It's shocking that in an increasingly secular country, those who complain that Christmas is too commercialized and not Christian enough are almost always the same people who seem to lack a shred of humanity for people who are suffering.
Fox News' Tucker Carlson recently bemoaned "progressive attacks on Christmas," fretting that someday the only politically correct label for a snowman will be "snow person."
Clearly, Carlson believes that the snow people of the world are more deserving of his sympathy than the migrants who are sheltering at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Last week, just days after the Department of Homeland Security released a statement affirming that a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl named Jakelin Caal Maquin died in custody of Border Patrol agents -- her father alleges that they were both denied water while in custody at a remote area at the New Mexico border -- Carlson defended comments he made about immigrants making "our own country poorer, and dirtier, and more divided."
I'm not picking on Carlson (I don't actually need to, many of his top sponsors are pulling their ads from his show), he's merely emblematic of the heartless way many people who call themselves Christians talk about immigrants.
There's no end to the reader mail I receive that uses sickening, derogatory terms to describe unlawfully present immigrants, blames them for their own rapes or deaths at the hands of coyotes or overzealous border patrol agents, and then claims they hope God blesses me.
Though there are many unambiguous verses in the Bible about protecting the helpless, and welcoming the stranger and the poor in dirty clothes, those sentiments seem to take a back seat to complaining about having to say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."
A late October study by the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization, found that while 60 percent of all Americans surveyed said they opposed passing a law to prevent refugees from entering the U.S., 51 percent of white evangelical protestants, 47 percent of mainline protestants and 43 percent of white Catholics favor such a law.
Take from that what you will.
But level-headed people will agree that a person can be concerned with or even opposed to unchecked migration without being a heartless monster. And cruelty is the real issue here.
In the days after Jakelin's death, the Trump administration blamed her father for putting the young girl through such a strenuous and difficult journey, opening the floodgates to an avalanche of dehumanizing victim-blaming on newspaper comment boards, on social media and in coffee shops, hair salons and bars across the country.
Again, cool heads can come together and discuss the perverse incentives that might cause desperate parents to expose their child to potential harm on a long, perilous journey to plea for asylum in the U.S. But do so-called Jesus-loving, God-fearing Christians have to be so darned gleeful when they crow that the kid and her dad had it coming, and that it should be a lesson to others?
Countless cards will be exchanged this holiday season with the cliche "Peace on Earth and goodwill to all men," but the phrasing deserves a closer look.
Regardless of whether your politics lean left or right, there has to be hope that we can disagree on policy issues while still respecting humanity.
Never mind merely not using the death of an innocent child to score political points -- be that with your preferred party or against your political enemy -- can everyone, at least for a few days at Christmastime, dabble in humility?
Is it possible to find some compassion -- not ideological agreement with, but just some modicum of understanding -- for those who have so little back home that they're willing to trek thousands of miles through unimaginable peril for any opportunity to feed their families?
Don't do it for your visiting relatives, or for the sake of avoiding political arguments with loved ones. This Christmas, indulge your natural benevolence as a gift to yourself.
Gaze upon the manger scene that portrays Joseph and Mary's journey to Bethlehem, looking for a safe place to give birth to the baby Jesus and open your heart to the stranger just a little.
Giving migrants like Jakelin and her father the benefit of the doubt will help restore a small piece of your human, and spiritual, mercifulness.
Esther J. Cepeda is a nationally syndicated columnist with The Washington Post Writers Group. She was previously a reporter and columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times.