Nevada High School Bans Merry Christmas

The Nevada community of Mesquite is embroiled in controversy after a local high school principal admitted that the words “Merry Christmas” could not be used on campus. The issue came to light only after a letter sent from the Alliance Defense Fund showcasing an agreement between the school and the ACLU to avoid litigation was broadcast on FoxNews.

Virgin Valley High School principal, Dave Wilson told the local newspaper: “We cannot promote religion in any way, shape or form. It has to be ‘happy holidays.’ ”

The Nevada ACLU denies threatening to sue the school. “Saying Merry Christmas does not create a problem for us,” Allen Lichtenstein, of the Nevada ACLU, said. “There are certain people perhaps who want to make this into a conflict where personally I don’t see where there is any need for conflict.”

For more on this story see this link.

Homeowner Told to Take Down Sign on Christmas Eve

A homeowner in Washington DC participated in a Christmas decorating contest sponsored by the homeowner’s association — and then was cited in a letter delivered Christmas Eve requiring him to remove a sign in his yard bearing the words “Happy Birthday, Jesus”. The letter declared such signs in violation of the association’s ordinance against signs. The homeowner points out that the house that won the decorating contest has a three-foot oval shaped sign in their display which reads “North Pole”.

“What really bothered me was that they sent it on Christmas. I consider myself a man of faith. The sign shows to all of our neighbors what Christ means to us.”

Carol Piering, a spokeswoman for the management company, said the sign’s religious message had nothing to do with the decision to enforce the rules. “The content of the sign is not why the letter was sent,” she said, acknowledging that the warning could have been mailed on a different date. “The letter was ill-timed, and for that we absolutely apologize.”

For more details on this story, please see this link.

Feds Make Bank Remove Christmas and Religious Symbols

A small-town bank in Oklahoma said the Federal Reserve won’t let it keep religious signs and symbols on display.

Federal Reserve examiners come every four years to make sure banks are complying with a long list of regulations. The examiners came to Perkins last week. And the team from Kansas City deemed a Bible verse of the day, crosses on the teller’s counter and buttons that say “Merry Christmas, God With Us.” were inappropriate. The Bible verse of the day on the bank’s Internet site also had to be taken down.

“I don’t think there should be a problem with them displaying whatever religious symbols they want to display,” said Amy Weierman, a Perkins resident.

Specifically, the feds believed, the symbols violated the discouragement clause of Regulation B of the bank regulations. According to the clause, “…the use of words, symbols, models and other forms of communication … express, imply or suggest a discriminatory preference or policy of exclusion.”

The feds interpret that to mean, for example, a Jew or Muslim or atheist may be offended and believe they may be discriminated against at this bank. It is an appearance of discrimination.

But customers Eyewitness News 5 talked to said they aren’t buying it.

“This is just ridiculous,” said bank customer Jim Nyles. “This whole thing is just ridiculous. We all have regulatory bodies that govern us. But this is too much.”

“I think that’s absurd,” said Chelsi Holser, a bank customer. “I don’t agree with it at all. They are taking Christ out of Christmas and life.”

The bank is quietly fighting for a clearer interpretation of the clause. Officials have contacted their two U.S. legislators, Rep. Frank Lucas and Sen. Jim Inhofe, and the Oklahoma Bankers Association to help.

Red Cross Bans Christmas

Christmas has been banned by the Red Cross from its 430 fund-raising shops.

Staff have been ordered to take down decorations and to remove any other signs of the Christian festival because they could offend Moslems.

The charity’s politically-correct move triggered an avalanche of criticism and mockery last night – from Christians and Moslems.

Christine Banks, a volunteer at a Red Cross shop in New Romney, Kent, said: ‘We put up a nativity scene in the window and were told to take it out. It seems we can’t have anything that means Christmas. We’re allowed to have some tinsel but that’s it.

‘When we send cards they have to say season’s greetings or best wishes. They must not be linked directly to Christmas.

‘When we asked we were told it is because we must not upset Moslems.’

