Is Scrooge running the government of Oklahoma City?
That’s what attorneys at the Alliance Defense Fund are wondering.
The group has filed a lawsuit in response to a ban on the celebration of Christmas in the workplace by city employees.
The complaint was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma in response to a memo sent Nov. 15, restricting holiday celebrations.
Oklahoma City officials received a memo from the city manager stating holiday decorations with an explicitly religious theme would be banned from the workplace because it posed a legal liability to the city.
“Anything less than full alignment with the U.S. Constitution exposes the city to legal liability,” wrote city manager James D. Couch.
The memo then listed the items that were appropriate for public displays and the items that were banned. Couch reassured employees saying the holidays could still be celebrated, just with the exclusion of the religiously oriented.
“This does not mean that we cannot express our desire to celebrate the holiday ? instead of displaying religious based scenes, opt for winter scenes,” Couch said. Examples of appropriate displays include evergreen trees, snowflakes, reindeer, snowmen, candles and Santa Claus ? items that may not be displayed include nativity scenes, troparia, cherubs, angels, crosses, menorahs, and any other symbols of clear religious significance.”
The ADF is a legal alliance dedicated to protecting basic civil rights, especially religious freedoms, as protected by the Constitution.
“The attacks on Christmas are simply part of a larger war being waged on anything and everything Christian,” said ADF senior legal counsel Byron Babione. “It’s ridiculous that city employees are being told that they cannot display symbols central to their faith during the Christmas season.”
Brent Olsson, an ADF attorney also representing the employees, said, “Allowing employees to exercise their right to express their faith is not a violating of the First Amendment.”
A further restriction moved the city’s annual Christmas party to an off-site location and will require employees to use vacation time to attend. At the party, employees presented gifts to a family in financial need and then shared a Christmas dinner.
The ADF wants the city to recognize its mistake.
“It’s our hope that the city will quickly realize that they are in error in censoring the First Amendment rights of its employees to publicly celebrate Christmas,” said ADF litigation counsel Amy Smith. “ADF is prepared to defend people of faith against attacks such as these, wherever they may occur.”
As WND reported, Southwestern Oklahoma State University ordered removal of decorations featuring the word “Christmas” and instructed employees not to say “Christmas” while on the job.