Christianity Tolerates the Intolerant

Religion is mentioned in two places in The Constitution of the United States. The third and last paragraph under Article VI says the following: “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

The First Amendment to the Constitution states that: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Some interpret the US Constitution’s intent as ‘freedom of religion’ while others claim the intent is, ‘freedom from religion’. However your interpretation, it seems unreasonable that if an anonymous parent or family objects to the Ten Commandments displayed on a school wall, the words are removed. If there is a prayer asking for Divine guidance at a public meeting and just one-person objects, the prayer is revised or discontinued. The city of Santa Monica , CA lost their annual Nativity displays in a public park after 60 years because of objections by atheist groups. Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation reported that the nonbelievers outsmarted the religious people in Santa Monica.

December 25 was designated a national holiday by the Congress and President Ulysses S. Grant in 1870. Jesus Christ, considered by Christians to be the Son of God, was born on this date more than 2,000 years ago. Christians believe in universal tolerance, including those who have no (religious) belief and represent 15% of the U.S. adult population. Christians generally believe that their faith dovetails with the tenets of the U.S. Constitution.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, there were 228,182,000 adults in the United States in 2008. Of this number, 173 million or 76% considered themselves Christian. Members of the Roman Catholic (33%) and Baptist (21%) churches are the largest of the Christian denominations. People that embrace Judaism number about 2.7 million or just over 1% of the adult U.S. population while Muslims represent about ½ of 1%.

Most people, including atheists and agnostics are usually tolerant of the religious beliefs of others as well. Ben Stein is reported to have said this in a CBS television interview: “I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against. That’s what they are, Christmas trees.”  However, Lincoln Chafee, Governor of Rhode Island, pronounced the beautiful blue spruce erected in The State House rotunda in November of this year a ‘holiday tree’. His reasoning was that calling it a Christmas tree would be an affront to diversity.

Christianity is a two-way boulevard that helps believers limp, crawl or race through earthly existence and into eternal Heavenly life. Christianity believes in equal rights and opportunities for every person in the world. Christians believe in the rule of law and devotion to ethical standards of conduct. Christmas is a call to harmony and tranquility for people around the world. The Winter Solstice may be hailed as Christmas, Hanukkah or any name, but let’s – all together – hope and pray for peace in this troubled world. Christianity, like gravity, helps hold us all together.

 – Dick Baynton

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