Mrs Banks added: ‘ We have been instructed that we can’t say anything about Christmas and we certainly can’t have a Christmas tree.

‘ I think the policy is offensive to Moslems as well as to us. No reasonable person can object to Christians celebrating Christmas. But we are not supposed to show any sign of Christianity at all.’

Labour peer Lord Ahmed, one of the country’s most prominent Moslem politicians, said: ‘It is stupid to think Moslems would be offended.

‘The Moslem community has been talking to Christians for the past 1,400 years. The teachings from Islam are that you should respect other faiths.’

He added: ‘In my business all my staff celebrate Christmas and I celebrate with them. It is absolutely not the case that Christmas could damage the Red Cross reputation for neutrality – I think their people have gone a little bit over the top.’

The furore is a fresh blow to the image of what was once one of Britain’s most respected charities.

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Oregon School Classifies Christmas Trees as Religious Symbols

In an effort to remain neutral, students at a public school district in Oregon reportedly won’t see a Christmas tree by itself, but may spot the holiday symbol alongside other religious decorations.

Ashland School District Superintendent Juli Di Chiro told the district’s school board on Monday that a committee studied the rulings of about a dozen court cases regarding school holiday displays before crafting the new guidelines, the Ashland Daily Tidings reports.

“Certainly these guidelines could be used at anytime that these celebrations could come up, but for us that mainly happens in December,” Di Chiro told the newspaper. “It’s actually called the ‘December dilemma’ that many, many schools face.”

District officials implemented the new guidelines this year following a controversy at Bellview Elementary School last December, when Principal Michelle Zundel removed a tree because a family complained that it was a religious symbol. After dozens of parents and students protested the decision, Zundel replaced the tree and allowed students to decorate it with symbols from their own religions, the newspaper reports.

According to the new guidelines, displays in public areas should “represent the diversity of the season, and should avoid symbols with patently religious meanings,” including the manger scene, menorahs, angels or the Star of David.

If a tree is displayed, it should be surrounded with “symbols from various religious backgrounds, along with secular symbols,” the guidelines state.

Di Chiro could not be immediately reached for comment on Wednesday.

Santa Booted in Favor of Frosty in YMCA Political Correctness Transition

Santa Claus won’t be at a wildly popular community Christmas luncheon as he has been in years past. He has been replaced by Frosty and his penguin sidekick, deemed a more appropriate “winter character”. The YMCA — founded in 1844 to spread Christian values — is in the midst of rebranding itself as “The Y”. “It wasn’t replacing; it was transitioning,” said John Rappaport, executive director of the McBurney YMCA. “We realized that change is sometimes good, and that Frosty is a great winter character who would appeal to a broader number of kids.”

Following the release of this story in the New York post was again beseiged with a flurry of angry emails.

“St. Nicholas is a sacred character, Santa Claus is a secular character” wrote Todd DeNaldo, of New York City. “Even the Supreme Court agrees with that. What am I going to do? Put my kid on Frosty’s lap? He’ll melt.”

“Santa belongs to all the people,” added Ed Bobrow, who has played Santa at Central Park’s Belvedere Castle for years. “He represents openness and an invitation for anyone and everyone to celebrate good will toward man.”

Bobrow, who is Jewish, says it’s the kids who will miss out. “Try to see it through the eyes of the children,” he said.

“Where do they get off doing this?” asked Melanie Smith. “Who complained? Who gave them the authority to fire Santa? Who ever said that Santa wasn’t inclusive?”

Christmas Music Nixed at University Clock Tower

There is a bit of controversy surrounding the sounds coming from the Southern Illinois University clock tower. This time of year, the Pulliam Hall clock is known for playing Christmas music every hour. But the music has been off the past few days.

Westminster Quarters is all that you hear on the SIU Campus. That is after university leaders decided to pull the plug on playing Christmas music from the clock tower.

“People said they liked the music, but they thought it should include other kinds of music rather than the Christmas music that was playing,” SIU Spokesperson Rod Sievers said.

