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December 09, 2006

Sea-Tac holiday display

Comments: 59

What do you think about Sea-Tac Airport's decision to take down its holiday trees?

Airport puts away holiday trees rather than risk being "exclusive"

Your comments

Responses will be held for review, and we'll publish a selection.

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Selected comments

Absolutely rediculous. Once again the American Way of life bows to... the American Way of life. When will it end? When will God be taken off of our currency? When will we have to have all street signs in every language?

Posted by David Tapia at 12:27 AM, Dec 10, 2006

This is a prime example of political correctness run amuk. They bend over so far backwards to not offend one grumpy person, they instead offend the entire group. Develop some backbone. Some people are going to be grumpy no matter what. To allow them to dictate your actions is to demonstrate your weakness.

Posted by Kristen at 12:27 AM, Dec 10, 2006

A tree is not a cross, it is not a menorah, it is a tree. If a lighted tree is considered religious then everything must be considered religious. The scientologists believe that humans came to earth on DC-8 like airliners (no kidding). I guess the airport might have to remove all four-engined aircraft because of this.

Posted by Jonathan Granger at 12:33 AM, Dec 10, 2006

This is really sad. When I see other religions/cultures celebrate their holidays I appreciate their values and differences. I am not offended by anyone talking about or displaying items that reflect their religion. And a Christmas tree...99% of people couldn't even explain the religious symbolism. Religious leaders should be teaching tolerance and acceptance and stop taking offense at well intentioned people.

Posted by Josh at 12:38 AM, Dec 10, 2006

I am ashamed and embarrassed to be associated with the "christians" at seatac airport! if I had a choice, I would Never patronize them again. it is right, reasonable, just, and democratic that other major groups, who also are having their holidays at this time, be represented.

Posted by anne blakeslee at 12:56 AM, Dec 10, 2006

"I felt we'd also have to put up Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish symbols. Where does it stop?" said Commissioner John Creighton.

Where does it wonder they removed the Christmass tree. Someone educate this guy that there is more than one religion in this country. I'm sorry that I voted for this Comissioner, I can't wait until I can vote him out. Here's a simple request include everyone! Until those that only celebrate Christmass learn to include everyone there will always be someone that is offended and never peace on earth.

Posted by Mike at 01:01 AM, Dec 10, 2006

I'm glad they were removed. I'm just sorry that my tax dollars ever went to pay for religious clap-trap. It's an airport, not a church.

Posted by I'm happy at 01:03 AM, Dec 10, 2006

I think that the whole ordeal regarding the holiday trees is ridiculous. Tis the season to sue just to send a message. If it were a cross or some other religious icon then I would understand. The airport officials should not back down just because of a silly threat of a lawsuit from a Jewish rabbi. With the recent shooting at the Jewish Federation in downtown Seattle one would think that the Jewish leaders would be embracing holiday festivus instead of quelling it regardless of ones belief that a tree represents any one denomination when it has truly come to be a seasonal icon!

Posted by Thomas Angstrom at 01:11 AM, Dec 10, 2006

What a shame it is to see Seattle portrayed time and time again as the place where religion goes to die. Please for the love of God -let's not forget what Christmas season is all about.

Posted by Keegan Fisher at 01:15 AM, Dec 10, 2006

Just because one person wants the trees gone is sad, I am sure there are alot more people that would like to have them up. You can never please everyone, but they expect us to be tolerant of their feeling well what about ours? I love to travel over the holidays and it makes me happy to see the trees. I usually fly on christmas day every year , but this year I am not, I am staying home, If there was another airport option I would chose it to make a statement. It puts you in the spirit. I would hope that they would bring them back they still hae time to make it right.

Posted by Teresa from Auburn at 01:16 AM, Dec 10, 2006

I think it is awful!
You know, you can't make everyone happy.
Christmas is celebrated in the U.S. with a Christmas tree, which is technicaly a German tradition. It is celebrated mostly as a commercial Holiday although it has deeper meaning for most Americans. I think that all Americans regardless of race should honor the traditions of their country's founders and that tradition is celebrated with a Christmas Tree.

