COST and due process ended a push for religious symbols to be among decorative Christmas street lights in the upmarket shopping precinct of Claremont this year.
“It’s a religious celebration, and a celebration of the birth of Christ,” symbol proponent Councillor Chris Mews said at the council’s meeting last Tuesday.
A “Christian , but not an avid church-goer”, Cr Mews wanted the council to instruct its electrician to include a “clear Christmas theme” when putting up the lights this year.
“We need to make sure Christmas isn’t just about shopping, lights, some drinking and office parties,” he said.
He said the example of US stores now calling Christmas trees “pines trees” demonstrated unwanted changes to the festival.
Claremont’s lights should have “Merry Christmas” and a “basic Christian theme” to “get away from the ‘happy holidays’ frame of mind”.
“It’s not as though we’re enforcing it, it’s just so people who want to celebrate it can,” he said, when asked how those of other religions would be affected by the symbols.
The council has bought Christmas lights costing about $75,000 in recent years, before budgeting about $20,000 for their usual installation earlier this year.
“If you want to create a religious theme, aren’t you already because those lights are just part of Christmas?” Cr Paul Kelly said.
It could take the council six to nine months to get new lights with any symbols, but there had been no allocation in the 2017-18 budget.
“Whatever the worth or intention of Cr Mew’s request, it is not going to be practical to change the lights the contractor is putting up this year,” Cr Bruce Haynes said.
It was agreed that while the contactor would be instructed to install lights with a Christmas theme, discussions of potential funding for new lights with symbols would not be discussed until budget talks for the 2017-18 financial year.