DVAU President Ed Joyce also has a Letter to the Editor published in the Times of Trenton on December 31, 2011. The letter is in response to their article about the “Keep Christ in Christmas” controversy in Pitman NJ. The Times of Trenton published an edited version of DVAU’s official statement about the issue, “Much Ado About Bunting.”
Town must not appear to endorse a religion
By now, many people in the Delaware Valley have probably heard about the “Keep Christ in Christmas” banner controversy in Pitman (“In South Jersey town, a sign of the season, a sign of controversy,” Dec. 16). There has been heated controversy over the issue, and some consider the matter to be part of the “War on Christmas.”
We believe that a banner with such a message is a great idea for posting on a private home’s lawn sign or on a house of worship. Unfortunately, it may be inappropriate for a town to endorse such a religious statement by not only allowing it to be put up, but by using public resources (the fire department) to hang the religiously themed sign over the main thoroughfare in town.
When a government agency, such as a town, endorses a religious sentiment or statement of faith, this breaks down the wall of separation between religion and government. In order for us to have freedom of religious conscience, our government must be neutral on religion and cannot favor or discriminate against any faith.
We respect the Knights of Columbus, which sponsors the banner, and we value its work in the community. Perhaps if the Borough of Pitman would open opportunities to hang banners over its Broadway to include holiday greetings from other religious and community groups, the threat could be minimized.
Whether or not you “Keep Christ in Christmas,” the Delaware Valley chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State wants you to enjoy a safe, happy holiday, and we want to protect your right to religious freedom by urging the government not to promote one religious belief over all others.
— Ed Joyce
The writer is president of the Delaware Valley chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (dvau.org).