Bishop Tobin on RI State House Tree Controversy - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Bishop Tobin on RI State House Tree Controversy

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By: Melissa Toupin

mtoupin@abc6.com

One day after the hastily announced tree light at the Rhode Island State House Providence's Bishop is speaking out, again, on the controversy.

"It's a very important issue for him and he's been strong and consistent. And I admire that. I just happen to believe he's wrong on this issue," said Bishop Thomas Tobin.

Many Rhode Islanders were taken aback when Governor Lincoln Chafee held a list minute tree lighting at the State House yesterday. The Governor says he was trying to avoid controversy like last year when dozens showed up to protest the name 'holiday' tree.

"It's a situation that he has created by failing to call the tree what it is, and what most people call it. It's a Christmas tree," said Bishop Tobin.

The Bishop says a majority of Rhode Islanders are Christian, and want it to be called a Christmas tree.

The Governor standing by his decision during an interview with national TV news host Bill O'Reilly last night.

Bill O'Reilly said, "The White House has a Christmas tree, okay? So what's the deal? The White House has a Christmas tree but Rhode Island can't have one?"

Governor Chafee replied, "No. It's a White House tree. You're wrong, Bill. You're wrong. They call it a White House tree."

The Governor says he's just continuing what's been done in the past.

"I just said continue what the previous Governors done. That's what I did," said Governor Chafee.

"The difference here is that Governor Chafee has used it for political purposes; its agenda driven," said Bishop Tobin.

The Bishop says whether or not you're Christian, the Christmas tree has become an American tradition.

"This is a situation where a little common sense would go a long way. It's a Christmas tree and I don't think anybody's really offended by that," said Bishop Tobin.

Meanwhile, the city of Fall River, Mass. is stepping up. The mayor inviting all Rhode Islanders who missed the state house tree lighting to attend that cities Christmas tree lighting ceremony. That happens tomorrow night at 5:30 at Government Center.

The Bishop also invites residents to attend the annual Christmas tree lighting and blessing at St. Patrick Church on December 19th at 6 PM.

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