FFRF Mockery Prompts Candidate to Action in Illinois

The Freedom From Religion Foundation continues to promote peace of the season by mocking religion — all in the name of freedom of speech. That’s their argument after a candidate for public office in Illinois tried to remove the customary atheist rant from right in front of the Christmas tree at the state capitol a day before Christmas.

Conservative activist and Illinois comptroller candidate William J. Kelly was escorted from the Illinois State Capitol building Wednesday when he tried to remove a sign put up by an atheist group. Kelly announced Tuesday that he planned to take down the sign put up by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, and on Wednesday, he tried to make good on his plan.

But Kelly said when he turned the sign around so it was face down, state Capitol police were quick to escort him away.

Illinois Secretary of State’s office spokeswoman Henry Haupt said Kelly was escorted from the rotunda by state Capitol police, who briefly detained him, wrote an incident report, and directed him to leave the building.

“It doesn’t matter how we feel about the message on a display,” Haupt said. “Our obligation is to protect the property within the state Capitol building, and we would do the same for any other display.”

But Kelly called the sign “hate speech,” and said he does not believe it is appropriate for a sign that “mocks” religion to be placed next to a Christmas tree and also near a nativity scene.

“I don’t think the State of Illinois has any business denigrating or mocking any religion,” Kelly said, “and I think that’s what the verbiage on the sign was doing.”

The sign reads: “At the time of the winter solstice, let reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is just myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

The sign was also on display at the Capitol at this time last year. The group says it filed for a permit to post the display in response to the state’s decision to put up the nativity.

But Kelly said he believes the problem is not only the verbiage of the sign, but also its proximity to the Christmas tree.

“The fact that sign was immediately in front of the tree, I found that to be disturbing because any family and any child would run up to that tree with a smile on their face, and they would immediately see that sign,” Kelly said.

Haupt said Kelly had been advised not to return to the state Capitol for the rest of the day on Wednesday.

The Madison, Wis.-based Freedom from Religion Foundation has placed the sign in several state Capitol buildings across the country.

As to Kelly’s claims that the sign mocks religion, foundation co-President Dan Barker said: “He’s kind of right, because the last couple of sentences do criticize religion, and of course, the beginning is a celebration of the winter solstice. But that kind of speech is protected as well – speech that is critical and speech that is supportive.”

The foundation does not approve of the nativity scene, Barker said.

“We atheists believe that the nativity scene is mocking humanity,” by suggesting that those who do not believe in Jesus will go to hell, Barker said. “But notice that we are not defacing or stealing nativity scenes because we disagree with their speech.”

Signs in other states have been targets of vandals, Barker said.

In Wisconsin, someone threw acid on it one year, and some people turned it around and hid it in the back rooms of the state Capitol, and in Washington state, someone walked it out of the Capitol and threw it away, Barker said. The Washington state sign was later found in a ditch near a country radio station and returned to the capitol in Olympia.

This is the second year the Freedom from Religion sign has been at the Illinois State Capitol.

Haupt said in addition to the sign, the Nativity Scene and the Christmas tree, there is also a Soldiers’ Angels wreath, and a tabletop display from the American Civil Liberties Union that says the group “defends freedom of religion.” A Hanukkah menorah had also been on display until the Jewish Festival of Lights ended on Saturday.

For the second year in a row, the Capitol also has an aluminum Festivus pole commemorating the fictional holiday created in “Seinfeld.”

Athiest Complaint Leads to Removal of Angels, Stars from Christmas Trees

There’s no place for angels atop Christmas trees, according to one California man who successfully lobbied for the removal of religious symbols at county buildings after spotting a yuletide decoration last week.

Stars and other religious emblems were ordered removed from Christmas trees in all government buildings in Sonoma County on Monday following a complaint by Irv Sutley, a disabled 65-year-old Marine veteran who said the symbols were “extremely offensive” and part of the “cult” of Christianity.

“I just don’t believe government has the right to intrude on anyone and force them into sectarian behavior,” Sutley told FoxNews.com. “I’ve opposed Buddhist statues, the star of David — anything of a religious nature.”

Sutley said he filed the complaint with acting County Administrator Chris Thomas on Dec. 18 after noticing an angel atop a six-foot tree in the lobby of the county recorder’s office. Sutley, a lifelong atheist and chairman of the county’s Peace and Freedom Party, said he visited the office last week for his re-election bid next June.

