El Dorado County Reverses American Christian Heritage Month Proclamation

General George Washington (Midjourney)

The California El Dorado County Board of Supervisors has unanimously retracted a declaration that marked July as American Christian Heritage Month after facing potential legal challenges and community backlash.

Initially introduced by District 1 Supervisor John Hidahl, the proclamation was intended to celebrate the nation’s Christian historical roots.

Hidahl cited inspiration from a George Washington documentary and a similar proclamation by the Constitution Party of Pennsylvania.

During a public meeting on September 19, Hidahl expressed his concerns about possible litigation and the misuse of county funds to defend the proclamation, emphasizing the need to “correct things” when they do not have the desired positive impact.

“Given the possibility of litigation, which has been posed, the fact that I don’t want the county to spend any funds on a proclamation trying to defend it and that I believe it’s incumbent on elected officials to correct things and to pull them back if they haven’t achieved their positive influence,” Hidahl explained during the Tuesday board meeting.

The original proclamation faced criticism from county residents for marginalizing non-Christian groups and blurring the lines between church and state. This led to heightened scrutiny from civil rights organizations such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The ACLU identified two violations of the California Constitution in their August letter to the county, asserting that the proclamation compromised religious freedom and governmental impartiality concerning religion.

“Our state constitution protects the rights of individuals to practice and promote their religion as they see fit and, at the same time, prevents the government from promoting a specific religion or religion in general,” the states the letter, written by ACLU Director Angelica Salceda.

The FFRF’s July communication condemned the county’s endorsement of “Christian nationalism,” stating it contradicted the United States’ foundational principle of secular governance.

Community figures, including Rabbi Evon Yakar and business owner Ruth Michelson, commended the board’s decision to reconsider the proclamation, urging the creation of an inclusive and interfaith dialogue.

On the other hand, some individuals, such as Kelley Nalewaja of the El Dorado County GOP and resident Ruth Carter, opposed the move, claiming it neglected the significant influence of Christianity in the nation’s history.

Kelley Nalewaja, El Dorado County GOP secretary, said the action to remove American Christian Heritage Month was “discrimination against a heritage of Christians who are just looking to be equally acknowledged and represented.”

“There is nothing unconstitutional about recognizing the Christian heritage that helped form this country, our universities and most of our hospital systems that provide social services and adoptions that were also Christian based,” she said.

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