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6/22/2019
Separation of church and state

EDITOR, Daily News:

On June 6, the Ketchikan City Council approved a $15,000 allocation and released an RFP for “a tree topper ornament to decorate the annual Ketchikan community tree. Beginning in 2018, the City of Ketchikan assumed responsibility for the community holiday celebration and tree lighting ceremony. Through an agreement with the General Services Administration, the City has gained use of the large tree in front of Ketchikan Federal Building ...”

This is a great idea to save trees, annually cut for placement at the downtown fire station, a lovely holiday activity for citizens and those with Christian beliefs. We all enjoy these tree lights and decorations our community labors to create, but only for Christmas.

Yet this is not a great idea for the following: not all of our citizens are Christians, and those who are may not believe in these festivities. The GSA has an even higher duty to separate church and state. This standard should not be over ridden by plans to create a government-funded religious amenity regardless, known as “The Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration.”

The Daily News reports a city staff level committee orchestrated the event. Did we pay staff time for event-planning clearly Christmas? Nationally, the doctrine of separation of church and state is being eroded, and this municipal government is contributing to it. This winter we all paid an approximate $100 monthly diesel surcharge. Yet the city has funds to spare for a non-inclusive religious contribution. This is not for the “Greater Good.” I'm appalled.

SONJA ALVAREZ

Ketchikan