Just one day after banning ornaments made by children for the Capitol Christmas tree containing religious themes such as “Happy Birthday, Jesus” or “Merry Christmas” the feds have suddenly reversed course, allowing the ornaments afterall.
A letter was sent by the Alliance Defense Fund to officials in Arizona who are assembling thousands of ornaments from children for the annual holiday tree that is erected in front of the White House.
The change was confirmed both by officials in Arizona who have a steering committee to run the program and from officials in the office of the Architect of the Capitol, who administer the program in Washington.
Jonathan Scruggs, litigation staff counsel for the ADF, had written a letter to officials questioning the propriety of limiting religious speech and a specific viewpoint in the decoration program.
“The First Amendment does not allow government officials to exclude schoolchildren’s ornaments for the capitol’s Christmas tree merely because they communicate a religious viewpoint,” he said.
Jim Payne, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service in the southwest region, said the local organizing committee simply took the restrictions provided by the federal office regarding size and requirements for the decorations, including the limit on religious speech, and re-posted them.
“Now the Architect of the Capitol has rescinded those. We already have removed the references to religious themes from the website. We will take all items that are sent in,” he told WND.
He said all of the decorations submitted will be forwarded to Washington and used on the tree this year.