The case of an Arvada church seeking to have a float in this weekend’s Denver Parade of Lights continues to mushroom in the media spotlight. It all started when parade officials nixed the idea:
[Pastor George] Morrison wanted to enter a float featuring multicultural Christian themes and a Merry Christmas message. Parade officials told a representative from Morrison’s church, the 4,000-member Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada, that religious messages aren’t allowed because they might offend others.
I thought the whole purpose of multiculturalism was to prevent offending others. I guess that’s only non-Christian multiculturalism. Basically, being a Christian and being present is inherently noxious and offensive. Excuse me? But then you find what sort of entries parade officials did allow:
Those include the Two Spirit Society, which honors gay American Indians as holy people, and an Asian group that performs dances to ward off evil spirits at the start of the Chinese New Year. [Downtown Denver Partnership Vice President Susan Rogers] Kark said they will not be expressing religious messages.
At this point, you need to stop, go back and review the two quoted paragraphs, substituting the word “Christian” for the word “religious.” Then you’ll get a clearer sense of what’s going on here.
The question at hand is not whether the parade officials are practicing a form of soft anti-Christian bigotry – that’s clearly established. The question is whether they have a right to do so:
The Parade of Lights is produced by a private nonprofit organization, the Downtown Denver Partnership. It receives 61 percent of its revenue from a consortium of 350 private commercial property owners whose goal is to promote the “improvement and enhancement” of the city.
Partnership Vice President Susan Rogers Kark said the parade doesn’t receive public money.
Even if the parade is a private entity, there still may be First Amendment issues at play, [former U.S. Attorney Mike] Norton said. The one-hour parade uses downtown city streets and is promoted as a citywide event.
As I heard suggested by a caller to a local radio show last night, anyone who plans to attend the Parade of Lights this weekend should show up with handmade “Merry Christmas” signs. That would send a message. Or would they have to leave the city because they were being too offensive?