Illinois Capitol Building Taking All Comers This Christmas

The rotunda of the Illinois Capitol is poised to once again become home to various religious and civic displays this Christmas.

Last year, a private group was given approval to place a nativity scene on the main floor of the Statehouse.

That move sparked others to apply for nearby space to display symbols, ranging from a Jewish menorah to a simple aluminum pole honoring the fictitious holiday of “Festivus.”

The result: State workers and visitors to the Capitol were greeted with an obstacle course of displays.

Earlier this month, the Springfield Nativity Scene Committee — the same group that placed the nativity scene in the building in 2008 — was again given permission from Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White to erect the display beginning Nov. 30.

Dan Zanoza, a Lincoln resident who spearheaded the nativity scene last year, said he hopes this year’s display will spur others to erect religious displays in public buildings across the nation.

“I believe in the First Amendment and I believe in freedom of speech,” Zanoza said.

White’s office is responsible for issuing permits to groups who desire to participate in a public forum inside Illinois’ state Capitol building. He grants permission as long as the displays meet certain guidelines.

The nativity scene apparently won’t be alone again this year.

White spokesman Henry Haupt said the American Civil Liberties Union also has received permission to place a tabletop display of the First Amendment in December.

Last year, a group of atheists based in Madison, Wis., also erected a display.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation sign read, “There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world.”

Zanoza said he is considering making a push to erect a nativity in the Wisconsin Capitol, but said he’s hoping someone in that state takes up the cause.

Last year’s controversy came with a tinge of humor when a Springfield teenager received permission last year to erect a “Festivus” pole next to the other displays.

Festivus is an outgrowth of the TV sitcom “Seinfeld.” Character George Costanza’s angry dad created the fake holiday. Revelers gathered around an aluminum pole and couldn’t leave until someone pinned the head of the household to the floor.

Atheist Campaign to Hijack Christmas Launching

It is already a top-40 bestseller on Amazon — and it won’t publish until later this week. But the PR machine has been working overtime as atheists have learned that attacking Christmas is both lucrative and great for publicity. This week they launch their “Atheist Guide to Christmas” with an included essay from the grand poobah of atheism himself, Richard Dawkins.

On the surface it sounds absurd: folks who disclaim God claim Christmas for themselves. But it is not the first time absurdity made for world-wide headlines and a little extra jingle in the pocket. And besides, this is the same movement espousing the thought that “everything came from nothing”. We’re not exactly talking about the brightest bulbs on the tree here.

Atheist activists spend countless resources in high-profile settings mocking and attacking those who claim religion. Christmas is a raw nerve that presents plenty of opportunities. Christmas 2008 saw atheists stake a claim in the State capitol building in Washington state to openly — and legally — mock those who celebrate with sacred intent. On busses in London and on billboards in Washington they launched an ad campaign encouraging merry making at Christmas but skipping the worship of God.

Yep, our atheist friends just love Christmas.

What happened to the good old days when they locked themselves away on Black Friday, refusing to engage with holiday shoppers? What happened to those principled souls who decried the commercialism of Christmas as hypocrisy?

If you can’t beat them, join them, I guess.

Like the Grinch, they want it all. The Christmas Tree, they will say, isn’t Christian. It belongs to the ungodly. The wreath, the bell, mistletoe, eggnog and even jolly old Santa himself are all secular symbols with nary a religious connection between them.

Look out Christmas lovers, Atheists are taking over Christmas. With them there are no wise men, there was no manger and no angels were heard on high.

Your Christmas is about to be hijacked. Look to CNN for more details soon — guaranteed.

Public Outcry Intensifies in Washington State Over Nativity Ban

A heated debate took place at the state Capitol on Tuesday, but no lawmakers were involved.

The debate was based on what can and cannot be displayed during the holiday season.

Last season a nativity scene displayed inside the Capitol sparked the addition of an atheist sign, which, in turn, sparked a big protest.

This year, no holiday displays will be allowed in the rotunda except for the now-renamed “holiday tree.”

But not everyone is happy with the latest plan, and many had plenty to say at Tuesday’s public hearing.

“You’re kind of shutting 95 percent of Washingtonians that celebrate Christmas,” said nativity scene sponsor Ron Wesselius.

“We don’t need a repeat of last year’s holiday display embarrassment. Though we support free speech, we all learned the potential hazards of an open public forum,” said Dennis Mansker of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Even though indoor displays are prohibited, outdoor displays are more than welcome with a permit. And some worry that invitation will turn into an even bigger problem.

“Such displays would result in uncontrollable proliferation that would inevitably consume large amounts of space,” said Olympia resident Bob Jacobs.

The rotunda Christmas tree is a long-standing tradition. But last year an atheist group cried foul when a private group added a nativity scene to the display.

The atheists were then allowed to put up a sign with an anti-religious message. And that sparked a national debate when Bill O’Reilly called on his viewers to bombard the governor’s phone line with complaints.

The controversy spawned other grievances, as well as requests to display other pro-religious signs and even a “Festivus pole,” a reference to the TV show “Seinfeld.”

Then the atheist sign disappeared, only to be dropped off at a Seattle radio station.

In the end, it all boiled over into a large demonstration on the Capitol steps, and General Administration Office banned all holiday displays except for the tree.

The General Administration Office will take all the public testimony to help determine a permanent policy for holiday displays — one that may or may not be ready by this holiday season.

Freedom From Religion Foundation Threatened School Board

The school board in Petroskey, Michigan publicly blamed one of their own for refusing to change their “Winter Break” to “Christmas Break”. But in reality, it was contact from the “Freedom From Religion Foundation” that sealed the deal.

On August 18th, 2009, the board unamimously voted to change “Winter Break” to “Christmas Break”. It was a done deal. There was no outcry from the public, no debate and no controversy.

Then the Freedom From Religion Foundation stepped in with a letter claiming that the school board had violated the U.S. Constitution and threatening legal action.

The school board couldn’t run away from the controversy fast enough. In an age where schools fight for every penny to fund themselves the power of the money — or the potential loss of it — does more to dictate policy than anything else.

I wonder what the bullying policy is in Petroskey schools. Maybe they need one after showing no backbone to the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the students and parents they serve.