Sutley said the angel violated previous court rulings concerning holiday displays, including a 1989 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found that government-sponsored Christmas trees decorated with religious symbols constitute an illegal endorsement of Christian doctrine.

Sutley said he was pleased with a subsequent e-mail sent by Thomas to managers of all 26 county departments instructing them to remove religious symbols like angels and stars from holiday displays.

Jim Toomey, a public information officer for Sonoma County, confirmed the removal.

“To avoid any controversy and to satisfy this gentleman’s concerns, the ornaments were removed,” said Toomey, adding that he knew of no prior complaints concerning the holiday display.

Sutley, of Santa Rosa, said he’s pleased with Thomas’ directive, but said his work might not yet be done. The veteran previously led successful efforts to stop prayers at government meetings in nearby cities and forced Rohnert Park to redesign its city emblem due to religious symbols.

He now intends to ask county officials to remove a steel cross near Ernie Smith Park in Sonoma that serves as a memorial to an accident victim.

“It was put up privately without a permit,” Sutley said. “It shouldn’t be there.”

US Government Uses Joseph and Mary Imaging to Promote Census

PH2009121501980A poster showing Mary and Joseph heading to Bethlehem for a census and the birth of Jesus is raising eyebrows among some evangelicals, who consider it an inappropriate use of Christian symbolism for the headcount the government will conduct next year.

The posters, created by the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), have been distributed to more than 7,000 churches in an effort to raise awareness of the census among Hispanics. Most were printed in Spanish.

Luke 2:1-4 says Jesus was born during a census ordered by Caesar Augustus. Although historians question the accuracy of the account, Luke stated that everyone had to return to his ancestral town to be registered for taxes and that Joseph and Mary left Nazareth for Bethlehem.

The NALEO poster depicts that journey with an outline of Joseph leading Mary, on a mule, down a hill in the direction of a large star. “This is how Jesus was born,” the poster says. “Joseph and Mary participated in the census.” In smaller letters to the side, it adds, “Don’t be afraid.”

The posters were dreamed up by NALEO, one of 136,000 “partners” to the U.S. Census Bureau. The volunteer organizations are helping spread the message that the census is important, easy and safe. NALEO has been at the forefront of a national coalition of Latino groups promoting the census.

Arturo Vargas, executive director of NALEO’s educational fund, said the poster is timed for the Christmas season. Vargas said the posters “are being well received by the congregations that we’re working with, and they’re reminding people of the Gospel story of how Jesus was born.”

The poster has widened a fault line between Hispanics who are encouraging participation in the census and those who are urging a boycott to protest lack of progress in immigration reform.

The Rev. Miguel Rivera, a boycott leader who heads the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, criticized the poster during his Tuesday morning radio show, which is broadcast in 11 states.

“The Bible establishes clearly that we are not supposed to use the name or God or Jesus in vain for any other purposes than worshiping,” Rivera said. “The census would never do the same thing using the name of Muhammad during Ramadan.”

The Rev. Luis Cortes Jr., the head of the church network Esperanza and a co-sponsor of the poster, accused Rivera of condemning the poster to draw attention to his call for a boycott.

“It is a biblical fact that the mother and father of Jesus Christ responded to the census of their day,” he said.

Biblical scholars had mixed reactions to the poster.

Obery Hendricks Jr., a professor at New York Theological Seminary and author of “The Politics of Jesus,” said the poster shows a lack of respect for Jesus.

“It cheapens Jesus and oversimplifies everything,” he said. “Why don’t they say his parents were forced to go to the census, forced to go away from their land for oppressive purposes? It take things out of context and makes it Pollyanna, all is calm, all is bright, when he was born in a time of terrible tumult.”

Marcus Borg, a historical Jesus scholar at Oregon State University, said the narrative of Jesus’s birth is often used for secular purposes

“Take Christmas cards, if they say, ‘Peace on Earth,’ and don’t say anything specifically Christian,” he said. “I can’t imagine why anyone would take issue with the poster on grounds of irreverence or blasphemy.”

The Census Bureau is trying to stay above the fray.

