The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


December 11, 2007

What's more inclusive?

Newspapers are full of these stories each Christmas: the acts of charity, what’s hot in gifts, the retailers’ laments at low holiday sales, Nativity scene thefts (Chicago solved this by bolting Jesus to the manger floor) and the debate over religious decorations and public venues.

On the latter, here’s what The Denver Post ran about Fort Collins, Colo.: “The council voted 6-1 to ignore ideas from a city task force that called for an 'inclusive' holiday celebration that would replace traditional colored lights with only white lights on the outside of city buildings. Instead, the council said old-time Christmas symbols—wreaths, decorated trees and colored lights—will remain next to city buildings.

“The all-volunteer task force, which included clergy, had called for an emphasis on multicultural displays and an overall celebration of the winter season rather than a particular holiday. Many who took turns at the microphone during a two-hour public hearing criticized the task force’s recommendations as diminishing Christmas. ‘Basically, the city subtly... removed Christmas and replaced it with a pagan holiday called the winter holiday,’ said resident Jerry Nettles. ‘I don’t celebrate winter.’ ”

With the gloomy day outside, I'm with Jerry: I don't celebrate winter either. And if Jesus’ birth is the reason for the season, why not religious decorations instead of generic? But we do live in a diverse world. So should religious decorations be banned from public areas? Or is it more “inclusive” to display the Nativity scene for Christians, menorah for Jews, the kinara for Kwanzaa and Santa for those who celebrate “Happy Holidays”?

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