Sheriff Jim Alderden

Something just didn’t sit well with Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden when a city of Fort Collins task force recommended white lights, as well as neutral and non-religious decorations such as “snowflakes, snowmen, snowballs, ice skates, skis, penguins, polar bears, white lights, etc.,” for this time of year.

“Penguins? This is dangerous territory. What about those of us who were traumatized by Danny DeVito’s performance as Oswald Cobblepot in ‘Batman Returns?’ Skis? What about the poor who can’t afford to go skiing? How elitist and insensitive!” he wrote in his department’s “Bulls-Eye” website column.

His sarcasm continued: “The Task Force managed to avoid any reference to Santa Claus, AKA St. Nick, but one would assume the jolly old gentleman would be banned due to the association of saints with religion.”

Alderden, the Larimer County sheriff for decades and a veteran of handling hostage situations, forest fires and other life-threatening situations, was ticked by the recent work of the city task force, headed by an ACLU volunteer, which recommended white lights and secular decorations for the city, because other decorations such as red and green lights fall among the items that are too religious for the city to sponsor.

“Some symbols, even though the Supreme Court has declared that in many contexts they are secular symbols, often still send a message to some members of the community that they and their traditions are not valued and not wanted. We don’t want to send that message,” Seth Anthony, a spokesman for the committee, said earlier.

He said the recommended language does not specifically address Christmas trees by name, but the consensus was that they would not fall within acceptable decorations.

What will be allowed are white lights and “secular” symbols not associated “with any particular holiday” such as icicles, unadorned greenery and snowflakes, the task force said.

The group was made up of members of the city’s business and religious communities as well as representatives from some community groups. Members met for months to review the existing holiday display policy, which allowed white as well as multi-colored lights and wreaths and garlands.

A vote on the proposal will be coming up before the city council on Nov. 20, officials said.

Anthony told WND that there actually would be colored lights allowed.

“Colored lights would be allowed as part of holiday display inside city buildings, and as part of the multicultural display at the museum. Our recommendations allow wide latitude as far as what can be included in those displays, which are the displays the public sees and interacts with the most,” he told WND via e-mail.

However, a copy of the actual proposal said for city building exteriors, “white lights” are allowed, and for city building interior common areas, such as lobbies, hallways and conference rooms, administrators should follow the guidelines that include allowances for “snowflakes, snowmen, snow balls, ice skates, skies, penguins, polar bears, white lights, etc.”

The new guidelines include no provision for colored lights.

The proposed rules provide that the only apparent exception to the completely secular rule would be at the Fort Collins Museum, where a “multicultural display” of symbols and objects would be collected to represent Diwali, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas among others.

“I expect criticism from people who feel like we are taking Christmas away. And I expect we will get criticism from people who think educational display endorses religions,” Anthony said. “(But) to the extent we can, recognizing that offending no one will be impossible, we want to be inclusive.”

In a forum for the Coloradoan newspaper, outrage was pretty evident.

“Let’s spend our CHRISTMAS money somewhere that believes in CHRISTMAS!” wrote barbie333. “Where does the ‘PC-ization’ stop? Maybe if the town leaders realize that we do not live in Boulder (or California)!?”

Added “Stick,” “No Virginia, there is no Santa Claus, he is dead from lack of political correctness and the elves have all been sent to China to make toys.”

“Seth Anthony says, ‘Some symbols, even though the Supreme Court has declared that in many contexts they are secular symbols, often still send a message to some members of the community that they and their traditions are not valued and not wanted. We don’t want to send that message.’ Guess what, Seth? That’s EXACTLY the message you sent me!” added “notpc.”

“If the city council decided to not acknowledge Christmas on public grounds this year then all city offices should be open for business on Dec. 25th, white lights shining! Don’t want to offend anyone by stopping city business for a day to celebrate a holiday not everyone believes in,” added Amidon.

Alderden delivered perhaps the most telling insult to the plan.

“Fort Collins is becoming more like the imbecilic borough of Boulder than many would like to admit, where social agendas substitute for common sense,” he wrote. “Last week, Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly righteously ridiculed the recommendations of Fort Collins’ Holiday Display Task Force.

“While the secular progressives have tried to take Christ out of Christmas, supported and bolstered by the ACLU which is waging its own Jihad against Christianity, the majority of Americans, including those living in Larimer County and Fort Collins, recognize and value our Christian heritage. Valuing our heritage while being tolerant of other religions!” the sheriff wrote.

“Let us not forget that the separation of Church and State is a fairly modern creation of the Supreme Court, not the views of our Founding Fathers and certainly not expressly found in our Constitution. Our Founding Fathers fought in part for the right of citizens to freely express their religious beliefs. Express – not suppress. It seems that government at all levels is more interested in suppressing Christian beliefs. The recommendations of the Holiday Display Task Force are clearly designed to suppress the thanksgiving and joyfulness of Christians for the birth of Jesus Christ.

“I would love to visit Israel some day. In a Jewish country, I would expect to see symbols such as the Star of David and Menorahs in the public square. In an Islamic country, one would expect to see symbols representing the faith of their nation. Why in America, a country founded on Judaic Christian values, would we exclude symbols of our faith from the public square? Why not display a Nativity scene?” he continued.

“The fact that we are even engaged in a discourse of whether Christmas trees and Christian symbols of faith should be allowed on city property is absurd. When one is sliding down a slippery slope, there comes a time to dig in your heels, grab the nearest branch, and hold on for dear life. Our country, and sadly our own community, has reached that point where people of faith and good conscience can no longer stand silently while a belligerent minority usurps our heritage and dictates how and where we express our religious freedoms. It is time to make a statement – to grab that branch, in this case a pine bough,” he said.

He wrote that many members of the sheriff’s office are Christians. “We pray for the continued safety of our brothers and sisters in blue, and recognize that the laws we are sworn to uphold have their very foundation in the laws laid down by God through Moses.

“To deny that by restricting symbols of Christian faith on public property is beyond the pale. In recognition and celebration of Christmas, members of the LCSO will be displaying a Christmas tree – not a holiday tree – on our front lawn at 2501 Midpoint Drive. We will be decorating the tree on December 1 at 10:00 a.m. and invite members of the public who share our faith or object to government intrusion into our religious freedoms to join us,” he said.

To make sure no tax dollars go to the “unauthorized” display, he’s accepting donations of lights and ornaments.

“Might I suggest that red ribbons, stars, angels and multi-colored lights would be in order? … Lights, decorations and donations can be dropped off at our headquarters and left in the lobby or vestibule at any time. (No frightening penguins.)” he said.

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