Thursday, 05 December 2013 16:18

Secularist R.I. Governor Caves In to “Christmas Tree”

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For the past few years Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee (shown) has refused to officially acknowledge the Christmas tree which stands every holiday season at the Statehouse. Insisting that the state's forefathers would have disapproved of Rhode Island sanctioning of a Christian holiday, Chafee took to referring to the Christmas tree as a “holiday tree” in order to enforce the First Amendment's so-called “separation of church and state.”

So Chafee's statement this year announcing the lighting of the state's official “Christmas tree” made national news. But the governor's concession is little more than a back-handed insult to those who treasure the uniquely Christian aspects of Christmas. In a rambling and self-serving official statement, Chafee explained that because of the past angry words and supposed misunderstanding over his reasoning for referring to it as a “holiday tree,” he was begrudgingly allowing the invitation to this year's tree lighting to refer to the state's “Christmas tree.”

“Despite the myriad of pressing issues facing Rhode Island and the nation, this presumably happy event became a focal point for too much anger,” said the governor in his statement. “Strangely lost in the brouhaha was any intellectual discussion of the liberties pioneered here in Rhode Island 350 years ago in our Charter.”

With a tone of a stern schoolmaster correcting naughty students, Chafee informed his constituents that since he didn't think that “how we address the State House tree” ought to impact the discussion over Rhode Island's “lively experiment” of state government, “this year’s invitation calls the tree a Christmas tree.”

Chafee began the “brouhaha” over the state's tree in 2011 when he insisted that the blue spruce gracing the Statehouse that year be referred to officially as a “Holiday Tree.” Chafee, who changed his party designation from Republican to Independent in 2007, said that eschewing the term “Christmas” was in line with the principles laid down by Rhode Island founder Roger Williams that the state would supposedly be a place where religion and government were kept separate.

“I’m just continuing what other governors have done,” Chafee told reporters in 2011 after a ceremony dedicating a separate “holiday tree” to soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I just want to make sure I’m doing everything possible in this building to honor Roger Williams,” he said.

To be sure, Chafee’s immediate predecessor, Republican Governor Donald Carcieri, had used both “holiday tree” and “Christmas tree” in his holiday correspondence. Other past governors offered no specific nod to Christmas at all, with invitations to “holiday celebrations” featuring a “tree lighting.”

In 2011 the state's House of Representatives showed its disapproval of Chafee's anti-Christmas sentiments by passing a symbolic resolution declaring that during future yuletide seasons the state’s official holiday tree would be referred to as a “Christmas tree.” The resolution’s sponsor, Republican Representative Doreen Costa, called Chafee a “Grinch” for his refusal to abide by the legislature’s non-binding measure. “He’s just … as far left as you can possibly be,” Costa said of Chafee, who, even as a Republican U.S. senator, held views with which his Democratic colleagues were totally comfortable. “He tries to be politically correct 24-7,” she added. “Nobody’s been offended by calling a Christmas tree a Christmas tree. If we have a Menorah in the Statehouse, what are we going to call it — a candle with sticks?”

Costa was not the only one who criticized the governor. Bishop Thomas Tobin, the head of the Roman Catholic diocese in Providence, called Chafee’s decision “disheartening and divisive,” saying that it ignores American traditions and is “an affront to the faith of many citizens.” Added the bishop in an official statement: “For the sake of peace and harmony in our state at this special time of the year, I respectfully encourage the Governor to reconsider his decision to use the word Christmas in the state observance.”

Even the farmer who provided the tree in 2011, John Leyden of Greenwich, Rhode Island, expressed his disappointment, insisting that “it’s not a holiday tree or even an ‘X-mas’ tree. We’re a Christmas tree farm. That’s what the name is.”

The criticism he received in 2011 prompted Chafee to entirely cancel the lighting of the state's “Holiday Tree” in 2012, opting instead for an event at which children were invited to sing holiday songs.

This year Bishop Tobin was among those commending the governor for bowing to reason and tradition. “Hopefully the presence of a 'Christmas tree' at the Statehouse will speak the true meaning of this special season and will allow us all to enjoy the blessings of peace, joy, and fellowship with one another,” Tobin said in a statement.

Representative Costa called Chafee's flip “fabulous news — a small victory for us who fight the war on Christmas.”