“We work with people from all walks of life to get an accurate count, but we do not provide funding to partner organizations and play no role in the creation of material by private community groups,” said Nick Kimball, a spokesman for the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, reading a written statement.

Idaho Charter School Students Can’t Say Christmas at Talent Show

A Garden City (Idaho) public charter school director asked students singing in a school talent show to replace the word “Christmas” with “holiday” because of the scrutiny Nampa Classical Academy has garnered regarding the use of religious texts in the classroom.

Media attention over the lawsuit Nampa Classical Academy has brought against the Idaho Public Charter School Commission and other state officials so it can use religious texts as part of an objective curriculum “put(s) negative pressure on all charters and we are being closely monitored right now to see if there’s anything the media can find that can be misconstrued as using peoples’ tax dollars to teach religion incorrectly,” Garden City Community School director Cindy Hoovel said in a memo on the school’s Web site. “Therefore, the decision was made to be extremely careful with this issue.”

Hoovel acknowledged the decision may have been “a bit overboard” but said she felt frustrated because the arts-based charter school is getting positive press coverage and she didn’t want to take any chance that her school would get lumped into the church and state issue.

“If you called any school, traditional or charter, every single administrator has to face how they are going to handle this time of year,” Hoovel told the Idaho Press-Tribune. “I do think it’s made administrators have to go overboard on being political correct.”

Seventh- and eighth-graders sponsored the talent show and gave Hoovel a list of the songs and acts to be performed the day before the show. Hoovel noticed several songs were about Christmas. The student wanted to perform a song by “Alvin and the Chipmunks” that included the word Christmas.

“I didn’t want their little hearts broken by not participating, so we compromised to change the word ‘Christmas’ to ‘holiday’ so they could still sing their songs. I was just being careful,” Hoovel said. “I’m hired to uphold educational law, not necessarily my personal opinion,” she added.

The decision got attention and Hoovel said the school has received many phone calls. She said listening to the feedback has been interesting and that the issue of separation of church and state in public schools needs to be examined by the public, schools and legislators.

Tamara Baysinger, charter schools program manager of the Idaho Public Charter School Commission, declined to comment on the talent show controversy because the commission has not taken a position on that issue and was not involved in Hoovel’s decision to replace the word Christmas with “holiday.” The use of the word Christmas is unrelated to the commission’s position on the use of religious texts in public school classrooms, according to the commission’s Web site. The commission was advised in an attorney general’s opinion that religious texts may not be used in public school classrooms, including public charter school classrooms, for any purpose.

In response to the controversy, Nampa Classical Academy board of directors vice-chairman Michael Moffett told the Press-Tribune, “It is extremely disappointing and sad that someone responsible for teaching children does not understand what the so-called ‘separation of church and state’ is and not willing to stand up for our American rights. Administrators don’t have to be ‘ridiculously correct.’ They need to stand up for what is right.”

Moffet continued, “At Nampa Classical Academy, we boldly exercise our American right to recognize Christmas while respecting other belief systems and will not violate our students’ right to celebrate our Western traditions. It is clear the Public Charter School Commission is and has created a chilling effect resulting in the muting of the childrens’ voices.”

Jail Inmates Forced to Listen to Sheriff’s Christmas Music

Sheriff Joe Arpaio – the self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff” in America – likes Christmas music, especially “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and anything by Alvin and the Chipmunks, and apparently he thinks the 8,000 inmates inside his Phoenix jail should, too.

So it was with some glee that his Maricopa County office announced Thursday in a red-and-green press release that the “sixth and perhaps final lawsuit” brought by inmates to stop the sheriff from playing the holiday songs all day, every day, during the holidays had been dismissed in federal court.

“We keep winning these lawsuits. Inmates should stop acting like the Grinch who stole Christmas and give up wasting the court’s time with such frivolous assertions,” it read. “But chances are they’ll keep suing and we’ll keep winning.”

The latest lawsuit was filed by inmate William Lamb, who said that being forced to listen to the Christmas songs 12 hours a day was a violation of his civil and religious rights. But U.S. District Judge Roz Silver disagreed, dismissing the case and denying Lamb’s claim for $250,000 in damages.

