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Morning Poll: Arlington Holiday Display?

by ARLnow.com December 19, 2011 at 9:30 am 2,909 118 Comments

D.C. has the National Christmas Tree, organized by a national nonprofit group. Loudoun County has an official (albeit controversial) holiday display, open to all religions, outside its courthouse.

While Arlington County has some neighborhood tree lightings and a private, seasonal ice skating rink, there’s no official county-wide holiday display. Should there be?

  • Burger

    You should have a fourth option – “Who Cares.”

    • Glebe Roader

      I vote for option 4.

  • Jacob

    What the hell is a “holiday tree”? That’s what Stalin called it. It’s a Christmas tree, get over yourselves. Should we have a “holiday candle holder” as well?

    • Max

      Stalin also called Christians “Christrians” and forks “forks”.

  • Jeffersonian

    According to the establishment clause of the US Constitution, the federal government is not allowed to sponsor religion, period. A Christmas tree (or menorah, or statue of Buddha, etc.) is a religious symbol. There really should not be a national Xmas tree (funded by taxpayers, on federal property), but that ship has sailed.

    However, I am in full support of individuals expressing their religious heritage on their own property.

    • jslanger

      Concur. Although I am very happy people enjoy whichever religion they like, keep it off of public property. If you try to justify it by “including all religions” you’re just going to get in trouble, exlude someone, etc. In any case, it doesn’t belong on public property…

    • Don Ager

      Jeffersonian you are wrong. The Constitution says that one religion should not be favored over another. As long as the city, county, state or feds provide equal access to all faiths and yes non-faiths there is nothing unConstitutional about having a Christmas tree on government property.

      The Atheists and others greatly offend people by demanding equal space at the exact same time as Christians to showcase their opinion. The Atheists would have more support, or less animosity, for the cause if they requested equal space for a display at a date on the calendar that doesn’t interfere with other causes or [non]beliefs. They can make their point just as effectively without being antagonistic, mocking and in your face insulting.

      I voted no display in this poll because of the fiasco that would most likely result from people who refuse to respect other peoples’ beliefs-see Leesburg. What’s wrong with letting Christians put up a display at Christmas and Easter, allow Jews to put up their display at Hanukkah and Yom Kippur, etc. Let Muslims put up display at their holy days, and yes let Atheists put up a display on an important date for them, such as Madalyn O’Hair’s birthday or the date of the Engel v. Vitale decision, etc.?

      I think that is truly showing tolerance and respect for your fellow citizens.

      • Druid

        That’s pretty funny considering the Christians stole the “dates on the calender” from the pagan Winter Solstice and Vernal Equinox ceremonies.

      • Josh S

        “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

        Obvioiusly, words can be interpreted differently by different people, but I think that generally the jurisprudence does not lend itself to a conclusion that the Constitution says that one religion should not be favored over another.

        In general, the safest and clearest path for governments is to simply not make any display, no matter how many attempts may be made to accommodate different religions. Thus the “separation of church and state” doctrine.

        You ask what is wrong with letting Christians put up a display at Christmas, Jews putting up a display at Hanukkah, etc. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, Christians and Jews are allowed to do that and do it all the time. Just not on public property, open to all people all the time. Also, there is no reason to do so. Again, these displays or lack thereof do not interfere with individuals enjoying the holiday in their own way.

        And your equation of atheism with religion is nonsensical. Atheism is the absense of religion. Also, it’s not capitalized.

        • Don Ager

          “And your equation of atheism with religion is nonsensical. Atheism is the absense of religion. Also, it’s not capitalized.”
          Saying that Atheistic groups should be given equal access as religious groups to public space at different times is not the same as equating Atheism with religion.
          as for corecting my speling in capitalizing Atheism, get over it, it’s an informal blog post. and “Obvioiusly” is speld with won “i”.

      • drax

        Sure, open public space to all religions. That’s a little different from having an “official” display for any religion though.