Posted by Stephanie from Newcastle at 01:16 AM, Dec 10, 2006

Though it seems the way that this country is going...I don't like it at all...they should've allowed the manora to be put up as well. There is nothing wrong with either seasonal symbol after all they are both appropriate for this season.

Posted by Todd at 01:22 AM, Dec 10, 2006

I agree with the airport staff. That this became an issue a mere two weeks before Christmas is no coincidence, nor is it a surprise. As the saying goes, "The easiest way to fail is to try to please everyone."

Posted by Karl Woods at 01:22 AM, Dec 10, 2006

I think its not displaying something related to the Holiday season, Sea-Tac Airport is putting politics above the spirit of the season

Posted by Nick Schmidt at 01:27 AM, Dec 10, 2006

Pathetic. I'm agnostic, and Christmas trees don't even come close to offending me. Sure, at it's roots Christmas is a religious holiday. But a Christmas tree, by it's own right, is more indicative of paganism. Everybody gets around a tree and sings to it. That's paganism folks. A Christmas tree isn't about some guy named Jesus who may or may not have walked the earth. Let's face it, Christmas is more popular now as a marketing campaign for businesses hoping to convince us all to buy a bunch of crap so we can distribute said crap to our friends and families. It's less about celebrating the supposed birth of Jesus. Put the trees up. They're pretty, and the bright lights and tree smell remind me of when I was a kid who believed that the world was mine. All I had to do was put out some cookies and milk, and some fat guy was going to make my dreams come true.

Posted by Z. Clements at 01:29 AM, Dec 10, 2006

To me, it would have made more sense to add the menorah, and any other religious symbols that people requested. What's wrong with celebrating the Jewish winter holiday, as well as the Christian one, and some Solstice celebrations, and Kwanzaa? Why does it have to be "Christmas" or "No holiday" instead of "all the holidays of the season?" We're becoming more and more narrow-minded, and it's sad.

Posted by Glenda at 01:36 AM, Dec 10, 2006

As a Christian, I believe that December 25 is a very sacred day celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It is not about Santa Claus, spending a lot of money on presents, or Christmas trees. But, what bothers me is that other people are so quick to remove any tradition (like a decorated tree or a "religious" symbol) and run to their lawyers because "some one will be offended." Guess what? No matter what we do in life, there WILL BE someone who is offended. We are quickly becoming a nation that has lost its sense of history and is afraid to form an opinion and speak out because of this obsessing fear. Frankly, as a Christian, often times I have been offended by the media and others, and it just encourages me to speak up even more for what I believe.

Posted by Laurie Fryett at 01:40 AM, Dec 10, 2006

I think it was a good decision. As a Jew in the US, I always felt uncomfortable and misunderstood around Christmas. That is why I'm now living in Israel. This isn't about the 'holiday spirit' or being 'oversensitive.' If America claims to be pluralistic and not Christian, than it should act that way.

Posted by Lisa at 01:41 AM, Dec 10, 2006

I am really getting tired of "other" special interst groups having their way. There has always been a Christmas in this country. I say instead condemming everything that is "christian" do some real good, help the poor, feed the hungry,etc.,, "oops" this sounds too much like Christ

Posted by Rob at 01:49 AM, Dec 10, 2006

It's sad. I am not a Christian, but as the tradition this country has been having, I enjoy Christmas season. Why can't we accept and celebrate other religions and culture? It will be very sad to see the airport without any Christmas tree. I hope this will not affect other public and private places.

Posted by KG at 02:01 AM, Dec 10, 2006

I think they should put up a Menorah,some corn symbolizing Kwanzaa and make space for symbols of other celebratory rituals. Instead of sterilizing public places, Why not make them showcases of inclusion by inviting religious groups to donate suitable symbols celebrating the winter holiday season? It is the USA,after all, founded on principles of religious freedom and equality.

Posted by Colleen Rain-Austin at 02:11 AM, Dec 10, 2006

In all honesty I do not know if I should laugh or cry? We have in the United States go so far beyond the call of of duty in trying to accomodate all religious groups that I have myself surrended. I raise the white flag...

