When hunting it is not uncommon to tree your prey, but it is uncommon for a Governor to be treed by protesters as appears to be the case in Rhode Island. In the little State of Rhode Island there is big controversy as the Governor cowered and caved in the wake of a protest last year over the lighting of a “Holiday Tree” in the State House.
Protesters interrupted the program last year breaking out into song with a rendition of “O Christmas Tree”. What can be so wrong with a song? It seems the Independent Governor Lincoln Chafee refused to call the traditional tree a “Christmas Tree” instead referring to it as a “Holiday Tree”.
This year to avoid facing a mob of singing protesters intending to sing “Silent Night” after the tree lighting, the Governor instead change the time of the event to noon with only a twenty nine minute notice. The event was sparsely attended by those happening to be in the building. In past years it has been a well-attended traditional family holiday event.
In sharp contrast Arizona Republican Governor, Jan Brewer embraces the Christmas holiday and has made it a policy in Arizona to recognize Christmas and Hanukkah publicly and she prohibits any censorship of these religious holidays. This past Monday Governor Brewer in fact hosted the lighting of the traditional “Christmas Tree” inside the State Capitol.
In 2009, her first year as Governor, Brewer issued an Executive Order that encouraged the celebration of Christmas and Hanukkah. The Order recognizes the historical and cultural significance of both Christmas and Hanukkah and spotlights the joy and goodwill fostered by their seasonal celebration.
Governor Brewer seems to acknowledge and address those that would question the constitutionality of such an order when she included the following phrase: “The Constitution does not permit the government to tolerate or engage in hostility toward religion, and the United States Supreme Court has affirmed that the public celebration of religious holidays, and that the acknowledgement of religious origins, does not offend the Constitution.”
There you have two Governors, two trees, two holidays and two options on how to acknowledge religious traditions older than this country. One Governor prefers to cower and hid while the other stands tall for the traditions of her constituents.
The Opining Quill salutes Governor Jan Brewer for her defense of traditional values, and providing a teaching moment for tolerance. Her understanding of the Constitutional protections afforded to religion and religious freedom provides clarity and respect for the intent of the founding fathers.
While one Governor is treed by protesters the other is basking in the light of the season. In a season when we most often reflect on peace, goodwill, love and understanding for our fellow man the Opining Quill would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah.