Trouble Brewing in North Carolina

Talk about not holding the lighting ceremony at the Word’s Largest Living Christmas Tree in Cape Fear, North Carolina this year spurred another potentially controversial topic during the council’s agenda meeting Monday, October 4th – religious symbols on public property.

Councilman Charlie Rivenbark said a group had requested last year to place a menorah on the riverfront but didn’t get their request in time for council to consider. This July they asked again and have yet to hear a response. Councilman Ronald Sparks said allowing one religious symbol could “open a can of worms. ” But Rivenbark argued the Christmas Tree has religious significance.

“You can call it what you want but that’s a Christian symbol,” he said of the tree.

City Attorney Carolyn Johnson said legally the tree is considered a symbol of the holidays, like Santa Claus or reindeer, and not a religious symbol.

“And I find that repugnant,” Rivenbark snapped back.

Johnson said to let one religious symbol on public property, the city would have to allow all.

Regardless, Rivenbark and councilwoman Laura Padgett said the group deserves an answer from the city soon.

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