There was a red card for researchers this week as Lisburn’s Mayor insisted his Banbridge Council counterpart was NOT the only local government figurehead to keep Christ in their Christmas greetings.
Banbridge District Council Chairman, Councillor Marie Hamilton, made headlines last week after her Christmas card was hailed as the only one, in a Christian Institute survey of some 200 UK local authorities, to mention the birth of Christ, reading: “As we celebrate the Birth of Christ may God’s Love be with you this Christmas season and evermore.”
The survey promptedaccusations that UK government bodies had forgotten the true meaning of Christmas and were intent on “airbrushing” Christianity out of public life thanks to a misguided fear of offending members of other religions.
Mrs Hamilton said she hoped people from other religions and cultures would not find offence in her card.
“I wasn’t aware until the Sunday Telegraph approached me,” she said, “that I was the only one who made a reference to the birth of Christ on the card.
“I actually have to say I was very surprised when I found that out because it is a Christian festival and I am a practising Christian.
“I didn’t expect to be the only one to have a religious reference.
“It was a personal choice and, as a Christian, and I’m surprised no-one made any connections between Christ and Christmas on their cards.”
Mayor of Lisburn, Councillor Andrew Ewing, meanwhile, was no less surprised to read Mrs Hamilton’s card was reportedly the only one to connect Christ to Christmas, given that his card too does just that.
The Mayor’s card includes a verse from St Luke Chapter Two - ‘For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ The Lord’.
Noting the obvious flaw in the survey, Councillor Ewing added: “With all the excitement and festivities of Christmas the real meaning of Christmas often gets lost.
“As a Christian, Christmas is at the very heart of my faith and its true message must never be lost.
“I will do all I can to promote Christmas in its truest Christian sense wherever I can.
“Christmas to me is about celebrating the birth of Christ, faith, hope and thinking of others and I urge everybody to do this at this very special time of year.”