        Why this obsession with putting up official, state-sanctioned displays of your religion in the first place? Does it somehow validate it? If it’s not establishing religion, what’s it doing that can’t be done anywhere else? It’s not like there’s a dearth of space to put up Christmas trees or nativity scenes out there.

      • Jeffersonian

        Don: It comes down to what “establishment” of religion means. I believe that having a tax-funded religious decoration of any kind amounts to a governmental sponsorship of religion.

        Government is supposed to be secular and religion-neutral. Even allowing all religious groups to convey their messages in the public space amounts to a sponsorship of religion (just not of a specific religion).

        I’m not an atheist, and I enjoy many aspects of Christmas and the larger holiday period. But I do believe that government should stay out of the celebration of religious holidays.

      • Just the Facts

        How do you celebrate a non-belief in something? That’s absurd. Atheist groups only put up displays in an attempt (finally!) to counteract the hundreds of years of overt and subtle support our federal, state and local governments have been giving to one particular belief system (i.e., Christianity).

        The first amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” and the application of this clause to the states by the Everson decision in 1947 mean neither the federal government nor a state government can set up a church, pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions or prefer one religion over another. (Thank you Justice Black, who I am paraphrasing liberally there.)

        The first amendment doesn’t allow equal government support of all religions (as if that is even remotely possible since almost all religions are mutually exclusive), it bans ALL government support of religion.

        Get government out of religion and vice versa!

    • Matt

      Following your logic, the fact that Christmas is a national holiday is an improper establishment of religion. I assume you think we should all be working on December 25th (26th this year)?

      A tree is a secular symbol, almost akin to (but even more secular than) a tradition like Easter Egg hunts. In fact, the Supreme Court has found that the presence of a Christmas tree in a holiday display that includes religious symbols makes the display MORE likely to be permissible, because the tree is a secular symbol and acts to somewhat cancel out the religiosity of the display. See Allegheny County v. ACLU, 492 U.S. 573 (1989).

      • Jeffersonian

        In fact, if we were to go by the Constitution, then no, Dec. 25 would not be a federal holiday for everyone–just Christians. The government should *allow* people to miss work in order to observe whatever holidays pertain to their particular religion. This is what is done for Jews re. Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, so I don’t see why it should be different for Christians. It’s a holdover when Christianity was assumed to be everyone’s religion.

        Then again, I’m sure there would be few people objecting if instead the feds wanted to just give everyone RH and YK off as well. Plus all 12 days of Xmas and the whole month of Ramadan. And the Buddhist Day of the Dead.

    • bobco85

      I absolutely agree with you. People are already allowed to decorate their personal and private property (excluding offensive/graphic imagery). It’s enough of a statement to put up Christmas lights, a nativity scene, etc. at one’s home (the statement being, “I celebrate Christmas.”) that it’s unnecessary to have a holiday display on public property.

  • Jim

    Official Arlington creche – Baby Jesus riding a trolley from Artisphere to a subsidized housing development.

  • Garden City

    Though I would support a county Christmas tree (no Nativity scene, just a Christmas tree), it’s probably not worth the screaming, yelling and rending of garments its appearance would cause.

    • Good grief..

      Agreed.

      Arguing over trees is silly. There’s nothing religious or biblical about a Christmas tree. They are used to celebrate the secular, Santa-centered version of Christmas. Jesus didn’t come down a chimney and the wise men did not send cards or decorate trees. If you want to call it a holiday tree, who cares – its is a secular symbol anyway. Good will, cheer, neighborliness and a pretty tree all seem pretty harmless to me.

      A nativity scene is clearly a religious symbol so I can see the differing viewpoints there.

  • Josh S

    Burger – I think the “who cares” option is implied – don’t answer the question….

    Tough question here. I like the Christmas season, it’s festive, it’s communal, etc. But I don’t think that the lack of an official display diminishes anyone’s holiday. And, since these things almost always tend to be controversial, why open that can of worms? No display.

    • SomeGuy

      Josh S., the “who cares?” option is only somewhat implied by abstinence, but since it’s not explicitly quantified like the other options are, we can’t make an accurate comparison here (not like it’s a scientific poll anyway).

