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Denver backtracks
on Christmas sign

Denver City Hall illuminated for holiday season

A week after saying the “Merry Christmas” sign outside Denver City Hall would be replaced with one reading “Happy Holidays,” the mayor has had a change of heart, allowing it to stay. But a Christian church remains banned from tonight’s Parade of Lights for seeking to put Christ into Christmas.

“I apologize to anyone who may have been offended or mistakenly felt I was being anti-Christmas,” Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper said in a prepared statement. “Hickenlooper might have two O’s, but I am not Scrooge.”

The day after Thanksgiving, the mayor said the city would seek to replace the illuminated “Merry Christmas” message by next holiday season.

“We’re trying to be more inclusive,” Hickenlooper told the Denver Post last week, looking to embrace celebrants of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa along with those who take part in Christmas.

In his statement released yesterday, the mayor made an about-face:

“I was under the impression (perhaps erroneously) that the existing ‘Merry Christmas’ sign was becoming worn out and would need to be replaced soon anyway. Over the past several days, it has become clear to me that there is strong community sentiment to maintain the ‘Merry Christmas’ sign, and I am glad to oblige.

“My intention was never to disrespect or slight anyone or any religious tradition. … We are happy to keep the ‘Merry Christmas’ sign, and perhaps we can explore the possibility of also adding a ‘Happy Holidays’ sign to the display next year.”

Hickenlooper’s reversal on the sign issue comes as many Americans express outrage that a Christian group can’t have a float in Denver’s Parade of Lights because the church wanted to sing Christmas carols and have its own “Merry Christmas” banner, as WorldNetDaily reported.

“I think there’s an agenda that is anti-Christian,” Pastor George Morrison, of the Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada, Colo., told WND. “It seems like this agenda has crept in, and it’s robbing us.”

Morrison originally sought to have an entry in tonight’s parade, but was rejected by Denver Civic Ventures, Inc., the non-profit consortium running the event, which said no direct religious message was allowed.

Santa Claus float called one of the ‘most anticipated moments’ in Denver’s Parade of Lights (KUSA-TV)

In response to a national uproar created by the denial, organizers issued a statement saying they were “saddened” to have created such controversy.

“We apologize to anyone who may have been offended or misunderstood that the Parade of Lights is ‘anti-Christmas,'” Jim Basey, president of the partnership, said. “We will continue to listen to all community concerns.”

Basey will reportedly meet with Morrison early next year to discuss the rules governing the 2005 parade. Morrison, meanwhile, is reportedly slated to be a guest on tonight’s edition of “The O’Reilly Factor” on the Fox News Channel.

Part of the reason many seem to be upset is that while the parade says it’s not promoting religious themes, it is allowing some spiritual groups to participate, including the Two Spirit Society of Denver, a support group for American Indian homosexuals.

On its website, the society mentions a “holy” connotation for its members:

“In most Native American history, gay, lesbian, and/or transgendered individuals were considered holy and treated with the highest respect. They were the historians, the healers, and the people of empowerment. They possessed the delicate balance of male and female, and were often honored for being unique and having a different spiritual calling.”

WorldNetDaily has been inundated with e-mail on the Christmas controversy in Denver.

Aeron Brid, a practicing Wiccan in Truckee, Calif., is coming to the defense of the Christians in this case.

“To replace this seasonal parade, that has tried to convey spirituality, family, morality, and all the best of what we could hope to strive to become as a community and society, with a parade that seems to highlight an Earth-based multi-subcultural-diverse-population theme/agenda without guiding principles, is perverse and out of context with the definition of this seasonal celebration,” Brid writes. “Am I next to come under public scrutiny for immediate censorship?”

But others, like Gill who describes herself as “furious in Denver,” writes:

“Faith Bible Church must be having trouble attracting new membership and money. Don’t use our Parade of Lights to preach Sodom and Gomorrah. Instead why don’t you practice equality and fairness for all of God’s creatures, regardless of race, sexual orientation or creed. Leave our parade alone, hypocrites!”

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