George Graham

What Do You Believe?


jolleySheriff 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 Рand the Republic for which it stands Рthree 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.

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About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for