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Can I and other Kearny residents (many of whom are Christian) expect to see a Christmas tree displayed on town hall property this year ? Being that Christmas is a federal holiday recognizing the birth of Christ and being that the majority of Kearny residents are Christian, it's appropriate that a Christmas tree be displayed to honor the birth of Christ and our faith.

This is not a question of government endorsement of a religion. A Christmas tree is in recognition of the birth of Christ. The federal government recognizes the birth of Christ, I believe the Town of Kearny should also.

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Can I and other Kearny residents (many of whom are Christian) expect to see a Christmas tree displayed on town hall property this year ? Being that Christmas is a federal holiday recognizing the birth of Christ and being that the majority of Kearny residents are Christian, it's appropriate that a Christmas tree be displayed to honor the birth of Christ and our faith.

This is not a question of government endorsement of a religion. A Christmas tree is in recognition of the birth of Christ. The federal government recognizes the birth of Christ, I believe the Town of Kearny should also.

Here is the law:

The Town of Kearny will decorate an evergreen tree, as it does every year. You may call it whatever you like. Just based on your description, the Town of Kearny has been putting up a Christmas tree for as long as I or I suspect anyone can remember. However, it is not labeled "Christmas tree," so if people wish to call it a "holiday tree," they may do that. They may even say that the Town has decorated a holiday tree, and that you are free to call it a "Christmas tree" if you like.

What the Town may not do is have a display that is exclusively or predominantly for Christians. The history of Christmas being a national holiday dates very far back, when almost no one in the United States was anything but a Christian. Except, of course, for the Native Americans. Today, many religious traditions and points of view are represented in the United States, so historical practice cannot dictate what we do today. Furthermore, as it did with slavery, the law has changed.

In keeping with this law, the Town's policy is to have a holiday display, which recognizes and honors all religious points of view, including humanism and atheism.

So the government may honor people in their religious observances but it may not honor the Christian religion above any other religion.

The mere fact that most people in Kearny are Christian does not matter on this point. Religion is not up for a vote, but on the contrary, is a personal right, held equally by people of all religious persuasions. On matters of religion, the majority does not rule. Everyone rules, each for himself or herself.

You may, of course, put up Christmas trees, and only Christmas trees, in your churches, your front lawns, your homes, and anywhere else you like. What you may not do is use government property to promote your religion.

Is this satisfactory? If not, why not?

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The town puts up the same display every year. It includes a Christian Nativity scene, a Jewish Menorah, a Frosty the Snowman and a few other things. It also decorates a scraggly looking pine tree that is growing on the front lawn. Seems to me that the Christian religion is well-represented.

Keep in mind, that display is up pretty much all of December. Other religions have their holidays this month, too. The town's job is to serve all its citizens, regardless of their religion.

Or do you think the holiday season is just for you?

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The town puts up the same display every year. It includes a Christian Nativity scene, a Jewish Menorah, a Frosty the Snowman and a few other things. It also decorates a scraggly looking pine tree that is growing on the front lawn. Seems to me that the Christian religion is well-represented.

Keep in mind, that display is up pretty much all of December. Other religions have their holidays this month, too. The town's job is to serve all its citizens, regardless of their religion.

Or do you think the holiday season is just for you?

The self-entitled and the self-righteous don't see it. Having the right to worship as they please isn't enough for them.

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Firefighters have been draping those those memorial rags or curtains, whatever they call them, outside the fire houses every year leading up to and shortly after September 11. It seems like some loser religious act that starts with ceremonial begging in the streets in their costumes. The professionals (LOL!) on 9/11 then ride around in their red play truck on a few more personal errands than usual to garner undeserved recognition for their poor self-esteem. This pathetic local pilgrimage leaves them crying out for pity in response to an immoral act which altered the lives of a group of guys that really did, for once, face some risk instead of spewing outlandish tall tales. There is a whole river separating NJ from where the atrocity occurred, yet the NJ bravest (LMFAO!) try and ride the coattails of those that mattered. That whole mess just described should be deemed offensive to all Americans.

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The history of Christmas being a national holiday dates very far back, when almost no one in the United States was anything but a Christian. Except, of course, for the Native Americans.

Christmas Day became a federal holiday (for federal workers in Washington, D.C., only) in 1870, under President Grant. The United States had just adopted the 14th Amendment, which guaranteed equal protection of the laws, and was in the process of ignoring that amendment in its treatment of woman (who could not vote or in many states own property), African-Americans (who were victims of racism all over the country) and the Native Americans (who were being annihilated so the white Europeans could steal their land).