“If it was Jingle Bells or White Christmas or something like that, I think it would be a lot more respectful,” said Christine Stowell, an SIU Master’s student.

Thoughts about silencing the Christmas music were mixed on campus Thursday night. John Ferguson lives just north of the clock tower.

“I walk my dogs a lot, so it is very nice to hear in the winter time when you are walking by,” Ferguson said.

Beth Freeburg gets to hear the chimes as she works. Her office is just below the clock tower.

“I think it’s just a wonderful, inspirational thing that adds to the specialness of our signature building,” Freeburg said.

Sievers says the bells will ring again, and soon.

“We’ll begin with a mix of non-religious music while our people work with folks over at the School of Music to get an appropriate mix of music from all faiths and traditions,” Sievers said.

“I just hope, whatever it’s going to be, that it comes back right away,” Freeburg said.

Sievers says the clock should resume playing music some time Friday. Holiday music will return soon after that.

Atheist Group Attacks Courthouse Nativity in Indiana

Residents of Brookville, Indiana got an unpleasant holiday surprise when they found out their town was the center of a debate about First Amendment rights. What was so appalling that an Atheist group from Wisconsin would target Brookville weeks before Christmas? The problem came in the form of a nativity scene that had been put around the courthouse’s flagpole by the local firefighters every year for the last 50 years.

According to WKRC (Cincinnati), “The Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison, Wisconsin, sent Franklin County Commissioners a stern letter telling them their annual nativity violates the separation of church and state.” (Webb) When interviewed by Scott Wegener of (ABC), Rebecca Markert, the staff attorney for FFRF stated, “that some of their members lived in the town and contacted them to help.” (Wegener)

In 1789, the First Amendment was enacted, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”It does not say the words, “separation of Church and State”. The words “wall of separation of Church and State” first appeared in 1802 in a letter of Thomas Jefferson. Since then, courts have interpreted the First Amendment to mean that there can be no mention or decoration of religion in a government property; and it has been used to take any religious pictures from government buildings. Whether “under God” should be in the pledge of the United States of America while it was being said in school is a big controversy about the separation of Church and State. What is next? Are Atheists groups going to try and take “In God We Trust” off of our currency?

When the Supreme Court judges a case such as being able to say prayer in schools, they have to look at the original intent of the Amendment. In 1789, many of the people alive were either immigrants themselves or descendants of immigrants from other countries. In most cases, these immigrants had fled from countries that had religion and government intertwined. In England, the Church of England and the Catholic Church had great control over the person who ruled. People were persecuted and killed for not believing what the reigning monarch believed. Spain was led by the Catholic Church to start the Inquisition where they brutally tortured and killed individuals accused of blasphemy. In Germany, some villages wiped out most of the women by hanging or burning them at the stake because they were suspected to be witches. Our own country had the shame of the Salem Witch trials because the town magistrate was under the powerful influence of the church.

In light of this historical background, one can see why the leaders of the day felt that the First Amendment was necessary; and most of us would agree that it is still necessary today. We have examples of the totalitarian countries such as Iran and China. Iran has sentenced women to death by stoning for committing adultery. China was put in the spotlight of being against human civil rights when the Nobel Peace Prize recipient Liu Xiaobo who planned the 1989 Tiananmen Square Demonstration could not be present to receive the award because he was in jail. The First Amendment was meant to keep our country ruled by the people not a religion or a totalitarian regime. However, what do you think the leaders of the First Amendment would think about an Atheist group hunting down a small town and demanding they remove a symbol of “Peace on Earth and Good Will to All Men”? First, they might be glad that our country is so free that people have the time and ability to pursue such things; but they might think an Amendment– meant to keep Americans safe from a Religious Dictatorship– being used to move a nativity scene was perhaps a little silly. Separation of Church and State is essential, but nativity scenes and other religious symbols are a far cry from being stoned and burnt at the stake.

