A Michigan town is bucking nationwide trends and renaming their annual winter parade a Christmas parade.
In Saline, Michigan they held the annual parade since 1975. A decade ago the parade name was changed to the Saline Holiday Parade, sparking plenty of conversation and local debate of political correctness run amok. A compromise of sorts was attempted last fall when the event was billed as the Saline Holiday/Christmas Parade. But folks weren’t buying it.
After ten long years the Chamber of Commerce has finally caved — and it will be known once again as the Saline Christmas Parade.
For more information, please see local coverage.Read More
The House Committee on Veterans Affairs has ordered a review of all VA policy prohibiting guests from wishing patients a Merry Christmas after four VA hospitals – including Augusta’s Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center – prevented letters, gifts and carols that contained religious phrases from being sung or delivered.
Committee chairman, U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), has sent a letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki demanding an overview of the steps the Department of Veterans Affairs is taking to correct this “potential infringement of basic constitutional rights”, the paper reports.
Miller said he wants to know by Monday what is being done to hold the VA employees responsible for the incidents.
“Christmas was declared a federal holiday by our government in the 1800s, and it is not up to the department to decide whether veterans, their families, volunteers, and veterans service organizations should be free to sing Christmas carols or exchange Christmas gifts within VA facilities,” Miller said in a statement.
The Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta recently told high school students they could not perform religious-based carols at the site.
Media reports indicate that VA officials in Iowa City, Iowa, told American Legion representatives they could not hand out gifts to veterans if the wrapping paper included the words “Merry Christmas.”Read More
According to local media the mayor of one New Jersey town knocked on a citizen’s door on Christmas Eve and asked the family there to remove Christmas decorations allegedly found offensive by another neighbor.
Working with neighbors the Alvator family of Tenafly, New Jersey set out 300 decorative luminaries to celebrate Christmas. They claim to have cleared the action with local fire and police departments ahead of time.
“Our neighbors, from all different backgrounds, sent their children out to help fill the bags and light the candles early in the evening on Christmas Eve. We loved it. We thought it was a great sense of community,” said Scott Semone.
But by the time they sat down to a Christmas dinner around 9pm the mayor was knocking on the door and asking that the luminaries be removed. He claimed a neighbor a few doors down was offended by the candles and that he, being Jewish, understood how this neighbor felt.
“It had nothing to do with religion. It was about bringing people in our neighborhood closer together,” Jason Alvator said.Read More
Much ado is made of Christmas too soon in America. Just as the Christmas-in-July signs come down from retailers the media begins a season they call “Christmas creep”, a three month period of whining about the presence of Christmas in the marketplace. There is a post-Christmas whine as well, though generally not as prolific. It is known as “Christmas crapping”, a period of time extending into spring when the media assails those who keep their decorations up too long.
Christmas has always been a long season. For many, the extension of the bright colors of red, green, gold and white of Christmas are merely a means of adding cheer to the frigid gray of winter. But in different countries Christmas is genuinely celebrated more in January than in December. Russia and Slavic countries celebrate Epiphany, Puerto Rico relishes the 12 Days of Christmas and in Norway they extend it up to 20 days.
Post Christmas in America has three stages: the post-Christmas sale, the post-Christmas blues, and post-Christmas crapping.
For many, kicking that dried out Christmas tree to the curb on December 26th is a practice made necessary for safety’s sake alone. But for some, stripping those decked halls of all evidence of Christmas is more of a signal that the new year is fresh and the weight loss season has begun (that ends on Super Bowl Sunday, TV rules the American observance of all holidays). Once those houses have been de-Christmasfied it is time to hit the stores to buy….more Christmas stuff at deep discounts.
Much of the media made note that the first Monday after the New Year is always the most depressing day of the year. The holidays are over, it’s cold, there are bills to pay and work to be done. This kicks in the post-Christmas blues — genuine regret that the fun and frivolity of the holidays are over. For some, the blues last as long as a day or two and for others it can extend weeks.
But things get really ugly when post-Christmas crapping begins. This part of the year round cycle of Christmas starts just as January as ending, as neighbors and maybe even “concerned” city councils look askance at those still displaying Christmas displays outside. Letters to the editor, newspaper opinion pieces and aired commentary at the end of local broadcast news will generally fill their dead space with expressions that “It’s time for Christmas to be put away.”