      I think it’s a reasonable addition to the poll.

      • Josh S

        Uh, it was really intended as an offhand sort of comment.

        If you want to get into the merits of the poll on statistical grounds, there are plenty more issues to raise. (Like the fact that option one and option two are not necessarily mutually exclusive, making it very difficult to judge what people really think.)

        • SomeGuy

          Nope. I don’t want to get into the merits of the poll on statistical grounds. It’s clearly not a scientific poll (as we both acknowledged), and I just don’t care. Furthermore, even if there were a “who cares?” option, I still would not have submitted an answer.

          • RosRes

            Based on the time spent and number of comments, it seems like you do care.

          • SomeGuy

            RosRes, I cared a little bit about what appeared to be another commenter’s dismissal of what seemed liked a reasonable idea. I also care a small bit about your mischaracterization/misunderstanding of my response, which is why I’m writing another. However, I don’t care much (or perhaps at all) about this poll, and I have no intention of casting a vote in it.

    • Quoth the Raven

      I think Josh makes a solid point here, by saying “I don’t think that the lack of an official display diminishes anyone’s holiday.” That’s exactly right. My family’s pretty religious, and we celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. But whether or not the town has a tree or not makes absolutely no difference to our enjoyment of the holiday. Let’s also recall that if the town forces the issue, and puts up a creche or whatever, it often results in litigation. Why do something when you know you’re going to be sued? And I wonder who pays for the attorneys….

  • Skeptical

    Official display = official $$$ — including a few cents of mine. No, I don’t have a big speech about public money for anyone’s religion, since Christmas isn’t a religious holiday any longer any how (it’s merely the time of year when people stampede retail outlets, guzzle party food and mill around idiotically through choked roads and parking lots, completely ruining things for those of us who are just trying to get on with our lives). I see no reason to use public resources when plenty of people and every store in sight have displays up. There is plenty to look at and no need for the County to spend any more money, never mind the litigious nonsense that would probably ensue.

    • Don Ager

      Skeptical, Christmas is still very much a religious holiday celebrating the birth of Christ. Come to church and you’ll see packed pews during the Christmas season.

  • Marco Esquandolas

    In the spirit of being politically correct, let’s erect “Holiday Candle Stick Holders” while we’re at it!

  • charlie

    i guess if Arlington actually had a central place to congregate it would be nice.
    but really, do we have a true “center” of Arlington that would be the natural community center?
    no, we don’t.

    • CW

      Donaldson Run, duh….

    • DarkHeart

      The same place the fair is held? Or maybe close the US 50 bridge on Glebe for the month of December and display a tree for every religion.

  • ArLater

    Why do we even need one? All this does is stir up unneccesary constroversy. Anyone who wants can put up whatever religious holiday items in their yard and thats that. Why is a ‘holiday’ tree needed.

    Also calling it a ‘holiday’ tree is redicious ArlNow. Trees have all to do with Christmas and NOTHING to do with Hannukah. (or other celebrations but I could be wrong). Trying to be politcally correct by saying holiday in this instance when you could only be referring to Christmas just makes yourself seem dumb. If Arlington put up a tree, it would be for Christmas. And in all honesty I just dont see a point, put the money for the tree to fixing all the holes in the roads or something instead

    • Druid

      Actually, the “Christmas” tree has it’s origins in pagan ceremonies that pre-date the Christian era, so calling it a holiday tree is not ‘dumb’.

      • Garden City

        I think “Yule tree” is probably more accurate.

  • novasteve

    Why are liberals so afraid to say the name of the Holiday? I’m Jewish, why aren’t I forced to call my Channukiah as “holiday Candleabra”??? Are you afraid to say Christmas because you think I’ll be offended? I’m offended that you think I’m so spineless. Why don’t you care that I’m offended?

    • Vik

      novasteve, I’m agreeing w/ you for once. Many in my family in the US celebrate Diwali, and none of them demand that the gov’t give equal time to Indian customs, and in fact, they embrace and celebrate some of the secular aspects of Christmas.

