Saturday, September 5, 2015

Keeping Christ in Pitman's Christmas

A banner is less controversial but no less concerning

Keeping Christ in Pitman's Christmas

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The “Keep Christ in Christmas” banner across Broadway in downtown Pitman, NJ seems to be drawing less attention this year than in 2011.

But that doesn’t mean no one has noticed.

Janice Rael,  of Delaware Valley Americans United for Separation of Church & State, says the organization is "concerned that the message seems to be coming from the town."

Although it was paid for by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic community service group, placement of the banner across the borough's main drag suggests "government endorsement of a religious message," says Rael, who lives in Clayton, NJ.

"The majority of people probably wouldn't see this as a big deal, and on a personal level, the banner doesn’t offend me," she says. "But it concerns me. Why aren’t the churches spearheding this effort (to keep Christ in Christmas)? It’s their job. It’s not the town’s job."

Rael also says that while the Knights "do wonderful work" in the community, the display "does offend some atheists, who feel their Constitutional rights are being violated."

Mark Pawlowski, who heads the Knights of Columbus council Our Lady Queen of Peace 6247, in Pitman,  told UPI  his organization had backup locations just in case. But "we had no problem at all," he said after the display was installed Saturday.

While the borough's official position appears to be one of tacit approval,  the banner's reminder about the religious origin of Christmas is certainly not ambiguous. Also clear are the concerns of groups like Americans United, who remind us that the country in which we are free to choose whether or not to celebrate a Christian holiday has no single government-sanctioned creed.

 

Inquirer Columnist
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Blinq is a news commentary blog featuring contributions from Inquirer Metro columnists Kevin Riordan and Daniel Rubin.

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