I am an 13-year employee of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The Medical Center is a first rate hospital and research facility, and I have enjoyed working there in the Davis Research Institute. Although the administration prides itself for its diversity, and theoretically tolerates individual religious and ethnic expression, it now seems that at least one form religious expression is no longer "tasteful."
A recent e-mail from the senior vice president specified the guidelines for holiday decorations. According to the e-mail, holiday decorations must be "balanced", "safe" and "tasteful". In describing what was and was not tasteful, the following instruction was given:
Tasteful seasonal decorations or wishes are appropriate (e.g. "Seasons Greetings", "Happy Holidays", "Happy New Year", "Happy Hanukkah"). Specific religious symbols or decorations (e.g., nativity scenes) should be confined to private offices, cubicles, or patient rooms. The Chaplaincy will also be placing holiday decorations in public areas.1
According to the instructions, "Happy Hanukkah" is described as being tasteful, while Christian nativity scenes are not. So much for tolerance! I replied to the research institute along with Jeanne Flores and her assistant with the following short e-mail:
As a member of the not “tasteful” religion for which there seems to be no tolerance at Cedars-Sinai, I found the following e-mail to be extremely offensive. Since when is “Happy Hanukkah” tasteful, whereas Merry --------- (oops! can’t mention that “C” word) is not? Maybe I am working at the wrong place, since the “J” guy (or me?) does not seem to be welcome here.
I received a number of replies from others in the research institute, all except one of which were positive. I have yet to receive a reply from Jeanne Flores or her assistant. However, I encourage you to wish her a Merry Christmas by sending her an e-mail through our form. Please be nice!
Many of you have requested guidelines for decorating the workplace during the holidays. We certainly want to encourage all of us to celebrate during this special time. Decorations in the workplace are welcome as long as they are "tasteful", "balanced" and "safe".
Balanced: We would suggest that in public, patient or non-patient areas, if any decorations are used, make sure that multiple religious traditions are represented.
Safe: Please keep in mind that many types of decorations may be in conflict with fire safety codes. Nothing may be hung from ceiling tiles or sprinkler heads, doors may not be wrapped in paper, no real trees or plants with lights, and corridors may not be blocked with large displays, etc. Employees may need to remind visitors of our safety policies especially relative to live trees, plants, and items requiring electrical power and remind them we wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season.
Tasteful: In keeping with the healing environment we strive to achieve for our patients.
General Public and Patient Care Areas (Lobbies, hallways, treatment areas, diagnostic areas, inpatient units, and centrally booked conference rooms such as Harvey Morse, Educational Conference Center, etc.)
Tasteful seasonal decorations or wishes are appropriate (e.g. "Seasons Greetings", "Happy Holidays", "Happy New Year", "Happy Hanukkah"). Specific religious symbols or decorations (e.g., nativity scenes) should be confined to private offices, cubicles, or patient rooms. The Chaplaincy will also be placing holiday decorations in public areas.
We are what we think.
- 05/26/2015 02:23 AM
Interviews with Apologetics Difference Makers
Over the lifetime of my former podcast, Straight Thinking, I had the opportunity to interview a plethora of scholars and scientists. Topics of discussion included science-faith issues, Christian apologetics and theology, and Islam. Below is a partial list of the … Continue reading
- 05/19/2015 01:46 PM
Review of “A.D. The Bible Continues”
Sunday nights have become much more exciting in my home as my family has been following the adventures of the apostles and the early church. Based on the resurrection account of the Gospel of John and the book of Acts, … Continue reading
- 05/12/2015 02:17 AM
Reflections on Prayer (Part 2)
Today RTB editor Maureen Moser and I conclude a discussion on prayer. (See part 1 here.) **** C. S. Lewis is credited with saying, “I don’t pray to change God’s mind; I pray to change my mind.” What would you … Continue reading
- 05/05/2015 02:17 AM
Reflections on Prayer (Part 1)
Prayer is an essential part of both the private Christian life and the church’s corporate worship. In this interview series, RTB editor Maureen Moser and I discuss the ins and outs of prayer. **** How does Scripture define prayer? I … Continue reading
- 04/28/2015 02:34 AM
How Christianity Shaped Western Civilization
Today’s guest article was written by Dr. Andrew Stebbins. If someone asked you to name the single most important influence in the formation of Western civilization, would Christianity come to mind? In the current cultural climate, Christianity’s positive contribution toward … Continue reading
- 04/21/2015 02:56 AM
What Is Biblical Inerrancy? (Part 2)
Last week, we discussed the definition of biblical inerrancy and how this important doctrine works in areas of apparent disagreement between science and Scripture. Here, RTB editor Maureen Moser and I talk about rigidity and flexibility in inerrancy. **** I … Continue reading
- 04/14/2015 02:11 AM
What Is Biblical Inerrancy? (Part 1)
Last month, I discussed canonicity and how we got the Protestant Bible (see part 1, part 2, and part 3). This week, RTB editor Maureen Moser rejoins me for a conversation about biblical inerrancy—a topic of much debate and importance … Continue reading
- 04/07/2015 02:12 AM
World Religions: The Buddha and the Christ
Among the world’s great religious leaders, only two had such a profound impact that contemporaries inquired as to the very nature of their being.1 People wondered whether Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha) and Jesus of Nazareth (the Christ) were more than … Continue reading
- 03/31/2015 05:56 PM
God Incarnate: Jesus Christ’s Unique Identity
There’s no denying that Jesus Christ ranks high among the most controversial figures in human history. Orthodox Christians believe that Jesus Christ is both true God (the second Person of the Trinity) and true man (the Incarnate Son of God). … Continue reading
- 03/24/2015 02:27 AM
The Resurrection: Christianity’s Most Dangerous Idea
Originally published in Reasons to Believe’s ezine, New Reasons to Believe, vol. 2, no. 3 (2010) “Who said anything about safe? ’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”1 This line—from my favorite book in … Continue reading
Last Modified December 22, 2005