Posted by Johan Wictor at 02:21 AM, Dec 10, 2006

When you threaten an organization with legal action, you get a legal response. This should not be surprising. The legal response always leans towards risk reduction and takes precedence setting into consideration since there may be subsequent legal action. This response falls completely along those lines. If they truly wanted something, they should have just asked and left it at that. There is no way to have "all" secular religous symbols represented in a week. People got the reponse they manufactured and now they are upset. Act differently, and we will get different results next time.

Posted by MS at 02:25 AM, Dec 10, 2006

Obviously I was wrong in thinking of the Pacific NW as a pluralistic society. Pluralism means mutual respect so that different groups can coexist, that includes naturally compromise. May the "Pacific" spirit prevail and all communities do their best to accommodate each other. This is the advice from a ordinary Belgian living in Seattle.

Posted by Christophe Verlinde at 02:33 AM, Dec 10, 2006

I understand the position of the Rabi and it is valid. I don't agree that the management should have removed the trees because of it. If they didn't want the Menora; they should have kindly declined the request. I feel that the jewish community would have been ok with their decision.

ps. I'm Jewish

Mazel Tov!

Posted by Wade Valentine at 02:40 AM, Dec 10, 2006

I'm an ardent secularist, and I don't care if it's a Christmas tree or a menorah, it's the holidays! I want to enjoy it in good spirit with those who have good spirits. Some curmudgeon that wants to be PC is totally Seattle. Congratulations!

Posted by tyler at 03:03 AM, Dec 10, 2006

In 2000 76.5% of Americans called themselves Christian, 1.3% Jewish, 13.2% non-religious, with the other religions making up less than .5% of the population each. I propose a 7.6 foot Christmas tree, a 1.3 foot menorah, a blank area for the non-religious, and half-foot figurines for all the rest. Now, is everyone happy?

Posted by Joseph Dolan at 03:15 AM, Dec 10, 2006

I am a firm believer in treating everyone equally but come on! This is ridiculous. The Christmas tree really has nothing to do with religion even though the day itself does. His answer should have been..."I'm sorry sir, but we aren't going to do that because then we will have to represent all religions by erecting a symbol for each of them. We don't have the budget for something like that. We have the trees up because this is the Evergreen state and we wanted to celebrate the season." Our culture risks exluding everyone by including everyone.

Posted by Derek at 03:20 AM, Dec 10, 2006

This getting quite ridiculous. For me, a lapsed Catholic, the Xmas tree is more a commercial than a religious symbol. Granted, it might have had a religious connotation once upon a time. But now it is the symbol of a holiday seasons. Are not Xmas trees still twinkling at New Year? I think we are heading back to the Dark Ages! I am a US citizen working in France but I keep up with my old turf through the Seattle Times on the Web.

Marie-Catherine Gunet

Posted by Marie-Catherine Gunet at 04:01 AM, Dec 10, 2006

Let's just not observe Christmas in way, shape or form. That way we'll be safe not to offend anyone or have any person feel left out.

Posted by Mickey Cole at 04:13 AM, Dec 10, 2006

Sea-Tac should have ignored the rabbi. People these days should be relaxed that a Christmas tree doesn't mean that the officials are anti-Jews or pro-Christians. It's just a sign of the holiday season. This is similar to Wal-Mart switching back from "Happy Holidays" to "Merry Christmas".

Posted by Brian at 05:04 AM, Dec 10, 2006

Put up The Manger Scene and the Star of Bethlehem. Let's put Christ back in Christmas.

Posted by Lil Erickson at 05:17 AM, Dec 10, 2006

Stand your ground. Christmas is a season of giving and a time of reflection. Our Country was founded on Christian principles and strong in the faith of Christianity. We are Americans; a melting pot of peoples and religion but, a Christian Nation and not any other. Let all man kind worship their God and let the Christmas Tree be symbolic of a joyous and festive holiday season; MERRY CHRISTMAS

Posted by Dennis Anderson at 05:50 AM, Dec 10, 2006

So put up the 8' menorah, what's the big deal? Diversity is what this country is all about. We fought WW2 to protect and preserve the rights of an entire natonality. Let's be proud of it!

Posted by Lilbuddy at 05:56 AM, Dec 10, 2006

Hanukkah is a celebration of religious freedom -- for all. Taking down the Christmas decorations is as much of an insult to that belief as only acknowledging one tradition!