Most people don't want to hear it. Tragically, it's all true.

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This is not a question of government endorsement of a religion. A Christmas tree is in recognition of the birth of Christ.

Amazing how you can say one thing in one sentence, contradict yourself in the next, and have no clue that you just did it. Or just overlook the contradiction, because it isn't convenient for you.

His name was Jesus. It wasn't Jesus Christ, as in John Smith. He wasn't the son of John and Mary Christ. Mary wasn't Mrs. Christ. "Christ" means savior. If this Jesus lived at all, which is in dispute, the idea that he was the Christ (savior) is not an historical fact but a religious article of faith. You can't use the word "Christ" or "Christmas" without invoking the Christian religion.

So when you call it a Christmas tree, you are not recognizing an historical fact. You are endorsing or espousing a religious belief.

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"Religious traditions or points of view" ?? Christmas is a federal holiday, traditions and points of view are not. BTW, Christmas is not a religion. Kearny is not promoting or endorsing a religion by displaying a Christmas tree. It is recognizing the birth of Christ who was a philosopher, not a Presbyterian or Catholic.

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Guest Bring back our Christmas.

What an Idiot. What religion is represented by a Christmas tree ? Christmas is a federal holiday recognizing the birth of Christ. It is not a recognition of any religion.

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What an Idiot. What religion is represented by a Christmas tree ? Christmas is a federal holiday recognizing the birth of Christ. It is not a recognition of any religion.

top notch trolling right here.

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I've never seen an atheism tree. Who would an atheism tree be honoring or recognzing ?

But you could. If atheists wanted to celebrate with a tree, they could do that. Or you might see a humanist tree. We make the whole thing up. It's all a product of human invention.

Why do you insist on demeaning others? Not everyone has to celebrate with a tree.

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What an Idiot. What religion is represented by a Christmas tree ? Christmas is a federal holiday recognizing the birth of Christ. It is not a recognition of any religion.

That depends. If you call it is Christmas tree, then it celebrates the birth of Christ. Framed that way, he is not an historical figure but, according to one religious tradition, the savior of humankind. That is religion, not history.

On the other hand, if you call it a holiday tree, then it's there so everyone can celebrate. In Kearny, the Town just decorates a tree, and you may call it whatever you like. Seems like you're not happy unless everyone is celebrating your religion.

And you conveniently ignore the fact that the tree is decorated throughout December, when other religions have their holidays. You only see what you want to see. That is the source of the conflict.

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"Religious traditions or points of view" ?? Christmas is a federal holiday, traditions and points of view are not. BTW, Christmas is not a religion. Kearny is not promoting or endorsing a religion by displaying a Christmas tree. It is recognizing the birth of Christ who was a philosopher, not a Presbyterian or Catholic.

Do you seriously think that the religious affiliations of the members of Congress in 1870 had nothing to do with Christmas Day becoming a federal holiday? The holiday arose out of a religious tradition.

And if Jesus of Nazareth lived at all, he was the philosopher. His name was not Christ. Christ is the description placed on him by Christians because they believe he was the savior. That is a religious idea, which has no foundation in history. It is an article of religious faith.

And are you seriously saying that the Christmas tree honors a philosopher? That is disingenuous.

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Amazing how you can say one thing in one sentence, contradict yourself in the next, and have no clue that you just did it. Or just overlook the contradiction, because it isn't convenient for you.

His name was Jesus. It wasn't Jesus Christ, as in John Smith. He wasn't the son of John and Mary Christ. Mary wasn't Mrs. Christ. "Christ" means savior. If this Jesus lived at all, which is in dispute, the idea that he was the Christ (savior) is not an historical fact but a religious article of faith. You can't use the word "Christ" or "Christmas" without invoking the Christian religion.

So when you call it a Christmas tree, you are not recognizing an historical fact. You are endorsing or espousing a religious belief.

And his father wasn't named Joseph Christ either.

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"Christmas" means Christ's mass. Of course it is religious. If it wasn't, Christians wouldn't be so upset about it being made more inclusive.

A popular song is titled "Put Christ back into Christmas." Not by coincidence, it is almost always sung to promote the Christian religion.