    • drax

      Merry Christmas, steve!

    • Tabby

      Merry Christmas, Steve!

  • Done done

    I’m only for an Arlington Holiday tree/Christmas tree if it is on a sticker and it costs $24.

  • Arlingtonian

    I have to agree it’s ridiculous to call it a “holiday tree.” It’s an easily recognizable symbol of Christmas and while you can call a lot of things holiday this that or the other, it sounds overly silly and forced to re-name it “holiday tree”.

  • OMG OMG OMG

    Worst. Idea. Ever.

  • Westover Leftover

    Happy Non-sectarian Seasonally Adjusted Greetings.

  • Alison

    As a Jew, calling this a “holiday tree” is a bit offensive, like implying you can take an obvious symbol of xmas and try to make it secular. I enjoy looking at xmas trees (although wouldn’t have one in my home since I don’t celebrate xmas), but don’t try to pedal them as non-christian.

    • Jeffersonian

      Good point. It’s like trying to call a menorah a “holiday candleabra.” Please.

    • novasteve

      The worst part is that people presume we’ll be offended by it, meaning they presume me to be some spineless wimp, which OFFENDS me. It’s a Christmas tree. call it that. it’s nothing but a christmas tree. If seeing a christmas tree is offensive to someone, then they probably are not capable of coping with life anyways.

      • drax

        Nobody is offended by a Christmas tree, steve. That’s silly.

        Some are offended by the government appearing to favor Christmas over all other holidays, or assuming that all citizens are Christians, or whatever. You should be able to relate to that.

    • RosRes

      Your use of “xmas” instead if “Christmas” seems ironic considering the context of your argument.

      • Alison

        I use it because it’s faster to type it.

        • drax

          As have Christian (or Xtian?) scholars for hundreds of years, using the Greek letter chi (X), being the first letter in the Greek word for Christ.

  • CrystalMikey

    I don’t think we need one, being we are so close to the White House and Capitol trees.

  • festivus

    I vote for a Festivus pole. But please don’t let NovaSteve get started on “The airing of the grievances”

    • FrenchyB

      He celebrates Festivus 365 days a year already.

      • Tabby

        Happy Festivus, Steve!

  • mary

    this would cost money. no.

  • NPGMBR

    Would be nice if the County did acknowledge the Holidays but I think it best that they just remain neutral by staying out of it completely.

  • Hope

    I love the lights and the holiday season, but I would just prefer they spend the money practically.

  • AntiChrist

    Why does this article seem to equate a “private, seasonal ice skating rink,” as a sort of unofficial holiday display? Isn’t it more about cold weather and encouraging shopping?

    • CrystalMikey

      It’s a bit of a claim to fame in the Metro area.

  • COTUS

    The community Christmas Tree, I believe, is the three storey tree inside Ballston Common Mall. I enjoy it each year. And I have never heard of anyone finding it offensive. Won’t you join me?

  • Dan

    As someone who is very much FOR separation of church and state, and for not promoting any one religion in government, it is so ridicuolous to call a christmas tree a “holiday” tree. I think it only fuels the people want to shove religion down our throats. Sure maybe Christmas was rooted in Christianity, but like many other holidays it has take on a secular non-religious meaning as well. So I don’t see how calling a Christmas tree a Chrismas tree is advocating Christianity. A nativity would be different.

    • AntiChrist

      You really do not see how someone could interpret a CHRISTmas Tree as having a CHRISTian overtone?

      • Dan

        Oh I can see it, I just think people need to relax. It’s just a word, and a Christmas tree itself is not religious. My point is calling it a holiday tree is simply stupid. Calling it a “holiday” tree will not change the fact that people will still put one up every year, still trample each other for a cheap crappy TV, and celebrate “holiday” on Dec 25th. Christians need to accept that they don’t own the word or the day of Christmas, as it has evolved over time, and others need to accept that historically the word and day they celebrate is rooted way back when in a Christian holiday (even though it has also taken on secular meaning).

