In Pleasant Grove (Utah) Mayor Mike Daniels‘ holiday message to city employees, Jesus was the center of attention:
In the Christmas message, Daniels quotes Isaiah 9:6: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
Then Daniels adds a personal message of concern and hope: “As I consider the turmoil of the world we live in, the distrust of citizens towards their governments, and the chaos of good being vilified while evil is celebrated, where people trap one another because of their words are not perfect [sic].
“I can hardly wait for a higher power to take the helm of the world and set things in their proper order,” he wrote. “I long for the day when all people will see eye-to-eye and know within their own hearts what is truly right and truly wrong. In the meantime, may we all do our best to bring peace to our community, to resolve misunderstandings, to unify and to respect those whom we serve. Merry Christmas, because that is what it is really called.“
That’s the sort of letter a pastor writes to his congregation, not a mayor to his constituents.
The Atheists of Utah were quick to push back, saying that Daniels’ message was completely out of line:
Sending this message suggests the government endorsing religion over non-religion and Christianity over all other religions. By sending this message you have alienated non-believers in Pleasant Grove by turning them into outsiders within their own community.
We urge you to consider your status as an elected official in Pleasant Grove and the importance of the constitutional principle of separation of state and church before you create and distribute a religious message as mayor of your city.
No response from the Mayor yet, but the atheists are absolutely right. No one is asking Daniels to deny his faith, but his religious beliefs have no place in government documents, even in a letter to his staff. This might be more obviously outrageous if Daniels were promoting anything besides Christianity. Still, even in Utah, the First Amendment applies.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)