Saskatoon Bus Signs Will Say Merry Christmas

Saskatoon Bus Signs Will Say Merry Christmas

The fight over whether to say the words “Merry Christmas” on buses in Saskatoon is apparently over — for now. The city council last month kicked the issue for review by the local human rights council for suggestions and they came up with nothing in response. So the city decided the messages would stay, much to the chagrin of the atheist activist who registered the original complaint. He plans to appeal to the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission next week.

The city council’s executive committee said Monday they had already made up their minds about the messages, and they have not received any direction to include other religious messages.

“We already made the decision to keep the Merry Christmas messages on there and I support that decision,” Coun. Ann Iwanchuk told the committee.

Iwanchuk did express her frustration with the city’s cultural diversity and race relations committee, who did not come to a consensus on the issue. Council had asked that committee to come up with suggestions for including other messages alongside Merry Christmas, but at a meeting earlier this month the committee did not come any concrete conclusions.

“I am disappointed, I guess, that we did not get what we asked for,” Iwanchuk said.

The debate about displaying ‘Merry Christmas’ on the scrolling electronic message boards on city buses flared up after activist Ashu Solo said the signs were “inappropriate” and “discriminatory.”

Warren, Michigan Wins Suit Against FFRF

Warren, Michigan Wins Suit Against FFRF

Mayor Jim Fouts and the City of Warren, Michigan won a battle in the U.S. Sixth District Court in a fight against the Freedom from Religion Foundation which insisted that the city’s failure to allow an anti-Christian sign in the city’s Christmas display constituted discrimination and was a violation of their free speech rights.

As reported by Defend Christmas back in 2011 the FFRF wanted to post a sign that read “At this season 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 but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”, similar to other signs the FFRF has posted in communities all across America. Mayor Fouts refused their request and the FFRF sued in court claiming discrimination and censorship.

The court agree with Fouts and the City of Warren concluding the U.S. Constitution “does not convert these displays into a seasonal public forum, requiring governments to add all comers to the mix and creating a poison pill for even the most secular displays in the process.” The court also upheld the constitutionality of Warren’s annual Christmas display, noting it features both secular and religious symbols alike.

“Such holiday displays are quintessentially government speech,” the panel wrote in a 3-0 vote, also stressing that it’s not illegal if an opposing view is kept out of a holiday display.

“If strict neutrality were the order of the day … the United States Postal Service would need to add all kinds of stamps, religious and nonreligious alike, to its December collection. Veterans’ Day would lead to pacifism Day, the Fourth of July to Non-patriots Day, and so on.”

The court case against the FFRF is an important victory for municipalities threatened by lawsuits by the FFRF. Often, intimidated by the expense and threat of lawsuits, cities cave to the requests of the FFRF and the resulting publicity each holiday season embarrasses cities as they inevitably become the focus of national media attention, potentially affecting tourism, commerce and public relations efforts. Most localities just want to honor time-tested traditions without the fuss of court fights.

For Mayor Fouts, the issue goes way beyond Christmas saying the decision is a “victory for freedom of religion.” Fouts was plain spoken when the city received the letter of threats from the FFRF, calling their sign “highly offense” and “mean spirited”. He told the group in a letter, disclosed in court documents, that he wouldn’t allow any displays to disparage any religion, “so I will not allow anyone or any organization to attack religion in general.”

Texas Lawmaker Introduces the Merry Christmas Bill

Texas Lawmaker Introduces the Merry Christmas Bill

A Republican lawmaker from Houston has introduced legislation to protect traditional Christmas greetings, decorations and displays in Texas public schools. The bill is appropriately titled, “Merry Christmas Bill.”

This week Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) filed Senate Bill 665 to protect Texas public schools’ ability to use traditional holiday greetings such as ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy Hanukkah’ on school grounds and to educate students about the history and roots of such holidays.

“I have heard from many constituents who dislike that it is becoming less culturally acceptable to openly celebrate these holidays in the ways past generations have,” said Senator Nichols. “To me this is a matter of helping our teachers and administrators feel safe talking about these holidays at school without fear of legal action being taken against them.”

The Merry Christmas Bill, which is expected to receive broad support, not only gives students, parents and educators the right to use the phrases ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy Hanukkah’, but also gives the right to display various symbols associated with those holidays, including Menorahs, Christmas trees and Nativity scenes.

Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) has signed on as a coauthor to the bill which was initially filed in the House by Representative Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston). Bohac explains that “This bill originated when I picked up my first grade son from school last year and asked him how his day went. He told me that his class had decorated their holiday tree with holiday ornaments. When I asked what a holiday tree was, he told me it was the same as a Christmas tree. After inquiring with school officials as to why the term “Holiday Tree” was being used, it became apparent that the school was fearful of litigation. It was that moment that inspired me to file legislation that would provide students, parents, teachers and administrators a safe harbor for openly celebrating a Federal holiday.”

Nichols concurred by saying, “I commend Representative Bohac’s initiative and look forward to seeing this bill passed. We are currently standing at a cultural crossroads in our society, and this is one step forward for those defending our traditional values and beliefs.”

“If I hear it referred to one more time as a holiday tree or a holiday party, I’m going to throw up,” State Senator Dwayne Bohac told Fox News.

FFRF Proposes Changing Christmas as a Federal Holiday

FFRF Proposes Changing Christmas as a Federal Holiday

In an opinion piece in the New York Times the Freedom From Religion Foundation claims that Christians stole Christmas from pagans and that if the U.S. government were truly fair they would replace Christmas with a universal celebration of Winter Solstice on December 21st:

The winter solstice is, after all, the reason for the season. It signals the rebirth of the sun and the natural new year. For millennia, our ancestors in the Northern Hemisphere have greeted this seasonal event with festivals of light, gift exchanges and feasts. The federal government’s description of Christmas as a federal holiday claims: “Decorating houses and yards with lights, putting up Christmas trees, giving gifts, and sending greeting cards have become holiday traditions even for many non-Christian Americans.” But it is the Christians who stole Christmas. We don’t mind sharing the season with them, but we don’t like their pretense that is the birthday of Jesus.

The piece was written by FFRF co-founder Annie Laurie Gaylor. In it she suggests that Congress can either establish December 25th as “Family Day”, similar to Uruguay, or replace Christmas with a celebration of Winter Solstice.

The media, and pro-Christmas factions like the Liberty Council and the American Family Association, likes to paint the FFRF as being “at war” with Christmas. We would suggest that the FFRF’s real problem is with recorded history.

The declaration of Christmas as a federal holiday happened not as a passionate, religiously driven movement way back in 1870. It was actually a fairly quiet resolution to a sticky holiday dilemma for federal workers. The establishment of the holiday then or since had nothing to do with religious observance or the imposition of religious devotion by the government. It was and has been merely a declaration of “time off”. Nobody from the government mandated worship of anything.

The Supreme Court has ruled on this many times. So many times, in fact, it becomes tiresome to discuss it. Perhaps that is why the FFRF is publishing this latest rant on President’s Day.

But Ms. Gaylor and the FFRF have an even bigger problem with ancient history. While they are quick to recognize the Winter Solstice they fail in their arguments that the Winter Solstice in many societies is as much a religious observance as Christmas is for many today. Why replace one religious observance promoted by the government for another?

More importantly, they fail to recognize the origins of pagan sun worship and specifically its ties to….Christianity.

It appears the FFRF wants to deny religion before Christ. History doesn’t support that. It appears the FFRF wants the Constitution to forbid religious connection of any sort. But the Constitution does not support that. And it appears that the FFRF wants to impose its belief of non-belief on everyone.