Religious Holidays at the White House

December 17, 2001

Source: The New York Times

On December 17, 2001, The New York Times reported that "there is a creche in the East Room of the White House this year, as there has been every December since... 1967. But last week there was also a Hanukkah party with a kosher buffet among the glittering forest of White House Christmas trees, and last month there was the first iftar dinner held in the Executive Mansion, complete with fresh dates and Muslim prayers, to break the daily fast during Ramadan... The many gods in American life are alive and well at the White House, where never before have so many religions converged in such a powerful burst of faith and politics... Critics, even those who find the White House religious celebrations a moving expression of American pluralism, say the festivities nonetheless disturb the foundation of a nation that separates church and state. Religions, they argue, are now playing the role of interest groups."