Where is the Outrage over Valentines in the Stores?

Where is the Outrage over Valentines in the Stores?

It is a slow news week, this week in between Christmas and New Year’s. While shoppers are rushing out for post-holiday bargains media outlets are missing a gigantic story of epic proportions: the epidemic of retailers rushing Valentine’s Day merchandise to sales floors.

From coast to coast, retailers such as Walmart, Target, and Kmart are rushing Valentine’s products with just 45 days or so remaining until the holiday.

Jewelry store are already airing ads on television.

Florists are spamming in-boxes with offers.

Where is the media? Where is the outrage?

Congress Wants to Defend Christmas

Congress Wants to Defend Christmas

Here it is the weekend before Christmas and Congress is getting in the spirit. Looking to pass a new House resolution — which is just another way of saying “we’re-doing-something-but-not-really” — a group of legislators is taking on all the elements of the War on Christmas.

On Thursday, Rep. Doug Lamborn, (R-Colo.) and 36 other Congress members proposed the two-page resolution in an effort to “strongly [disapprove] of attempts to ban references to Christmas.” The festive focus of the act comes on the heels of a number of run-ins with holiday Grinches who have reportedly stolen nativity sets and Santas across the country. The resolution addresses their antics by maintaining that “the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected for use by those who celebrate Christmas.”

“The Founding Fathers never intended for references to God and religion to be prohibited in civic dialogue. Despite this, our freedom to fully recognize Christmas is being attacked by a vocal and litigious minority,” Rep. Lamborn told ABC News in an email. “That is why I have introduced House Resolution 448, a bipartisan effort … calling on Congress to protect the traditional symbols of Christmas for use by the vast majority of Americans who do acknowledge the holiday.”

The bipartisan side of the effort is represented by two Democrats, Representatives Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) and Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.). Rahall kept with the holiday theme by explaining his support for the resolution with an allusion to Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol.”

“To substituting time-honored greetings like ‘Merry Christmas’ with empty phrases such as ‘Happy Holidays’ – I say Bah Humbug,” Rahall said in a statement. “There’s nothing wrong with publicly recognizing the religious nature and true meaning of Christmas, especially for a Nation like ours founded on the principles of religious freedom and free speech.”

“Our children need to know, especially at Christmas, that it is all right to express their faith publicly,” he added.

In the last Congress, Rahall urged his fellow colleagues to revisit House rules that prohibited members of Congress from including “Merry Christmas” greetings in holiday correspondence with their constituents. His Christmas wish was granted earlier this month when Committee on House Administration Chairwoman Candice Miller (R-Mich.) permitted members of Congress to send seasonal greetings to constituents through the Capitol mail system and include holiday-specific signatures in their notes.

“In the past, including any form of a holiday greeting was banned … this new commonsense policy allows members to share their holiday wishes with constituents in otherwise official communications,” Miller said in a statement. “I feel it is entirely appropriate for members of Congress to include a simple holiday salutation, whether it is Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and so on.”

Long Island School Removes Christ from Silent Night

Long Island School Removes Christ from Silent Night

The song might be titled “Silent Night” but parents at a school in Long Island, N.Y. are anything but silent after hearing their children perform the 500-year old Christmas song Silent Night with all references to Christ removed.

Kings Park school officials removed several religious references, including “Holy infant” and “Christ the Savior,” from the popular Christmas carol before a student concert last week, WCBS 880′s Mike Xirinachs reported. The intent was to avoid offending non-Christians, but the change left others upset.

“I’m not too happy with that, it’s kind of insulting,” parent Robert Dowd said.

“There’s been a lot of changes in the schools and I don’t agree with them,” one man said.

“It’s kind of embarrassing that they would do something like that,” another man said.

The school superintendent and principal of the Ralph J. Osgood Intermediate School have since apologized.

They admit it was a mistake to edit the song and promise it won’t happen again, Xirinachs reported.

Michigan Atheist Goes After Rogue Nativity

Michigan Atheist Goes After Rogue Nativity

A little old lady in Dorr, Michigan placed the 16-inch figures of Joseph, Mary and Jesus in a gazebo in the middle of town, as she reportedly has done for many years. Now a local resident claiming to be atheist is taking offense at the “rogue” display and is threatening the city.

Jeremiah Bannister, who describes himself as an atheist, said the religious symbols have no place in the gazebo, which Township Supervisor Jeff Miling said was constructed with permission by the township on land leased from a private individual by the Downtown Development Authority (DDA).

Bannister is a former pastor, but now calls himself an “unbeliever.” He said he supports the freedom of religious expression, and last spring he helped to clean up the Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church building after it was vandalized with anti-Christian slogans.

Still, he said he objects to “privately owned religious ornamentation on publicly owned property meant to be enjoyed by both the resident and passerby alike, regardless of religious, or nonreligious, convictions.”

