Atheists Gear Up for Annual Anti-God Christmas Campaign

There are many sides in the War on Christmas but none more curious than atheists who choose a season of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ as their time to seek converts. It began this week in Washington DC with the bus-stop ads of the United Coalition of Reason, a grass-roots organization of local chapters of organized atheists.

They claim their bus stop ads actually have nothing to do with Christmas, just that they coincide with large gatherings of groups they feel who would be responsive to their message in Washington.

When asked by the Washington Post, however, the American Humanist Association — who did sponsor the rolling bus ads that garnered nation-wide attention last year — did say to mark November 9th down on the calendar as the date of their big announcement this year.

Between organized atheism, the ACLU, and the usual suspects in public schools and courts 2010 promises to be another active Christmas season in the ongoing War on Christmas. No word yet on FoxNews plans for book releases, rallies or specials dedicated to the War on Christmas but, like fruitcake, mistletoe and Santa Claus, we expect them to show up any day now too.

Woolworths Pulls Christian Magazines, Spurs Boycott

Woolworths’ (a UK department store) decision to pull Christian magazines Lig, Leef, Joy and Juig from its shelves, has caused outrage among some of their customers.

Customers have taken to the Woolworths Facebook fan page to show their disapproval of this decision, saying sarcastically the chain should also not display or sell any products related to Christmas and Easter, as these are Christian holidays.

Earlier, Beeld newspaper reported the removal of these Christian magazines from Woolworths’ shelves and threats by some customers boycott the chain.

Woolworths CEO Simon Susman told the newspaper they are reviewing all magazines the store sells and will continue to remove titles that are not popular with the customers.

“I would like to state irrevocably that I will not shop at Woolworths again until you replace Christians magazines on your shelves. It seems as if you do not mind offending Christians (or our wallets!) Are you going to remove all marketing for Christmas and Easter because these are after all Christian holidays,” said a customer.

One user said in the battle of “God vs. Woolworths” he choses God, and that this is a sign it’s the end of the world.

Other users said that there are a lot of Christians who shop at Woolworths, and their decision to not buy there will be felt financially.

Another customer said even if the magazines are brought back, they will not shop at Woolworths again.

Someone else added that popular magazine Finesse should still be stocked, and asked that not all Christian magazines be removed.

Another customer said it’s clearly a business decision as there is no money from the sale of these titles, and that people who usually buy these magazines, can get it from another store.

Not all commenters agreed with the boycott, with one saying: “I think everyone, especially Christians, should learn about tolerance. This makes me so angry. I dont know why Christians think they better then any other religion! Its time to go back to basics people… WWJD??????? Not cause such an uproar.. and forget all his values…”

Supreme Court Refuses Case Banning Religious Music in Schools

“Silent Night” and other religious songs will remain off the program at holiday concerts in South Orange-Maplewood schools after the U.S. Supreme Court declined today to take up an appeal of the district’s ban on celebratory religious music.

The nation’s highest court ended a case that dates back to 2004, by deciding not to hear the petition brought by Michael Stratechuk, a parent who sued over the policy that bars performance of religious songs. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ban last year, and Stratechuk attempted to take the case to the higher court.

“There’s nothing more, short of the school district changing its policy. There’s no other legal avenue to take,” Stratechuk’s attorney, Robert J. Muise of the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., said today. “I’m sure he will be disappointed, but he put up the fight, and I think it was the right fight.”

Stratechuk, a musician whose two sons were in seventh and ninth grades when he brought the case, could not be reached for comment.

In a statement, school Superintendent Brian Osborne said the policy “was adopted to promote an inclusive environment for all students in our school community. We have always felt our policy was constitutional and are pleased with the outcome.”

In the 1990s, South Orange-Maplewood adopted a policy banning the use of religious songs in school performances. But the district stirred controversy in 2004 when a memo was issued to clarify the policy, extending it to vocal and instrumental performances.

