A New Jersey councilwoman has stepped down from office, in an effort to protest a local event advertised as a “Christmas” tree lighting.
Ever since January 2013, Charlene Komar Storey had served as Council Representative of the Second Ward in the Roselle Park borough located in Union County, and was actually the council’s chairperson.
She declared that her resignation was linked with Mayor Carl Hokanson’s proposal, of altering the name of a festivity previously known as the “Annual Tree Lighting”.
The mayor had wanted the event to be called the “Annual Christmas Tree Lighting”, and had mentioned this desire on several occasions, albeit without making a definite statement in this regard.
During a council meeting held on Thursday, December 3, he surprisingly included this matter in the agenda, and Storey expressed her vehement disapproval of his plans.
The municipal clerk, who had grown up as a Catholic, had changed her religious outlook in recent years, nowadays considering herself as an atheist.
Given her own views, she perceived the idea of renaming the ceremony as a way of turning a supposedly non-religious festivity into a gathering just for Christians.
As she explained, the measure would’ve been extremely insulting to other religious communities, virtually excluding them from the celebrations which had been planned for Friday, December 11.
The tree lighting would appear as solely directed to Christian residents, making other locals feel unwelcome and isolated from the rest.
However, despite her misgivings regarding the fact that such a name change would mean that one religion would take precedence over the others, the proposal was eventually successful, receiving 4 votes in favor, and 2 votes in opposition.
Following this decision which she had found so politically incorrect, the councilwoman immediately exited the room, without making any comments, coming back just for a short while so as to fetch her belongings.
Subsequently, the following morning, on December 4, Storey presented the mayor with her resignation, which will be in effect starting from January 7, 2016.
In response to the representative’s impassioned reaction, mayor Hokanson has declared that he had been profoundly affected by this gesture which he couldn’t fully comprehend. As he explained, he had never planned to outrage or exclude any religious minorities by adding the word “Christmas” to the name of the celebration.
He was simply trying to find a term that best reflected the spirit of the event, and since a Christmas tree was to be the highlight of the evening, the name seemed fitting enough. As he pointed out, every city council can call such festivities however it deems appropriate, and even New York City has its own “Christmas Tree Lighting”.
The event whose title has proven to be so controversial will be held at the Roselle Park gazebo, provided that weather conditions are favorable. Alternatively, the festivities will unfold at the Casano Community Center, on 314 Chestnut Street.
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