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Rhode Island’s Ongoing Christmas Tree Controversy

For the second consecutive year, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee is refusing to call the state’s Christmas Tree a Christmas Tree.

Championing secularism, Chafee is insisting on calling the tree a ‘Holiday Tree’ because he believes that one religion shouldn’t be promoted over another in the Rhode Island State House.

“I did what the previous governor did, called it a Holiday Tree. So this goes back to the 90’s,” said Chafee, whose position has once again, been met with outrage by Rhode Islanders who have pointed out that changing the name does not change the symbol.

Chafee further enraged Rhode Islanders last week when he announced the state’s tree lighting ceremony a mere half hour before the actual event in order to stop protestors from attending. During last year’s ceremony, chaos broke out when protestors began singing “O Christmas Tree” over a children’s chorus.

However, Christmas loving Rhode Islanders have been invited to attend the Fall River, MA tree lighting ceremony by Mayor William Flanagan.

” We just feel all Rhode Islanders were gypped. They didn’t have an opportunity to go to their state house lighting of the tree and enjoy the tradition,” said Flanagan, who also believes Chafee is bowing to political pressure in his characterization of the tree.

But Chafee’s statement that no religion should take precedent in state buildings is undermined by a recent announcement that the state will hold a Menorah lighting ceremony to celebrate the beginning of Chanukah.

Doreen Costas, who protested the “Holiday Tree” controversy last year by holding a Christmas Tree lighting ceremony in her office, has pointed out the hypocrisy of this statement, because unlike a Christmas tree, a Menorah is an actual religious symbol.

“If we have a Menorah in the State House, what are we going to call it – a candle with sticks?” said Costas.

For Chafee, the controversy shows no sign of abating.

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