        • Novanglus

          You’re right. In America today, there is a secular Christmas that has nothing to do with the birth of Christ, and a secular Easter that has nothing to do with His resurrection. Those are no more “Christian” than St Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras, Halloween, Thanksgiving, or other holidays with Christian roots that are now just a part of the secular culture.

          There’s no way for the government to constitutionally celebrate the true Christmas. Given that, I’d prefer they not officially celebrate the secularized version. But if they do, I don’t see how it could be any more offensive than an official Halloween party or Mardi Gras parade.

          • Jeffersonian

            Come on. You don’t really believe that the days on which Christians celebrate the birth and resurrection of Jesus are akin to Valentine’s and St. Patrick’s. The former are important religious days on which almost all Christians go to services. The latter are secular party days whose religious origins are now basically trivia.

          • St. Patrick

            Them’s fightin’ words!

          • Novanglus

            You’re missing my point. To me as Christian, there’s no comparison at all.

            But for people who decorate trees and swap presents but could care less about Jesus, it is a purely secular celebration — no more “Christian” than all those other holidays.

        • drax

          “a Christmas tree itself is not religious.”

          You’re still doing it.

          If there’s a “War on Christmas,” it’s being waged by Christians (not referring to you, Dan) who deny and demean their own religious symbols in order to keep them front and center. That’s why we have “holiday trees.” It’s not fussy liberals, it’s Christians who want to have their cake and eat it too.

      • novasteve

        Would you be offended by Tannenbaum?

    • Josh S

      “maybe” Christmas was rooted in Christianity?

      Wow.

      I see you’re an active and happy member of the post-Modern world, but I think sort of nonchalantly dismissing the historical roots of our society is a bit unhealthy.

      • Tabby

        Don’t know much about history…

        It evolved from a pagan celebration.

        • Quoth the Raven

          What evolved from a pagan celebration? The date on which Christmas is celebrated? OK, fine. Christmas itself? Not so much.

          • Clarendon

            The whole virgin birth of a divine figure is a common element in many religion’s backstory.

          • Josh S

            Fabulous. Again, not relevant to determining whether Christmas is Christian.

          • Clarendon

            I think if you are observing the birth of the Christian Messiah then it is. The Japanese (mostly Shinto/Buddhist) have quite grand Christmas celebrations with Christmas Trees and all. They do not believe it as the day of birth of the son of God, but enjoy it just the same.

        • Josh S

          Um, yes.

          But pagan roots: couple of thousands of years ago
          Christian roots: less than that.

          There is no “maybe.” Christmas is a holiday that exists to celebrate the birth of Christ. I’m not denying the fact that without Christmas, we’d probably still have some sort of mid-winter holiday / festival of lights to mark the shortest day of the year and look forward to the cycle turning toward Spring again. This holiday is fairly common throughout human history in all sorts of cultures. But those others aren’t called “Christmas.” The central feature that made Christmas different from those other holidays was Christ. I am also not denying that there has grown up a tremendous secular tradition that all but drowns out Christ from the current holidays celebrated on December 25. It is quite possible to celebrate Christmas now and not give two thoughts to Christ.

          But, again – there is no “maybe.” As far as the roots of the holiday go, they are thoroughly Christian. And although under attack from Black Thursday and “Jingle Bell Rock” and the incessant Lexus holiday commercials, it is still quite possible to see those roots quite clearly. If it wasn’t, a Christmas tree display would not be controversial at all.

          • Dan

            Christians should be happy that it is a time when families come together, travel long distances to see each other and celebrate, and show their appreciation and love, whether or not it is about Jesus. Why all this anger directed at people who simply want to enjoy the day without having it be religious? And YOUR holiday isn’t under attack, you still celebrate it in your church don’t you? Isn’t that what matters?

          • Josh S

            Are you talking to me? I’m not angry.

            Also, what church? I don’t go to church.

            “Christians should be happy that it is a time when families come together, travel long distances to see each other and celebrate, and show their appreciation and love, whether or not it is about Jesus.”

