Fox News has an article on a tree display in the public school district in Ashland, Oregon. It’s a “Fair and Balanced” Christmas diversity tree as the compromise is now not to remove possible religious symbols (more pagan, if you read the history of the Christmas tree) but to allow for everyone to display their own religious symbols–even secular ones.
The district wrote its guidelines based on previous rulings on public school displays to avoid Christmas warfare as everyone gets pretty damn touchy this time of year. Apparently, last year there was a controversy when at Bellview Elementary a tree was removed after complaints by one family that said it was a religious symbol. This caused an uproar amongst the first graders who rioted during second recess…(kidding!). But there was a backlash and the tree was replaced with the condition that everyone could decorate it.
It seems to me a fair compromise to post a tree where anyone can express their beliefs or even lack of beliefs. Atheists may be at a bit of a loss for a universal symbol to use on an ornament, however, I’m sure with a little creativity the message can be made clear. I also like the competition of ideas within one tree. I can’t comment on the constitutionality of such a tree or the legalities, I just think that public schools are so mind-numbingly boring that a little controversy with exposure to other religious or secular beliefs is a good thing. Kids tend to be raised in a vacuum which can result in fundies. One of the weaknesses of public schools is that they can’t teach comparative religion, not to mention evolution.
So let the diversity tree stand for now. This may be a good idea for government property displays too. I prefer creative competition to banning a display if possible.