The fact that there's a menorah at the nation's Capitol and that Gov. Gregoire will be participate in lighting one in our State Capitol Building demonstrates that this is an issue that Sea-Tac should have addressed a long time ago. The way they've handled it, choosing to avoid it rather than work *with* the community to resolve it, further demonstrates the very lack of sensitivity and responsibility that put them in this position, in the first place.

Posted by Donna L. McKereghan at 06:10 AM, Dec 10, 2006

I think the Airport's decision is WRONG. Take a look around the country at other airports. You'll see Christmas trees everywhere and in front of those trees, you see people of all religions and nationalities having their picture taken. They're not offended, they think their beautiful. Seattle Port Administrators need to get some ornaments!

Posted by Dave at 06:20 AM, Dec 10, 2006

The airport should be spending their time on the job of plane travel and less on decorating.
Seatac turned a simple request into a national debate.

Posted by Diane J Standiford at 06:25 AM, Dec 10, 2006

I think it's a wonderful move away from attempting to secularize our faith traditions. Perhaps the common denominator of many religious expressions at this time of year is that this is the season of light. Strings of white lights on the kiosks and potted plants would be a festive touch, without pointing to a specific tradition. It's time to embrace all of our people.

Posted by Rev. Mary Beth Rivetti at 06:47 AM, Dec 10, 2006

As an atheist, I think this is a perfectly good decision. I see no reason why the Port of Seattle should use my tax dollars to place religious symbols in public facilities (and yes, these Christmas trees and menorahs are religious, even if they are defined legally as 'secular'). The government of the United States is legally sworn not to promote or uphold any religious view over any another.

Posted by Kochun Hu at 07:16 AM, Dec 10, 2006

Christmas is a gift-giving holiday. It is not a religious one even though many people think it is. Jesus was not born in December and it is not his birthday that he wanted us to celebrate. He died for our sins. Easter is the day to celebrate.

Posted by Gene Holt at 07:36 AM, Dec 10, 2006

All religions want harmony and peace. Love and respect for our fellow man is irrespective of specific symbols. I admire the airport for making the decision it did. In these difficult times, may we focus on the true meaning of our respective religions and let go of these strong attachments to public secular symbols.

Posted by Cindy Etter at 07:59 AM, Dec 10, 2006

What is tolerance? Is it placing one above another or nothing above all? No, it means respecting others and giving the benefit of the doubt to others that there outward expressions are not done with malice to offend but, rather as just that ... an outward expression. Isn't our nation founded upon this?

Posted by Matt Scott at 03:30 PM, Dec 10, 2006

Once again Seattle is guilty of being overly PC. A 1989 US Supreme Court ruling declared Christmas trees to be a SECULAR display. Put 'em back up.

Posted by Mike Malmin at 04:49 PM, Dec 10, 2006

The entire Board should be fired. They have clearly demonstrated shocking level of incompetence. If they can't think of a better way to handle a simple task like accommodating all groups who are having a holiday at this time, what on earth are they going to do if a real crisis, like a terrorist attack, comes along?

Posted by Susanna Thompson at 08:19 PM, Dec 10, 2006

Wouldn't it be nice if Christian leaders would stand up and reverse the hijacking which they performed centuries ago by lumping the birth of Christ with all of our wonderful secular practices and traditions that we have this time of year? As a result, we who enjoy Santa, Rudolf, the lights, the decorated evergreens have to suffer even more so than ever because somebody interprets our decorated trees as a religious symbol - when in fact - NONE of the traditional practices of yule logs, caroling, Santa Claus, decorated trees - have any connection whatsoever with Jesus or Christianity.

Posted by Johnny T. Stine at 09:51 PM, Dec 10, 2006

We visited our Marine son in Sri Lanka a year ago, and it was amazing to view the representations of deity that dot the landscape and cover the buildings in that part of the world. The Kandy Buddah stares serenely over a landscape cluttered with small temples and sacred spots. Elephants are brought to weddings and death is commemorated by strings of white lights laced over the main thoroughfare. Amidst this bustle our American son married his Armenian wife in an Anglical service performed by a Scottish priest. It is somewhat disturbing that in this country we are so monocular as to leave other viewpoints unacknowledged and uncelebrated.

