Michigan Town Fights for Christmas

Michigan Town Fights for Christmas

A Michigan town is bucking nationwide trends and renaming their annual winter parade a Christmas parade.

In Saline, Michigan they held the annual parade since 1975. A decade ago the parade name was changed to the Saline Holiday Parade, sparking plenty of conversation and local debate of political correctness run amok. A compromise of sorts was attempted last fall when the event was billed as the Saline Holiday/Christmas Parade. But folks weren’t buying it.

After ten long years the Chamber of Commerce has finally caved — and it will be known once again as the Saline Christmas Parade.

For more information, please see local coverage.

Legislation Advances Christmas in Schools

Legislation Advances Christmas in Schools

Several states are moving forward with their own version of protecting Christmas in public schools.

Now six states have Christmas in public schools on the legislative agenda: Indiana joins the parade of states looking to protect public schools from frivolous litigation over the observance of Christmas.

Senate Bill 326, introduced by Indiana Republican Jim Smith, would add language to the state code specifically allowing teachers to say “Happy Christmas,” “Happy Hanukkah,” “Happy Holidays,” and “other seasonal greetings.”

It would also allow schools to display “symbols associated with traditional winter celebrations, including a Menorah, Christmas tree, Nativity scene, or other religious symbol associated with traditional winter celebrations,” if more than one religion is featured or if there is also a secular symbol displayed.

The bill also calls for the Indiana Department of Education to develop ways schools can introduce Christmas and other winter holidays into classroom instruction and displays.

As announced earlier in 2013, the state of Tennessee through State Senator Stacey Campfield has filed a bill in the state legislature. The bill is reportedly very similar to the Merry Christmas Bill passed in Texas last year.

Tennessee joins Alabama, Missouri, Oklahoma, New Jersey, and now Indiana as states with bills-in-progress.

House Committee Orders Review of Christmas in VA Hospitals

House Committee Orders Review of Christmas in VA Hospitals

The House Committee on Veterans Affairs has ordered a review of all VA policy prohibiting guests from wishing patients a Merry Christmas after four VA hospitals – including Augusta’s Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center – prevented letters, gifts and carols that contained religious phrases from being sung or delivered.

Committee chairman, U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), has sent a letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki demanding an overview of the steps the Department of Veterans Affairs is taking to correct this “potential infringement of basic constitutional rights”, the paper reports.

Miller said he wants to know by Monday what is being done to hold the VA employees responsible for the incidents.

“Christmas was declared a federal holiday by our government in the 1800s, and it is not up to the department to decide whether veterans, their families, volunteers, and veterans service organizations should be free to sing Christmas carols or exchange Christmas gifts within VA facilities,” Miller said in a statement.

The Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta recently told high school students they could not perform religious-based carols at the site.

Media reports indicate that VA officials in Iowa City, Iowa, told American Legion representatives they could not hand out gifts to veterans if the wrapping paper included the words “Merry Christmas.”

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Teacher Refuses First Grader Speech About Family Christmas

Teacher Refuses First Grader Speech About Family Christmas

Several national media outlets have picked up this story after it was originally reported by The Blaze: a first grade student in Temecula, California on December 18th was allegedly censored by her school teacher when she tried to explain her family’s Christmas traditions by quoting verses from the Bible. Attorneys call the action a violation of the First Amendment, the second such incident in a Southern California public school during the month of December.

The allegations stem from an incident on Dec. 18 after a teacher asked first grade students at Helen Hunt-Jackson Elementary School in Temecula to find something at home that represents a family Christmas tradition and share it with the class, according to Advocates for Faith & Freedom, a Murrieta-based nonprofit law firm.

In response to the assignment, student Brynn Williams took the Star of Bethlehem ornament from the top of her family’s Christmas tree “to represent her family’s tradition of remembering why Christmas is celebrated, and worked diligently on a one-minute presentation in order to explain to the class that her family’s tradition is to remember the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas time, attorneys said.

Williams was the last student in the first-grade class to give her one-minute presentation. Here is the part she managed to get out:

Our Christmas tradition is to put a star on top of our tree. The star is named the Star of Bethlehem. The three kings followed the star to find baby Jesus, the Savior of the world.

At that point, the girl’s unidentified teacher at the public, taxpayer-funded school interrupted her, according to the attorneys working on her behalf.

“Stop right there! Go take your seat!” the teacher allegedly said. The teacher then explained to the entire class of first-grade students her judgment as a constitutional scholar that students are flatly prohibited from mentioning any part of the Bible in class.

Had Williams been allowed to finish, she would have quoted John 3:16.

When Brynn’s mother, Gina Williams, discussed the situation with school principal Ami Paradise, Williams was told that the Brynn’s teacher had to stop the presentation because “we don’t want to offend other students,” attorneys said.

Attorney Robert Tyler sent a letter (PDF) to the Temecula Valley Unified School District (TVUSD) demanding that a new policy be adopted to prohibit school officials from expressing disapproval or hostility toward religion or toward religious viewpoints expressed by students.

“The disapproval and hostility that Christian students have come to experience in our nation’s public schools has become epidemic,” Tyler said in a statement. “I hope that TVUSD will take the lead role in adopting a model policy to prohibit this abuse that has become all too common place for religious-minded students.”

There was no immediate response to the letter from TVUSD officials.

Mayor Tells Family to Take Down Christmas Decor on Christmas Eve

Mayor Tells Family to Take Down Christmas Decor on Christmas Eve

According to local media the mayor of one New Jersey town knocked on a citizen’s door on Christmas Eve and asked the family there to remove Christmas decorations allegedly found offensive by another neighbor.

Working with neighbors the Alvator family of Tenafly, New Jersey set out 300 decorative luminaries to celebrate Christmas. They claim to have cleared the action with local fire and police departments ahead of time.

“Our neighbors, from all different backgrounds, sent their children out to help fill the bags and light the candles early in the evening on Christmas Eve. We loved it. We thought it was a great sense of community,” said Scott Semone.

But by the time they sat down to a Christmas dinner around 9pm the mayor was knocking on the door and asking that the luminaries be removed. He claimed a neighbor a few doors down was offended by the candles and that he, being Jewish, understood how this neighbor felt.

“It had nothing to do with religion. It was about bringing people in our neighborhood closer together,” Jason Alvator said.