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Letter: Move the tree, the creche and the lighting ceremony

The crèche and the Christmas tree, coupled with the tree lighting, strike me as too religious for the secular space of our Main Street and the capitol. They seem to say that the city and state endorse the practice of religion, specifically the Catholic religion on the main stage and, on the capitol lawn, Judaism as well.

City Councilor Dick Patten does not want to share the tree lighting event with Intown Concord. Tom Cusano, Patten’s spokesman, said this “is meant as a religious celebration of the start of the Christmas season and Hanukkah,” according to the July 13 Monitor. Intown Concord’s holiday event doesn’t fit into the same tradition, Cusano said. “They’re trying to capitalize on the Christmas season, but the two ideals don’t jibe. They want to make money. We want to have a Christmas and Hanukkah celebration.”

Cusano admits that this is a religious celebration to be kept separate from the commercial celebration of Christmas, which is all right by me. But why are we subsidizing this with public services? Are we erecting trees for the Hindus? Is the state stringing lights for Muslims?

I suggest Cusano take his religious celebration elsewhere and Intown Concord can take back the main square as the secular space it truly is. It would be much more appropriate to move the crèche, the tree and the lighting celebration to a church yard.

A nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life estimates that “Fully a third of U.S. adults say they do not consider themselves a ‘religious person.’ And two-thirds of Americans – affiliated and unaffiliated alike – say religion is losing its influence in Americans’ lives.” Why are non-religious persons being subjected to the Christian display in a public space when it seems most of them don’t believe in it?

JACK SHIELDS

Penacook

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