A report from the front.

It's 'œa quagmire with no exit strategy,' said Troy McCullough in the Baltimore Sun. No, not Iraq'”'œthe so-called war on Christmas.' Every December, people in communities across America nearly come to blows over conflicting displays of mangers, menorahs, and other seasonal symbols. This year, the flash point was Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which a rabbi threatened to sue unless a menorah was put up alongside its 14 plastic Christmas trees. At an ice show in Riverside, Calif., a high school choir was asked to stop singing Christmas carols, lest Olympic medalist Sasha Cohen take offense. This weekend in Washington, D.C., the Christian Defense Coalition opened a new front in the war by launching 'œProject Nativity,' whose mission is to erect hundreds of crèches on public property across the nation. It's time, said the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, to remind folks that Jesus is 'œthe reason for the season.'

You need not be Christian to concede that point, said Mark Steyn in the Chicago Sun-Times. Since its founding, the U.S. has been 'œan overwhelmingly Christian country with freedom of religion for those who aren't.' Yet the ACLU and other liberal secularists keep trying to erase America's 'œcommon culture' by forbidding any public acknowledgement of its Christian roots. Actually, that's a vast exaggeration, said Greg Beato, also in the Sun-Times. The Catholic League, the most vigilant pro-Christmas watchdog group, currently lists only 33 'œretailers, schools, Web sites, towns, and municipalities who refuse to acknowledge Christmas.' That's in a nation with tens of thousands of communities and stores. As for Hollywood, that supposed bastion of secular humanism, it keeps churning out family-friendly Christmas movies and TV specials. Clearly, the war on Christmas exists only in the minds of a few right-wing 'œdemagogues.'

It certainly doesn't exist in the minds of most atheists, said Randy Kennedy in The New York Times. Sam Harris, who issued a withering critique of religion in his book The End of Faith, admits he has a Christmas tree'”a small one, but a Christmas tree nonetheless. Richard Dawkins, author of the anti-religious polemic The God Delusion, says he has no trouble wishing people 'œMerry Christmas.' The secular society has appropriated Christmas, these nonbelievers say, and made it a day to celebrate family, gift giving, and hope. As a pagan myself, said Dan Neil in the Los Angeles Times, I have to admit I love this time of year, even if it's for my own secular reasons. So go ahead'”bid me 'œMerry Christmas' as I exit Wal-Mart with my arms laden with goodies. 'œAnd Happy Holidays right back at ya.'

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