City Councilwoman Quits Over the Word 'Christmas'

Charlene Storey walks out on Roselle Park's city council
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2015 7:00 PM CST
Lights illuminate the tree during the Panama City Christmas tree lighting at McKenzie Park, Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in Panama City Fla.   (AP Photo/News Herald, Patti Blake)
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(Newser) – A city councilwoman quit her job on Thursday over the word "Christmas"—then made an apparent deal to return to work, the Star-Ledger reports. Charlene Storey, a councilwoman in Roselle Park, NJ, resigned after council voted 4-2 to change the name of its tree-lighting ceremony from "A Tree Lighting" to "A Christmas Tree Lighting." She promptly issued a resignation letter saying she "cannot in good conscience continue to be part of a council that is exclusionary or to work with a Mayor who is such." A non-believer and former Catholic, Storey later said the new name "cuts non-Christians out of the loop and favors one religion." She also opposed calling it a "Christmas" event after the word was stricken about 20 years go following a court case over the city's holiday display, the Roselle Park News reports.

In a statement, Storey adds that council members who supported the name change are "male, white, Catholic and members of the Knights of Columbus, a religious organization that every year posts a large sign urging, 'Keep Christ in Christmas.'" Mayor Carl Hokanson, who says he didn't intend to exclude anyone, tells the Star-Ledger that "a Christmas tree is a Christmas tree. Just like the Easter Bunny is the Easter Bunny and not the Holiday Bunny." Yet Storey and Hokanson, Democrats who supported each other's campaigns, met on Saturday and seemed to iron things out. Storey rescinded her resignation and returned to work with plans to lead a new committee on diversity, CBS New York reports. "I think next year will be much more inclusive," she says. (Read more New Jersey stories.)

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