The Deacon's Bench

Incredible, but true.

From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

Chase Bank told a businessman to remove the Christmas tree he donated to a local branch because it could offend people.

Antonio Morales, owner of Bellagio Day Spa in Southlake, had assembled and decorated a 9-foot-tall tree in the lobby of the Chase Bank branch at 1700 E. Southlake Boulevard as a favor to the branch manager, who is one of his clients.

The tree remained in the lobby from the Monday before Thanksgiving until Tuesday. Morales said his friend called him Wednesday to tell him the tree had to go. She later showed him an e-mail from JPMorgan Chase saying that the tree had to be removed because some people were offended by it.

The bank referred questions to corporate offices.

Greg Hassell, a JPMorgan Chase spokesman, said that the company’s policy isn’t anti-Christmas. “People wish their customers merry Christmas when it’s appropriate,” he said.

However, to ensure that everyone who visits Chase branches feels welcome and comfortable, the bank’s policy is to use only decorations supplied by the company.

“We appreciate the thoughtful gesture from Mr. Morales,” Hassell said. “Unfortunately, we’re unable to keep it [the tree] on display for the remainder of the holiday season.” JPMorgan Chase ensures that decorations are “something everyone is comfortable with, regardless of how they celebrate the season,” Hassell said.

But others see the tree as a symbol of the season.

A spokeswoman at Trinity Bank in Fort Worth said it has had a tree in its lobby since the Friday after Thanksgiving.

“I’ve been in this business more than 30 years, and every place I’ve worked we’ve put up a Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving,” said Linda Robertson, assistant vice president.
Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for the American Family Association, called Chase’s decision absurd.

“According to Advertising Age, 91 percent of American people celebrate Christmas,” Fischer said. “That means that the single most inoffensive thing you can do at this time of year is wish someone a merry Christmas.”

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