Sheriff Arpaio catapulted to national attention when he cracked down on the thousands of illegal immigrants who swarm daily through his county; put inmates in pink jumpsuits and underwear; worked them in chain gangs; housed them in tents in the Arizona desert and fed them bologna sandwiches.

He said that his Christmas selections were multi-ethnic and culturally diverse, from all faiths and ethnicities. He told The Washington Times earlier this year that in addition to tunes by Alvin and the Chipmunks, the music included the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Bing Crosby and Doctor Demento.

At the time, he said “all people everywhere deserve a little Christmas cheer.”

Lt. Brian Lee, the sheriff’s spokesman, said the court issued a summary judgment upholding the decision to “inject the holiday spirit into the lives of those incarcerated over the holiday season in the third-largest jail system in the U.S.”

He said inmates have sued six times claiming the music was in violation of their religious rights or cruel and unusual punishment, but the court disagreed – finding no evidence of fact, so Sheriff Arpaio was entitled to the judgment as a matter of law.

The sheriff is no stranger to controversy, although his philosophy of “zero tolerance towards the criminal element” has been embraced by his deputies and the community alike. He was first elected in 1996 and was re-elected by double-digit margins in 2000, 2004 and 2008. In 2007 a petition to recall him failed to gain enough voter signatures to get on the ballot.

Most recently he has come to the attention of the federal government. He was notified in March by the Justice Department that he may have unfairly targeted Hispanics and Spanish-speaking people for arrest. In October, the Department of Homeland Security revoked the authority of 160 of his federally trained deputies to make immigration arrests in the field.

The sheriff has denied any wrongdoing and has said he welcomed and would cooperate in any investigation of his office. He has continued to arrest illegal immigrants under recently passed state laws.

Tired of waiting for the federal government to secure the U.S.-Mexico border and concerned about the potential terrorism threat that the lack of border security posed, he assigned deputies in 2006 to monitor his 9,226-square-mile county for illegal immigrants. He targeted the illegals under an anti-smuggling law that state lawmakers passed to fight drug trafficking.

“My message is clear: If you come here and I catch you, you’re going straight to jail,” he said at the time. “We’re going to arrest any illegal who violates this new law, and I’m not going to turn these people over to federal authorities so they can have a free ride back to Mexico. I’ll give them a free ride to my jail.”

Sheriff Arpaio, 77, captured headlines nationwide when he set up a jail system that included tents, spent less than 15 cents per meal per inmate, and banned smoking, coffee, movies, pornographic magazines and unrestricted television in all of his jails. He also assigned both men and women to chain gangs.

The sheriff also has created several rehabilitative programs, including “Hard Knocks High,” the only accredited high school program administered by a sheriff’s office in a U.S. jail.

More recently he has been mentioned as a possible candidate for governor, with polls showing that he has a commanding lead as a Republican candidate for the November 2010 race.

A November poll by Rasmussen Reports said that of 1,200 likely Arizona voters, he was the Republicans’ “best shot at holding onto the Arizona governorship in 2010.” The poll said Sheriff Arpaio led the expected Democratic challenger, Terry Goddard, Arizona’s attorney general, by 12 points and that 64 percent of voters statewide said he was doing the right thing by working around federal law to continue his aggressive actions against illegal immigration.

Lt. Lee said his boss had received “multiple inquiries locally and nationally” about the latest Rasmussen poll, but had made no decision regarding the governor’s race.

Advent Conspiracy Gains Steam Around the World

A growing number of Christian churches are joining forces with a grass-roots movement known as the Advent Conspiracy, which is seeking to “do away with the frenzied activity and extravagant gift-giving of a commercial Christmas.”

The group was founded by Portland pastor Rick McKinley, who with a group of fellow pastors realized that their own, and their congregations’, focus during the time of Advent revolved more around secular consumerism than preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ.

“What was once a time to celebrate the birth of a savior has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, and shopping lists,” McKinley observed.

“And when it’s all over, many of us are left with presents to return, looming debt that will take months to pay off, and this empty feeling of missed purpose. Is this what we really want out of Christmas?”

“None of us like Christmas,” McKinley said in a Time.com report, adding, “That’s sort of bad if you’re a pastor. It’s the shopping, the going into debt, the worrying that if I don’t spend enough money, someone will think I don’t love them.”

