Practicing one's religion, not touting it, brings progress

Thank you so much for running Gena Caponi Tabery's Dec. 13 Opinion piece, "One Christian feeling hijacked by politics." It's nice to know that there are Christians who can understand how non-Christians may be feeling. As an agnostic with very strong values, I'm very angry with the current climate of intolerance and disrespect of those who aren't fundamentalist Christian.

In discussions about religion in public life, "religion" is being used as a code word for Christianity, making the argument seem to be about values, when really it's about ideology. We run the risk of getting lost in ideological specifics and neglecting the very values (honesty, compassion, fairness, responsibility) we need to be discussing.

To those of us concerned about values in today's society, let's remember that religion is only one way to build values, and that Christianity is only one religion. Secularists, Jews, Christians, and Muslims all have values. We can make progress on improving our world if we focus on the basics and find our common ground.
Carol Scherbaum
La Mesa, Calif.

Thanks to Ms. Tabery for giving words to my own feelings regarding religion in this current political climate. I strongly believe that the established religions of the world, if truly followed, should bring people together in humility and respect. Instead, I see an increasing amount of division and an arrogance that says "I'm saved, you're not" to the rest of the world.

The phrase I liked best in her opinion piece is "I am a practicing Christian - someday I hope to get it right." That's a humility that recognizes any truly spiritual quest is a lifelong project!
Pat Bennett
Summit, N.J.

Preserving Christmas, religious freedom

As a public high school teacher of religion, I am inspired to write after reading the Dec. 15 article "In schools and cities, battles over 'Christ' in Christmas." Our school district recently instituted a course in geography and world religions as a graduation requirement. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Students often share their own experiences and question their fellow students of different faiths.

It is a shame that people have been scared into silence. Silence breeds ignorance and ignorance breeds hate. We claim to value diversity, education, and above all, freedom. We need to show that by educating our students and by talking openly about the faiths of all Americans and of the world.
Connie Hernandez
Modesto, Calif.

The United States was not founded as a Christian nation; it was founded on the principle of freedom of religious expression.

Americans are free to worship within the context of our particular religious expression. We are not free to presume that, because the majority of people in the United States claim to be Christians, we have the right to perpetrate our particular "brand" of religion on anyone else.
David Templeton
Cornwall Bridge, Conn.

If Christians return to putting the emphasis on celebrating the birth of Christ instead of celebrating the holiday as such; stop spending money that, as Christians, they should be sharing with the poor; and make the adoration of Christ a daily, year-round thing, the commercial interests would trip over themselves trying to restore the religious character of Christmas while making a dollar at the same time.

True Christians know what they have to do to keep Christmas, and if they did it the problem of restoring public celebrations would be solved along the way.
Joseph F. Coyle
Richmond, N.H.

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