So much for Christmas being the season of peace on earth. Not to be outdone by freshman Tea Party legislator Doreen Costa (R-"Peanuts"), St. Patrick's Parish on Smith Hill and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence have thrown down the gauntlet against the statehouse Christmas tree being called a holiday tree and will be holding a counter-tree-lighting ceremony on Tuesday, December 6, at 5:30 p.m., to coincide with Governor Lincoln Chafee's tree-lighting ceremony at the statehouse.
Bishop Thomas Tobin told WPRI that Chafee's decision is "most disheartening and divisive. For the sake of peace and harmony in our state at this special time of year, I respectfully encourage the Governor to reconsider his decision to use the word Christmas in the state of observance.”
Um, if you want peace and harmony, maybe stop the grandstanding over what is after all just a word? As Rev. Donald C. Anderson, executive minister of the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, told the Providence Journal,
"I would ask my fellow Christians, with all of the poverty, hunger and injustice that surround us, do we really believe that Jesus would have us spend all this time and energy around what we call a tree? Do we truly think that the Jesus of the Gospels cares what we call a tree?''
Meanwhile, Ted Nesi at WPRI has constructed a history of references to the tree that's put up at the statehouse this time of year in previous gubernatorial administrations, demonstrating that Chafee is hardly the first governor to come up with the radical idea of trying to be inclusive in a ceremony that is supposed to be for all Rhode Islanders and not just the 59.5% that identify as Catholic. But hey, why let a few inconvenient facts get in the way of demonizing the governor?
By Linda Felaco