A mother of three children was left shocked when a housing officer suggested she should remove her Christmas lights because it might offend her non-Christian neighbours.
Dorothy Glenn of South Shields, Tyne and Wear, was astonished when she received a knock at the door from a South Tyneside Homes employee who asked if she thought the lights were “offensive to the community” as it was a mixed-race estate.
Mrs Glenn, who has decorated her home with hundreds of festive lights each Christmas for the past four years, said: “My neighbours are Bengali and Chinese and I know they love the lights, the children will always point them out when they walk past.”
Independent councillor Ahmed Khan, who represents Mrs Glenn’s ward, defended her actions saying: “Every year this woman puts her Christmas lights up and I know how popular they are. It’s great when people make an effort to decorate their houses.”
The housing association, South Tyneside Homes, has now apologised to Mrs Glenn and assures the public that removing Christmas lights is not part of their policy.
A spokesman for South Tyneside Homes said: “We would like to make it clear that South Tyneside Homes is happy for residents to put up Christmas lights to decorate their homes.”
He added: “Christmas lights bring a bit of festive cheer to everybody, and we are delighted to see examples of tenants and leaseholders across the borough taking so much pride in the appearance of their homes.”
The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge said: “This housing official was clearly acting on his own authority by suggesting that the Christmas lights should be taken down.
“But don’t be too quick to dismiss this as the rogue action of an over-zealous jobsworth. The fact is these incidents happen because officials are drenched through with diversity training which has little basis in reality.
“Time and time again minority faiths are at pains to say they are not offended by public displays of Christianity. Time and time again they say they are embarrassed by officials getting offended on their behalf and wish they would stop.
“But the diversity bureaucrats won’t listen. The multi-faith card is played most often – not by minority faith groups – but by those who would prefer it if all religion, particularly Christianity, were pushed well away from public life.”
In November Oxford council officials were condemned by residents and religious leaders for attempting to drop Christmas from the title of the city’s celebrations in an attempt to be “more inclusive”.
Officials were also criticised for suggesting that instead of having Christmas lights, the historic city should be decorated with a huge mobile of lanterns in the shape of the solar system.
Also, a college in Yorkshire recently removed Christmas and Easter from its staff calendar for fear of offending ethnic minorities. Senior managers of the college claim the move was to “increase inclusion and diversity”.