Sheriff Jim Alderden

A county sheriff who had publicly expressed frustration with “politically correct” antagonism from secular America toward the religious foundations of Christmas now is under investigation for his thoughts, according to a county commissioner.

Larimer, Colo., County Sheriff Jim Alderden’s opinions were expressed in his “Bulls-Eye” website column recently. He had been prompted to write after watching the ongoing dispute in the city of Fort Collins, where a task force recommended white lights, as well as neutral and non-religious decorations such as snowflakes, snowmen, snowballs, ice skates, skis, penguins and polar bears 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.

“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.

So he said in recognition and celebration of Christmas, members of his department would display “a Christmas tree – not a holiday tree” on the department’s lawn Dec. 1. To make sure no tax dollars go to the “unauthorized” display, he said he would accept 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.

He told WND the response to his plans have been “overwhelmingly” positive. “That’s probably the correct word,” he said.

Alderden said he’s gotten about 400 e-mails and telephone calls about the issue, and only a handful were negative. “Locally the response has been very positive. We’ve gotten $1,200 in donations. People are dropping off lights and ornaments. We’ve had some people donate a tree, and a tree services company volunteered to dig it up, and plant it again.”

“In general the response has been that people are tired of political correctness,” he told WND. “I’ve even had agnostics, atheists and pagans come in and see me and support what we’re doing, just on the grounds that spirituality should be allowed,” he said.

He said officers in other departments across the country, where tolerance for the Christian meanings for Christmas are less tolerated, have called to commiserate. One major U.S. city’s airport, he noted, was installing footbaths for Muslims, but refused to allow Christmas trees.

“Where have we gone?” Alderden asked.

Commissioner Glenn Gibson

However, he did say the repercussions for his support for Christmas already are developing. He said county commissioners were reviewing his comments in his column, a statement confirmed by Commissioner Glenn Gibson.

“The sheriff’s not accountable to the commissioners. He’s accountable to the public,” Gibson told WND. But the commentary on the sheriff’s department part of the county website causes concern, he said.

“I have questioned whether that is the correct, proper place to air one’s opinion,” he told WND. “That is what is being looked into. That probably will be addressed in the future.”

Gibson said Alderden was free to have his own website, something Alderden told WND he already was exploring.

“It’s just that my concern that being on the county website, that also shows county approval. That’s what we’re going to have to address,” Gibson said.

The Fort Collins council, ironically, voted just a few days earlier that its task force proposal for secular decorations would be modified to allow colored Christmas lights as well as Christmas trees and wreaths.

About 40 city residents spoke to the council before the vote, and all but a handful opposed the recommendations from the task force that would have limited displays to white lights and secular symbols such as snowflakes and penguins.

The 6-1 vote, instead, approved a modified plan that allows colored Christmas lights, Christmas trees and wreaths on the exteriors of city buildings and on other city property. The displays inside buildings, however, are supposed to be secular. But the plan specifically notes that a “cultural” display on the city’s museum could include nonsecular symbols.

Alderden’s column had reflected his irritation with being politically correct. “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.”

A spokesman for the task force, Seth Anthony, earlier said, “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.”

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.”

“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.

“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.”

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