Reid (R), a former Leesburg Town Council member, said he has been dismayed by some choices. “Just the way Christians have rallied against anti-Semitism and support Israel, I, as a Jew, will return the favor and help lead the fight to stop this mockery of Christmas and Christian beliefs,” he wrote in a statement.
Reid moved to Leesburg a decade ago because he wanted his children to grow up in a place with a quaint, small-town feel. He still thinks the town is welcoming and friendly, although he has seen some changes that concern him. Loudoun, which in recent years has been among the fastest-growing counties in the nation, is no longer the quiet farm community it once was.
Matthew Courtney — a “Pastafarian,” or member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster — said that allowing diversity in the holiday displays is welcoming. He said he was excited to contribute a holiday message that represents his belief but acknowledged that the message might not be well received.
“I understand that it’s out of the blue for some of these residents — that there are atheists in the community, or Pastafarians in the community,” Courtney said. “A lot of them are uncomfortable with that. At some level, I can understand that. But it doesn’t bother me. . . .
It does show the diversity of the community, and I think that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.”
Rick Wingrove, Virginia state director of American Atheists and a longtime Loudoun resident, put up the atheist-themed tree and banner on the courthouse lawn to make a point: There should be tolerance for conflicting and secular viewpoints. But if he had his way, religious symbols would be barred from public property altogether.
At home, Wingrove said, his family celebrates a traditional holiday, complete with a decorated tree. “This has never been about destroying Christmas,” he said. “It’s always been about the separation of church and state.”
The question remains: Will the “War on Christmas” end this year?
Loudoun Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large) has indicated that the policy probably will be reconsidered after a new, all-Republican board takes office in January. Reid said he thinks that the supervisors will be able to find a compromise and salvage the town’s tradition.
Reid also said he thought that the local leaders could do more to help “bridge the divide” between the two sides of the debate and to ease the community’s growing pains.
“We still have that small-town feel,” he said, “but we’re no longer a small town.”