Dear Editor:

There is a dark cloud trying to taint and remove the words - MERRY CHRISTMAS - from the public arena - - but that's not all.

When God announced the first Christmas. He made a magnificent public display with lights, angels, and a declaration saying: "I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people" and "peace on earth goodwill toward men."

I've said "Merry Christmas" to people for over 50 years and no one ever said - "don't say that, you're offending me." Most people said - "Merry Christmas to her too." Those words are inclusive, extending wishes of hope for peace on earth and good will to all men. There is no intimidation to celebrate or not celebrate, and no pressure to celebrate in a certain fashion; secular or spiritual. There is no implied division of race but rather a hope for oneness and brotherhood for all men. Why twist these words into something inappropriate and disrespectful?

Since our laws guarantee freedom of religious expression and freedom of speech how can people be manipulated into saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas?

1. Declare the words "Merry Christmas" to be inappropriate.

2. Declare Christians and others who say Merry Christmas to be disrespectful and intolerable. Keep saying this until public opinion is swayed against Christmas and religious celebrations. Eventually, Christians will be made to feel fearful of using their freedom of religious expression and come into compliance.

3. The Worst Step of All - relegate all Christian expressions of faith behind closed doors - inside your place of worship, inside your house, or better yet, inside your heart/mind (UNSPOKEN). Mission Accomplished Christians and others are berated and manipulated into silence!

How did "someone might be offended" become the criteria which determines whether our freedom of religious expression may or may not be exercised publicly? The laws did not change and yet our religious freedoms are slowly being chipped away. There is no law stating that we have a right to "not be offended" nor a law giving up "the freedom from offense" - unless there is a legitimate cause. Why call for tolerance and sensitivity to be extended to other faiths but not to Christians? Every person should be free to express or celebrate his faith or lack of it openly with no offense intended to others and no offense perceived by others.

Where is this dark cloud coming from? I guess it is the same dark cloud that covered the nativities, and anything else pertaining to Christmas. Somehow "political correctness" and the push for secularization of our country has become the rule, twisting truth with an attempt to remove our religious heritage, traditions and religious freedom. How sad! Watch out - "Happy Easter" will be next.

Wake up America! Do not be indoctrinated or intimidated. Speak the truth while you still can do so to preserve the freedoms upon which our great country was founded.

Karen Mummey

Slatington, Pa.