Christmas trees will stand tall in two Massachusetts libraries following months of review by officials who debated whether to display the symbol, which led to debates on social media and harassing comments from one LGBT activist against Christians and a local librarian.
It was first learned that the Dedham Library — which includes the main location and an Endicott branch — had decided not to display a Christmas tree this year after an employee wrote in a Dec. 2 Facebook post that she was told some people “were made uncomfortable last year looking at it.”
Lisa Desmond, the library’s branch supervisor, wrote that she was given “zero explanation” for the move: “When I asked, I was told ‘people’ were made uncomfortable last year looking at it. I’m sorry WHAT?”
Desmond explained that a Christmas tree had been on display at the library during the holidays for nearly three decades without complaint.
Not only did Desmond’s Facebook post grab the attention of local residents, but it spread nationwide after LGBT activist Diane Loud, who was listed as a member of Dedham’s Human Rights Commission, wrote a profanity-laced post verbally attacking Desmond and her lament that Christmas trees were no longer going to be on display at the libraries this year.
Loud also mocked Christians' beliefs, referring to God as a “magic sky daddy” and comparing Christ and Christmas to “happy horse—.”
Within her post, Loud spewed a series of “threats,” which library officials said were “bullying.”
Loud further claimed that Desmond put “people’s lives in a lot of danger” for announcing the library’s initial decision about Christmas decorations. “For a tree? For a mother— tree? You have put people’s lives in a lot of danger. A LOT of danger,” Loud wrote.
Desmond said she contacted the police about Loud’s post and called for her resignation from the Dedham Human Rights Commission. The negative attention Loud's post received led to her resignation from the group.
As of Tuesday, Loud was no longer listed as a member of the Dedham Human Rights Commission on its website.
Following the unwanted national attention and public outcry, the library announced that its locations will display Christmas trees.
On Monday, an official statement by the Dedham Library director was posted on the Town of Dedham's Facebook page.
The post said the Dedham Public Library strives to do its “best to respect the wide variety of viewpoints and beliefs in its community, including those who choose to celebrate Christmas and other winter holidays.”
“To be clear, there is no ban on Christmas at the Dedham library,” the statement said.
The director added that the reason Christmas trees were not yet on display was due to an “ongoing review of all its holiday decorations and displays” that had begun in the spring.
Additionally, the director stated none of the decisions that the library made had to do with the “unfortunate” dialogue that “played out on social media” made by Loud against Desmond.
“[The social media disagreement] has negatively impacted our staff and the community and frankly, transpired before we had even started our seasonal decorating,” the statement continued.
Officials for the Massachusetts town also released a statement on what they deemed to be "recent online threats and bullying,” that have "turned neighbor against neighbor."
"The Town of Dedham stands in support of all town staff targeted by recent online threats and bullying. Unfortunately, a recent social media post expressing disagreement with the decision to display a holiday tree at the library has quickly evolved into a polarized environment and has led to the harassment and bullying of town employees," the Town of Dedham statement reads in part.
The Town of Dedham noted that it “wholeheartedly condemns this behavior as it tears at the fabric of our community and cannot be tolerated.”
“We continue to encourage constructive conversations and healthy debates, but because of social media and outside sources, what could have been something of legitimate discourse turned neighbor against neighbor, and has threatened the safety and well-being of community members and staff," the statement added.
"This behavior is not a true reflection of our commitment to lead with kindness and civility."
The library director added in the statement released Monday that the plan is to “continue to review decorations and displays to ensure they are welcoming, enriching and reflective of our entire community.”
“I want to acknowledge the members of the public that have reached out to share their views. We will work to improve communication with community members and invite them to attend Board of Library Trustee meetings where open dialogue can take place,” the director said.
Nicole Alcindor is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.