For about 24 hours, I was very impressed with Roselle Park (New Jersey) Councilwoman Charlene Storey.
On Thursday night, the city council voted 4-2 to change the perfectly fine name of a local ceremony from “A Tree Lighting” to “A Christmas Tree Lighting” (presumably because “up yours, Jews, atheists, Muslims, Hindus, and everyone else who doesn’t believe in the majority’s God” didn’t fit on the signs).
That’s when Storey submitted her letter of resignation out of protest:
“I cannot in good conscience continue to be part of a council that is exclusionary or to work with a Mayor who is such,” Storey said in her letter.
When reached today, Storey said she regretted having to resign, but said the change “cuts non-Christians out of the loop and favors one religion.”
Storey, who was raised Catholic but is now a “non-believer” and has never hidden that fact, said the issue is a matter of principle.
Changing the ceremony, she said, “turned it from a non-religious event to a religious one.”
You hate to see a non-religious politician resign and leave the council in the hands of the religious, but you have to be impressed by how she stood up for her beliefs. That’s a politician with a backbone!
Too bad it only lasted a day.
Last night, Storey rescinded her resignation.
[Mayor Carl] Hokanson said he reached out to Storey after she left the meeting and [Friday] the pair got together in his office.
The outcome of that meeting was Storey rescinding her resignation — though the event will continue to be called a “Christmas Tree Lighting” — and the creation of a new committee on diversity that she will head, Hokanson said.
“She is a very good councilwoman who is very good at what she does for the borough,” Hokanson said.
Kudos to him for taking the high road, but how exactly does giving Storey a leadership role on a feel-good diversity panel make up for the fact that the council is simultaneously violating what that panel is supposed to fix?
Storey says she’ll work to make sure next year’s ceremony, at least, is more inclusive to non-Christians:
She said she hopes that as part of the new committee she can set up an application process so religious and non-religious groups can submit proposals for additions to the event and display.
So maybe it’s a Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony for now. But next year, that tree could be surrounded by a Festivus Pole, atheist banner, and Satanic display. I’d call that a delayed victory.
(Image via Facebook. Thanks to Jared for the link)