Posted by Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Hayes at 09:32 AM, Dec 11, 2006

I am mad, damn mad. Christmas is a Christian holiday, acknowledged by those who love it. This is a Christian nation, founded by Christian men. Who dare my holiday and its symbols be disrespected and given short-shrift. We Christians were here first.

Posted by Keith C. Edwards at 12:52 PM, Dec 11, 2006

Are you guys serious? A Christmas tree IS synonymous with Christmas, hence the name Christmas Tree. You guys have to be kidding if you think a Christmas Tree is a secular holiday symbol. I think Sea-Tac made a wise decision by removing the trees in respect of all the religious faiths that pass through the Air-port.

If they have to show symbols for all religions, where do they stop? How would they show respect to my atheist beliefs? As an atheist, I do not want to see any religious symbols at all, because I do not want to be reminded that people actually believe in this supernatural god non-sense.

Posted by Jay at 02:20 PM, Dec 11, 2006

As a Christian pastor, I am appalled that the Port would opt to REMOVE the trees, instead of setting up the menorah. So much for diversity and inclusion. Know what? On second thought, this is probably a good idea. The trees aren't really a Christian symbol in the way a menorah is a Jewsih symbol. I'll wait for the creche AND menorah.

Posted by RevMom at 02:48 PM, Dec 11, 2006

3,000 people die in Iraq every month and this christmas tree story gets the front page because it takes away from the real issues that should be reported.

Posted by Tim Hogg at 03:27 PM, Dec 11, 2006

It was a brilliant move by the Port Authority!
It drew attention to, and put shame on, the rabbi for threatening the airport with a lawsuit.
Frivolous lawsuits like this one should be ridiculed and should be shown for what they are.
Further, the airport is a public space and should not have religious displays like the menorah or a cross. Despite its name, the Christmas tree is in no way connected to Christianity. Just like the snowman and slay bells aren't.
Cheers for the Port Authority! But once this hoopla settles, please give us back the Christmas trees so we can all enjoy them.

Posted by Bjorn at 03:51 PM, Dec 11, 2006

I am sick of people suing public organizations over some wrong. If trees are indeed Christian in tradition, than the airport was right in taking them down. If decorations are to be inclusive of all faiths, than the airport has significant expense that has to be questioned. All faiths should be displayed than, including Wiccan and Druid. I'm not sure I'm interested in that public expense. The response by the airport seems to be well thought out. The actions of the Rabbi seem to be fairly short sighted.

Posted by Mike at 04:11 PM, Dec 11, 2006

Sea-Tac made the right decision. Safety should be their concern, not decorating. It is difficult enough to walk through a busy airport without more stuff in the way. If people want lighted trees, they should put them in their homes and churches where they can enjoy them in private. The rabbi is an idiot. He caused all this trouble, now he is "shocked, devastated, and appalled". What did he expect? The tragedy of this situation is that it gave Jews and Christians another reason to resent each other. The rabbi should think next time before he opens his mouth.

Posted by Ruth McGregor at 04:13 PM, Dec 11, 2006

The Holiday tree removal at SeaTac story is just another example that some of George Orwell's 1984 is now here. The odd thing about it is that NewSpeak of Big Brother and the Thought Police have been brought too you bye the same folks that claim to represent everyones best interests. The same folks that claim we must be sensitive to everyone even if we grew up in a country where Christianity was the major religion though diverse choice of the masses. Like it or not America has been changed by some idiotic ideals. This is not even a religious issue. We grew up with Xmas trees they should still be called Christmas Trees. Even if I don't agree with mass marketing of Christmas or was Atheist it would still be a Christmas tree. I feel the questioning of our right as Americans to have Christmas Trees vs Holiday Trees is the most ludicrous example of being bent over backward by the Thought Police using the legal system to shape America into their concept of their own version of a free world.
America is why a free world exists still today. However I feel our country has spent way too much money supporting a variety of other foreign government's. When comes to some Grinch living in my country representing some foreign government or other religion that we supply billions of dollars a year too support and the Grinch threatens to sue over our founder's religious holiday icon I think they have just treaded too far on America. In God we Trust and the Masonic symbols are on the dollar for a reason. Though I know some people that resent what America is and was and how it was formed would like to remove these items too. Why don't we just rewrite American history for their sake.

