Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Holiday Tree in Rhode Island - much ado about nothing or political correctness run amuck

It seems that Governor Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island finally gets what other elected officials don't.

It is NOT appropriate to have a Christmas tree on state or federal property.

When this great nation was founded, and in particular, that state of Rhode Island, our forefathers went to great lengths to ensure that there was freedom of religion and separation of Church vs. State.

I am proud that Governor Chaffee has the guts to have a holiday tree and yet understands that he has the right to have a Christmas tree in his personal home.

Some years ago, whilst working as a political appointee for the Mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, I approached the Chief of Staff with a concern that we should not have a Christmas tree on city property if we were not also going to have a Menorrah, a Kwanzaa candle holder or any other non-secular memorabilia/decorations. He insisted that Christmas is a secular holiday and brings the city revenue and therefore the Christmas tree should stay in the Mayor's office - so sad too bad for the many Jews and Africans who lived in the areaa.

Not satisfied with his answer, I took the case further - I addressed the City Attorney with a query over why there was Christmas music being played in the Mayor's Office and asked that we not have any at all. My concern was not that we would offend anyone, rather that we were being insensitive and not religiously neutral. I recognized fully that we were at the time living in a theocracy - the state that is Utah is notorious for its overlap of Church and State, but thought that in a small way I could make a difference. I was obviously wrong and was shot down not once, but twice.

Now that I look back, I might have prevailed on the champion of the ACLU himself, the former Mayor of Salt Lake City, Rocky Anderson and asked him what his opinion was - he likely would have sided with those above me, but he just might have come down on the side of that which is good and right.

I will never but it will make for an interesting chapter in the book.

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