By the way, the best way for governments to honor history is to have good history classes in our public schools. If you want to get upset about something, start there.

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"Religious traditions or points of view" ?? Christmas is a federal holiday, traditions and points of view are not. BTW, Christmas is not a religion. Kearny is not promoting or endorsing a religion by displaying a Christmas tree. It is recognizing the birth of Christ who was a philosopher, not a Presbyterian or Catholic.

So let me get this straight. Christmas is a holiday celebrating the Savior's birth, according to Christians.

"Silent night, holy night, Son of God loves pure light."

"O, holy night, the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of our dear savior's birth."

And on and on.

Yet somehow all this changes because the US federal government takes the religious holiday and makes it a national holiday. No it doesn't. It doesn't change anything. Just because the government improperly promoted the Christian religion doesn't make it right. It's the same old tune, politicians pandering to the majority of potential voters.

You could point out that politicians should do what the majority wants. That is true on matters where the government's business is to get involved, like national defense and economics. It is not true in the area of religion. In religion, the majority should not rule. Religion is an individual right.

So now, like Peter denying Christ three times, some of the Christians in Kearny are going to claim that they're upset because the Town isn't honoring a philosopher. Yeah, right. Lying for Jesus. Same old story.

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What an Idiot. What religion is represented by a Christmas tree ? Christmas is a federal holiday recognizing the birth of Christ. It is not a recognition of any religion.

So in other words, the United States is a Christian nation. Therefore, the Christian holiday of Christmas is just part of our tradition, and is not religious, despite the fact that its central importance within the Christian religion is the reason it became a holiday in the first place.

Nice try but that's a lame argument.

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Guest Bring back our Christmas

I'll say it again, what an Idiot. Read this slowly so you might understand it: There is no such thing as a Christian religion. Christianity is a philosophy, not a religion. Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, etc. are religions. A Christmas tree is in recognition of the birth of Christ, who was a philosopher. A Christmas tree does not represent any religion so it is not in conflict with any "seperation of church and state" issues.

I would urge the Town of Kearny to step up, recognize the meaning of Christmas as non-religious and honor the birth of Christ with a Christmas tree.

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Guest Faith is in your heart

Why does there have to be a debate? Let the town call it what they need to in order to let ir happen. Let the kids and anyone else who wNt to see it and enjoy it do so! Your faith is in your heart. If you do not have faith then just see it as a tree with lights! If you have faith and see it as a Christmas Tree representing christianity then what the town calls it cannot change your faith. Lets just let it be before it isnt at all! Times have changed and we havt tr realize it but your faith is within and a tree cannot change that! A blessed holiday season to all!

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I'll say it again, what an Idiot. Read this slowly so you might understand it: There is no such thing as a Christian religion. Christianity is a philosophy, not a religion. Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, etc. are religions. A Christmas tree is in recognition of the birth of Christ, who was a philosopher. A Christmas tree does not represent any religion so it is not in conflict with any "seperation of church and state" issues.

I would urge the Town of Kearny to step up, recognize the meaning of Christmas as non-religious and honor the birth of Christ with a Christmas tree.

I understood it the first time. You are incorrect. Christianity is a religion, with a set of religious beliefs, a religious narrative and a book of scriptures (Bibie). The beliefs of Christianity set it apart from Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and all the other religions. A favorite saying of Christians is "Christianity stands alone." You cannot have it both ways, which is what you are trying to do.

The fact that Christianity is a religion has been recognized in our law throughout our history. For example, in the first charter of Virginia in 1606, King James I referred to the "Christian religion." The U.S. Supreme Court made the same reference in an early case called Vidal v. Girard's Executors. The Treaty of Tripoli (1797) contains the same phrase, "the Christian religion." In more recent times, for example, a law prescribing that public schoolchildren recite a prayer before beginning their school day is an impermissible intrusion of the government, because it amounts to the endorsement of a set of religious beliefs and/or practices, even if the prayer was non-sectarian. The U.S. Supreme Court has decided several cases on this basis, including Schempp v. Abingdon School District and the Wallace v. Jaffree case. So while Judaism and Christianity are separate religions, they are both religions. Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist, etc., are denominations. So before you smart-off about how much you know, check the law. You're wrong.

And I would just love to hear you tell Kearny Christian that Jesus Christ is just a philosopher and not the object of his worship. Go ahead, tell me which church you're going to say that in. I'd like to watch.

