A small New England town has decided to scale back its annual holiday celebration due to concerns about religion, according to Boston CBS affiliate WBZ-TV.
As is common around the country, the town of Durham, New Hampshire, held an annual festival that featured a heavy Christmas theme.
As the name would suggest, the event formerly known as the Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony was centered around a formal tree lighting, complete with wreaths hanging on lamp posts and an appearance by Santa Claus on a firetruck.
This year, the event will be known as the Frost Fest, and the appearance of Santa Claus, albeit without the firetruck, will be the only apparent reference to Christmas.
AT ITS MEETING ON 6/3/19, THE TOWN COUNCIL DISCUSSED AND SUPPORTED CHANGES PROPOSED BY THE WINTER CELEBRATION WORKING…
According to Town Councilor Sally Tobias, the changes were made after a few members of the public complained.
“There was another private citizen that came forward and said that he had always had a problem with the Christmas tree, as he called it,” she told WBZ.
The complaint sparked a public meeting, when the town decided to form a committee and change the event.
“There were a couple of people that did express some concerns about how they felt being included,” Tobias said.
The notion that wreaths, lighted trees and Santa Claus are religious in and of themselves doesn’t hold much water.
Christmas, as represented by these symbols, has become a deeply ingrained part of American culture, even if the origins are religious.
While many Christians look to uphold this religious significance through worship, charity or even decorating with Nativity scenes, it is perfectly reasonable for people to celebrate the season in a secular manner.
Electric lights on conifers and a man flying around the world distributing gifts are somewhat removed from biblical doctrine, and these things are certainly not the only secular American traditions that have religious bases.
In fact, one of the crowning achievements of our nation’s founding was the secular defense of religious values.
Take the sanctity of life, for example. The vast majority of Americans, even non-religious ones, believe that human rights begin and end by acknowledging that every human is valuable by his or her very nature.
That belief, while popular in the secular world, is a very religious one.
In a world without concrete morality decreed by a higher power, it would be perfectly legal to take the life of someone else. The state of nature is to kill or be killed.
Would the citizen who complained about the tree also complain about the religious overtones that make up the very fabric of arguably the greatest society in human history? Probably not.
Instead, the first thing to go will be the low-hanging fruit of public holiday celebrations.
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