            What a condecending and presumptious thing to say.

  • PhilL

    We let the Civic Associations handle this when I was growing up. Williamsburg Civic Association used to decorate a big evergreen tree in the median in front of Minor’s Hill park and the old People’s shopping center. We would probably have 30 or 40 people turn out for the tree trimming party. I do not know if the County had anything official back then, but nobody I knew really cared since the neighborhood got to do its own thing.

  • ArlMuslim

    I am a Muslim and I believe the term “holiday tree” is ridiculous. I am not offended by the words Christmas or Christmas Tree or Lloyd Christmas. Let’s call a spade a spade.

    Merry Christmas to all the Christian commenters;
    Happy Hanukkah to all the Jewish commenters;
    and Happy Winter Solstice to all other commenters.

    • Jeffersonian

      What a nice post. A hearty Salaam Aleikum and Happy New Year to you and yours!

    • Lowes

      I’m removing my support.

      • ArlMuslim

        it’s ok… I spend my paychecks/saturdays at the 7-corners Home Depot.

    • Vik

      Exactly. Renaming it fools no one and makes things worse.

    • drax

      Nice post, thanks.

      Not to detract from the spirit of it, but the notion that recognizing Hanukkah and Winter Solstice (and Kwanzaa for that matter) as December holidays as if they were just other religions’ version of Christmas doesn’t help. Hanukkah isn’t the most important Jewish holiday, it just happens to happen around the same time. It doesn’t really even things out.

      • ArlMuslim

        Those were the only holidays/events I could find on my outlook calendar for this week… just wanted to make a point that specifying religious holidays is better than quasi-general-pc-hogwash.

        • drax

          I know. Your comment was appreciated.

  • novasteve

    Also, for those who think you should say happy holidays to not offend non christians, especially Jews, please note if the person is actually a devout Jew, they don’t celebrate New Years either, as Jews have their own New Year called Rosh Hashanah.

    • Just the Facts

      Well that covers Jews…only a few other hundred religions to go….

    • drax

      But Hanukkah’s just the Jewish Christmas, steve.

      • Tabby

        Happy Hanukkah, Steve!

      • novasteve

        The only people who make any sort of deal about Hannukah are insecure people who feel “left out”. That’s their problem.

        • drax

          You don’t get to tell other people how they feel, steve.

  • novasteve

    To answer the exact question posed, I would oppose this tree if they insist on calling it a Holiday Tree. If they called it a Christmas Tree I would support it.

  • novasteve

    Until the 14th amendment and the incorporation of the first amendment through he due process of the 14th amendment, states were free to have official state religions and there was no separation of church and state. So in short, the founding fathers had zero objections to there being state religions so long as they were on the state level, not the federal level.

    • Josh S

      Ha ha, very funny.

      • novasteve

        What is funny about fact? If you dont’ believe me, why don’t you read up on US constitutional law or audit a con law class in a law school if they will let you?

        Are you going to try to pretend the bill of rights applied against the states before the 14th amendment and the process of incorporation of rights via the due process clause?

        • Josh S

          Nope. But your leap to “the founding fathers had zero objections to there being state religions so long as they were on the state level, not the federal level” is a pretty big one.

          The founding fathers were writing a federal consitution when the idea of a central government still made people pretty nervous. The idea that this means they thought the states should be free to do what they wanted is absurd. Instead, there was a notion that every state needed its own consitution, as well. Some of these constitutions were even more restrictive than the federal one. See, for example, the ideas of George Mason vis the Virginia state consititution.

          Religious tyranny is religious tyranny whether it is imposed at the federal level or the state level and I doubt the founding fathers were so slow as to not realize that.

          • novasteve

            If that were the case then the 1st amendment would have applied against the states before the 14th amendment. The states were also free to restrict free speech, as the first amendment, once again, didn’t apply against the states, only the federal government.

            Or do you deny hisorical fact? It doesn’t mean they DID. It means they were allowed to. Maryland could have constitutionally declared catholicism to be the state religion and to have banned any cricitism of the Pope if it wanted to before the 14th amedment and the incorporation process.