Wouldn't it be convenient for you - an all-purpose way around the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment - if Christianity was not subject to the U.S. Constitution. You could do anything you liked. Any time one church was separate from another, they could both claim that they didn't share or practice the same religion, and - voila! - no constitutional problem. Only that is not our law. It's just another fantasy, like your fairy-tale religion.

Which you know is a myth.

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Why does there have to be a debate? Let the town call it what they need to in order to let ir happen. Let the kids and anyone else who wNt to see it and enjoy it do so! Your faith is in your heart. If you do not have faith then just see it as a tree with lights! If you have faith and see it as a Christmas Tree representing christianity then what the town calls it cannot change your faith. Lets just let it be before it isnt at all! Times have changed and we havt tr realize it but your faith is within and a tree cannot change that! A blessed holiday season to all!

If everyone took your attitude, there wouldn't be a problem. Thank you for this.

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A Christmas tree is in recognition of the birth of Christ, who was a philosopher.

The things you'll say to try to justify yourself!

People don't put up Christmas trees to honor a philosopher. They do it to honor what they believe to be the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. The Messiah. The one and only Son of God.

Performer of miracles. Raiser of Lazarus from the dead. The one who walked on water, when it wasn't frozen. Turning water into wine and a few fish into a enough to feed a large crowd. That would be some philosophy.

Good God!, to borrow a phrase, you're blaspheming the religion you're trying to defend. Could you possibly make a more ridiculous remark than to say that Christmas is in honor of a mere philosopher? That's contrary to your own religion.

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Why does there have to be a debate? Let the town call it what they need to in order to let ir happen. Let the kids and anyone else who wNt to see it and enjoy it do so! Your faith is in your heart. If you do not have faith then just see it as a tree with lights! If you have faith and see it as a Christmas Tree representing christianity then what the town calls it cannot change your faith. Lets just let it be before it isnt at all! Times have changed and we havt tr realize it but your faith is within and a tree cannot change that! A blessed holiday season to all!

You seem like such a nice person, and your kindness is such a breath of fresh air here, I wish I could agree with everything you're saying. Unfortunately, we live in a world that is moving faster than we can keep up with it. Very clever people are spending billions of dollars every year trying to manipulate us, and they are succeeding. Because most people are not disciplined in their thinking (I know that turns people off but please think about it, because it's true), they are easy prey for these masters of propaganda. The result is the world that has led no less a religious leader than the Pope to say that unfettered capitalism is the new tyranny.

How did this happen? We control the government, don't we? Yes, actually we do. It has happened because we handed control to the people who do the best job manipulating us. Our political system is what we have turned it into. We've lost our ability to see the difference. In fact, not only are we easy to manipulate, we beg to be manipulated. And politicians are all too eager to oblige us. In fact, if they want to be elected, they have no choice. We've done this to ourselves.

We can no longer afford to define faith merely as what we believe, or feel inside. Faith is an action, and is useless without our ability to move it into the world. It is taking the first step, even though you don't see the whole staircase; acting in the world and in our own lives to make the seemingly impossible, possible.

You are defining faith as what you have in your heart, in other words, as what you want to believe. That may comfort you but it is irresponsible. And if you think that way, sooner or later, it's going to cause problems. Maybe not in your life but in the lives of others who will think the same way, and not know where to draw the lines between fantasy and reality.

I grew up in a traditional Christian religious household. I left not in anger but in tears, because I wanted to be true. The best thing I got out of my religious upbringing was a sense of responsibility. That very sense of responsibility led me to leave "the faith."

It wasn't because I was angry. It was because my religious upbringing taught me that everything I think and feel and do belongs not just to me but also to everyone. I am a part of the whole, and my job is to be responsible and do what is right, even if it costs me.

No doubt some people will have a field day with that. Have at it. The people whose hearts and minds are open will read it, and think about it.

I wish you the happiest holiday season you have ever had, and an even happier one next year, and happier every year for the rest of your life. I also hope that you will take a little time in this season think about this. We need people, like you, who have goodness in their hearts, to think about these things and recognize that in a world like this one has become, we are all bound together. Our lives are not entirely our own. We have a responsibility to our families, our communities, our country and the world. It's up to us to create the future. We're not going to do that by having faith that everything will be fine, and then doing nothing. We will have to do it one step at a time, and sometimes it won't feel good. But we need to do it. That is my idea of faith. You seem like a nice person. What do you think?

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