Fox mentions that “People living in Brookville are planning to come together to rally Saturday (December 11,2010) at 1 p.m. to show support for keeping this nativity in front of the courthouse.” (Fox19)

Pastor Goes After Florida City for Denying Creche

Outspoken pastor Mark Boykin claimed Thursday that Boca Raton officials have marginalized the Christian faith by neglecting to include a Christmas crèche at City Hall’s holiday decorations.

City Hall is adorned with Christmas decorations, including a menorah and a Christmas tree, which led Boykin, a pastor at the Church of All Nations, to claim discrimination against the Christian faith.

“We feel like we have been marginalized, and we feel like that they have not given any credibility to the Christian faith,” Boykin said.

Boykin said adding a crèche to the Christmas display at City Hall is the only way to represent the Christian faith.

“A manger, or a crèche, is venerated around the world,” Boykin said. “It’s an icon to most people, whether they’re in Bethlehem or Boca Raton. Everyone sees that as a sacred symbol.”

Boykin and 60 of his followers will gather Friday afternoon at City Hall to make a formal request for a crèche to be added to the display.

“We have determined that we are not going to be put off,” Boykin said. “We’re not going to be ignored. We’re not going to be marginalized. We’re going to seek an answer.”

Last year, Boykin also lobbied to get a nativity scene placed beside the menorah at the city library.

“The city of Boca Raton celebrates the holiday season by having displays in the lobbies of public buildings in a manner consistent with Supreme Court and other judicial rulings,” city officials said in a statement.

20-Year Gun-Toting Santa Sign Removed After Complaints

TURLOCK, Calif. — A Santa sign at a tree farm caused the Christmas spirit to take a back seat to controversy.

The plywood wood sign in the Stanislaus County town of Turlock shows a cowboy Santa with a gun on his belt.

Some residents of the community were upset. But employees at the tree farm say the Santa has been there for 20-years and no one has ever complained before.

“It portrays to the kids that it’s ok for Santa to be carrying a gun and therefore it’s ok for them to be carrying a gun,” said concerned resident Monica Sliva.

“I think it’s pretty crazy to tell you the truth. I mean we are just trying to sell trees out. Now there is all this commotion,” said Bobby Vierra with the tree farm.

“Ever had any other complaints?”

“No, not one.”

The owners of the tree farm have since taken the display down.

Nativity Tossed But Other Religious Symbols Stay in Ferry Terminal

The Christ is out of Christmas at the Staten Island St. George Ferry Terminal.

In what Catholics see as political correctness run amok, the city Department of Transportation (DOT) has removed a Nativity scene from the terminal, with an agency spokesman saying that the display was not authorized to be there.

But a menorah, marking the celebration of Hanukkah, and a Christmas tree remain on display in the terminal.

Catholics said the move was a nightmare before Christmas.

“We take this as a tremendous affront,” said Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, a watchdog of religious and civil rights.

The controversy reflects church-and-state battles that erupt nationwide each Christmas over the placement of religious symbols in public spaces.

A caller to the Advance today complained about the removal of the Nativity scene, which depicts the newborn Christ in the manger.

The caller said that workers in the terminal told her the display was removed after someone complained to the city’s 311 hotline.

But DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow said the display was removed because the agency hadn’t given permission for it to be there.

The crèche was placed there by “staff,” he said, and was removed by ferry personnel. He said there was no 311 complaint. Solomonow did not say exactly who had put up the display.

“Yes, Staten Island, there will still be Christmas trees and menorahs at the ferry terminals,” said Solomonow. “We find that Staten Islanders can agree that these holiday symbols enliven our terminals and will continue to [do so] throughout the holidays.”

Solomonow said the “DOT put up an inclusive display for the holiday season that was consistent both with traditions at the ferry terminal and also with legal precedent.”

A city source said that menorahs are not considered religious symbols, according to legal precedent.

But Donohue disagreed, and said that Nativity scenes should be allowed in the terminal if menorahs are.

