It seems the residents of Berkley, Michigan—or at least the ones that bothered to vote Tuesday—felt the charter amendment to force the city to display a Nativity scene in front of City Hall was a bad idea. The proposal failed to pass with 55% voting against it versus 45% voting for it:
There won’t be a nativity scene displayed on the Berkley City Hall lawn this year, after voters rejected a fiercely debated ballot proposal Tuesday.
“Well, the people spoke,” said Bob McCoy, 52, of Berkley who served as the finance chairman for the group Berkley Citizens Vote Yes to Christian Holiday Display. “I’m pretty disappointed.”
McCoy said he was surprised the measure failed. He said the fight to put the nativity scene back on city property wasn’t about religion but about celebrating the season.
“Christmas is a national holiday,” he said.
I disagree, this measure was always about promoting religion and the people behind it made that pretty clear in their statements and with the website they set up. There’s no logical reason why you can’t celebrate the season just as well with the Nativity sitting a short distance away on church property. It’s still in full view of the public, it’s no longer being watered down with secular symbols, and there’s no reason Christmas can’t be enjoyed just fine without having it sit where it doesn’t belong. The fact that Christmas is a national holiday has no bearing on the issue especially considering that, technically, the U.S. actually doesn’t have any National Holidays:
Holidays of the United States vary with local observance. Strictly speaking, the United States does not have national holidays (i.e. days where all employees in America receive a day free from work and all business is halted). The U.S. Federal government can only recognize national holidays that pertain to its own employees; it is at the discretion of each state or local jurisdiction to determine official holiday schedules. There are eleven such “Federal holidays”—ten annual and one quadrennial holiday. The annual Federal holidays are widely observed by state and local governments; however, they may alter the dates of observance or add or subtract holidays according to local custom. Pursuant to the Uniform Holidays Bill of 1968 (taking effect in 1971), some official holidays are observed on a Monday, except for New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. There are also U.S. state holidays particular to individual U.S. states.
OK so that’s being a bit nitpicky I’ll admit, but the point remains that simply because the government gives its employees the day off for what is—technically—a religious holiday (and even that is debatable these days) that doesn’t mean it should be promoting the religion in question with displays on public property.