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.
- 09/27/2016 10:00 AM
Reflections on Social Media: Is Digital Networking a Good Phenomenon? Part 2
It seems a safe assumption that all new technologies—from cell phones to social media—present its users with both positive and negative possibilities. The challenge resides in learning how to manage the technology so one maximizes the positives and minimizes the negatives. How can we do this for the emerging and enormously popular phenomenon known as social media? In this second article (see…
- 09/20/2016 07:00 AM
Reflections on Social Media: Is Digital Networking a Good Phenomenon? Part 1
In July 2016, the Facebook Messenger app marked the amazing milestone of having 1 billion daily active users.1 And Twitter now claims 313 million monthly active users.2 There are also numerous other social networking sites that are extremely popular, including YouTube, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Instagram, etc.3 Since social media doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon, I have decided to write a couple…
- 09/13/2016 01:31 PM
Lessons About Evil: Reflections on the Movie Anthropoid
Reinhard Heydrich (1904–1942) was a Nazi leader who impressed Adolf Hitler with his unbridled brutality. Historians consider Heydrich to be the central mastermind of the greatest state-sponsored crime in history—the Holocaust. As an evil genius, he planned the systematic extermination of 6 million Jews and 5 million other non-Jewish victims totaling a staggering 11 million people. Heydrich’s ruthless cruelty earned him such ominous…
- 09/06/2016 07:00 AM
A Review of Patterns of Evidence
In his film Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus, documentary filmmaker Timothy Mahoney recreates his search for the historical truth behind the Jews’ exodus from Egypt. I previewed this film at a theatrical release in February 2015. The documentary is now widely available for rent and purchase, and I’ve noticed that it’s been getting some promotion within the Christian apologetics community…
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- 08/30/2016 07:00 AM
Christian Thinkers 101: A Crash Course on Irenaeus
Irenaeus was one of the first Christians to defend the faith against Gnosticism, but what exactly did he believe and what else did he contribute to Christianity? Here’s your crash course on the life and accomplishments of Irenaeus—and why he still matters today. Who Was Irenaeus? Irenaeus (c. 130–202) was a Greek thinker who was born in Asia Minor to…
- 08/23/2016 07:00 AM
The Image of God Gives All Human Life Value
Lethal acts of terrorism, controversial police shootings, and attacks upon law enforcement officers have left many unsettled in America. These horrific public killings cause many to wonder whose lives really matter in life. So do all human lives have value? And, if so, on what basis do they carry worth? Without debating the controversial social and political issues involved, I…
- 08/16/2016 07:00 AM
Christian Thinkers 101: A Crash Course on John Calvin
John Calvin was one of the great voices of the Protestant Reformation, but what exactly did he believe, and what else did he contribute to Christianity? Here’s your crash course on the life and accomplishments of John Calvin—and why he still matters today. Who Was John Calvin? John Calvin (1509–1564) was born in Noyon, Picardy, France, to a devoted…
- 08/09/2016 07:01 AM
Apologetics Strategies: How to Select Resources to Give to Nonbelievers
Last year, I wrote two articles outlining basic strategies for engaging in evangelistic conversations with scientists and informed hobbyists who have more knowledge or education than you in a particular field (part 1 and part 2). One of the recommendations I made was to share resources with nonbelievers. But what should you look for when selecting a resource to…
- 08/02/2016 07:00 AM
Christian Thinkers 101: A Crash Course on Martin Luther
Martin Luther is famous for posting his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church at Wittenberg and for attempting to reform the Catholic Church, but what exactly did he believe, and what else did he contribute to Christendom? Here’s your crash course on the life and accomplishments of Martin Luther—and why he still matters today. Who Was…
- 07/26/2016 07:00 AM
How a Christian Worldview Influenced America’s Founding Fathers
Today I offer an article by guest author Andrew Stebbins. *** It might be fair to say that most Americans tend to take our freedom for granted. We forget that our freedom was hard-won and is not guaranteed. In fact, the liberties we cherish are privileges not many societies enjoy. Tyranny, in its many guises, is the historical norm. In truth,…
Last Modified December 22, 2005