Photo of Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee in front of the tree in 2012: AP Images

13 comments

  • Comment Link Heidi Preston Wednesday, 18 December 2013 20:33 posted by Heidi Preston

    As for reason vs. superstition. I defer to Aristotle because he says it more eloquently then I but also proves his point.
    "Even if the truth itself is a necessary truth, to affirm it on the AUTHORITY of someone else is to hold it as a matter of opinion rather than as knowledge. For most of us, the scientific truths with which we are acquainted are opinions WE hold on the Authority of scientists, not KNOWLEDGE that we ourselves posses."

    So you see there is a very fine line between what we consider reason and what we consider superstition. The only true knowledge we know (and most of us haven't reflected on that long enough to even know that) is our selves, the rest is other people's opinions which they write down to persuade it's public to a certain attitude, religion, political stance ect. but that doesn't mean it's secular since religion is a part of a lot of people's psychological make up, with rituals, beliefs ect. even secular people hold certain beliefs....get a bunch of atheists together and you have communion based on a mutual agreement of how things should be run, thought of and practiced.
    To say that in Government that is suppose to represent the populace has religious people and the tree decorated in the white house is no offense to anyone accept the ones who yell the loudest...tolerance, diversity, and globalism...lol

  • Comment Link Heidi Preston Wednesday, 18 December 2013 19:44 posted by Heidi Preston

    Mat- we can agree on several points but none that will change the idea/concept/belief that the Christ-mas tree is a a Christian symbol which is where we started.
    1. Calenders are useless for tracking origins - Egyptian calenders were lunar calenders (they also used solar calenders when they decided to go solo via a monolithic god called Ra). Then you have the Julian, Georgian ect. all trying to weave a nice web of interconnectedness.
    a. contradictions-wikipedia Wadjet-This cobra, known as the uraeus, the Latinized form of the Greek ouraios, from Egyptian iaret, ‘the Risen One’, is the symbol of royal power, vested in the sun on the cosmic plane and in the Egyptian sovereign in the mundane world". Her time was considered to be the fifth hour of the fifth day of the month, or lunar cycle. Interestingly enough, December 25th, on the Egyptian calendar, was considered to be the "going forth of the Goddess, while April 21st was her feast day".

    Source: book of the dead "Such a roll constitutes a "Book of the Dead." This too is a modern term, for the Egyptian designation found on the outside of some rolls means "Going Forth by Day." That ancient title emphasized the longing and the hope to return by day from wherever the hereafter might be centered " Note no specific days are mentioned on these Going forth, just the concept of resurrection.

    The Egyptians had three seasons divided into four section. the second season was Peret-Peret (proyet - emergence or growth) was the second season in the ancient Egyptian calendar. The soil on the banks of the Nile was still very damp from the inundation and the fields were in the perfect condition for planting crops.. During this season you have 6; rh-wr (Mekhir, Meshir, Amshir )Day Festival
    1 sailing of Anubis
    10 Going Forth of Wadjet singing in Heliopolis
    14 Hb skr sTA skr - two day festival known as "dragging Sokar"
    15 a festival known as Abd (month)
    16 a festival known as mddnt (half-month)
    30 a festival over several days known as "Amun in the festival of raising heaven"
    As you can see the "going forth of Wadget isn't on the Dec. 25 but it doesn't matter because it was in their time, their cultural beliefs and the seasons of the time for growth, renewal, resurrection from the dead. If we follow this line of thought then Dec. 25 is our Christian Easter. In pagan Oster. So there is no need to revive the discussion in April...since according to Egyptian belief the rising of , renewal of, resurrection of is in December 25.(Jesus by tradition came from the middle East).

    You will like this one the Egyptians did have a tree goddess..."There were several deities that were associated with trees, a rare commodity in Egypt. Horus was associated with the acacia, while Osiris and Re were tied with the willow and the sycamore, respectively. Osiris was sheltered by a willow after he was killed, and for example, the Book of the Dead describes two "sycamores of turquoise" growing at the point on the eastern horizon where the sun-god rises each morning. Re was also associated with the ished tree. Also, Wepwawet was paired with the Tamarisk, and the symbol of the god Heh was a palm branch, while not surprisingly, we have both Thoth and Seshat, the two deities associated with writing, inscribing the leaves of either the ished (or persea) tree with the Royal Titulary and the number of years in the pharaoh's reign."