Bannister said he contacted township staff, but they said they didn’t know who was responsible for what he called the “rogue nativity scene.”

A local spokesman from the DDA said the elderly woman responsible for the display did seek out and obtain permission to put it there. He expressed confidence that the township is well within the law, which allows nativity scenes on public property as long as they are accompanied by holiday decorations that are not considered religious.

“We have up star lights, winter scenes, all kinds of nonreligious holiday decorations and very little religious decoration,” Miling said.

“I don’t know how Jeremiah Bannister knew the name of the baby because there is no name tag on it … It’s funny, there are all kinds of little figures people put out, but a little baby in a manger offends people.”

Baby Stealing Season Begins in Olympia

Baby Stealing Season Begins in Olympia

We now declare Baby Stealing Season officially open. Let the carnage begin. Our first report comes from Olympia, Washington where vandals stole the Baby Jesus from a nativity scene located at the state capitol.

Nothing like going for the big stage first.

The scene had been on display less than 24 hours when the man responsible for the display discovered Sunday morning that the Jesus figurine was missing from the manger.

Ron Wesselius told KOMO it’s sad someone would take it before others could enjoy it.

Wesselius has been displaying the Nativity scene every Christmas for about seven years.

Satanists Fume in Florida Over Exclusion

Satanists Fume in Florida Over Exclusion

The Florida state capitol has become the butt of jokes this season after allowing nearly every kind of “religious” display next to the traditional Nativity scene there. A Florida atheist famously erected a Festivus pole there. Even the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has a display there (we’re not kidding). But Satanists are NOT welcome. The state of Florida is putting their foot down.

The Satanic Temple, a group based in New York, submitted its application last week to be included in the Florida capitol parade of ridiculous displays. But it was rejected as “grossly offensive,” says the website Tallahasee.com.

In an email published by the website, a Department said the satanic display featured an image of an angel falling into the flaming pits of Hell, accompanied by a greeting that said, “Happy Holidays from the Satanic Temple” and a bible verse.

The rejection will no doubt cause a Constitutional crisis.

By the way, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster calls itself “pastafarians” and insists that it isn’t anti-religious. Its display in Florida depicted a lump of noodles with two googly eyes.

FFRF Anti-Religion Billboard Torched in NJ

FFRF Anti-Religion Billboard Torched in NJ

The New Jersey town of Pitman is seeing more than a war of words this Christmas. Now it is getting crazy. Vandals took a torch to the anti-religion billboard erected in Pitman.

The billboard proclaims “Keep Saturn in Saturnalia,” a reference to an ancient celebration of the Roman god of agriculture. It’s paid for by the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom from Religion Foundation, an organization that touts any god but the Christian god in their attacks on religion.

The FFRF and militant atheist community in general is so vehemently anti-religion there is open speculation they sent one of their own to vandalize or destroy their own billboard.

DefendChristmas.com has received notification of threats from various parties intending to knock down Christmas trees, vandalize Nativity scenes and destroy pro-Christian billboards in the final days leading up to Christmas.

We receive these threats frequently and rarely do we see much in an organized fashion. Usually the reports come in from scattered locations.

Gay Christmas Lights Dividing Italy

Gay Christmas Lights Dividing Italy

The gay rainbow-flag theme for the Christmas lights on Rome’s main shopping street that were switched on Friday, December 6 have sparked an unholy row in the Eternal City.

City assemblywoman Imma Battaglia said she and mayor Ignazio Marino had decided to send a message with the multi-colored lights, which ripple for a kilometer and a half (0.9 miles) of the bustling Via del Corso.

Battaglia, who also leads a gay rights campaign group, said the lights were intended to be against homophobia following the suicide of a gay teenager in the city.

“That is how we came up with the rainbow flag idea,” said Battaglia, who is from the leftist Sel party, but added that they could also be seen as a peace symbol.

That did not sit well with the opposition in the Italian capital’s assembly, particularly the far-right Fratelli d’Italia (Italian Brothers) party.

“The idea is provocative and ideological. There should be an Italian tri-colour instead,” Fabrizio Ghera, an assemblyman from the party, said earlier.

The Italian flag colours were used in 2011 to mark the 150th anniversary of Italian unification, while the lights were white monochrome for Christmas last year.

The head of the company behind the installation, Laura Rossi International, sought to defuse controversy on Friday, saying the lights would now be dedicated to the late anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.

“This way the message of love, tolerance, unity and sharing will become stronger,” Rossi said.

We wonder if Italy has forgotten that Christmas lights are about Christmas, not political debates.

