ROSELLE PARK, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey city council's decision to add the word "Christmas" to the name of its tree-lighting ceremony prompted one council member to step down because it "turned it from a non-religious event to a religious one."
Charlene Storey announced her decision just minutes after the Roselle Park council approved the change Thursday night. Her resignation takes effect Jan. 7.
Storey, who was raised Catholic but describes herself as a non-believer, said the town's decision to change the ceremony's name from "A Tree Lighting" to "A Christmas Tree Lighting" favors one religion and "cuts non-Christians out of the loop."
Storey said she regretted having to resign but called the issue a matter of principle.
"I cannot in good conscience continue to be part of a council that is exclusionary or to work with a mayor who is such," Storey said in her resignation letter.
Roselle Park Mayor Carl Hokanson praised Storey for her work on the council. He said everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, but also noted that each town can use whatever title it wants to use for the ceremony.
"It's not a street, it's not a building, it's a Christmas tree," Hokanson said.