By Ground Hog’s day the critics are all claws and venom. The media by then will be openly disdainful of neighbor-on-neighbor rifts about Christmas stuff left up and out too long. For some, it may even end up in court. And the media gives a play-by-play of these events well past the month of March and into the Easter season.
Already a New Jersey media outlet is asking…when should those Christmas decorations come down?
Let the Christmas Crapping begin.Read More
Horice Hymes asked his 7-year-old daughter an innocent question about what she learned in school on Monday. He found her answer horrifying.
“She told me, ‘I learned that the white on the candy cane stands for Jesus, because he was white’” Hymes said, “and the red on the candy cane was for the blood that he shed, and if you flip it upside down, the ‘J’ stands for Jesus.”
Hymes’ daughter was a first-grader at DeBary Elementary School, but he and his wife have since pulled her from the school, outraged that religion was even part of the curriculum, much less teaching their child, who is African-American, that Jesus was white.
Nancy Wait, with the Volusia County School District, said the lesson was part of a “Holidays Around the World” lesson, but a substitute teacher in Hymes’ daughter’s class used a certain book, which wasn’t supposed to be used, to teach a religious representation of the candy cane.
“This book was very religious in content and should not have been used,” said Wait. “Religion is not part of the public school system. So, that was done in error.”
Wait said the “Holidays Around the World” lessons will continue to be taught in Volusia County schools. However, the candy cane lesson is out, along with the book used for that lesson.
Hymes, though, said it’s too late.
“The damage is done, because now’s she’s questioning what we are teaching her,” he said.
Hymes said his family is talking to a lawyer and considering civil litigation for teaching their child a Christmas lesson that they feel confused her more than anything else.Read More
Religious freedom advocates are calling on the West Covina (California) Unified School District to adopt policy changes and issue a formal apology after an alleged incident involving bullying against a Christian student.
Advocates for Faith & Freedom, an Irvine-based nonprofit law firm, issued a letter Monday on behalf of Isaiah Martinez, a first grader at Merced Elementary School who took traditional candy canes as Christmas gifts for his teacher, Valerie Lu, and classmates on Dec. 13, 2013, according to attorney Robert Tyler.
Each candy cane came with a message attached that recited the history of the candy cane, including references to the candy as a symbol of Jesus Christ, according to the letter Matinez-Demand-Letter-1 dated Jan. 6. [Editor's note: the history attached to the candy canes is, of course, inaccurate and laden with religious symbolism never part of the origins of the candy cane. Click here to read the actual history of the candy cane.]
Attorneys say when Martinez brought the candy canes to class, Lu took possession of the candy canes, and after conferring with school principal Gordon Pfitzer, told Martinez that â€œJesus is not allowed in schoolâ€.
Lu â€“ at the apparent direction of Pfitzer â€“ then ripped the candy cane message from each candy cane, threw the messages in the trash, and returned the candy canes back to Martinez for delivery to his classmates, according to attorneys.
In a statement, Tyler said the actions of the school district were â€œhostile and intimidatingâ€, and called on officials to adopt an official policy that expressly prohibits school officials â€“ including teachers â€“ from â€œadopting any action or from engaging in any expression that can reasonably be viewed by a religiously affiliated student as disapproval of the studentâ€™s religion or hostile toward the studentâ€™s religion.â€
â€œAdvocates for Faith & Freedom has experienced a surge in phone calls from students and their parents across the country who are victims of religiously motivated bullying; not bullying by other students, but bullying by teachers and school officials,â€ said Tyler. â€œThe pendulum has swung so far in the opposite direction that public schools are becoming a place of hostility toward Christian and other religiously-based worldviews.â€
In addition to policy changes, Tyler also called for the West Covina Unified School District to implement training for teachers and other school officials on the First Amendment, â€œparticularly as it relates to the rights of students to express themselves with religious viewpointsâ€.
There was no immediate reaction to the letter from school district officials.
A statement on the school districtâ€™s website (PDF) states school â€œprograms and activities shall be free from discrimination, including harassment, with respect to a studentâ€™s actual or perceived sex, ethnic group identification, race, national origin, religionâ€ and other characteristics.
This case is similar to another candy cane case from Plano, Texas, now more than a decade old, claiming that a student’s free speech rights were violated when he was not allowed to distribute candy canes with Christian messaging either.Read More