Acceptable in Fort Collins: A display called “Source of Life”
A special task force in a Colorado city has recommended banning red and green lights at the Christmas holiday because they fall among the items that are too religious for the city to sponsor.
“Some symbols, even though the Supreme Court has declared that in many contexts they are secular symbols, often still send a message to some members of the community that they and their traditions are not valued and not wanted. We don’t want to send that message,” Seth Anthony, a spokesman for the committee, told the Fort Collins, Colo., Coloradoan.
He said the recommended language does not specifically address Christmas trees by name, but the consensus was that they would not fall within acceptable decorations.
What will be allowed are white lights and “secular” symbols not associated “with any particular holiday” such as icicles, unadorned greenery and snowflakes, the task force said.
The group was made up of members of the city’s business and religious communities as well as representatives from some community groups. Members met for months to review the existing holiday display policy, which allowed white as well as multi-colored lights and wreaths and garlands.
In previous years, there also was a Christmas tree at the city’s Oak Street Plaza.
A vote on the proposal will be coming up before the city council on Nov. 20, officials said.
“As far as I’m concerned, the group ended up in a very fair place in which primarily secular symbols will be used on city property,” task force member Saul Hopper told the newspaper.
The existing holiday display rules were adopted in 2006 after a rabbi requested that the city display a menorah.
The only apparent exception to the completely secular rule would be at the Fort Collins Museum, where a “multicultural display” of symbols and objects would be collected to represent Diwali, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas among others.
“I expect criticism from people who feel like we are taking Christmas away. And I expect we will get criticism from people who think educational display endorses religions,” Anthony said. “(But) to the extent we can, recognizing that offending no one will be impossible, we want to be inclusive.”
City officials touted their own efforts.
“I am really delighted to see us taking this step,” Mayor Doug Hutchinson said when the task force was being assembled. “I think Fort Collins is a great city, and I think great cities are inclusionary.”
“Inclusionary” obviously means including Jewish holiday symbols, Hindu holiday symbols, and made-up holiday (Kwanzaa) symbols, but excluding traditional Christian holiday symbols.