Commentary on Debate Over Religious Holiday Decorations

December 5, 2004

Source: Daily News Transcript

On December 5, 2004 Daily News Transcript reported, "the formerly innocent act of decorating the town square has inspired a new tradition of argument and litigation. In Norwood [MA], they've been fighting for years over a nativity scene that has long been placed in front of an elementary school. It won't be there this year both the law and common sense argue against imposing Christian symbols on schoolchildren but some in town are trying to get the school's front lawn redesignated a 'town common' so they can bring back the manger. In Wellesley [MA], the fight has been over a rabbi's request to place a menorah on public property. Town fathers initially refused, saying they don't allow religious symbols on public property. Then what are those wreaths, garlands and Christmas trees celebrating, the Fourth of July? For those who doubt wreaths have a religious meaning, see Frank Mazzaglia's column on page H3. The law is pretty clear on this business, which been litigated intensely for decades. If you're going to let one religious group put its display on public property, you've got to let everyone. The menorah, the Supreme Court has ruled, falls into the category of seasonal symbols with religious roots, a group that also includes decorative evergreens and images of Santa Claus."