The Town that Lost (er, Temporarily Misplaced) Good Friday

Usually at this time of year, the “attacks” center on Easter Sunday, or, more appropriately, Resurrection Day. This time, however, Good Friday got some extra attention.

Isaiah 53 passage

Isaiah 53 -- "by His wounds we are healed"

The memo went out to municipal employees last week from Craig Malin, City Administrator for the town of Davenport, Iowa. From now on, Good Friday was “history”. In its place was the more ecumenical and politically correct “Spring Holiday”, or “Celebration of Spring”.

Acting on the advice (from last summer!) of the Davenport Civil Rights Commission, Malin unilaterally made the decision. Not surprisingly, the reasoning had to do with “separation of church and state” claims and sensitivity within an ethnically and religiously diverse community. (Apparently, the commission had also considered and dismissed the idea of renaming Easter Sunday, because it fell on a weekend, when government offices were already closed. Christmas, too, was a no-go.) The first problem, though, was that such policy changes must be voted on by the City Council, and they didn’t even know about it until they read it in the Quad City Times.

News of the memo spread through town like wildfire and was the topic on everyone’s minds and lips by Palm Sunday. Resistance to the name change came from two fronts. First, of course, was the religious objection from those who thought it was an attack on Christianity — typical in the culture wars these days — and that the “separation” talk was bogus. The second objection came from city employees (including police), who thought it might violate their union contract, which stipulates Good Friday (not “Spring Holiday”) as an official municipal holiday. Mayor Bill Gluba said, “I understand why people were so upset. My position is we have a lot more important issues. We’ll fix this and move on.”

And “move on”, they did. On Monday, the city issued a press release stating that:

City Administrator Malin, in error, forwarded the recommendation to staff for further review and action, leading to release of a holiday notice with the holiday named ‘Spring Holiday,’ rather than ‘Good Friday’.”

So, either someone in City Hall zealously jumped the gun on this one, or they’re trying to help Malin save face for some reason, or both. Maybe just trying to keep the peace?

Ah, well. Bottom line is that the council voted and this stupid, PC name-change of a 2000 year-old holiday has been reversed. Things in Davenport, Iowa, are as they should be. (As far as I know.) For now….

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