Report: Obamas balked at WH Nativity scene
The widely circulated e-mail claiming that the Obama White House was putting up a "holiday tree," bereft of religiously themed ornaments, in place of the traditional Christmas tree has been roundly debunked (see factcheck.org and snopes.com, the latter of which includes video of First Lady Michelle Obama taking delivery of a clearly labeled "White House Christmas Tree 2009").
But a New York Times profile of Desirée Rogers, the currently embattled White House social secretary, suggests there was at least some discussion about backing away from Christmas tradition this year -- not as it involved the tree, but a Nativity scene.
When former social secretaries gave a luncheon to welcome Ms. Rogers earlier this year, one participant said, she surprised them by suggesting the Obamas were planning a “non-religious Christmas” — hardly a surprising idea for an administration making a special effort to reach out to other faiths.
The lunch conversation inevitably turned to whether the White House would display its crèche, customarily placed in a prominent spot in the East Room. Ms. Rogers, this participant said, replied that the Obamas did not intend to put the manger scene on display — a remark that drew an audible gasp from the tight-knit social secretary sisterhood. (A White House official confirmed that there had been internal discussions about making Christmas more inclusive and whether to display the crèche.)
Yet in the end, tradition won out; the executive mansion is now decorated for the Christmas holiday, and the crèche is in its usual East Room spot.