- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 21, 2017

The University of Minnesota has disavowed a set of guidelines issued by one of its academic departments labeling holiday symbols such as Christmas trees, doves and dreidels as “religious iconography” inappropriate for a school setting.

The school’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resources Sciences recently issued a set of guidelines that encouraged employees to “recognize holidays in ways that are respectful of the diversity of our community,” Campus Reform first reported.

The department included a list of “religious iconography” that shouldn’t be included in holiday parties, such as Santa Claus, Christmas trees, bows/wrapped gifts, bells, doves, dreidels, and green and red color schemes.

The list made the rounds on conservative media sites as evidence of an academic “War on Christmas,” but the university on Thursday distanced itself from the controversy.

The guidelines were “the actions of a single employee, whose attempt at a diversity training session was, to be blunt, ill advised,” and “does not constitute a policy on the part of the university,” the school told Campus Reform in a statement.

“We do not have such a policy, would never implement such a policy, and any representation otherwise is incorrect,” the university said. “Again, the University of Minnesota does not have a Religious and Diversity Holiday policy and has no intention of introducing such a policy.”

Becket, a pro-religious liberty law firm, awarded the University of Minnesota its Ebenezer Award, which is given to “the most ridiculous affront to the Christmas and Hanukkah season” every year.

“It makes little sense to celebrate religious diversity by banning any sense of actual holiday celebration,” Montse Alvarado, executive director of Becket, said in a statement. “And what do they have against color schemes, are we living in communist Cuba?”

Bradford Richardson contributed to this story.

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