Tag Archives: Rhode Island

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.

The First Amendment and Atheists

It seems that Obama isn’t the only one in desperate need of a refresher course on the Constitution. Those wacky folks over at the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) are at it again. Now they want to remove yet another war memorial because it happens to have a cross on it.

Atheist Tombstone

Ryan Somma (CC)

The monument isn’t unconstitutional, folks. Congress didn’t make a law about it, or if it did, it was merely a recognition of its existence. The existence of the cross does not carry any legal power, and does not say that the Federal Government is going to enforce any laws based on the Christian faith. It is a memorial, and I’d wager that the soldiers it memorializes are all Christian. If they aren’t, then maybe the members of the other faiths that were excluded from the memorial have a case for having their symbols added to it.

The Constitution protects the rights of citizens to observe the faith of their choosing. While Thomas Jefferson did say something about people worshiping or not worshiping any number of gods, the First Amendment only prevents the Federal Government from becoming a theocratic body, or making any law that abridges the observation of any faith. That’s why we call it “Freedom of Religion”, by the way. Now, here’s a newsflash for the folks over at FFRF: Atheism is not a religion, period. If one is atheist, one does not believe there are any deities, and therefore does not observe any religion either. So, if the folks over at FFRF are offended by monuments to deities that they supposedly don’t believe in anyway, perhaps they don’t need to running about filing lawsuits about their discomfort. They need to be letting their fingers do the walking, and find themselves some good psychiatrists to help them with their obvious mental problems!

–Crossposted on Goldwater Gal–

Rhode Island State Legislator Opposing NDAA Provisions

Rhode Island may become the first state to challenge the recently signed National Defense Authorization Act. This bill, S. 1867/HR1540, provides for defense spending for 2012 and is an annual spending measure designed to provide funds for our military defense. The bill passed by Congress and signed by Barack Obama for 2012 contains provisions that seemingly allow for the detention of American citizens accused of either participating in or providing material support for terrorists.

World Net Daily today reports that one Rhode Island state representative, Rep. Daniel P. Gordon Jr. has drafted a resolution, which if passed by the Rhode Island legislature, would express opposition to the sections of the NDAA “that suspend habeas corpus and civil liberties.”

Rep. Gordon went on to explain:

“Sections 1021 and 1022 of the act, signed into law on New Years Eve of 2011, provide for the indefinite detention of American citizens by the military on American soil, without charge, and without right to legal counsel and right to trial.”

Rep. Gordon expressed his issues with the bill as in the wording of the law. He takes exception to the wording that fails to define the term “belligerent” and exactly who would determine those that would fit into the category. He told WND he has concerns over the possibility of his constituents being whisked away in the dark of night without being given their rights under the Constitution and that he will not stand by and allow this to happen, saying:

“When I took the oath of office, I swore that I would support the constitutions of Rhode Island and the United States. And before one single constituent of mine is snatched up in the dead of night, without due process under our laws, they’ll have to pry those documents from my cold dead hands.”

Rep. Gordon has already begun circulating his resolution to other members of the Rhode Island legislature.

Bob Russell
Claremore, Oklahoma