    The tree of knowledge which temptation (the snake-wadjet maybe) proved to powerful and man/woman fell into the material world and consumed the apple (which in the garden of Eden all things are possible, including sin apparently) and we have been consuming ever since. The spirit has been under attack from then on. So in the spirit of Christmas....peace and thanks for the intellectual stimulation. ;-)

  • Comment Link Mats Jangdal Saturday, 14 December 2013 09:30 posted by Mats Jangdal

    Those set on power are usually hypocritical enough to confess to religion if necessary, but indifferent to it in practice. They will laugh at our bickering about our debate on religion here. Because it keeps our attention away from their dubious dealings.

    The last sentence of the sixth article of the US Constitution reads: no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

    I, and many others, interpret that as an instruction of secularism in governing America.

    The finale of the oath of office: "So help me God." Was added on by Eisenhower. It has been ruled voluntary to utter those words, because forcing an official to say them would indeed constitute a "religious test".

    I would also argue that uttering them does in fact make the person swear allegiance to another entity than the USA and it's constitution.
    It may also be argued that in promising before a God, one swears to put superstition before reason.

  • Comment Link Mats Jangdal Thursday, 12 December 2013 07:01 posted by Mats Jangdal

    Wow Heidi, that was a lot!
    Please forgive me for answering short. Yes, palm trees or at least palm branches are mentioned in the Bible. The might of trees has always been awed by people around the world. True enough Nordic pagans did not bring the trees indoors, unless they where carving Asa-god figures of them, to worship and sacrifice to. Very much like the description in Jeremiah. The tradition of garnering (outdoor) trees with sacrificial gifts is well described from Nordic mythology.
    The best recorded early use of spruce or fir trees (with twigs, not leafs anyway) that I have heard of, was in Germany only a few hundred years ago. When that happened, it was clearly to celebrate Christ. To that end the star at the top of the tree is most certainly a reference to the birth of Christ. But the other objects hung on the lower branches is definitely a practice borrowed from the Nordic cult. Especially so when the objects are supposed to be eaten. Typical offerings in Nordic tradition was meat from each kind of the household animals, apples and bread.

    On the question of the date, it's as simple as calendar aberrations. The Julian calendar with time proved to be somewhat off and replaced with the Gregorian calendar. Some time during that process the solstice fell on the 25th and was locked on that date despite better knowledge later on.
    In Sweden Christmas eve, the 24th is the important day. But also december 13th, commerorating the queen of light, St Lucia, a Sicillian woman burned for her faith. So the solstice fortnight from the 13th to the 26th is celebrated as the midwinter-blot (blood offering to the gods) is still on and still named Yule-tide. There is to this day no reference in name to Christ in Nordic traditions, although the christian traditions soon will be a thousand years old and going to church is an act of christian tradition. It is still very much an Asa-god, pagan tradition with elements of christianity incorporated into it.

    Atrocities has been made in all and any name you can think of. Naming communists, nazis, jews, inquisitional or missionary christian, intifada or jihad muslims does not prove a thing.
    Good people are good people, no thanks to religion or lack thereof.

    My best seasons greetings to you all, as we tomorrow have St Lucia and the festivities of celebrating ... may begin!

    If you care to wait six months we can have the same debate about the summer solstice and Nordic practices!

  • Comment Link Heidi Preston Thursday, 12 December 2013 04:34 posted by Heidi Preston

    Mat- is it possible that the Christ-mas tree is actually a symbol with Christian symbolism? Like the star on the top or an angel on the top the lights on the branches the twinkling of stars in general. There were no pine trees where the Christ came from (that I know of anyway), but that's not to say that the cutting of trees was not practiced by Heathens in the middle east.
    Source: "The Prophet Jeremiah condemned as Pagan the ancient Middle Eastern practice of cutting down trees, bringing them into the home and decorating them. Of course, these were not really Christmas trees, because Jesus was not born until centuries later, and the use of Christmas trees was not introduced for many centuries after his birth. Apparently, in Jeremiah's time the "heathen" would cut down trees, carve or decorate them in the form of a god or goddess, and overlay it with precious metals. Some Christians currently feel that this Pagan practice was similar enough to our present use of Christmas trees that this passage from Jeremiah can be used to condemn both:

    Jeremiah 10:2-4: "Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not." (King James Version).

    The pagans of Nordic mythology WORSHIPED trees why would they defile them by cutting them down?
    Source: " In Europe, Pagans in the past did not cut down whole evergreen trees, bring them into their homes and decorate them. That would have been far too destructive of nature. But during the Roman celebration of the feast of Saturnalia, Pagans did decorate their houses with clippings of evergreen shrubs. They also decorated living trees with bits of metal and replicas of their God, Bacchus."

