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Real Answers™
Copyright: © 2008 Gary Hardaway
670 words


By: Lynn & Gary Hardaway


Warning: The following few paragraphs contain high levels of sarcasm and, if taken literally, may cause severe confusion or outrage. The reader should beware of swallowing.


As a special Christmas gift to the people of Washington, and as an expression of peace and good will to all, the gracious state governor, Christine Gregoire, approved the following message to be displayed in the State Capitol in Olympia: “At this season of the Winter Solstice may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

By this magnanimous executive act, the governor advances the cause of tolerance and celebrates our heritage of cultural diversity. 

Strangely, some reactionaries have claimed to be insulted by this lovely gesture.  Why Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and Native American religionists  should bristle at such a message is inexplicable. Sadly, many of our neighbors just don’t get it. They need mandatory sensitivity training to program them out of their primitive prejudices.

Meanwhile, we must prohibit such people from voicing their superstitions in public. How deplorable that their words and actions make our atheist citizens uncomfortable.



Well, enough of that. Suffice it to say, the Grinch has invaded Washington State. The event deserves thoughtful attention.

Not so long ago Christmas was appreciated and enjoyed by almost all Americans. Christians, of course, celebrated with gusto, but people of other faiths joined in with general good will and cheer. Even the non-religious found some uplift in the story and music of Christmas. Joy to the world seemed to infect all but the surliest of Scrooges.

Today, Ebenezer’s bitter, bilious tribe has multiplied and gone public. They are offended!  They are not offended by a preacher who screams “God _________ America,” but by the baby who represents joy to the world. They seem perversely angry at all of us who happily, merrily, joyfully, exuberantly believe or hope in someone greater than ourselves. In their misery, they seek to crush all who refuse to join them in their dark void.

Like wicked King Herod, they focus their wrath on the babe in the manger. Not the actual baby (whom Herod failed to slay) but the figurine that represents him in countless manger scenes displayed in public places throughout the world. Through these nativity tableaux the public is gently reminded of a message that “God so loved the world that he gave his own son that whoever would believe in him might have everlasting life.”  Evidently, they hate that message and the good will it generates.

Not so long ago, others of various faiths – or no particular faith – didn’t mind such a reminder. Tolerance and respect prevailed. Special warmth and courtesy descended on the folks on busy sidewalks. As Bing Crosby musically observed, “In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas.”

The organization that erected the Olympia display, the Freedom from Religious Foundation, simply can’t stand all this good cheer. President Dan Barker states, "It's not a religious display, it is an attack on religion.” For sure, it is that. But it is also a statement of faith: “There is only our natural world.” This belief expresses a “religion” one might call materialism. Dan Barker has a god of sorts, the stuff of the universe.

Having embraced this cold, inanimate god, Barker’s group feels compelled to violate the civic courtesies and customs that allow us to get along with each other. The atheist display declares, “No more tolerance, no more respectful diversity.” From now on its open season on all who won’t submit to materialism.

Governor Gregoire contends that she had to permit the display because it is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. That is highly debatable. But, regardless of the legal outcome, and despite the mean-spirited assault, let us resolve that we will gleefully persecute the Grinches among us by our jolly good cheer and deep gratitude for the Gift and Giver of Christmas.

Gary Hardaway, a regular contributor to the Amy Internet Syndicate, directs Summit School of Ministry in Bellingham, WA.

"Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091;

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