McKinley, whose church donates money to dig wells in developing countries through Living Water International and other organizations, saw that a fraction of the money Americans spend at retailers in the month of December could supply the entire world with clean water.

As a result he and his friends embarked on a plan to urge their congregations to spend less on presents for friends and family, and to consider donating the money they saved to support practical and tangible charitable works.

“If more Christians changed how they thought about giving at Christmas,” he argued, “the holiday could be transformative in a religious and practical sense.”

McKinley observed that at first church members were uncertain. “Some people were terrified,” McKinley recalled. “They said, ‘My gosh, you’re ruining Christmas. What do we tell our kids?'”

Soon though, the idea caught on and McKinley found that not only were people “relieved to be given permission to slow down and buy less” but were “expressing their love through something more meaningful than a gift card. Once church members adjusted to this new conception of Christmas, they found that they loved it.”

According to the Time.com report the Advent Conspiracy movement has exploded, counting hundreds of churches on four continents and in at least 17 countries as participants.

The Advent Conspiracy video has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube and the movement boasts nearly 45,000 fans on Facebook.

Jesus Shoots Santa in New Display Called “Art”

A California neighborhood reportedly is up in arms after a resident decorated his lawn with a depiction of Jesus shooting Santa Claus.

The controversial Christmas display shows Jesus pointing a double-barrel shotgun at Santa’s dead body as Rudolph lays sprawled across the hood of a pickup truck nearby, WNCT reported.

Neighbors in Nipomo, Calif., called for the display to be removed, but its maker Ron Lake called it a work of art — in which Santa represents the commercialization of Christmas, the station reported.

“It’s an expression of my repressed creativity,” Lake told WNCT.

Police said that because Lake built the display on private property they cannot force him to take it down. Some residents plan to start a petition, the station reported.

Florida Pastor Wants Equal Time to Compete with Menorahs

The Rev. Mark Boykin knows how to fill up the airwaves.

“Welcome to our show today, Crossfire Live,” Boykin said into a radio microphone on 1230 WBZT.

This day in particular, the talk on his radio show was coming extra easily. That’s because the pastor is debating something he’s passionate about: Boca Raton’s holiday display.

“I’m going in, Barry,” he said to his co-host, Barry Silver, “and presenting to them a Christmas creche because there is a menorah.”

Boykin is upset about what he saw at the Boca Raton library. The holiday display has a menorah and other decorations, but no nativity scene.

“There are eight different city-owned properties whereby there is a menorah and there is not a creche,” said Boykin. “Our position is we would like to see a creche at each of the places there is a menorah.”

The library lobby has a gorgeous Christmas tree. But Boykin said that has nothing to do with his faith.

“That is not a religious symbol,” Boykin said. “That, to be sure and technically, is a secular symbol.”

Some library patrons missed the nativity; others didn’t understand the controversy.

“I think everybody should have equal time,” Kelly Sullivan said. “I think there should be a menorah and there should be a nativity scene.”

“It doesn’t bother me one bit,” Steve Backaluckas said. “I don’t think it’s necessary to have a nativity scene if there’s a menorah.”

“There needs to be a nativity scene,” Lee-Anne Steinhardt said. “It’s the birth of Christ and that is what Christmas is all about.”

Boykin’s debate partner on the radio clearly didn’t agree with his position. But the pastor said he’ll be donating a nativity scene to the display, and he’s not backing down.

“I’m not going away, and if they — I’m just not going away,” Boykin said. “I’ll leave it at that.”

Virginia County Grapples with Christmas Controversy

Debate is stirring in Loudon County, Virginia over a Christmas display.

The Board of Supervisors overturned a committee decision to ban all displays on courthouse property and was then asked to place a Christmas tree on county property. That brought a flood of requests from other groups including atheists and an individual representing an organization that wanted to set up a filthy parody of the “12 Days of Christmas.”

Mat Staver, head of the Liberty Council and dean of the Liberty University Law School, says, “Clearly I think it’s constitutional for the government, whether it’s the courthouse or city hall, to display a nativity scene, Santa Claus, reindeer and a Christmas tree, and by doing so, you don’t open up a forum so that you have to let every other symbol or message on the property.” He further contends that “Christmas is a federal and state holiday, and it’s certainly appropriate for our governmental structures and facilities to acknowledge and honor Christmas, both the secular and clearly the religious aspects of Christmas.”

