The Governor of Rhode Island Celebrates a ‘Holiday Tree’ and a Christian Group is Pissed Off

Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee caused controversy last year when he failed to treat Christians with the privilege they think they deserve:

lawmakers [were] upset with his decision to call the blue spruce erected in the Statehouse a “holiday tree” instead of a “Christmas tree.”

Chafee insists he’s just respecting the state’s history as a place respectful of all religions.

It’s one of those things that shouldn’t be a big deal… unless you’re one of those Christians who constantly feels under attack. It’s a respectable move for Chafee, anyway. And he’s doing it again this year, too:

… Chafee, an independent, said the term is in keeping with the state’s founding as a sanctuary of religious tolerance and pointed to the text of Rhode Island’s Royal Charter of 1663.

“The charter, which for the first time in the world gave ‘full liberty in religious concernments.’ Those are the words. First time in the world. It happened right here in Rhode Island,” Chafee said.

Chafee also said the State House is public building paid for by Rhode Islanders of all faiths.

Christian groups like Liberty Counsel are up in arms over the word change. They can’t believe a government official would dare to be inclusive of any non-Christians this time of year:

“Governor, what do you call a green, pointed, prickly tree we decorate in December? Everyone except for the governor knows it’s a Christmas tree,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.

Renaming a Christmas tree to a ‘Holiday tree’ is political correctness run amok. A Menorah is associated with Hanukkah. Its name should not be changed. Santa and his sleigh appear during December bearing Christmas gifts. His name and those of his reindeer entourage should not be changed. Everyone knows that an evergreen tree decorated with lights and ornaments in December is a Christmas tree. The only reason to change the name is due to crass bigotry and ignorance.

Everyone knows the Bible said Jesus walked on water, too, but that doesn’t make it true or an idea we need to keep perpetuating. Trees, lights, Santa Claus, reindeer, mistletoes — none of those things belong exclusively to Christians. (Menorahs, on the other hand, do belong to the Jews.) The history of Christmas trees doesn’t revolve around Jesus. No one is bound to call an evergreen tree a “Christmas tree” anymore than they have to say “Merry Christmas” as a greeting just because it’s December. It may be tradition, but it doesn’t need to continue.

It’s still just a tree.

This is a fake controversy created by Christians. It’s not enough that their beliefs are already celebrated across the country; they want it to be the only game in town.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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