This holiday season, like those before it, is marked by the public display of Christmas trees and menorahs, the alleged symbols of the Christian holiday, Christmas, and the Jewish holiday, Hanukkah, respectively. But the Christmas tree is recognized, both in history and by the U. S. Supreme Court, as a secular symbol, while the menorah is recognized in history and by the U.S. Supreme Court, as a religious symbol. (See the Supreme Court decision in County of Allegheny v. ACLU, 1989.)
William Donohue voiced his concerns about this matter today:
“It cannot be said too often that the natural analogue of a menorah is a creche, not a Christmas tree. To make this point more strongly, no one would think for a moment of displaying dreidels alongside creches and decide that justice was done to Jews.
“We are at a serious juncture when I am told by a senior lawyer for the Board of Education of the City of New York that Chancellor Rudy Crew is correct to say that a menorah is a secular symbol. More astounding is the fact that I am told that the court decision upon which this ruling was made was the very one that said just the opposite! No wonder the attorney told me that she would have to research this further: she can research it all she wants because in the Allegheny decision the high court explicitly said that ‘The menorah, one must recognize, is a religious symbol: it serves to commemorate the miracle of the oil as described in the Talmud.’ Indeed, the only reason the high court allowed the menorah to remain in front of the CityCounty Building was because it was surrounded by a secular symbol, namely the Christmas tree.
“It is high time that government officials started applying the law of the land instead of ignoring it. Not to do so is to accord a second-class status to Christians at this holy time of the year.”