County supervisors are now posed with the challenge of deciding what can and cannot be allowed according to whether or not the displays meet constitutional tests. There are currently seven individuals or organizations which have applied for use of the courthouse grounds for some form of holiday display. The exhibits range from the traditional nativity scenes and Christmas trees to all-inclusive religious display and an atheistic banner which counters the religious arrangements. It reads, “At This Season of Winter Solstice, May Reason Prevail,” and goes on to suggest that gods, devils, angels, heaven, hell, and religion are myths and superstitions which “harden hearts and enslave minds.”

New York Grocery Store Takes Heat for Menorah and Christmas Tree

A Windsor Terrace grocery store manager came under fire from customers for installing and promptly removing a menorah and a Christmas tree he had placed in front of his store. For the second year in a row, Key Food manager Mike Jordings allowed Rabbi Moshe Hecht to put a 10-foot tall menorah in front of his Prospect Avenue store during Hanukkah. But by the third night of the Festival of Lights, complaints about the Jewish icon were getting intense. “I was trying to be festive, but my everyday customers didn’t feel that way,” he told the Daily News. “They felt uncomfortable.”

So Jording did what any rational business owner would do — he put up a Christmas tree beside it. But that didn’t stop the complaints from customers, who went so far as threatening to vandalize his store if he didn’t remove the Hanukkah symbol. That left him with only one choice — taking down both holiday decorations. “I heard complaints both ways — about the menorah and the tree,” he told The Brooklyn Paper. “That’s why I took them both down. I’m a supermarket, not a religion.”

But when he removed the menorah, Rabbi Hecht called him out in a letter on an online community group: “We are extremely disappointed by the manager’s decision and more dismayed by the apparent lack of neighborly respect for our holiday celebration. It would be very helpful for everyone to personally speak with the manager, Mike Jording.” While anti-Semitism remains a heated issue in Windsor Terracethe Times notes that “Mr. Jording was no longer the main target.” For his part, Jording says he has figured out a way to avoid controversy next holiday season—”You’re not going to see any religious symbols outside the store next year”—though he later hedged to the Daily News that he might bring them back.

Nativity and Menorah Removed from Pa. Courthouse

Officials in northeastern Pennsylvania have removed a pair of religious holiday symbols from a public space after being threatened with legal action.

Luzerne County commissioners took down the creche and menorah from the courthouse lawn on Wednesday after receiving an objection from two civil liberties groups.

The ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State told the county in a Dec. 11 letter that the displays are an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion.

County Solicitor Vito DeLuca says officials chose to forgo a legal fight because of a local budget crisis and other pressing matters.

The nativity scene is county-owned and has been placed on the lawn in Wilkes-Barre for decades. The county added a menorah about 20 years ago.

Church Billboard Showing Joseph, Mary in Bed Offends

capt_photo_1261062307413-1-0 A church billboard showing an apparently naked Virgin Mary and Joseph in bed together has sparked the ire of conservative Christians in New Zealand.

On the poster a sad-looking Joseph lies next to Mary, whose face is turned heavenwards under the words: “Poor Joseph. God was a hard act to follow.”

The billboard was erected outside the progressive St Matthew-in-the-City Anglican church in Auckland on Thursday.

St Matthews’ vicar, Archdeacon Glynn Cardy, said the billboard was meant to challenge stereotypes about the way Jesus was conceived.

In the bible, the Virgin Mary becomes pregnant after an angel appears to her and tells her she will give birth to the son of God.

Cardy said the billboard was meant to challenge literal interpretations of the Bible.

“It is intended to challenge stereotypes about the way that Jesus was conceived and get people talking about the Christmas story,” he said.

Conservative Christians have criticised the billboard as offensive.

Auckland Catholic Diocese spokeswoman Lyndsay Freer said the poster was disrespectful to the church.

“Our Christian tradition of 2,000 years is that Mary remains a virgin and that Jesus is the son of God, not Joseph,” Freer told the New Zealand Herald.

“Such a poster is inappropriate and disrespectful.”

One protester was so incensed, just hours after the unveiling of the poster, he climbed on top of his car and covered the images of Joseph and Mary with brown paint.

