NY Town Rallies to Keep ‘Christmas on the Canal’ Event After Atheist’s Complaint Cancels Government Funds

The 2008 "Christmas on the Canal" event in Spencerport, N.Y. that was temporarily canceled when an atheist complained about Separation of Church and State violations. Since this initial cancellation, the event has been reinstated after local businesses and residents donated enough money to continue funding the event.

The 2008 “Christmas on the Canal” event in Spencerport, N.Y. that was temporarily canceled when an atheist complained about Separation of Church and State violations. Since this initial cancellation, the event has been reinstated after local businesses and residents donated enough money to continue funding the event.

BY KATHERINE WEBER, CHRISTIAN POST REPORTER

A small town in upstate New York has rallied together to continue funding its local community’s Christmas celebration, even though an atheist’s complaint forced the local government to stop supporting the event.

The town of Spencerport, N.Y., a small village located just outside of Rochester, has been celebrating its annual “Christmas on the Canal” event for 17 years until this year, when Elaine Spaziano, the event’s founder and organizer, announced that the tradition had to be canceled after an atheist complained about First Amendment rights and the separation of church and state to the local government.

The event features an array of holiday-themed activities, such as a tree lighting ceremony, carols, a nativity, a blessing by a local clergy member, and other festive events. The celebration was funded partially by Spencerport and the neighboring village of Ogden, and both villages were forced to pull their funds and support for the celebration this year after an atheist activist complained that the event used taxpayer dollars to support Christianity. The activist reportedly had a petition and threatened to take the cities to court if they continued donating to “Christmas on the Canal.”

As Spaziano told The Blaze, the local government initially went to the event’s planning committee to see if they would change the name to something more universal, such as “Holiday on the Canal,” but the board ultimately voted to keep the old name, arguing that taking the faith-based elements out of the event would ruin its entire foundation. FULL STORY

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