Wednesday, November 16, 2022

The Difference Between Florida and Seattle

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No, I'm not going to compare Gov. DeSantis to Governor Inslee. You can do that.

First Florida: A Bible verse painted on a Florida high school employee’s parking space angered a co-worker to the point where she complained to the school administration.

And then Seattle: Washington's King County (Seattle) issued a memo to all employees this week. King County Human Resources warned employees not to decorate their workspaces with overtly Christmas or Hanukkah decorations. They fear decorations may offend employees. 

Here they go again.

Are Christmas and Bible verses really that traumatizing?

Do we sometimes claim certain things in the hope they will make it so?

Be informed, not misled.

When Marjorie and I left Yakima, Washington where we both were raised, and moved to Bellevue the thing we missed most was the sun. It was still there, but you just couldn't see it much of the time.

Over time we adjusted to the idea that Seattle had as much sunshine as Yakima, but in Seattle, you just had to "believe" that it was there.

We weren't the only ones that noticed the difference. 

In 1987 Gary Lukehart reached out to those Seattleites who were sun-deprived, encouraging them to visit Yakima if they wanted some sun.

In fact, he put a big sign on the east side of Yakima which read, "Yakima, the Palm Springs of Washington."

One Seattlite told the newspaper, "I've been to Palm Springs, it looks nothing like Yakima." He of course was a non-believer.

However, others believed and decided to drive over the mountains where you could actually see the sun---at least about 360 days a year. 

Scripture tells us that "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." What we believe, or say we believe, does in fact influence what we do. And don't do.

This brings me to this.

People see things very differently. 

Christianity in Florida.

A Bible verse painted on a Florida high school employee’s parking space angered a co-worker to the point where she complained to the school administration.

Marina Gentilesco, an instructional assistant at Wine Grass Ranch High School in Pasco County, Florida, and a Jewish woman, told Fox 59 that the Bible verse offends her because it feels like it is targeting her religion.

The quote painted on the parking space is from  Paul’s letter to the Philippians, verse 4:13, which reads: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”

Gentilesco said the verse reminds her of stories she was told while growing up of her parents in the Holocaust.

“It brings me to the verge of tears because it brings me back to the 6 million that perished,” she told the outlet. “Six million perished because of our faith — because we’re Jews.”

Gentilesco said she would have no problem if the Bible verse were placed at a church but does have an issue with it on “state-funded” school grounds.

So if "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" is in a church parking lot it does not traumatize her, but if it is in a school parking lot, it does traumatize her.

Her concerns were brought before the Pasco County School District.

The District later stated it would not remove the Bible verse because there is no proselytization, and school workers are allowed to express themselves.

“It has nothing to do with instruction,” Stephen Hegarty, Pasco County Schools Public Information Officer, told Fox News TV 59. “It’s just a teacher expressing themselves just like they might wear a crucifix on their shirt.”

King County and Christianity.

King County Human Resources warned employees the other day not to decorate their workspaces with overtly Christmas or Hanukkah decorations. They fear decorations may offend employees.

Gloria Ngezaho, Workforce Equity Manager for the Department of Human Resources, authored a memo titled, “Guidelines for Holiday Decorations for King County Employees,” to outline expectations. It says the county “remains committed to honoring the diversity in its workforce and is fortunate to have employees from many diverse backgrounds.”

Continuing the memo said, “Before adding any decorations to your workspace (including your virtual workspace), consider the likely effect of such decorations on all of the employees in and outside your work group." 

The county has employees so hostile to religious symbols (real or perceived), it focuses warnings primarily on virtual backgrounds. This presumably extends to your home office if it’s shown on a webcam.

The memo says you cannot include Nativity sets or menorahs. But the list of symbols banned from virtual display extends well beyond what you would display for the holidays: stars of David, a cross or a crucifix, and images of Jesus or Mary.

To ensure that HR isn’t accused of focusing exclusively on Christians and Jews, even though that appears to be the intent, the memo warns against the dharma wheel, crescent and star, aum, khanda, and a nine-pointed star. None of these symbols are displayed for the holiday season anyway.

You can, however, decorate with snowflakes, wreaths, and holly. You can even show pine trees, “so long as they are not decorated with religious symbols.”

The memo states that, as a public institution, it “cannot appear to support any particular religion.” And the guidelines apply to holiday gatherings.

There really is a war on Christmas, and all things Christian.

Less than 20 years ago, there were Christmas vacations, Christmas parties, and Christmas sales and everyone said, “Merry Christmas” as they put up their Christmas tree. However, in 2005 there began a movement to remove Christ from Christmas by replacing “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays” and holiday sales, holiday parties, and winter recess in school.

Democrat Patti Murray of Washington was the first to call a Christmas tree a holiday tree. 

Subtly, liberals began removing Christ from Christmas around the country. Nativity scenes were illegally forbidden, Christmas songs removed, and even candy canes banned because the candy cane resembled a “J” for Jesus. A Charlie Brown Christmas was prohibited in some schools since it referenced the birth of Jesus from a verse in the Book of Luke.

This is not a new war.

The war on Christmas began over 2,000 years ago when King Herod heard of the birth of Jesus. He unleashed an unholy slaughter to kill the infant Jesus, killing all the young male children in an event known as the Massacre of the Innocents.

Later the Romans would also attempt to silence and kill Jesus. They too would fail.

The war on Christians and Christmas will fail as well.

The difference between Florida and Seattle? Both believe in something. Florida believes in freedom of expression and protecting religious liberty. Seattle believes in dictating what you can express, when, and how, even in your own home. The result? By all measures, Florida is thriving, and Seattle is in decline.

Merry Christmas to all, including our friends in King County.

Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Vigilant. Be Engaged. Be Prayerful.