us fear an imagined enemy in order to take our minds off of our nation’s real problems. I believe that most members of the clergy here in Greensboro have strived to respect all religions and to help congregants understand that there is no war against Christianity in this community or in this country.

While there is no war against Christianity in this country, there is a very real war in Iraq that is not going well.

There is a very real war against radical Islam. This is recognized by all, including the overwhelming majority of Muslims in this country. There is a very real need according to the 9/11 Commission for significant steps to secure our ports and our borders. These needs have now been ignored for over a year.

There is a very real war against the poor, the middle class, the American worker and those without healthcare. There is a war that needs to be fought to restore the lives of those who were victims of recent hurricanes.

Yes, there are real wars out there. Maybe we should all think about the fact that the New Testament tells us that Jesus healed the sick and that the historical Jesus would probably be appalled that 12 million children in this county lack healthcare and that so many Americans live in poverty. I think that the biblical prophets, Jesus, and Muhammad would all call the war on poverty and the war for healthcare, wars worth fighting.

So I have no problems saying “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” to all of my Christian friends or calling the winter break “Christmas” break. I love the Christian saying “Peace on Earth and Good Will toward Men (and hopefully women!).” This should be the standard for all. It is time for the wealthy and privileged, and not just the poor and struggling, to make this the true meaning of this holiday season.

In my opinion, no matter what our religion, we are all created in God’s image. At this time of winter, a time wherein the earth is quite dark, the lights of Christmas and Hanukkah and other religions remind us not only that the spring will follow winter. They are meant to remind us all of our responsibility to increase the lights of compassion, justice and human dignity in our world.

Merry Christmas, a Festive Kwanza, Happy Hanukkah and Great Holidays and Holy Days to all!

Rabbi Fred Guttman serves at Temple Emanuel in Greensboro, N.C.

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