It’s that time of the year again.

(AP) — Rhode Island’s governor is defending his decision to call the 17-foot blue spruce recently erected in the Statehouse a “holiday” tree rather than a “Christmas” tree.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee says the term “holiday” tree is in keeping with Rhode Island’s founding as a haven for religious tolerance where government and religion were kept separate.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the independent governor encouraged individuals upset with his decision to focus their energy on volunteering, such as feeding the poor.

In January, lawmakers passed a resolution declaring the annual Statehouse tree to be a “Christmas tree.” Republican Rep. Doreen Costa, the resolution’s sponsor, says Chafee is disrespecting the Legislature and takes political correctness too far.

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