On Wednesday, January 12th, members from the community of Elk Grove, CA, gathered at their City Council meeting to hear whether the City would stop using the term “holiday trees,” and instead call them what they are – “Christmas trees.” The result? A resounding yes to “Christmas,” and it all happened because of one concerned citizen.
Back in August 2010, Liz Stefanik received a flier referencing “holiday trees.” Curious about what exactly a holiday tree was, she investigated further and found that the flier had come from the City and was, in fact, alluding to Christmas trees. It seemed that for legal reasons, the City had decided to use a more generic term to refer to Christmas trees. Liz attended the next City Council meeting six weeks later and asked if they could discuss why they were using generic terminology, but the Council said that they would have to go through the official process of putting this item of discussion on the agenda for the next meeting.
Finally, five months after she had initially heard of “holiday trees” in City communications, Liz had a chance to stand up for Christmas. She had come prepared – she brought three of her friends to support the cause, and she called Advocates for Faith & Freedom to get a legal perspective on the issue. General Counsel Bob Tyler assured Liz that, legally, there is nothing wrong with the City referring to “Christmas trees.” In fact, Bob assured her that if the City faced legal opposition for its reference to “Christmas,” Advocates would provide a legal defense for the City for free!
Armed with this knowledge and supporters at her side, Liz argued her case before the City Council on January 12th. Immediately, the Council voted 5-0 in support of using the term “Christmas trees.
Liz was overwhelmed by the positive reaction from the Council, and she learned something valuable from this experience. “One person really can make a difference,” she stated. All it took was her concern, investigation, and action to get this issue addressed and corrected.
Advocates was delighted to be part of this victory, in whatever small way possible. We know that not all important cases are won after months or even years in a courtroom. In cases like this, all we need to do is provide a legal perspective and be ready to act if religious intolerance persists.
If you ever hear of religious liberties being violated in your school, work, or community, remember that you can make an impact, and Advocates will be ready to respond!