Last Thursday on December 6th, President Obama and his family lit the Christmas tree on the White House front lawn, a tradition that has been going on for many years. Many celebrities such as Neil Patrick Harris and Rico Rodriguez were at the service, and they all sang Christmas carols together. There were also musical performances by James Taylor, Jason Mraz and The Fray.
The tradition for the president and his family to light the Christmas tree on the White House lawn has now been going on for 89 years. The first president who lit the Christmas tree was President Calvin Coolidge in 1923. The Christmas tree is a large evergreen that is in the Ellipse neighboring the White House.
The question is, is it okay for the President of the United States, the leader of our country, to light a Christmas tree on the White House lawn (which is government property)? It is U.S. law that there should not be crosses or any other religious symbols on government property, but is the Christmas tree a religious symbol? There have been many different opinions on this topic.
Some people think that it is totally okay that the president is lighting a Christmas tree on the White House lawn. They say that the president is Christian, and he should be able to celebrate his religion. They say, for example, if the president was Jewish, he or she should be able to have a Hanukkah ceremony.
However, some people do not like how there is a Christmas tree on the White House lawn. Those people say that a Christmas tree is a religious symbol in Christianity, and that it is associated with the religion. They say that no religious symbol should be on government property because it leads to a slippery slope where the government endorses a religion or people are forced to convert to Christianity. Some people don’t like it for legal reasons because they think it violates the First Amendment of the US Constitution, while others (especially non-Christians) feel that the President is endorsing a religion and that the government isn’t supporting other religions.
Presidents going back to Jimmy Carter have also lit a large Hanukkah menorah each year in the Ellipse. So, if the President publicly celebrates multiple religions, is it okay for he or she to light a Christmas tree every year? It seems unlikely that the President could publicly celebrate all of them, even if he or she wanted to.
I think that having a Christmas tree on the White House lawn is perfectly fine. President Obama is Christian, and should be allowed to celebrate it even if it offends people who are not Christian. It doesn’t bother me, and I’m not Christian. I think people who are bothered by it or concerned about a slippery slope are a little dramatic. Besides, the Christmas tree is not a religious symbol. Having a Christmas tree is not in the Bible; it is a cultural tradition started in Germany in the 16th or maybe even 15th century.
A while ago we used to have mandatory prayer during public school, but because of the separation between church and state, public schools can’t do that any more. Banning mandatory prayer in public school is something I support, but the lighting of the Christmas tree is just a good way for people to enjoy their time and celebrate a holiday together.
Are you for or against a National Christmas Tree in front of the White House?