The policy came under fire from conservative groups and drew protests in South Orange and Maplewood. Opponents organized an “illegal” night of Christmas carols, Hannukah songs and other musical pieces in December 2004, according to Muise’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. The policy covered religious songs of all faiths, but Muise said his client’s case was brought on behalf of Christmas songs.

“You’re not even going to allow the instrumentals of the music that doesn’t contain the words,” Muise said. “People in the audience would sing the songs in their minds?”

The case was brought under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which requires the government to be neutral toward religion, Muise said.

“The whole idea of diversity and tolerance, you learn those traits by understanding other people’s traditions and religious traditions,” he said.

The South Orange-Maplewood policy, which says its goal is to “foster mutual understanding and respect for the right of all individuals regarding their beliefs,” permits religious music to be taught in the curriculum. But the music cannot be used to celebrate religious concepts, events or holidays.

Muise said by banning it from performance, the district essentially kept religious songs out of the curriculum.

“Teachers tend to have students learn in class what they’re going to perform,” he said.

He also said that despite the district’s stated policy, prior to 2004 some holiday concerts did contain Christmas music. In 2003, for example, according to the petition, one holiday concert included “Joy to the World,” “O Come all Ye Faithful,” “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” and “Silent Night.”

He said the policy also prohibits “any printed programs for any Holiday concert to have any graphics which refer to the holidays, such as Christmas trees and dreidels.”

Pennsylvania County Taking No Chances with Christmas Display

Luzerne County commissioners don’t want another holiday season controversy over the Nativity scene and menorah on the courthouse lawn, so they plan to pass a resolution making it clear that they plan to set up a “seasonal holiday display” this year.

Commissioners had removed the Nativity and menorah from the lawn last December after a litigation threat from the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The organizations argued the display violated the constitutional separation of church and state.

After public uproar, including protesters carrying nativity statues at the site where the display was removed, county officials came up with a more diverse seasonal display.

The revamped version included Santa and Mrs. Claus, two reindeer, some candy canes, a little elf handling mail for Santa, a Christmas tree and signs that say “Happy Holidays” and “Happy Kwanzaa.”

German Catholics Want “Santa-Free” Zones

A group of German Catholics wants to do away with Santa Claus because of the fictional figure’s commercial hype and replace him with St Nicolas and the selfless giving they say he represents.
Even before shops fill with Santa-themed goodies, the Bonifatiuswerk of German Catholics — a Catholic aid organisation — has begun calling for “Santa Claus-free zones.”

The organization sees Santa as “an invention of the advertising industry designed to boost sales” and as “a representative of consumer society” who has little to do with the historical figure of St Nicolas.

Its website describes Nicolas, the patron saint of children, as “a helper in need who reminds us to be kind, to think of our neighbors, and to give the gift of happiness.”

The campaign is supported by several German celebrities.

“Unlike Santa Claus, Nicolas wants to give children inner riches and not just encourage them to strive for material wealth,” German TV presenter Nina Ruege was quoted saying.

Trouble Brewing in North Carolina

Talk about not holding the lighting ceremony at the Word’s Largest Living Christmas Tree in Cape Fear, North Carolina this year spurred another potentially controversial topic during the council’s agenda meeting Monday, October 4th – religious symbols on public property.

Councilman Charlie Rivenbark said a group had requested last year to place a menorah on the riverfront but didn’t get their request in time for council to consider. This July they asked again and have yet to hear a response. Councilman Ronald Sparks said allowing one religious symbol could “open a can of worms. ” But Rivenbark argued the Christmas Tree has religious significance.

“You can call it what you want but that’s a Christian symbol,” he said of the tree.

City Attorney Carolyn Johnson said legally the tree is considered a symbol of the holidays, like Santa Claus or reindeer, and not a religious symbol.

“And I find that repugnant,” Rivenbark snapped back.

Johnson said to let one religious symbol on public property, the city would have to allow all.

Regardless, Rivenbark and councilwoman Laura Padgett said the group deserves an answer from the city soon.