A Seattle official has been handed a sarcastic award for banning city workers from displaying Christmas or Hanukkah decorations in their own homes while on Zoom calls to avoid offending colleagues with different beliefs.
Gloria Ngezaho is the workforce equity manager for King County, which encompasses Seattle, and was handed the Ebenezer Award from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
Ngezaho’s draconian edict was first revealed in November, and he was handed the award last week over his ‘Guidelines for Holiday Decorations’ rules.
The guidelines banned county employees from showing religious items on their video backgrounds, including Nativity sets, the crucifix, the Star of David and menorahs.
The rules explicitly state that public showings of religious beliefs ‘may cause disruption to co-workers or members of the public that do not share that particular religion.’
Gloria Ngezaho, who acts as the Workforce Equity Manager for King County’s Department of Human Resources in Seattle, Washington, came up with ‘Guidelines for Holiday Decorations’ for Christian and Jewish county employees to avoid offending colleagues with different beliefs
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty announced the ‘Ebenezer Award’ prize winner last week
‘Some employees may not share your religion, practice any religion, or share your enthusiasm for holiday decorations. Displays of religious symbols may only be displayed in an employee’s personal workspace,’ the memo, first obtained by Seattle-based journalist Jason Rantz, said.
Dubbed as ‘the most outrageous offender’ of this year’s winter holidays, Becket likened King County’s recipience of the Ebenezer award to ‘delivering a lump of coal as an acknowledgment of scroogery on a grand scale.’
Previous Ebenezer Award winners include the American Humanist Association, which tried to stop schools from sending care packages to children in need; the Department of Veteran Affairs, which banned employees at its Salem, Virginia facility from saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to veterans; and the University of Minnesota, which two years ago banned from campus holiday colors, Santas, bows, dreidels, and even wrapped presents.
‘Religious employees of King County will likely feel like the ransacked residents of Whoville this Christmas and Hanukkah season,’ said Montse Alvarado, COO and executive director of Becket. ‘The government has no right to rob its employees of holiday cheer by forcing them take down their nativity sets and menorahs, particularly in their own homes.’
‘This is the time of year that Americans ought to come together in the spirit of Christmas to support one another and spread joy and hope,’ Alvarado added in a statement. ‘But as always, there are bureaucrats like those in King County that scrub religion out of the holiday season. Let’s hope their hearts grow a few sizes this Christmas.’
The guidelines banned King County employees from displaying their Christmas or Hannukah decorations, including Nativity sets, the crucifix, the Star of David and menorahs, while they work from home
Montse Alvarado, COO and executive director of Becket, said ‘the government has no right to rob its employees of holiday cheer by forcing them take down their nativity sets and menorahs, particularly in their own homes’. Pictured: a Christmas parade in Bellevue – a suburb of Seattle
Ngezaho previously shared a ‘personal, reflective piece’ to King County employees titled ‘Black Lives Matter. What’s next?,’ after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020
DailyMail.com has contacted King County for comment.
Contrary to his polarizing stance on the holiday season this year, Ngezaho previously shared a ‘personal, reflective piece’ to King County employees titled ‘Black Lives Matter. What’s next?,’ following the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020.
‘It was just a couple of weeks ago that I, alongside the world, witnessed the murder of George Floyd at the hands, or should I say knees, of a white police officer. I sat in silence, along with my family, angry and not knowing what to do,’ he wrote, while also recalling a time when his four-year-old daughter asked him to be careful while he was on his way out to go job, shortly after Floyd’s death, which sparked protests across the U.S.
‘It wasn’t too long after that I decided to share my thoughts with my network. This was a space I needed in that moment, because my entire family was hurting, and I needed to let out the fire that was in me.’
‘[…] Contrary to some rhetoric out there, the challenges we face are not between black skinned folks vs. white skinned folks. This is about everyone, at least everyone who does not associate with and subscribe to white supremacy, or racism,’ Ngezaho added.
Seattle was once convulsed by protests, clashes with local police and looting after the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, two years ago
Black Lives Matter protesters march through a street in downtown Seattle in June 2020, as the city had to impose curfew in the wake of racial unrest across the country
‘There are plenty of folks in my circles who have tried to reframe this fight against racism, and made it sound like it was a fight between black skinned folks and white skinned folks. I have continuously had to check and correct them, making it clear that we are fighting against a cancerous ideology – white supremacy – not people.’
The Kings County employee further wrote that he had to remind himself to not be provoked by other people’s responses, as ‘it is much easier to make mistakes and make things worse in the heat of the moment because every response tends to be reactionary.’
Lastly, two years ago, Ngezaho had to remind himself that he isn’t alone in his fight against racism.
‘When I say I am not alone, I don’t mean to say there are other black skinned folks out there facing the same struggles and fighting alongside me,’ he wrote.
‘I mean to say that there are many folks of all skin colors (asian, black, white, latinx, native, mixed…) who are with me, marching with me, thinking with me, fighting alongside me, often with their own lives on the line.’
‘This leads me back to the first point I made; this is not a black vs. white issue, but about everyone vs. racism.’