Fearing they might offend someone, Red Cross stores in Britain have taken the Christian out of Christmas this year, banning any display of overtly religious decorations.
At a shop in Ipswich, England, for example, Christmas cards are on display but none of them depict the classic Christian images of the birth of Christ, Joseph and Mary, and Bethlehem, the Evening Star newspaper of Ipswich reported.
Instead, the store carries only cards with wintry, non-religious scenes.
Its window display shows snowmen and tinsel.
“We are a non-religious organization, but personally I think it has gone too far,” a volunteer in the store told the newspaper. “I don’t think Muslims are offended by Christmas.”
The charity’s official explanation, however, is that it must appear neutral because of international aid efforts.
A leaflet at the store reads: “Our neutrality is as important on the UK [main] street as it is in a conflict zone. We simply cannot put it at risk,” the British paper said.
“This is why, during Christmas and any other religious festivals, our volunteers are welcome to display and sell seasonal decorations and goods, including Christmas trees and cards, but not anything overtly religious.”
Impartiality, particularly in restricted-access countries, is vital for an international organization that treats people in areas of conflict, the British Red Cross says.
The Red Cross’s full name actually accommodates Muslim nations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
The cross symbol comes from the flag of the group’s country of origin, Switzerland.