A Thin Line Between Church and State

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Regarding the Sept. 29 front-page story "The Old Secular Cross?" on the upcoming Supreme Court case concerning church- state separation:

During my last five years at the Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters, I attempted to convince the other managers that the annual marketing of the White House Christmas Tree Ornament to every employee was discriminatory and a violation of the constitutional assurance of the separation of church and state. In their delusional belief that promoting this secular item would gain them some career-enhancing favor from the White House, they ignored the request and consequences.

After I sought equal time and staff support to market nonprofit items for those of other faiths (e.g. yarmulkes, prayer rugs, prayer wheels, prayer beads, etc.), my deputy assistant secretary became so paranoid that he would e-mail a veiled threat, assuring me that my constitutional rights were intact. To me, that meant that marketing of the White House Christmas Tree Ornament was going to commence in a couple of days. So, I would begin clanging the bell of freedom once again.

There is hope. It took us only seven years to convince them that the annual "Christmas Party" should be a "Holiday Party."

DON COLEMAN

Falls Church


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