Perhaps we should remake the classic It's a Wonderful Life in multiple versions for everyone's holiday. With a version revolving around Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, or its a Wonderful Pow-Wow where all of the same events happen but have been changed to represent the proper religious concept or group. Oh lets not forget its a Wonderful La Cage aux Folles, or yes its Wonderful Atheistic, Pagan, Druid or Wiccan Life. This is an example of the how well meaning people have changed your country both in language and teaching to your children through either use of the legal system or by design to not offend anyone. Well I am offended. You are not repecting my rights with either your lawsuits, attitude or designs or the help of many good Christians. I can no longer speak plain American English without offending someone.

This is an American issue, and should not be a religious, political, or legal issue. In my lifetime I had a number of English teachers. From elementary school thru college. The one that I had that was best was a Chinese American immigrant from South America that spoke 4 languages fluently and a PHD and professed that everyone should learn English in this country. He also believed in calling a spade a spade. That is to say for all of you people that speak NewSpeak is too call the noun or object exactly what it is and not distort it into some other imaginary item that never existed so as not to offend someone. Again I am offended. And in writing this I fear theThought Police may show up at the door any day now. I suggest next year we just put up a Native American sacred totem pole and allow the others to put up one of Seinfeld's holiday Fesitvus poles. You Grinch have stolen Christmas.

Posted by Rob Mack at 04:32 PM, Dec 11, 2006

I am writing from Green Bay Wisconsin (where my wife is the local rabbi) to apologize for the "issues" raised by the Chabad rabbi that resulted in the removal of Christmas trees from the local airport. Jews who presume to speak for the Jewish people do exactly none of us a favor, and while it is absolutley true thatthe time of Christmas is also the time of hannukah, it is equally true that it does BOTH faiths a great disservice when one presumes to to be "equal" - because in no way shape or form are Channukah and Christmas equal to their relative faiths.

Hannukah is a celebration of freedom - and in that it becomes and should remain an important observance of those of the Jewish faith. But when the meaning and importance of Hannukah to the Jews is held in comparrison to the meaning and importance of Christmas to Christianity, one quickly sees that one is esentially trying to elevate Valentine's Day to the level of Easter.

Treating Hannukah on an equal plane as Christmas simply is wrong. It artificially elevates the importance of Hannukah in the eyse of OUR (Jewish) children - and that is wrong, and it demeans the true meaning of Christmas to Christians around the world. Both are worng - both are unfair to their respective faiths, and shame on Rabbi Bogomilsky and Chabad for trying to do both.

Posted by Robert Dick at 04:43 PM, Dec 11, 2006

My sister and have been emailing about this all afternoon. I think the Port dropped the ball, she says the Rabbi needs to get a life. I'm glad the story has gone national, it gives people a chance to think about peace and tolerance and how our government really is NOT behind either concept in practice.

Posted by Jennifer at 04:52 PM, Dec 11, 2006

Most of the comments I see here act as if the rabbi wanted the trees down. He wanted to give the airport a single menorah put up. End of story.
It was the Port Authority that decided to take the trees down because they were afraid a menorah was such an exotic religious symbol that it would open the door to a mob of hack religions demanding equal time.

This isn't a story about political correctness run amok, this is a story about absurd legal advice.

Posted by Christian at 05:34 PM, Dec 11, 2006

Though I am a Christian, I regect the idea of the trees being about Christ and Christianity. For me they are about Santa Claus, wrapped up packages under the tree, lights that glow, and ornaments collected over the years. It is simply another part of a family tradition that makes the season so joyous. Shame on those who can't see the joy in a Christmas tree.

Posted by Dr. Robin Cogburn at 06:00 PM, Dec 11, 2006

Hold on - the commission had a month to get back to this rabbi, but they ignored his request and hired a lawyer instead to see if there was any way to weasel out of giving equal access to non-Christians to display their seasonal symbol. Real nice. As a meeting planner for a Fortune 100 company, I think we'll just scratch Seattle off our list of potential sites for future sales events until Seattle gets a clue. This nice Jewish boy isn't feeling too welcome in those parts. Merry Christmas.

Posted by Tim at 06:17 PM, Dec 11, 2006