Local News

Raleigh Group Wants To Bring Christmas Message To Downtown

Posted December 5, 2005 5:32 a.m. EST

— Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanzaa are the greetings of the holiday season, but one local group says you don't hear the messages anymore.

So now, they are heading to the Raleigh City Council with hopes of doing something about it.

If residents take a ride around downtown Raleigh they won't see many decorations this time of year on city property.

WRAL found a few light poles dressed up and wreaths and a Christmas Tree at City Hall. Some people believe the decorations need to be more religious-based with specific signs that say Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah.

"There's no acknowledgement of these holidays in this city and others across the country, " said Steve Noble, the head of Called2Action, a local coalition of Conservative Christians. "They are just glossing over it and afraid because of the so-called separation of church and state."

Noble said he thinks the religious roots of the country need to be protected and celebrated. So, his group will head to the Raleigh City Council and ask for permission to use Moore Square to display specific holiday greetings and a Nativity scene for Christmas, menorah for Hanukah and Kinara for Kwanzaa.

Mayor Charles Meeker supports the idea as long as the city itself is not taking the lead.

"It's one thing to celebrate the season. It's something else to actually spend something on a typical religion," Meeker said.

The Downtown Raleigh Alliance is already trying to raise money for holiday decorations for next year. Leaders envision a new Fayetteville Street with lights everywhere. Even with private money, the Alliance director says the decorations will be generic.

"It's just a lot safer to be festive than it is to possibly offend someone who we might have missed, " said the president of the Alliance, Nancy Hormann.

This kind of movement has been the subject of lawsuits across the country.

WRAL talked with one local civil group that says as long as all religious groups are given equal access and no one group is favored, it's unlikely to become a problem here.

"The vast majority are not offended by Merry Christmas. Just like they are not offended by 'God Bless You' if they sneeze," Noble said.