By editorial board • 

Holiday spirit soured over parade miscue

One of the many signs the holiday season is approaching is the cultural and historical debate over who truly rules the season, Jesus Christ or Santa Claus.

Another sign in McMinnville, actually the “official kickoff,” is a festive parade down Third Street. The parade has featured many versions, times and titles over the years, but always finished with St. Nick riding on top of a McMinnville fire truck. 

Another, albeit small, chapter in the “War on Christmas” erupted last week when social media pages went aflame with word the McMinnville Downtown Association was denying any and all religious imagery along the parade route. The blasphemy!

The blame, it seems, lay with miscommunication of policies discussed by the MDA board and staff following displays of intense proselytizing by previous participants in the MDA-sanctioned event.

In recent memory, the overwhelmingly dominant source of aggressive proselytizing complaints has been The Potter’s House in downtown McMinnville — the subject of many stories in this newspaper over the years. And the MDA aimed to prevent a new round.

Unfortunately, an entrant familiar to local Christmas parades everywhere — a flatbed truck featuring stand-up plastic figurines arranged to depict a nativity scene — was caught up in the crossfire.

Postings on social media had the MDA banning all religious imagery, including the nativity scene. That provided plenty of fuel for people to not only rant and rave on social media, but also light up MDA phone lines. 

That applicant in question was not engaged in the kind of in-your-face religious messaging the MDA was trying to avoid, said Director Brad James, who was caught up in the fallout.

Religious imagery is not an issue, he said. “The purpose of the policy is to prevent proselytizing and preaching,” he explained.

It would be within MDA’s rights, as a private association, to ban as much or as little religious theming as it wants from its holiday parade and other festivities.

If someone wants to stand on the public street corner and preach from a soapbox, he has every right to do so. But an event hosted by a private business organization isn’t subject to the Constitution’s First Amendment guarantees. 

Of course, mandating a truly religion-free Christmas parade would be a decidedly Grinch-move for a major demographic in our community. At the end of the day, the various themes attached to the holiday season turn sour if elements of the community end up at odds with each other and some feel unfairly targeted — like almost anyone subjected to the barrage from Potter’s House parade entries of recent years.

Whether you side with Jesus or Santa, make sure you represent the positive aspects of their spirits throughout the coming holiday season. Your community will be much the better for it.

Comments

Don Dix

The problem, as I see it, is those who think they know what's best for all. We are bombarded with commercial ads, media slants, and outright opinion pieces to influence our beliefs, religious or not. The political scene is fraught with 'proselytizing' at all levels, depending on 'whose ox is being gored' (or so they state).

Those who proselytize are counting on the easily influenced, or those looking for a cause, to carry their water. Some are not aware they are being used, much like the sacrificial pawn, to gain more traction.

Everyone has a personal passion towards something, but trampling others right to make a choice will eventually have consequences. For example, 'your nose in my business might end up broken'. It can't be written here, but look up the late George Carlin and his statement on 'live and let live' -- George could be onto something!