Rhode Island Guv Bows To Criticism, Will Call It A ‘Christmas Tree’

AP

Rhode Island will no longer be a front in the War on Christmas.

The state’s Gov. Lincoln Chafee (D) released a statement Monday to make clear that the spruce on display in the capitol in Providence, R.I. will be referred to as a “Christmas tree.”

Since taking office in 2011, Chafee took a cue from his predecessor, former Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri (R), in calling it a “holiday tree.” According to the AP, the “holiday tree” tradition was a tribute to “Rhode Island’s founding in 1636 by religious dissident Roger Williams as a haven for tolerance, where government and religion were kept separate.”

But after a “brouhaha” broke out over the matter, Chafee said he’s ready to give opponents what they want. The “Christmas tree” will be lit on Thursday.

“In 2011, my first year celebrating December in the State House I gave a simple six word instruction to the planners of the annual tree lighting: ‘Do what they did last year,'” Chafee said in the statement.

“Despite the myriad of pressing issues facing Rhode Island and the nation, this presumably happy event became a focal point for too much anger. Strangely lost in the brouhaha was any intellectual discussion of the liberties pioneered here in Rhode Island 350 years ago in our Charter. Because I do not think how we address the State House tree affects our ‘lively experiment,’ this year’s invitation calls the tree a Christmas tree.”

Chafee, a former Republican senator, said earlier this year that he’s joining the Democratic Party. He will not seek re-election next year.

 

h/t HuffPost

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Tom Kludt is a reporter for Talking Points Memo based in New York City, covering media and national affairs. Originally from South Dakota, Tom joined TPM as an intern in late-2011 and became a staff member during the 2012 election. He can be reached at tom@talkingpointsmemo.com.
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