Sheriff Mike Jolley of Harris County, Georgia (photo at right) is in the news today because he paid out of his own pocket to erect a big sign advising newcomers to his domain:
WARNING: Harris County is politically incorrect. We say Merry Christmas, God Bless America and In God We Trust. We salute our troops and our flag. If this offends you — LEAVE!
None of this offends me, of course. I say “Merry Christmas.” I pray that God will continue to bless America. I salute the brave troops fighting to protect me. And I salute the Stars and Stripes.
But I wouldn’t stay in Harris County.
I say “Merry Christmas” to my Christian friends, but if I know you’re Jewish I will wish you “Happy Hanukkah.” And if you’re a Muslim, and I know it, you would get my best wishes for “Eid al-Adha,” which honors the Old Testament’s Abraham – the same Abraham so many Christians revere.
If I know you’re an atheist, I will gladly say, “Happy Holidays,” especially if I think you would be offended by a spiritual greeting. But, in my heart, I would pray for you because I think being an atheist is a sad state to be in.
I hope and pray that God will bless America. And the rest of the world. He made it – all of it – and it desperately needs His blessing. But I certainly wouldn’t ask for Americans to be the only people to be blessed. That would be un-Christian – and un-American.
As for trusting in God, whom else would you trust? Mankind? Would you trust the world’s leaders? Or those aspiring to lead? Really?
I salute our troops. I honor them for their bravery and their self-sacrifice. I admire them for their discipline and their endurance. And I weep for the maimed and the dead. I weep for their families. Most of all, I weep for the human frailty of the politicians who sent them into harm’s way when it might have been avoided.
And I certainly salute the American flag. I remember pledging allegiance to it – and the Republic for which it stands – three decades ago in Tampa, Florida. We were a motley crew gathered that day to become Americans, people of all shades, it seemed, all ethnic origins, all religious and non-religious beliefs.
Nobody asked me what religion I was that day. Or whether I said “Merry Christmas.”
The freedom to believe whatever makes me feel good was one of the blessings I received when I pledged allegiance to the flag of these United States.