A Christmas controversy has been brewing between the Green Bay City Council and an atheist-rights foundation that objects to holiday displays at city hall. Shocking news, huh? But there is more.
In response to the fuss, the city has allowed and encouraged other religious traditions to put up holiday displays, including a Wiccan wreath and pentacle. The atheist-rights group Freedom From Religion Foundation still objects and may file a lawsuit to protest any religious symbols on public property.
As a reader of ours pointed out, while the reporter's focus is rightly on the political and legal issues, it overlooks the viewpoint of the Wiccans who put up the display:
Shortly after its installation, a passer-by mistook the display for the Jewish Star of David, which is a six-pointed star.
An Appleton man connected to a state Wiccan group called Circle Sanctuary of Madison dropped off the latest display at City Hall on Friday afternoon.
"That's pretty," [Council President Chad] Fradette said shortly after a City Hall maintenance worker set up the display. "I'm glad there's something else up there."
After Fradette's display was installed and he and Mayor Jim Schmitt publicized that the display area would be open to other religious displays, the city received six requests, mayoral assistant Andre Jacque said.
I love the fact people confused the Wiccan symbol for the Star of David, and the quote from the city hall maintenance worker is a keeper. I just wish we could know the tone of voice he used.
Including the views of the Wiccans would have of course made for a deeper story than the traditional Christian v. Atheist paradigm, but that might complicate things and break the mold. We wouldn't want that, would we?
For that viewpoint, check out the Wiccan group's website:
"If there are to be holiday displays with religious symbols on public buildings and property, those displays need to accommodate America's religious pluralism. I sum this up as: Many, if Any, " said Rev. Selena Fox, Senior Minister of Circle Sanctuary, one of America's oldest and largest Wiccan churches, which is based near Barneveld, Wisconsin.
Perahps the atheist group could be included in the "many" that are allowed to put up displays at city hall?
Feel free to send us compelling Christmas-related stories that break the traditional mold. We'll post the best of them.
Photo from Circle Sanctuary.