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New Jersey Town Official Quits Over ‘Christmas’ Tree Lighting Ceremony — Then Takes It Back

ROSELLE PARK, N.J. — 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, NJ.com reported. She later rescinded her resignation, which was supposed to take effect on Jan. 7, the newspaper reported.

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."

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When she handed in her resignation, Storey said she regretted her decision 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. After rescinding her resignation, Storey said she still disagreed with the renaming and would not attend the event, according to NJ.com.

Roselle Park Mayor Carl Hokanson, who proposed the move, praised Storey for her work on the council. He said everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, but added that each town can use whatever title it wants to use for the ceremony.

"I can't believe that people are going this crazy over this," he said. "There are more important things going on in this world."

"It's not a street, it's not a building, it's a Christmas tree," Hokanson added.