    "In the southern hemisphere, the summer solstice is celebrated in December, when the night time is at a minimum and the daytime is at a maximum.
    On Earth the Southern Hemisphere contains all or parts of four continents (Antarctica, Australia, about 9/10 of South America and the southern third of Africa), four oceans (Indian, South Atlantic, Southern, and South Pacific) and most of Oceania. Several islands off the Asian continental mainland are also in the Southern Hemisphere. Due to the tilt of Earth's rotation relative to the Sun and the ecliptic plane, summer is from December to March and winter is from June to September. September 22 or 23 is the vernal equinox and March 20 or 21 is the autumnal equinox.

    So Mat....if decorating a tree in December in the Nordic Scandinavian area is pagan then why would the pagans celebrate a solstice in (typically December 21) to the vernal equinox (typically March 20), how can decorating a tree on Dec. 25th have any relation to a pagan tradition? Wouldn't it make more sense to have the solstice tree and celebration on December 21? If the Christians were trying to overlap or transform a pagan tradition to a Christian one wouldn't you at least have the solstice tree on the day of the solstice? December 25 does fall in between the time frame but that's a stretch.

    As for secularism being moral, I question that since the examples in history show a tendency toward immoral behavior when given control. Examples would be-
    1.Stalin godless communist-" designed to cause a famine in the Ukraine to destroy the people there seeking independence from his rule. As a result, an estimated 7,000,000 persons perished in this farming area, known as the breadbasket of Europe, with the people deprived of the food they had grown with their own hands."
    2.Hitler godless Nazi-"Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda, noted:
    "The Fuhrer is deeply religous, though completely anti-Christian. He views Christianity as a symptom of decay. Rightly so. It is a branch of the Jewish race... Both [Judaism and Christianity] have no point of contact to the animal element, and thus, in the end, they will be destroyed."....Me-it must have been Satanic because he was right up there with Stalin.
    3.Israel-secular state begotten under the guise of a "Jewish " state by Zionists which subjugates Orthodox Jews who lived there all their lives to second class citizens and wants them to kill in the military even though it's against their religion. The Palestinians had their land taken away and by law are not allowed to "return" to their "homeland" even though an International council of men not only allowed the Zionists to "return" to their "homeland" but to persecute a whole culture that had absolutely NOTHING to do with the Holocaust.
    Now Mat...tell me how secularism is so moralistic and Better than a country with rich traditions based on a God that uses moral codes/laws to guide the country and it's people.
    In my opinion our officials have perverted the system, the country, the laws and it didn't grow out of moralistic, righteous people, but a secular people who worship gold/fiat money, with total disregard to it's people that gave their faith and money through their own labor into the wrong hands. Not all people who "profess" to be religious are moralistic or righteous either...I have to say that in holding with the truth too.

  • Comment Link Mats Jangdal Tuesday, 10 December 2013 07:55 posted by Mats Jangdal

    Frank,
    Would that be a connection with God?
    Thanks, but if there is a God and such a God is omnipotent I expect a personal call and not an exhortation from a non-deity.

  • Comment Link Frank Monday, 09 December 2013 13:27 posted by Frank

    M Jangdal, I think you are missing out on the most important thing of your life you could ever experience.

  • Comment Link Mats Jangdal Monday, 09 December 2013 13:21 posted by Mats Jangdal

    Heidi
    Of course the solstices have been observed all around the world for ages. Although historians claim it carried more importance in places far from the equator.
    I was merely pointing out that the tradition of a "solstice tree" is a Nordic invention. Some of the words used in english christianity also stems from Nordic mythology. Most prominent perhaps the word hell, the closest latin equivalent being inferno.

    On secularism, I must object to your claim that it brings an end to morality. On the contrary, secularism makes it clear that the punishment for behaving immoral is here and now, in cohabitation with our fellow humans. It is not delayed to an indefinite date of doom. Thus secularism promotes good morals.

    The motto on the dollar bills "In God We Trust" was also a work of the witness Eisenhower in 1956. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_God_We_Trust

    Personally, I would love having the combined wisdom of the American Declaration of Independence and the Constitution along with the Bill of Rights as a world rule for governing and citizens rights. Much more than the UN charter.
    I am not out to destroy the constitution. I am truly sad the americans are rapidly dismantling the very essence that sets the USA apart from the rest of the world.

