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Originally published Thursday, December 4, 2008 at 3:22 PM

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Truce in the war on Christmas

Washington's state Capitol makes room for holiday displays depicting Christmas, Hanukkah and a dissenting opinion from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The more the merrier.


Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, holds up a foundation sign at the state Capitol building.

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Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, holds up a foundation sign at the state Capitol building.

IT was bound to happen. Friday marked the official start to the holiday shopping season, and the opening salvos of the Christmas wars are mixing loudly with seasonal carols.

The state of Washington seems to have hit on the right approach for a nation that evolved because of people seeking the right to worship as they want. This year, the state Capitol displays not only a menorah, commemorating the eight-day Jewish festival of Hanukkah, and a Nativity scene depicting the Christmas story, but also a statement of a thoroughly dissenting opinion. The Freedom From Religion Foundation has placed a sign that reads: "Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."

The pluralism of the holiday display might be a little unruly, but it is a reasonable alternative to stripping from government buildings any reference to these holidays that are such an important part of many citizens' lives.

Two years ago, the Port of Seattle spurred some controversy when it took down all the Christmas trees at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport after a rabbi sought to erect a menorah there.

Eventually, the holiday trees were restored but without any religious reference.

One of the most beautiful things about America is that it is a great melting pot of people from many different cultures with many different views of religion — including the view that religion is a myth.

Make room. The more the merrier. And God bless them, everyone.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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