Has President Joe Biden banned religious imagery from White House Easter festivities?

That’s what some Republican observers and Biden critics asserted in social media posts that derided him for deviating from tradition by banning religious themes and symbols from an Easter egg design contest.

Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem wrote March 30 on X: “Joe Biden banned ‘religious themed’ eggs at the White House’s Easter Egg design contest for kids, AND he announced that tomorrow is ‘National Transgender Visibility Day.’ Did he forget that tomorrow is Easter, Resurrection Sunday?”

Noem’s post ended in a call of support for former President Donald Trump: “Joe Biden and his White House have made it clear that people of faith, particularly Christians and our Bible-believing views, have no place in his America.”

But Biden did not ban religious-themed eggs for the contest. The contest is overseen by the American Egg Board, which has prohibited religious designs for any White House Easter event since the board was created in 1976, when Republican Gerald Ford was president.

This fact-check will focus on Noem’s claim about the egg designs. In another story, we explained how the Christian holiday of Easter coincided this year with the International Transgender Day of Visibility, which is held annually March 31, and Easter Sunday follows the lunar calendar. The last two Easter holidays came in April.

PolitiFact asked Noem’s office for comment but did not receive a response by publication.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates told PolitiFact that rhetoric around the anti-Biden Easter claims was “cruel, hateful and dishonest,” adding that Biden, who is Christian, celebrates Easter. Noem, he said, was criticizing “every president who’s been in office the last 45 years.”

Why religious-themed egg designs aren’t permitted

Although the White House’s annual Easter Egg Roll has existed since 1878, the egg design contest for kids started in 2021. Another event, the First Lady’s Commemorative Egg presentation, has been held annually since 1977.

Eggs designed by children of members of the military adorn the East Colonnade of the White House ahead of the White House Easter Egg Roll on March 28, 2024. (AP)

Since the American Egg Board was created in 1976, it has overseen the White House’s Easter celebrations — including the first lady’s event and the egg design contest — and has kept the same guidelines about religious and political imagery whenever the organization is asking for public participation. That’s because it’s part of the federal government’s “checkoff program.”

These programs work to increase revenue and promote a product or commodity — in this case, eggs. As part of the federal government, the American Egg Board’s speech is considered government speech and it must follow federal guidelines that require it to stay neutral on politics and religion; any program or activity cannot be seen as lifting one religion or set of beliefs over others. 

Many people angry at Biden mentioned a March 29 Fox News article that carried the headline, “Religious-themed designs banned from White House Easter egg art contest.” Similar headlines had been online since January.

The article cited a flyer that invited children of National Guard members to submit Easter eggs this year, stipulating that submissions “must not include any questionable content, religious symbols, overtly religious themes, or partisan political statements.” 

The guidelines also say the egg designs cannot promote “bigotry, racism, hatred or harm against any group or individual or promotes discrimination based on race, gender, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age.”

These rules have existed for years. 

“The American Egg Board has been a supporter of the White House Easter Egg Roll for over 45 years and the guideline language referenced in recent news reports has consistently applied to the board since its founding, across administrations,” American Egg Board President and CEO Emily Metz wrote in an emailed statement. 

Our ruling

Noem said Biden banned “religious themed” eggs at this year’s White House’s Easter design contest for kids.

The contest is new, but religious or political themes have been prohibited for every White House Easter egg event since at least 1976, when the American Egg Board was created. As a federal commodity program, the board must adhere to federal guidelines that require it to stay neutral on politics and religion; programs or activities cannot be seen as lifting one religion or set of beliefs over others.

We rate Noem’s claim False.

RELATED: Hopping to conclusions? No, Easter has not been ‘replaced’ with Transgender Day of Visibility

Source link

You May Also Like

WHO Director-General Is Vaccinated Against COVID-19, Contrary to Online Post – FactCheck.org

SciCheck Digest Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health…

3 Types of False Election Rumors to Look Out For

The final stretch of 2022 midterm campaigns will no doubt inspire a…

PolitiFact – Gold fringe on the US flag means the Constitution is suspended? That’s a fringe theory

A cryptic video claimed that gold fringe attached to the American flag…

PolitiFact – Seizing on abortion, Democrats claim Republicans back no-exceptions bans. That isn’t true for all

Galvanized by the Supreme Court’s decision to end nearly 50 years of…