Virtual Voices

Deck the halls

Religion

Although the wars over Christmas may be muted this year, it still takes a decoder ring to understand some of the fine points.

In Fort Collins, Colorado, a taskforce of civic leaders recommended the city decorate with white lights, bare garlands and secular symbols such as snowflakes. It rejected colored lights and ornamented trees as religious. Now the City Council rejected that advice. Colored lights and ornaments will still be allowed on city trees.

Earlier this fall, voters in Berkeley, Michigan rejected a proposal that would have required the city to erect a nativity scene on public land near city hall. That vote ended a controversy between the ACLU and the city that had gone on for several years. The display will now be erected on church rather than public property.

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Seattle's Seatac Airport won't feature a Santa Claus, Christmas tree, or menorah. It display will include "handcrafted birch trees surrounded by lights in a pseudo-snowbank." The decorating decision came after a "Holiday Decorations Advisory Committee" determined "that future decorations could include trees, fabrics and garlands so long as there were no religious ties."

The Philadephia Inquirer reports that in Chester, Pa. members of Atheists Alliance International plan to erect a tree next to the traditional display that includes "a Chamber of Commerce tree - 32 feet high - meant to attract shoppers, as well as a Christian creche and a Jewish menorah." The atheist tree, aka "the knowledge tree," will be decorated with book covers: Why I Am Not A Christian, Why I Am Not a Muslim, Judaism Beyond God, and The Bible. The Bible? A spokesman said, "The reason we advocate reading the Bible…is because so many people become atheists upon completing the entire reading of it."

In Cranston, R.I., there won't be a life-sized nativity, menorah, inflatable snowman, or "15 flamingos in Santa Claus hats representing the Church of the Flamingos" as in past years. Instead the new mayor "opted to merely put up 50,000 white lights and a Christmas tree in the foyer of City Hall.

Susan Olasky
Susan Olasky

Susan pens book reviews and other articles for WORLD as a senior writer and has authored eight historical novels for children. Susan and her husband Marvin live in Asheville, N.C. Follow Susan on Twitter @susanolasky.

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