  • Comment Link Heidi Preston Sunday, 08 December 2013 02:27 posted by Heidi Preston

    Oh...and may Santa bring you some new Jandal.....via Mat's Jandal. LOL Maybe even some real leather ones....Merry Christmas.

  • Comment Link Heidi Preston Saturday, 07 December 2013 22:58 posted by Heidi Preston

    Mats, people in general have been celebrating the solstices and equinoxes for a long time (every since they looked to the stars and realized the connection to their lives) it wasn't invented by the Northern hemisphere. All these stories of pagans were born out of mythologies and people trying to make sense of the world around them, but it doesn't make it any less real or applicable to their lives then or now. Christianity, Judaism, Islam came out of Egypt so what? That they all share a common root is no less reality then science that came out of Alchemy a mystery religion/practice.
    The point is that whether you believe in a deity called God or a "universal spirit" or atoms is totally irrelevant because the fact still remains that it is an outside creation that has an impact on the individual and the whole world.
    To go the secular path is to say that there is no moral fabric (other than what one wishes to obey, which means good can be translated into bad and vice versea...that would be called Satanism which is also a religion and many practice).
    The U.S.A use to be rooted in a religious philosophy which got transposed into a contract called the Constitution which many people like yourself are trying to destroy. In God we trust is written on the dollar bill, now if that is the God of Gold (666 [for bible readers..you could consider that mythology/fiction too but it reads like a blue print for today] is a measurement of weight not a person that every one keeps looking for ...it's people who cherish gold/possession/greed above all else) then we have been warned from scholars and religious people a long time ago and are reaping the rewards in 2013 and beyond.
    666 was a measure of weight in gold to king solomon from other subjugated kings. It is a symbol of subjugation. "The weight was Six hundred and sixty six Talents". It is a financial symbol and "standard" measure that every king was subject to pay to the Jewish king solomon.

    from old testament "
    1 Kings 10:14-15
    14The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents, 15not including the revenues from merchants and traders and from all the Arabian kings and the governors of the land.

    I prefer the "spirit" in which Christ-mas is celebrated and may the secular enjoy the spending of the 666 gold too, so each may be happy in this Solstice season. To each his own. As I said before....Merry Christmas everybody and especially to you Mats Jandal may you prosper in wealth all year long.

  • Comment Link Mats Jangdal Friday, 06 December 2013 13:12 posted by Mats Jangdal

    Nice fairy-tale Heidi, The fact that the Nordic people have been celebrating the summer and winter solstices for many thousands of years is well proven in literature and archeology.
    Chirstianity, in order to succed in these areas had to adopt (hi-jack) those celebrations and name them after christian mythology.
    The USA used to be a secular nation in governing, albeit much religious in private life, until the Jehovas Witness Ike Eisenhower in 1954 decided to put at religious stamp on the governing of the nation. Much motivated by the cold war to differentiate the free western world from communism and their defiance of religion.
    The religious or theocratic path is not the right way for USA or Western Europe to deal with islamic movements of our time. The secular way is the only way to avoid an outright religious war with islam. It also makes good practice for our own societies.

  • Comment Link Heidi Preston Friday, 06 December 2013 02:18 posted by Heidi Preston

    "The fir tree has a long association with Christianity, it began in Germany almost 1,000 years ago when St Boniface, who converted the German people to Christianity, was said to have come across a group of pagans worshipping an oak tree. In anger, St Boniface is said to have cut down the oak tree and to his amazement a young fir tree sprung up from the roots of the oak tree. St Boniface took this as a sign of the Christian faith. But it was not until the 16th century that fir trees were brought indoors at Christmas time."
    And just for the record, in Germany they celebrate "Santa Claus" ie: Saint Nicholas on December 6 and the Christ child comes and brings gifts on December 25.
    So any way you look at it December 25 (even if it's made up holiday ) is celebrated in the "faith" of Christians and the "Christmas" tree is a very visible sign of this tradition.....or you could call it the "festival of lights" if you like and tree is the holder for the lights....any more questions? LOL
    Merry Christmas everybody!

  • Comment Link Mats Jangdal Friday, 06 December 2013 01:09 posted by Mats Jangdal

    And yet the it is the christian mimic of the pagan Viking tradition of hanging Mid-winter sacrifices as offerings in trees at the Yule-tide. Still known as Yule-tide in Scandinavia, not Christmas.
    The tradition of bringing a spruce índoors and call it a christmas tree was invented in Germany during the romantic époque in the 19th century when they looked to older traditions trying to lengthen their "history".

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