(Photo: AP Images / Chuck Burton)
Wachovia Bank is permitting Christmas trees at its branch offices after rumors of a no tree policy were reported to Christmas watch lists and the press.
The bank’s corporate office announced that Christmas trees are permitted and branch employees are free to decorate it any way they wish. Just last week, the company drew an angry backlash from customers and employees over its no Christmas tree policy.
Wachovia’s parent company, Wells Fargo, said it is all a misunderstanding.
The misunderstanding began after a Florida branch employee was seen dragging a Christmas tree in the parking lot. Staff told Fox television news channel WOFL that they were not allowed to decorate Christmas trees.
The company acknowledged that it generally provides red poinsettias, generally regarded as Christmas flowers, rather than trees. However, Wells Fargo refutes the notion that it is against Christmas and has made some changes to create a welcoming environment for Christmas trees.
“Though we provided all of our stores with poinsettias, our direction to use the plants was misunderstood by some to mean we were opposed to Christmas trees,” said Christina Kolbjornsen, Wachovia's vice president of corporate communications.
In a statement released over the weekend, the company said it is “encouraging our stores to decorate with Christmas trees if they want to.”
The Liberty Counsel brought attention to the bank through its Friend or Foe Campaign. The Christmas campaign educates, informs and in some cases, litigates public and private entities over their stance on the holiday.
Liberty Counsel founder Mathew Staver cited a recent Rasmussen poll, saying that most Americans enjoy Christmas and are slighted when companies gloss over the holiday.
The American Family Association also has a Naughty and Nice Christmas campaign. It has been actively alerting organizations it believes is ignoring the holiday. Just last week the AFA targeted JP Morgan Chase for reportedly ordering bank branches to remove Christmas trees from its lobbies.
According to internal Chase documents, the bank rationalized the order stating, “We don’t want to lose somebody’s business because of seasonal decorations,” adding that they were trying to “ensure that everyone who visits our branches is made to feel completely welcome and comfortable.”
“If Americans are offended by anything, it’s the disrespect that corporations are showing to Christmas as a holiday. We urge Chase to amend its policy and allow branches to freely celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ,” Randy Sharp, AFA’s director of special projects, said.
“The absurdity of this has [made] people become very vocal and I think retailers are now listening,” he told The Christian Post in a previous interview.
Companies such as Disney.com, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Best Buy have all made changes this holiday season to acknowledge Christmas.
Staver commended Wachovia for amending its policy.
“We are pleased that Wachovia clarified that its employees may decorate local branch offices with Christmas trees. Christmas trees are a natural part of Christmas and do not offend reasonably-minded people,” he said.
According to the amended policy, branch offices can decorate and display a Christmas tree as long as the trees are artificial and lights are turned off each night to ensure safety.