U.S. Cultural Events Attack Christmas Nationwide

Christmas is questioned, lampooned, satirized, and mocked from coast-to-coast in the name of entertainment advancing the political agendas of groups who will stop at nothing in their quest for attention. Here is a list of shocking events playing somewhere in America:

– Columbia University hosts “XMAS!”, a production where the Virgin Mary is seen begging for sex

– “Naked Holidays NYC ’09” and “Filthy Lucre: A Burlesque Christmas Carol” are nude productions competing with gay shows titled “Santa Claus is Coming Out” and “The Gayest Christmas Present Ever” in New York City

– Those who want to see baby Jesus electrocuted can see “Hot Babes in Toyland,” while those who want to see a fetal rabbit morph into baby Jesus are advised to see “A Very Sandwich Christmas”, also in New York City

– “The Eight: Reindeer Monologues” is being performed in Philadelphia and features a discussion of Santa raping Vixen.

– Seattle is home to “Ham for the Holidays: Lard Potion No. 9,” a play that sparkles with a “teeny-tiny Sequin Gay Men’s Chorus.” Also in Seattle is “It Came from Under the Tree!: A Pickled Puppet Christmas Special” that features nudity and a Michael Jackson character who envies Santa’s way with children.

– “How the Drag Queen Stole Christmas” is being shown in Oakland, California

– “Madonna’s Christmas Celebration,” one that features a sexual deviant dressed as the Virgin Mary: he/she talks about the difficulty of having sex with God, coining the phrase “Oh, my God” while having sex with him (this plays in several venues coast-to-coast).

Obamas Criticized for Sending Christmas Cards Without Christmas

Since 1953 the President of the United States has had a Christmas card that is sent out to thousands. Several Presidents have avoided using the word “Christmas” in the cards, including George W. Bush. President Barack Obama’s 2009 card simply says “Season’s Greetings.” Inside, it reads: “May your family have a joyous holiday season and a new year blessed with hope and happiness.”

Those simple and completely unoffensive words are now under fire by Congressman Henry Brown, Republican of South Carolina, who introduced a resolution this week calling for the protection of the sanctity of Christmas. The bill has so far seen limited bi-partisan support.

“I believe that sending a Christmas card without referencing a holiday and its purpose limits the Christmas celebration in favor of a more ‘politically correct’ holiday,” Brown told Fox News Radio on Thursday. “This kind of reproach is exactly what my Christmas resolution, introduced to the House of Representatives earlier this week, is against as the resolution expresses support for the use of Christmas symbols and traditions and disapproval of all attempts to ban or limit references to Christmas,” he added.

How the Obama card “bans or limits references to Christmas” is beyond me. President Obama is the leader of a diverse country of many cultural traditions inclusive of holidays that just happen to fall in proximity to Christmas on a calendar. Having one card covering it all doesn’t represent disrespect to Christmas — in fact, quite the contrary. Christmas promotes peace on earth and, to all men, goodwill.

The Obama card does just that.

Syracuse NY Schools Ban Santa at School

Santa Claus can still visit Woodland Elementary School in East Syracuse, N.Y., but only after school hours and not mingling with children in the cafeteria as in the past.

The Post-Standard reports that the East Syracuse-Minoa school system has restricted Santa to after-hours unless he’s connected to a “classroom lesson or activity that’s educational and inclusive of all holiday observances and traditions.”

Patti Puma, who has a fourth-grader at the school, calls Santa a “secular, cultural tradition” and says she is circulating a protest petition to take to the school board next week.

Schools superintendent Donna DeSiato says the new guidelines are designed to ensure the district doesn’t promote one singular tradition.

“We did not ban Santa,” she says. “That is a misunderstanding. We are separating out singular activities that need to be family choices, like having Santa come to school and children telling him what they want for Christmas, from instructional programming.”

She says officials were questioned by someone in the district as to why it promoted a “singular focused activity” involving Santa when schools began planning holiday events.

Woodland PTO president John Caramanna says the group has no position, but he doesn’t understand the controversy.

“Santa isn’t in the Bible, and I don’t see a manger with him in it,” he tells the newspaper. “He’s like a marketing guy; a jolly old guy with a white beard who’s fun for the kids.”