Arizona Town Debates Using the Word Christmas

The Queen Creek (Arizona) Town Council is scheduled to vote on a recommendation to rename its annual tree lighting ceremony the “Queen Creek Hometown Christmas” today, putting to rest last year’s controversy over whether to call the centerpiece of the event a “Holiday Tree” or a “Christmas Tree.”

Jeff Brown, a Town Council member and member of the recreation advisory board holiday festivities subcommittee, which made the recommendation, said he pushed for a name that incorporated both Christmas and a hometown feeling.

“As a young and growing community, I really was trying to get to that point where we’re welcoming all these families into our fold,” Brown said. “Hometown to me says small town. It says family.”

But even though more than 60 e-mails were sent in last year criticizing the name, not a single person has commented on the potential name change so far.

That lack of input surprised Brown, although town spokeswoman Dee Anne Thomas pointed out it is a little early for most people to think about Christmas. “Christmas keeps getting a little earlier every year,” she joked.

Controversy Erupts as UK College Dumps Christmas

London: Bosses at Yorkshire Coast College have scrubbed Christmas and Easter from their calendar in a bid to avoid offending students from other religions.

The college’s new calendar shows that both of the traditional holiday periods have now been re-branded as “end of term breaks”.

They have removed them from their calendar to avoid offending ethnic minorities.

Killjoy chiefs at the Yorkshire Coast College insist that the decision is in line with offset guidelines.

However, local Tory MP Robert Goodwill said: “We are a Christian country and, to be honest, religious tolerance in this country is about respecting other people’s beliefs.”

“School terms are traditionally separated by Christmas and Easter and they should be referred to as such. It’s political correctness gone mad,” the Daily Sat quoted Goodwill, as saying.

A spokeswoman for the college, in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, said: “We constantly review the ways we communicate, to ensure we do not discriminate.

“We have stopped referring to the Christmas Break and Easter Break and we now have End of Term Break.”

Security Fee Dooms Christmas Parade

It appears Escondido’s annual Christmas parade is getting the heave-ho-ho-ho.
Organizers say they may be forced to cancel the December procession down Broadway because they can’t raise enough money cover a new $15,600 city security fee, which was recently imposed by the budget-strapped city.

When the security fee was announced a few months ago, the Escondido Rotary Club and the East Valley merchants association indicated they would help to make sure the Escondido Jaycees parade continues.

But Rotary Club president Mary Geerdes says the group can’t pay the entire amount and East Valley Association president Jon Hudson says his group had only planned to provide manpower and never had any money to give.

Green Bay Readies Christmas Display Policy in Advance of Lawsuit

The city of Green Bay could have a policy in place for Christmas displays even before a federal judge rules on whether the city violated the U.S. Constitution by installing a nativity scene last Christmas.

Mayor Jim Schmitt met with clergy members this week to get their ideas on a city policy. They agreed that the city should stick with secular decorations and leave the religious displays to area churches and synagogues, he said.

Although he plans to do more research, Schmitt said he hopes to have a proposed policy to present to the City Council by its meeting on Oct. 7 or Oct. 21.

That means a policy could be in place before U.S. Judge William Griesbach rules on a lawsuit filed against the city by the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Oral arguments in that lawsuit are set to begin at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 15 at the federal court building, 125 S. Jefferson St., Green Bay.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation and 14 area residents are suing the city, Schmitt and former City Council President Chad Fradette over the display that Fradette installed Dec. 11 over an entry to City Hall.

Schmitt said the city’s policy likely will allow only secular holiday decorations. He said he believes the city was within its legal right to put up a religious display last year but isn’t likely to repeat it.

South Park Christmas Under Fire in Russia

A nearly 10-year old Christmas episode of “South Park” could be banned by prosecutors in Russia. The US series is aimed at adults and features a group of nine-year-olds in a Colorado ski town.

It has courted controversy from its 1997 debut, parodying celebrities, politicians, religion, gay marriage and Saddam Hussein.

Basmanny regional prosecutors office spokeswoman Valentina Titova said investigators have filed a motion after an episode was broadcast on Moscow television station 2×2 in January.

They said it “bore signs of extremist activity”.

South Park has won two Emmy Awards and was first shown on the US Comedy Central network.

It is dubbed into Russian and rebroadcast on local networks, including 2×2, a channel which shows animated series in Moscow and St Petersburg.

The Russian Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith had asked prosecutors to ban South Park after it said 20 experts had studied the show for its effect on young viewers.

The group’s leader Konstantin Bendas said: “Our complaint is against a lot of cartoons, but this one was from South Park season three, episode 15.”

The episode, called Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics, first aired in December, 1999, and features the cast singing Christmas carols.

“It’s one thing if they are on cable TV and viewers pay money and make a conscious choice. But young children should not be able to turn on the TV after school and watch this. They need to be defended,” Mr Bendas said.

Russia passed a 2006 law widening the definition of extremism to include “the abasement of national dignity” and “inciting religious and national hatred” – which backers say was needed to stem a wave of violence aimed at ethnic minorities.