Mayor John Hamilton of Bloomington, Indiana says the name change to Columbus Day and Good Friday would “better reflect cultural sensitivity in the workplace.” Photo courtesy of the City of Bloomington, IN - Office of the Mayor via Facebook

Indiana mayor draws criticism for renaming Good Friday

By 
  • November 22, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS – Critics say an Indiana mayor's decision to rename the city's Good Friday holiday in the name of inclusivity ended up marginalizing Christians.

Mayor John Hamilton of Bloomington cited the city’s diverse workforce and said changing the names of Good Friday and Columbus Day holidays would “better reflect cultural sensitivity in the workplace.”

“That diversity makes us stronger and more representative of the public we proudly serve,” he said. “These updated names for two days of well-merited time off is another way we can demonstrate our commitment to inclusivity.”

City employees receive paid time off for both holidays. Good Friday will now be known as “Spring Holiday” while Columbus Day will be changed to “Fall Holiday.”

The mayor’s Good Friday change drew criticism from Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

“He opted to rename Good Friday ‘Spring Holiday,’ because he doesn’t mind offending Christians. Yes, it is just that simple,” Donohue charged. He said the name change excludes Christians by “denying recognition of a central day in their religious calendar.”

Pastor Alan Phillips of Bloomington’s Sherwood Oaks Christian Church told WDRB News he was saddened by the move.

“It just seems like, almost to me, singled out to put Christianity down,” Pastor Phillips said.

Hamilton’s wife, Dawn Johnsen, is a past legal director of the pro-abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America and served on the White House transition team. She was named to head President Obama’s Office of Legal Counsel, but her nomination was held up for years and withdrawn.

The Catholic League had opposed her nomination, claiming she had an “anti-Catholic record.” The group cited her 1988 support for an American Civil Liberties Union effort to strip the tax exempt status from the Catholic Church because of its pro-life position.

Mayor Hamilton also changed Columbus Day's name to Fall Holiday.

Christopher Columbus has traditionally been lauded by Italian-Americans, many Catholics and others for his role in bringing Christianity to the New World and establishing permanent relations between the Old World and the New. His critics cite Columbus’ mistreatment of indigenous peoples or hold him responsible for the injustices of European colonialism that followed his arrival.

CNA sought comment from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis but did not receive a response by deadline.

(Story from the Catholic News Agency)

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