“It’s like telling a Catholic that a crucifix is not religious,” he said. “These people have to get their lines straight.”

Donohue said that the league years ago won a legal challenge that allowed a Nativity scene to be placed in Penn Station where a menorah also was displayed.

Other public institutions here balance the religious and secular themes of the season.

At Borough Hall, for example, a Nativity scene, a menorah, a Christmas tree and a display for Kwanzaa share space next to each other in the lobby.

“They’re all religious symbols,” Borough President James P. Molinaro, a Catholic, said tonight as he prepared to host a Christmas-tree lighting ceremony at Borough Hall. “Remove them all, or remove none. My opinion? Leave them all there.”

The controversy comes as conservative Christian groups like the American Family Association and The Liberty Counsel report that more retailers are using “Merry Christmas” in store displays and advertising rather than “Happy Holidays,” Fox News online said.

The groups had created top-100 “Naughty and Nice” lists and told consumers which businesses they see as “Christmas-friendly.”

On some occasions, the groups have mounted or threatened boycotts against retailers that didn’t meet their standards.

Fox News said the skirmish in the stores is one of a few such battles being waged as Christmas approaches.

Last week, American Atheists put up a billboard over a New Jersey highway mocking the Nativity scene, declaring, “You know it’s a myth. This season, celebrate reason!”

A few days later, the Catholic League counterpunched with its own billboard on the New York side of the same highway, saying, “You know it’s real: this season celebrate Jesus. Merry Christmas from the Catholic League.”

“Our approach is positive, and services the common good,” Donohue said in a press release. “Theirs is negative, and is designed to sow division. It’s what they do.”

“Pro-Christmas” advocates appear to have public opinion on their side. A recent Rasmussen poll showed that people prefer to be greeted with “Merry Christmas” over “Happy Holidays,” 69 to 24 percent.

Church Launches to Highlight Lack of Christmas

A Texas church has taken its holiday religious message online with a website to report “naughty” businesses that halt the celebration of Christmas.

First Baptist Church of Dallas on Wednesday operated

The site asks “Have you encountered a ‘Grinch’ this Christmas season?”

The site has a place to nominate groups that “shut-out expressions of Christmas in their interactions with the public via marketing, advertising and public relations.” The website says companies belong on the “Naughty List” when they use “misplaced political correctness to halt the celebration of Christmas.”

First Baptist Church also seeks to know which companies that “keep Christ in Christmas” and those land on the “Nice List.”

The Rev. Robert Jeffress says too many businesses have bowed to political correctness.

Hoboken Loses Christmas as City Throws Out Decorations

Rarely in the history of have we seen such a sudden burst of email on one subject: over the past several hours we have been bombarded with email from Hoboken, NJ, USA after a news report on a local station noted the absence of Christmas decorations in the downtown area and reported that tens of thousands of dollars of tax-payer funded Christmas decorations were thrown out in a recent move. Many muse in their emails that the loss of the decorations was no accident and comments on the news website argue whether the Jewish mayor’s faith had a part to play.

Manila Airport Personnel Banned from Saying Merry Christmas

In this season of greetings, personnel of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) are directed not to greet arriving and departing passengers “Merry Christmas” to avoid the impression that they are soliciting gifts, whether in cash or kind, it was learned Tuesday. BI acting Chief Ronaldo Ledesma, in a statement, said a warm and friendly smile of an immigration officer is enough to express his or her desire to express the Christmas season to an arriving or departing passengers.

The ban on Merry Christmas has garnered world-wide attention with coverage in USA Today and on Fox News.

“Such gesture, even if sincere, might be misconstrued as asking for a tip so it’s better that they refrain from extending the greeting,” he added.

Ledesma said that while some quarters might view the ban as extreme, protecting the reputation of the bureau and its employees is a paramount concern.

“It is not good for our immigration officers at the airports, who are the first to meet arriving Filipino and foreign travelers, to be perceived as gift solicitors,” he explained. “They can just give the passengers a warm and friendly smile and a very efficient service above all.”