The reason they did it was to make a point: You cannot allow one religion’s beliefs to be represented on government property while rejecting another. Either they all stay or they all go.
The Christmas tree can stay — but no more Nativity scene.
That’s the word from Washington’s Capitol, where protests erupted last winter over competing private holiday displays.
… a new temporary rule announced Monday says private groups can’t leave behind any displays after they’re done with a demonstration.
The so-called “Holiday Tree” will stay, because the state is taking it over from the previous sponsors. Officials hope to have a permanent rule in place later this year.
The policy, which took effect today, does not allow any nongovernmental displays in any building on Capitol grounds. But it does allow such displays outside, on campus grounds.
“We want to preserve everyone’s right to free expression. We just want to make sure we manage things better than they went last year,” said Steve Valandra, spokesman for the Department of General Administration.The policy applies to any private organization or individual, not just religious — or atheist — group
Of course, you know how Bill O’Reilly‘s going to spin this one: if there is no religious display in the Capitol building, it means they are automatically promoting atheism! The heathens!
While this drama may disappear in Washington, I have no doubt we’ll see another Nativity scene on government property popping up somewhere else this year. The best response is not to destroy it or complain from a distance — atheists just need to bring along a display of our own so that the Christian setup isn’t lonely. (Scientologists, Hindus, and Pastafarians are all welcome to join us.) And if any of the non-Christian displays gets rejected, the city has a lawsuit coming their way. Merry Christmas!