Update: In comments, Bella corrects me. There is, in fact, a menorah on display in Kennesaw, GA. I hardly think I was maligning an entire town (ot calling everyone who lives there intolerant) unfairly — however — the town in which all of my grandparents live, no less. It’s safe to say that a town like Kennesaw would probably not have seen the burst of non-Christian activity that Olympia, Washington saw. That said, I believe there was no menorah on display in Kennesaw’s city center until relatively recently, because I distincly remember a nativity-only-scene for a few years. I’m not sure how Bella found the post, but I would beg her to read more of Varied Veracities — she would find that I talk about Georgia all the time — because I grew up there, only a stone’s throw from Kennesaw.
I don’t know if you’ve kept abreast of the holiday-display issue in progress up in Olympia, Washington — I haven’t really, aside from a random mention on TV or a blog — but it really is worth a minute, if only for how unique a situation it is.
Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly recaps:
The official policy seemed fairly reasonable and accommodating. A private group asked to donate a Nativity scene to be publicly displayed on the Capitol grounds. Officials agreed. An atheist group noted that if a creche is permissible, then they’d like to have a display of their own. Reluctant to play favorites and invite a legal dispute, officials agreed to this, too. A menorah was soon to be added to the mix.
At that point, the door was open, and others wanted to walk in. A hyper-right-wing religious group demanded that it be allowed to erect a sign that reads, “Santa Claus will take you to Hell.” Around the same time, Seinfeld fans asked that space be reserved for a “Festivus” pole. Then came the request for a “Flying Spaghetti Monster” display, a Buddhist request for a display, and a Christian goodwill message to atheists. All wanted equal time, just like the others had received.
In response to the madess, the city put a moratorium on all displays until they come up with a better way to respond to these sort of requests. As Benen suggests, next year they should scrap the whole thing and go with a generic Happy Holidays sign.
What struck me was how something like this would never, never happen in so many cities. For example, the town of Kennesaw, Georgia displays a nativity scene every Christmas — across from the local White Supremacist shop. I’ll go out on a limb and say no one would dare to start putting up flying spaghetti monsters and Festivus poles. It’s Kennesaw. It’s Georgia. In those parts they still call it The War Between the States. You think they’d be okay with even a menorah on display? No.
Such diversity, from one state to the next, from one region to the next is really something.