Navy Removes Nativity after MRFF Complains Again

Navy Removes Nativity after MRFF Complains Again

For the second time this holiday season a US military installation had a display of a Christian nativity moved because of complaints from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

For the record, the base says the display was improperly places due to non-military contractors operating outside the rules. The base also says it has no records of anyone complaining to them from inside the base about the displays:

Both Nativity scenes will be moved to the courtyard of the base chapel, said Kelly Wirfel, a spokeswoman for Capt. John Nettleton, commander of the base in southeastern Cuba. The displays were set up by foreign contractors who manage the two dining facilities and were “not intended to endorse any religion,” Wirfel said in response to concerns raised by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

But somehow MRFF found 18 individuals based at the Guantanamo navel base who were bothered by the display. The MRFF is also claiming there is more to this story than a misplaced nativity.

Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said the organization received an email from 18 service members who were afraid that any direct appeal to commanders would be ignored and result in retribution.

“They are terrified. Right now, there is a witch hunt going on to find out who did this,” said Weinstein, a former Air Force lawyer who said the troops wanted to remain anonymous.

Eleven of those who complained are Protestant or Roman Catholic and the rest are Muslim, Jewish, agnostic or atheist, he said.

Weinstein said one service member who brought the issue up with a superior officer was told, “We don’t need any troublemakers here. Why don’t you just go over to Subway?”

Guantanamo’s dining choices also include KFC, Starbucks, McDonald’s and Taco Bell, said Weinstein, locations where service members have been told to eat if they are uncomfortable with the Christmas decorations in the galleys.

“The religious climate was made very clear when we received our initial in-processing brief,” the email sent from service members to MRFF said. “One of our senior command team members briefed that their relationship with God was placed higher than even their relationship with their family.”

Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Defense Department spokesman, said concerns such as this are handled on a case-by-case basis by leaders of involved command. Calls to public affairs officers on Guantanamo and at Navy Installations Command were not immediately returned.

Christensen stressed that DoD does not “endorse” any religion.

“We work to ensure that all service members are free to exercise their Constitutional right to practice their religion — in a manner that is respectful of other individuals’ rights to follow their own belief systems; and in ways that are conducive to good order and discipline; and that do not detract from accomplishing the military mission,” he said in a written statement.

Small North Dakota Town Allows Nativity

Small North Dakota Town Allows Nativity

How long will it take the FFRF to send a letter threatening a lawsuit to Fertile, ND? The tiny town of 800 had a small Christmas controversy this past week when a cook in a school cafeteria decided to put up a Nativity scene. The school superintendent ordered the display removed, folks protested, so he relented after the local school board investigated and allowed the display back as long as other religious displays could be included if they wanted to be.

None apparently did so the Nativity, to our knowledge, stands alone.

Head cook Jodi Petry set it up in the cafeteria. Asked about her action, Petry simply said, “I am a Christian. It’s about Christmas.”

Many in Fertile agree with Petry.

“I think it’s perfectly fine,” said Fertile resident Barbara Miller. “It’s for the children, they enjoy it. Now if it was adults they could make up their own minds but for children the decorations are part of the holiday.”

“I think that it’s perfectly fine to have religious things up in the school,” said Carter Burke, a junior at the high school. “I mean I don’t really think it offends a whole lot of people. We’re a really small community, most of us know each other and know what religion we are.”

“Christmas is a special time and some of these children don’t get that at home,” said Darlene Gaft, a Fertile resident and graduate of the high school.

“I feel that God has been taken out of the schools so much and Christmas is a very important time of the year and I just feel like ‘What’s wrong with decorations in the school?’” she added.

“I’ve got a kindergardener this year and I went to the school 20 years ago,” said Jeff Gullickson. “I’m sure when I went to school there was all kinds of things that wouldn’t be allowed nowadays and I don’t see the big deal.”

Whether the Fertile school’s nativity stays or goes students won’t have far to go to see another one. There is one set up outside Concordia Lutheran Church just across the street from the school.

Will the FFRF go after the school? Or is the tiny town of Fertile too small for their brand of justice, er, media attention?

Mall Christmas Display Takes on Obamacare

Mall Christmas Display Takes on Obamacare

This holiday season has seen Christmas used as a soapbox for discussing race, religion, free speech and constitutional rights. Now a new political issue is encroaching on the sanctity of Christmas: the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

In a mall in suburban New Orleans a miniature Christmas village scene in constructed every holiday season. The builder claims he puts in a little controversy every holiday season as a means to keep people coming back to the display. His last major controversy occurred three months after Hurricane Katrina when he showed roof tops in the display with blue tarps. But this year he isn’t being so subtle. He’s showing an “Affordable Care Act” hospital complete with people-patients lined up, a hearse and a coffin.

Yes, Merry Christmas indeed.

“Oh my goodness. I’m lost for words basically,” said New Orleans resident Tamany Diaz.

“People need to see that,” said Metairie resident Joe Duhon.

Whether you agree with it or not, part of this year’s Lakeside Shopping Center holiday display targets the Affordable Health Care Act.

“What does that have to do with Christmas?” Diaz said. “That’s my question.”

