Sunday, December 06, 2015

NJ Atheist Official's Hissy Fit re: Christmas Tree

Charlene Storey, a Democrat councilwoman in Roselle Park, New Jersey, threw a temper tantrum and spontaneously resigned her post because the majority borough council voted to rename the "Holiday Tree Lighting" ceremony to the "Christmas Tree Lighting."  However, after a brief cooling off period, she rescinded her resignation in trade for the creation of a council diversity committee, which she will lead.
“People are offended because we use the word ‘Christmas.'  Well I feel offended when you tell me ‘holiday.' . . . it’s a Christmas tree.”
-- Mayor Carl Hokanson, Roselle Park, NJ
For background, read Angry Muslims Storm New Jersey School Board Demanding Holidays

Click headlines below to read previous articles:

Mississippi Town Defies Atheists' Anti-Christmas Demands

Georgia Sheriff's Christmas Sign Peeves Atheists

New Mexico Mayor Tells Atheists Nativity Scene Stays in Place

Texas Mayor Declares 'Year of the Bible'

Texas School Supt. Tells Atheists to Go Fly a Kite

-- From "Councilwoman rescinds resignation over ‘Christmas’ tree" by The Associated Press 12/6/15

Minutes after the Roselle Park council approved the [ceremony name] change Thursday night, Charlene Storey walked out of the meeting. She submitted a resignation letter, saying the borough’s decision to change the ceremony’s name from a “tree lighting” to a “Christmas tree lighting” favors one religion and “cuts non-Christians out of the loop.”

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "NJ Councilwoman Rescinds Resignation Over ‘Christmas’ Tree Lighting Ceremony" posted at WCBS-TV2 (New York, NY) 12/5/15

Earlier this week, the Roselle Park City Council voted 4 to 2 to change the name . . .

Storey, who was raised Catholic but describes herself as a non-believer, said she made the decision because she did not want to be a part of a city council that excluded other religions.

“I cannot in good conscience continue to be part of a council that is exclusionary or to work with a mayor who is such,” Storey said in her resignation letter.

She also sited the separation of church and state plus an increasingly diverse community.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Councilwoman & Mayor Release Joint Statement On The Rescinding Of Her Resignation" by Saul Qersdyn, Roselle Park News 12/5/15

The following statement was released by both Mayor Carl Hokanson and Councilwoman-At-Large Charlene Storey [excerpts]:
The new name of the event will remain in place, as approved by the council, the mayor and the councilwoman said. Storey still opposes the change.

Storey and Hokanson said a misunderstanding between them before this week’s council meeting led to each feeling blindsided at the session.

Hokanson said: “It was never my intent to insult anyone’s beliefs or religion. We live in an increasingly diverse community, and we have to come to grips with that fact.”
To read the entire statement above, CLICK HERE.

From "Councilwoman who quit over 'Christmas' tree rescinds resignation" by Tom Haydon and Jessica Remo, The Star-Ledger 12/5/15

[Mayor Carl Hokanson] said he's received dozens of calls and emails, most of them in support of the renaming of the Dec. 11 event.

"Just like the Easter Bunny is the Easter Bunny and not the Holiday Bunny," he said. "It was never my intent to insult anyone's beliefs or religion."

Hokanson said growing up in Roselle Park the event was always called a "Christmas Tree Lighting." Now, in his first year as mayor and master of ceremonies of the event, he wanted to change it back.

He said "Christmas" was removed from the name years ago after a lawsuit over Jersey City's holiday display.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Roselle Park councilwoman quits over 'Christmas' tree lighting" by Tom Haydon, The Star-Ledger 12/5/15

Storey said Mayor Carl Hokanson had briefly mentioned the idea of making the change several days ago. However, Storey said the resolution for the change was not listed on the agenda and she was surprised when it was brought up at the meeting.

She said she had checked other municipalities and only found events, tree lightings or holiday tree lightings, and none that included the word Christmas.

Hokanson said each municipality can use what title it wants to use. New York, he said, calls it a Christmas Tree lighting and another city may not.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Council Approves Mayor’s Request To Have A ‘Christmas Tree Lighting’" by Saul Qersdyn, Roselle Park News 12/4/15

“I’d like to have council’s permission to change it from the Annual Holiday [Tree] Lighting back to the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting if that’s all right with everybody,” stated Mayor Carl Hokanson at last night’s Mayor & Council meeting. He was referring to the popular winter annual event currently known as the Annual Holiday Tree Lighting And Gala which will be held next Friday. He announced his proposal by producing a flier he had included in every council member’s meeting packet which is usually distributed days before a meeting.

Councilwoman-At-Large Charlene Storey immediately commented, “Well, I’ve got to say Mr. Mayor, I have checked that out and every other town in the area calls it a holiday lighting or a tree lighting. I think that this is moving away from inclusiveness to exclusiveness so I cannot support that.”

Mayor Hokanson responded, “Well, again, that’s everybody else. That doesn’t have to be here. I’m just asking if that’s what everybody wants.”

As the meeting progressed, during the Borough Engineer’s report, Councilwoman Storey left the dais. Almost five minutes later, the Council President returned momentarily to pick up her coat and belongings then left the meeting for good without saying a word to anyone. Later on, Mayor Hokanson appointed Councilman Kelly – the longest sitting member of council – as the acting Council President.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Councilwoman Storey Provides Insight Into Decision To Resign" by Saul Qersdyn, Roselle Park News 12/5/15

Councilwoman-At-Large Charlene Storey issued a statement providing further details on her decision to resign her seat. [An excerpt from that] statement is included below. The councilwoman also addressed some additional questions in order to provide insight into a series of events and decisions that, in less than 24 hours, would have the second highest-ranking member of council and the only woman serving as an elected official call it a day over a single word.
. . . Had the name of this event never been changed to use a non-religious term, had it stayed with “Christmas” instead of being changed to “Holiday,” I could have accepted it as a cultural term. But to change it from a neutral term back to a religious one was clearly meant to put religion back into the public event. And to underscore religious division at this time in the nation and world is, to me, as wrong as wrong can be.

. . . All four members of the Council who voted for this are male, white, Catholic and members of the Knights of Columbus, a religious organization that every year posts a large sign urging, “Keep Christ in Christmas.” So I find it hard to accept that to them, a “Christmas” tree is a secular tree.

. . . I am a non-Christian and a non-believer. My husband and I are Humanists, as I’ve pointed out in campaign literature and in my bio on the Borough’s website. We believe it’s our duty to do good in this life as a matter of principle, not as a religious obligation.
To read the entire statement above, CLICK HERE.

Also read Christmas Tree Flyer Censored by New Hampshire School Supt.

And read Christmas Parties Banned at Univ. of Tennessee