It seems the paper doesn't want to offend any of their readers, so they recently "referred to a KKK cross-burning as a cross-lighting ceremony." The phrase strikes Clif as a tad "euphemistic," although he did find the following usage note on the KKK web site, handily available for journalists:
The cross lighting ceremony is another example of how the national media distorts the Klan image. They purposely use the word "burn" because of the negative image that is conjured up in the minds of many people.Hmmm. I do see the problem. But I think the suggested remedy leaves out an important element of these soberly conducted ceremonies--heat. These cheerful bonfires can sure warm up the soul on frosty winter nights. Plus, the religious imagery isn't quite obvious enough either. Overall, the marketing angles seem limited.
Taking a cue from Tristero, I suggest we call these events "Christianist Bright Light and White Heat Spectaculars." The rhyming alliteration along with the current nostalgia for childhood toys and the subtle James Cagney allusion will work to bring in the crowds. We can even promote the global warming aspects.
If you'd like to send the editor of The Birmingham News your suggestions for the proper way to describe these traditional family events, then you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.