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Christmas Tree Removed from Orange County Court House

John on November 25, 2009 at 2:34 pm

From the Register:

The six-foot artificial tree, which was adorned with tags seeking toy donations to ‘Operation Santa Claus,’ was removed Monday after a member of the public complained about the tree being in the courthouse, court spokeswoman Gwen Vieau said.

“It’s a public building and we have to serve the diversity of our community,” she said.

The tree had been put up in the courthouse every holiday season for about 20 years, said Orange County Sheriff’s Special Officer Cynthia Guerrero, who runs the courthouse’s ‘Operation Santa Claus’ effort. She was ordered to take down the tree.

A few obvious problems here.

  1. Christmas is a federal holiday. As such it represents not a religious celebration but a cultural celebration. The Christmas tree is not something that is the focus of church services, but of family celebrations. For nearly all people in the US, including Jewish families and Muslim families that I’ve known, a Christmas tree is a normal part of this time of year.
  2. The Christmas tree arguably has its roots (pun intended) in celebrations dating back before Christmas. Indeed some Christians refuse to have one in their homes for this reason. It is certainly not a sectarian symbol like the cross, the crescent or the star of David.
  3. Unlike the 10 commandments, the Christmas tree has no specific religious, legal or moral message. It is not exclusionary in any way. Put another way, what group is excluded by the Christmas tree and why?

Seems to me there are some things which the minority just has to put up with. Christmas trees in court buildings is one of them. And, yes, if this were a 6 foot cross I would have a different opinion.

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Category: Crime & the Law |

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