A major county in Washington state was awarded an “Ebenezer Award” by a religious liberty advocacy group after it banned Christian and Jewish holiday decorations this year.

King County, Washington, which is the state’s most populous county and home to Seattle, earned the Ebenezer Award from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty because of its strict “Guidelines for Holiday Decorations,” according to an announcement from the group last Tuesday. 

The guidelines, which were laid out in a memo obtained by journalist Jason Rantz, stipulated that county employees were not allowed to display religious items, including Nativity sets, menorahs, the Star of David or the crucifix in their common work areas and virtual workspaces at home.

The memo, penned by Gloria Ngezaho, who serves as the Workforce Equity Manager for King County’s Department of Human Resources, laid out the county’s reasoning by warning that religious displays in common areas “may cause disruption to co-workers or members of the public that do not share that particular religion.”

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The Space Needle and Mount Rainier are seen on the skyline of Seattle, Washington, on Feb. 11, 2017.

The Space Needle and Mount Rainier are seen on the skyline of Seattle, Washington, on Feb. 11, 2017. (REUTERS/Chris Helgren)

“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 said.

In a press release that called King’s County “the most outrageous offender” this holiday season, Becket likened their annual Ebenezer Award to “a lump of coal [delivered] as an acknowledgment of scroogery on a grand scale.”

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An elementary age child lighting the Menorah candles with a long match for Hanukkah celebration over the holiday.

An elementary age child lighting the Menorah candles with a long match for Hanukkah celebration over the holiday. (iStock)

Past recipients of the Ebenezer Award include the American Humanist Association, which attempted to prevent schools from providing assistance to disadvantaged children; the Department of Veteran Affairs, which prohibited staff at its Salem, Virginia facility from wishing veterans a “Merry Christmas“; and the University of Minnesota, which prohibited holiday-themed items such as Santas, bows, dreidels, wrapped presents, and even certain colors from being displayed on campus.

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“Religious employees of King County will likely feel like the ransacked residents of Whoville this Christmas and Hanukkah season,” Montse Alvarado, COO and executive director of Becket, said in a statement. “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.”

Nativity scene in Lviv, Ukraine, December 18, 2022.

Nativity scene in Lviv, Ukraine, December 18, 2022. (Photo by Olena Znak/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

“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 said. “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.”

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Fox News Digital has reached out to King County’s Department of Human Resources for comment.

Jon Brown is a writer for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to [email protected]

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