          • Josh S

            You’re changing your argument. Before you were asserting that the founding fathers had “zero objections to there being state religions so long as they were on the state level, not the federal level,” which is what I was responding to.

            I am not arguing whether or not Maryland could legally have declared Catholicism to be the state religion. Different question.

          • drax

            As I explained below, steve, the absence of a bill of rights applying to the states in the federal constitution doesn’t imply that the founding fathers thought the people had no rights when dealing with state power as opposed to federal power. That’s obviously absurd, and completely contradictory to hundreds of years of history, both before and after the existence of the federal constitution.

          • Clarendon

            And, I believe the ‘founding fathers’ had a variety of views on this and every other topic. It is interesting to not that Thomas Jefferson instructed that his grave stone mention his roles in the Declaration of Independence, his founding of the University of Virginia, and his responsibility for Virginia’s Statute of Religious Freedom – and not all the ‘other stuff he did’.

        • brendan

          brosef,

          “So in short, the founding fathers had zero objections to there being state religions so long as they were on the state level, not the federal level.”

          if you’re going to attack someone w/ claims of law school and academic authority, you probably shouldn’t clump the view points of all the ‘founding fathers’ into a single perspective. Especially since several of the leading founding fathers had well documented concerns about government at any level being involved w/ religious beliefs. From Franklin and Jefferson to Madison and Adams — they were all opposed to the concept, whether or not it was directly codified.

        • novasteve

          Massachusetts had an official state religion until 1833.

          • drax

            And now it doesn’t.

          • novasteve

            Now it doesn’t because the 14th amendment would prohibit it from doing so. up to 1833 it would have been perfectly permissible to have a state religion because the 14th amendment didn’t exist back then.

    • drax

      No, many were concerned about it at the state level, they just didn’t put it in the federal constitution.

      The First Amendment was based on Virginia’s Statute of Religious Freedom, which did the same thing at the state level. It was written by (founding father) Thomas Jefferson.

  • Alison

    We need another thing to spend money on, why? If there’s a surplus of tax money, let’s lower our property taxes. Then people who want to buy trees can buy trees.

    • John Fontain

      My thoughts exactly. If I was putting together a list of the things I’d like to rely on the government to provide me, holiday decorations wouldn’t be on the list.

  • Edgar99

    In related news, scenes from outside of Courthouse metro this morning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zYsUqAYg6c

  • Bill Shakespear

    Much ado about nothing.

  • Stanley
  • mickey644

    It is not a “holiday tree”, it is a Christmas tree, so stop being politically correct.

    • R. Griffon

      Well, if really want to be a stickler for detail then you should probably call it a “Saturnalia Tree” or some such. Many (if not most) of our holiday traditions pre-date Christianity.

      • Josh S

        But the fact is that we don’t celebrate Saturnalia anymore. We celebrate Christmas. Whatever ancient history teaches us, it doesn’t change the fact that an evergreen tree decorated with lights and ornaments in December is now called a Chirstmas tree. I mean, I guess you could put one up in your home and call it a Saturnalia tree and it would be so. But in the context of this discussion – public display – it’s a Christmas Tree. Not a Saturnalia Tree.

  • Zombie Jesus

    Happy Holiday Day!!!

  • As an atheist who thinks organised religion is a sham, I still vote yes.

    Who are all these uptight a–holes ruining the holiday season for everyone? Christmas is as much a secular pagan winter festival as it is the celebration of the birth of Christ. Get over yourself and have some fun once in a while. I’m not Irish or Mexican, but I’ll celebrate the hell out of St Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo. I’m not Christian, but I’m not going to give up paid time off on Dec 25, thank you very much.

  • ArlLawyer

    It would be nice if ArlNow ran a poll asking for the best holiday decorated streets in Arlington. This would give residents places to drive or walk with kids to show them the pretty lights. I suggest that those blocks that are listed should have most houses on the block decorated and that the listing be by block, e.g., 3100 block of North Thomas.

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