RI Gov. Declares Capitol Spruce a 'Holiday Tree'

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The governor of Rhode Island is calling the 17-foot blue spruce tree in the statehouse a "holiday tree," even though state lawmakers passed a resolution in January declaring it to be a "Christmas tree."

Gov. Lincoln Chafee said he's just trying to keep government and religion separate.

"I would encourage all those engaged in this discussion - whatever their opinion on the matter - to use their energy and enthusiasm to make a positive difference in the lives of their fellow Rhode Islanders," Chafee said.

The governor said lawmakers upset with his decision should focus their energy on feeding the poor.

State Republican Rep. Doreen Costa, the resolution's sponsor, said she plans to erect and decorate a tree at her Statehouse office Dec. 6, the day Chafee plans to host a tree-lighting event.

"Anybody that wants to go see a holiday tree can do so, but I will be decorating a Christmas tree," Costa said. "It may only be a little Charlie Brown Christmas tree, but at least it will be a Christmas tree."

Bishop Thomas Tobin, with the Roman Catholic Church in Providence, said Chafee's decision "is most disheartening and divisive."

He said it ignores American traditions and is "an affront to the faith of many citizens."

Meanwhile, the opposite scenario has occurred at the Wisconsin state capitol in Madison.

For the past 25 years, the tree at the state capitol has been known as a holiday tree. But Gov. Scott Walker said it will now be known as a Christmas tree.

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