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.
- 07/19/2016 07:00 AM
Christian Thinkers 101: A Crash Course on St. Bonaventure
St. Bonaventure was one of the great thinkers of the Middle Ages, 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 St. Bonaventure—and why he still matters today. Who Was St. Bonaventure? St. Bonaventure (c. 1221–1274) was born in the Tuscany region of Italy during…
- 07/12/2016 07:00 AM
A Scientist’s Perspective on Hollywood Disaster Films
Today I offer an article by guest author Kevin Birdwell. *** Editors Sandra Dimas and Amanda Warner sat down with climatologist and RTB visiting scholar Kevin Birdwell to get a scientist’s perspective on Hollywood disaster films. Let’s start with somewhat recent films about massive earthquakes: 2012 and San Andreas. In 2012, Los Angeles experiences a 10.9 magnitude earthquake caused by…
- 07/05/2016 09:34 AM
Christian Thinkers 101: A Crash Course on Søren Kierkegaard
Søren Kierkegaard was unknown to the world until 100 years after his death. Though his philosophical and theological works finally rose in popularity in the twentieth century, what exactly did he believe and what else did he contribute to Christianity? Here’s your crash course on the life and accomplishments of Søren Kierkegaard—and why he still matters today. Who Was Søren…
- 06/28/2016 09:00 AM
3 Qualities that Draw People to Ask about Our Faith
Most Christians want their light to shine among other people, to serve as a signpost to the truth that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. But just how does a believer go about being a good witness? Sometimes the virtuous qualities and characteristics we strive hard to live out in life earn us a unique opportunity to reach others—for as…
- 06/21/2016 10:00 AM
Christian Thinkers 101: A Crash Course on Jonathan Edwards
Photo Credit: Public Domain Puritan theologian Jonathan Edwards may be one of America’s greatest thinkers, 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 Jonathan Edwards—and why he still matters today. Who Was Jonathan Edwards? Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) was born in New England in colonial…
- 06/14/2016 09:00 AM
How to Make Sense of Things We Can’t Control
How are we to think about our inability to control certain facts of our lives (e.g., our conception, time of birth, place of birth, family, and culture)? These “givens” in life powerfully remind us that we humans have genuine limitations and boundaries. Our lives are dependent upon many causal factors. Life itself is fragile, short, and there is a clear…
- 06/07/2016 08:00 AM
5 Things We Can’t Control
As human beings we like to think that we are masters of our own fate. We enjoy thinking that we are autonomous individuals whose personal decisions have made us who we are in life. Philosophers even talk about libertarian freewill—defined as the view that an individual who freely made a specific choice could have decided differently (in contrast to some…
- 05/31/2016 09:00 AM
Christian Thinkers 101: A Crash Course on St. Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas’ system of thought was declared the official philosophy of the Roman Catholic Church, 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 St. Thomas Aquinas—and why he still matters today. Who Was St. Thomas? St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) was born in a castle…
- 05/24/2016 09:00 AM
Spheres of Awareness: 4 Unique Ways Humans Perceive Reality
An implication of being made in God’s image is that human beings have a unique awareness of reality. That reality is wide and deep and extends to four basic philosophical spheres or dimensions of life. The awareness of and interaction with these spheres illustrates humankind’s uniqueness and makes the discovery of four critical truths possible. Sphere 1: The Intellectual Human…
- 05/17/2016 09:00 AM
Christian Thinkers 101: A Crash Course on St. Athanasius
St. Athanasius passionately defended Christ’s deity during a time when Christological heresies were rampant, but what else did he contribute to Christianity? Here’s your crash course on the life and accomplishments of St. Athanasius—and why he still matters today. Who Was St. Athanasius? St. Athanasius (c. 296–373) was born and educated in the ancient city of Alexandria. Coming from a…
Last Modified December 22, 2005