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Are you getting tired of hearing secular progressives complain about the Christmas season and express their disgust with Christmas celebrations? Their public relations programs are designed to make sure our government does not allow any preference to religious beliefs.

News flash — the Constitution has already taken care of that. Our government is forbidden to favor any religion/denomination. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The second part of the clause means that the government does not have the right to interfere with any religious expressions.  

Teresa MacBain, the American Atheists’ past communications director and a former Methodist minister, has stated, “The true beauty of the season — family, friends and love — have nothing to do with the gods of yesteryear. Indeed, the season is far more enjoyable without the ‘religious baggage’ of guilt and judgment. Dump the myth and have a happy holiday season.”

This year and in recent Christmas seasons, the American Atheists have adorned Times Square with very controversial billboards. Last year the billboard depicted a cheery waving Santa Claus in his red suit and a picture of Jesus languishing on the cross with his crown of thorns. Blazoned across Santa’s picture was “Keep the merry” and across the suffering Jesus — “Dump the myth.”

Catholic League spokesman Bill Donohue thought the billboard was vile and exploitative. He said, “We as Christians never harass, intimidate or insult atheists. But they can’t seem to say, ‘We simply disagree with you.’ They have to insult us.”

All of us, to include atheists and non-Christians, have complete freedom to express religious thoughts. Why do atheists produce billboards to minimize the importance of Jesus and never attempt to sully the deities of other religions? No one is forcing religion or the Christmas celebration on any non-believers.

Christians seem to be the only followers demonized for expressing their beliefs. Non-believers ask for tolerance but do not display that tolerance for Christians, especially at Christmas when we are more apt to demonstrate our faith publically.

Let’s look at the kind of behavior MacBain’s alleged “religious baggage” can cause. Jessica Eaves, mother of four, was grocery shopping and reached into her purse for her phone and discovered that her wallet was missing. She carefully scrutinized the aisles and saw the person she suspected might have stolen her wallet.

Eaves, an Oklahoma woman whose story was later recounted by national news outlets,  pondered the best way to handle the situation. She had been researching Christian mission work on her computer, and that is the first thing that came to her mind.  She thought mission work can start with me right now in my community, and she chose to handle the situation that way.

She quietly and calmly, so as not to draw attention, went up to the person she suspected of lifting her wallet and told him that she forgave him and asked for her wallet back. The thief told her he was broke and had children to take care of. She offered to pay for his groceries.

She told the thief that Jesus forgave her every day and that she forgave him but very much wanted her wallet returned. According to Eaves, the embarrassed man acquiesced, was ashamed and began to cry.

When they got to the check-out, his grocery bill came to $27 and some cents. Eaves seldom carried money, but when she opened her wallet, she found it contained exactly 28 dollars — just enough to pay for his groceries.

She assured the perpetrator that Jesus loved him unconditionally. She went on to share that she reacted the way she did because she thought that Jesus would have handled the situation in a similar manner.

What a lovely story to help atheists and all non-Christians understand why observing Christmas is significant to Christians. We believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that he has been alive forever but entered human history as a man. In fact, He was born into this world as a baby in Bethlehem.

Christmas is the celebration of that birth. Because Jesus was born into this world, He brought us all grace, forgiveness and a second chance. That is why celebrating Christmas is important to us Christians.

Eaves said the interaction with the man was a blessing to her. It undoubtedly must have been a blessing to the perpetrator as well. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Non-believers, please stop trying to diminish the effectiveness of the Christmas message. Hope is more powerful than hate.

We Christians believe that God was, is and will still be at work this Christmas, throughout the rest of our lives and beyond. Christmas makes Christianity poles apart from other religions. Hold onto that truth and have a merry, blessed Christmas, everyone.

WILLEE COOPER is a former teacher and military spouse. A Hopkinsville resident, she is past president of the Kentucky Federation of Republican Women. Her column runs on the first and third Friday of each month. Reach her at willeecooper@gmail.com.

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