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posted: 1/4/2013 4:19 PM

Holidays don't void church-state separation

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I felt compelled to respond to Nathan Solak's Dec. 20 letter titled "What's so offensive about a Christmas tree?" I like Christmas trees, but some statements by Mr. Solak deserve to be challenged and corrected.

Mr. Solak expresses shock that the governor of Rhode Island is referring to the trees in government buildings as holiday trees as opposed to calling them Christmas trees. In response, Solak states "Last time I checked, we've had a holiday called Christmas for the past 2,000 some years."

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Mr. Solak seems to have forgotten that we live in the United States, which has enshrined within its Constitution a separation of church and state. This means that the government should not be in the business of endorsing religion (or nonreligion); rather, the government should stay neutral on such questions.

Displaying a Christmas tree (or Nativity scene) in government buildings violates this neutrality. However, if Christian fundamentalists are so insistent that the government pay deference to their particular religion, then they should be prepared for others to make similar demands.

How would they feel if Muslims demanded that the government display the Islamic crescent as recognition of Eid? Would they find it acceptable for Wiccans to insist upon a display showing the pentagram as a celebration of the Winter Solstice?

Or how about allowing atheists, like me, to place up signs stating there is no God? Why not let us all have a voice?

We live in a nation of multiple religious traditions, as well as a growing number of those who declare themselves nonreligious (20 percent of the population now).

Given these facts, isn't it childish for some to insist that religious freedom means that they get to impose their religion on the rest of us?

Matthew Lowry

Vernon Hills

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