Keep Christ in Christmas, but the Government Out
Ok, so there’s this green tree kerfluffle thing at the Statehouse. People are making a big deal over it and what name the Governor chose to refer to it. He even went on the Bill O’Reilly show last night to talk about it, and I think he did better than I expected. I wish he had a better explanation for his position, but at least he didn’t embarrass himself terribly. He showed his biases a little bit with his comment about the Fox network being “angry”, but that’s beside the point.
I think we should give credit where credit is due. Lincoln Chafee did not create this issue. This is an issue that was created by WPRO talk show host John DePetro. He brought it to the forefront and used countless hours on his show to rail against the Governor referring to the “Holiday Tree”, and has been wildly successful in getting many others excited about the topic.
Plus, there are those who think that Chafee created this by calling it a Holiday Tree, but as he said on O’Reilly, he’s merely following what at least one of his predecessors did as well, as WPRI’s Ted Nesi noted last year.
Let’s put all of this aside and get down to what should be the real question. Why in the world is there any kind of tree at all in the Statehouse? Why is the state government celebrating any religious holiday? I know O’Reilly referred to the tree as secular, but how in the world can a “Christmas” tree be secular? Unless he’s now going to tell me that Christmas is as secular a holiday as Thanksgiving or New Year’s Day. There’s no question that Christmas is religious and if you call it a Christmas tree, it is a religious symbol.
I get that the people who celebrate Christmas are in the majority in RI, however should everything be done simply because the majority wants it that way? Even at the potential expense of others? Maybe it’s an overused example, but how angry would many get if Muslim symbols were celebrated at the Statehouse? Or random piles of flying spaghetti? We saw what happens when a government tries to be all inclusive and a flock of pink flamingos appeared on the Cranston City Hall lawn. Full inclusiveness is impossible, someone’s going to be left out.
Here’s a thought. Stay out of it completely. Don’t try to include anyone. Government’s job isn’t to be hanging lights and decorations on an oversized, dying fir in the Statehouse rotunda. Their job is to run the state, keep it safe for its citizens and create an environment where all can thrive. In addition to create a healthy environment for business and jobs, but also create a healthy environment where everyone can celebrate anything they want, any time they want themselves on private property with their family and friends. That is how we all should celebrate our religious holidays, separate from the government.