Re: “Our View: ‘Religious freedom’ bill targets nonexistent issue” (Dec. 29): Why do Nativity scenes on public property evoke more of an outcry than the violent, degrading and sexualized dialogue of some modern TV shows?

If one considers tolerance a virtue, then one will not consider the presence of a creche an infringement on anyone’s rights. If one believes that the values it depicts are beneficial, then one will welcome its display. If one welcomes the opportunity to share with others the joy of a holiday, then one will want it to appear where all can see. The gentle devotion of Mary to her newborn son – or, for that matter, a giant menorah and dreidels on Hanukkah – are no threat to anyone. No one is compelled to adopt the beliefs they exemplify.

Far from implying public support for religion, their presence affirms our highest values, values that stand in vivid contrast to the violence, sexuality and greed that have become pervasive in the world. These are the real threat to society, not the brief commemoration of a religious event.

A people that is more disturbed by a Nativity scene than the seductive power of lust and violence places itself at risk. Society has not advanced on such grounds. Making space available for a creche is simply an act of friendship, a gesture that says we are a people of tolerance, who can accept a variety of beliefs and desire to increase our understanding. Only one who is determined to deny his or her neighbors the peace and wonder that comes when they see the creche can justify it on the basis of religious freedom.

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