U.S. a nation of many religions and tolerance

July 23, 2013 

I was raised in a Jewish neighborhood. I thought my family, being Episcopalian, belonged to a cult. There was never a hint of religious prejudice.

The only time I felt alone was Monday afternoons when my buds were in Hebrew school and I was left with only the girls, and yes, Jewish girls have couties, too.

I attended more bar mitzvahs than I can remember, and was deeply disappointed that there were no glasses of Manischewitz at my confirmation.

Of course we were aware of religious differences, but they were no big deal.

We wouldn't serve ham at our dinner parties, though the Schwartz sisters magically appeared when we had bacon for breakfast. Their folks allowed them a piece. I had my share of lox and bagels.

Mrs. Schwartz had lost her family in the Holocaust, fought in the French underground, escaped her country's anti-Semitism and came to America.

She never missed an opportunity to hold forth about how great America was and how lucky we kids were to be here. Her heavily accented words had a great impact on us kids.

In this space I read about how we're a Christian country, and it makes me cringe. I think of Mrs. Schwartz. It's false. This is not the 18th century.

We are now a nation of diversity -- culturally, ethnically and religiously. That makes us all the stronger.

I've known too many people who share my love of country, yet not my religion. This hogwash smacks of a self-righteous bigotry that as a Christian I cannot share.

A wise rabbi once taught us to "love our neighbors as ourselves." I learned that growing up in a Jewish neighborhood.

Bruce Allen Wallis

Bradenton

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