“It’s amazing what you can get away with nowadays doing a Christmas scene in the middle of a mall,” said New Orleans resident Donald Brisset.

Frank Evans is the landscape architect behind the unconventional holiday season satirical designs, a tradition marking its 18th year.

“We build the train display for the kids, but adults come looking for the satire,” said Evans.

“How do you expect someone to get in the spirit if you’re saying I’m gonna die? Wow,” said Gentilly resident Danielle Buggage of the display.

“Where they’re going is where they’re going to come out at. Is that a wooden coffin they’re getting in? They’re lucky they’re coming out in a wooden coffin. Could be worse,” said display supporter Joe Duhon

As shoppers closely inspect yet another one of Evans’ controversial winter wonderland creations, you can expect an encore next holiday season.

Well, maybe.

“Until the mall throws me out, I guess. They almost did several times. They might throw me out this time because I put their office on the display,” Evans said, laughing.

Happy Holidays Not a Dirty Word — Who Knew?

Happy Holidays Not a Dirty Word — Who Knew?

Apparently saying Happy Holidays just might be an “OK” thing to do after all.

According to the Public Religion Research Institute “nearly half (49%) of Americans agree stores and businesses should greet their customers with “happy holidays” or “season’s greetings” instead of “merry Christmas” out of respect for people of different faiths. However, a substantial minority (43%) disagree. Support for saying “happy holidays” or “season’s greetings” is up slightly since December 2010, when 44% preferred that businesses use less religious greetings.”

For years we have been attacked here at DefendChristmas.com for our assertion that there’s nothing wrong or offensive about saying “Happy Holidays”.

What gets us is that 43% still disagree with that sentiment. In other words, 43 percent are going to be “offended” when “Merry Christmas” is not used.

How absurd is that?

This is why we say there is guilt/blame on BOTH sides of the supposed “war on Christmas”. The extremes poison the season for the vast majority in the middle.

Gag Site Dupes War on Christmas Followers

Gag Site Dupes War on Christmas Followers

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting the fallout of a hoax perpetrated on unsuspecting War-on-Christmas warriors who besieged a San Francisco elementary school after it was reported that a student got suspended for wishing an atheist teacher a Merry Christmas.

The story appears on NationalReport.net, a site that freely admits that news stories it shares may or may not be true and that names used in the stories may or may not be real:

Timothy Dawson, a 9-year-old student at Anon Elementary School in San Francisco, CA., was in the school cafeteria Monday eating with friends when he was taken to the principal’s office and given a week-long suspension. His punishment was consequence for saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to his homeroom teacher earlier that morning. Dawson’s teacher, 35-year-old Paul Horner who is an outspoken Atheist, was offended at the students display of Christmas spirit and had staff suspend the young boy for the rest of the week.

According to the Chronicle, the story resulted “in e-mail tirades and more than 75 phone complaints and veiled threats of violence against the fictitious teacher or the actual principal. And taxpayers picked up the tab for beefed-up security and staff time to deal with the phony story.”

The most hilarious part of this story is the reaction of the reporter writing about it in San Francisco. Not even a “legitimate” media source can resist opining about the “war on Christmas” as a result of an Internet hoax. Check out this bit of “reporting”:

The fake story claimed the incident exemplifies the ongoing “war on Christmas,” a debate that some cable networks and conservative talk show hosts say has taken root in such liberal bastions as San Francisco. That’s despite the 80-foot Christmas fir in Union Square with its 21,000 twinkling lights and the daily bumper-to-bumper downtown traffic caused by shoppers looking for presents to put under their own bedecked trees at home.

The irony in this is rich. What a pathetic statement for our society.

Bell Ringer Smacked for Not Saying Merry Christmas

Bell Ringer Smacked for Not Saying Merry Christmas

Peace on earth, baby. Good will to all men. Except Salvation Army bell ringers who say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”.

At least that the story out of Phoenix, Arizona where a Salvation Army bell ringer is threatening to sue a Walmart customer who she alleges hit her when she wished her “Happy Holidays”. Store surveillance fails to confirm the assault so the bell ringer plans to pursue legal action.

“The lady looked at me,” Vindiola explained to KNXV. “I thought she was going to put money in the kettle. She came up to me and said, ‘Do you believe in God?’ And she says, ‘You’re supposed to say Merry Christmas,’ and that’s when she hit me.

What the woman did next caught Vindiola by surprise. She told KNXV that the woman hit her in the arm and proceeded to go inside the store to shop. Vindiola told a manager who called the police.

“She should’ve just been happy. I said ‘Happy Holidays,’ but I got hit because I didn’t say ‘Merry Christmas,’” Vindiola told KNXV.

The surveillance video didn’t have enough evidence for Phoenix police to arrest the woman accused in the assault. However, Vindiola said she plans to take legal action.

True story? Who knows?