Colorado School District Sued for Participating in Christian Charities

Colorado School District Sued for Participating in Christian Charities

Last week the American Humanist Association (AHA) filed a lawsuit claiming that officials from various schools in the Douglas County (Colorado) School District used their official positions to endorse and sponsor two Christian evangelical missions groups, Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child and Adventures in Missions, and their proselytizing efforts.

The lawsuit alleges that a number of Douglas County Schools violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by participating in an Operation Christmas Child event during their annual canned-food drives.

Operation Christmas Child is a charity mission run by Samaritan’s Purse, which is an evangelical organization under the direction of Franklin Graham. Volunteers can donate shoeboxes filled with small gifts to be distributed to children in need in underprivileged nations.

Adventures in Missions, is an organization that plans and organizes missions trips all over the world. Two Douglas County schools were alleged to have wrongly participated in an Adventures in Missions trip to Guatemala.

In a statement issued to The Christian Post, Randy Riddle, Domestic Director for Operation Christmas Child, said that the operation is available to all who want to donate shoeboxes, and that includes public school students and teachers.

“Our purpose is to show God’s love in a tangible way to needy children around the world. We do this by distributing millions of shoebox gifts to hurting kids to let them know that they are not forgotten,” the statement said. “Operation Christmas Child is open to anyone who chooses to participate in this Christmas project.”

The AHA maintains that the school officials’ involvement Christian ministries suggest that the schools favor Christianity over the other religions.

“The public school district seems to be on a mission to promote Christianity, using taxpayer dollars for evangelical and missionary purposes,” legal director of AHA’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center, David Noise, said in a press release. “As state entities, public schools must educate students in a neutral environment, not push one particular religious belief.”

The lawsuit specifically mentions the efforts of teachers and principles of Sky View Academy and claims they endorsed the proselytizing message of the Operation Christmas Child. Children that receive shoeboxes from Operation Christmas Child also receive an evangelizing booklet entitled “The Greatest Gift of All.”

The lawsuit also claims that for the last few years two other area schools, Chaparral High School and Flagstone Elementary School, participated in Operation Christmas Child, along with Sky View Academy.

The lawsuit notes an email was sent to staff of Chaparral High from a social studies teacher in charge of the school’s canned food drive that indicated incentive for kids to participate in Operation Christmas Child.

As for the case of the push for participation with Adventures in Missions, the lawsuit also specifically points out that in March of 2014, Cougar Run Elementary School and Highland Ranch High School’s sponsored a mission trip to Guatemala that was organized by Adventures in Missions. The trip was also sponsored by the schools’ Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

The suit also claims that two teachers from Highlands Ranch went on the trip with students and engaged in evangelical activities and also had dinner with a pastor and his wife.

The lawsuit claims that Cougar Run Elementary donated proceeds from its school newspaper to support the trip to Guatemala. The school told parents that the trip was connected to the school’s sixth grade Latin American social studies curriculum.

“This effort was born out of desire for our sixth grade students to make real-world connections with their Latin American social studies curriculum,” a flyer states, which was passed out by Cougar Run officials to students and parents regarding the donation effort supporting the Guatemala trip.

Dude, There’s Christmas Creep in California

Dude, There’s Christmas Creep in California

The CBS affiliate in Southern California cannot believe it. Christmas is everywhere and, dude, customers are, like, baffled, confused and angry.

Check out this incredible local report about how bad Christmas creep is in SoCal.

Then check out the facts.

South Coast Plaza is a mall in Costa Mesa that every year gets one of the largest Christmas trees in the country — in October. It isn’t new.

Why do they do it every October? Because trying to get it inside the mall in November is a real pain due to….all the Christmas shoppers.

If CBS LA bothered to do any real reporting they would have talked to the mall and learned that. Other media seems to get that it is a 33-year tradition that makes the news every year.

The reporter claiming “Christmas creep is everywhere” couldn’t help but noticing Costco decorations for sale already. Memo to reporter: Dude, they’ve been for sale since August.

He wraps up the report by suggesting that if you don’t want to see decorations, go to Nordstrom’s — which is really funny because Nordstrom’s never sells Christmas decorations.

Even better, he says that 10 years ago retailers never did this type of thing.

Talk about a journalistic hack.

Schools Under Fire Again for Aiding Christian Relief Organizations

Schools Under Fire Again for Aiding Christian Relief Organizations

A media report about a West Virginia middle school participating in a charity event serving a Christian-based relief organization in West Virginia has led to threats of potential legal action tied to the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

An individual claiming to be associated with the FFRF has told this will be addressed by legal teams.

This is not new. Last year several high profile media stories put the spotlight on schools participating in Operation Christmas Child, perhaps the most famous Christian relief organization using schools to pack shoe boxes full of hygiene items and small gifts for third world countries.

The argument from groups protesting school participation or threatening lawsuits against them is that the relief organizations use the boxes and the effort to proselyte. By participating in the effort schools are violating the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution, they argue.

In the story from West Virginia above the relief organization is Appalachian Outreach, an organization who describes its efforts as “Guided by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and inspired by the Holy Spirit”. According to the news story school time was used to support the effort. “We have the students volunteering here, their time during their phys. ed. classes and health classes to wrap Christmas presents here for Appalachian Outreach,” said Moundsville Middle School teacher, Mike Sforza.

Don’t be surprised if this story hits the media following a letter threatening a lawsuit against the school board over Moundsville Middle School in West Virginia.

Toys R Us Pulls Breaking Bad Action Figures

Toys R Us Pulls Breaking Bad Action Figures

Christmas gets blamed for a lot of stuff. But this is a new one.
Toys R Us sells more at Christmas than any other time of the year. Every fall they get new merchandise they think will sell during the season. This year they got action figures based on the hit show Breaking Bad. The problem? A character in the show is a drug dealer, he has an action figure and he’s accessorized with guns, a bag of cash and some of his signature mix of meth. One reader of Defend Christmas made the giant leap that Christmas is now responsible for glamorizing drug use to children.

Well, everybody can relax now. Toy R Us pulled the toy and Christmas is now, once again, safe for kids.

The whole hubbub began by parents protesting via a online petition for Toys R Us to remove the ill-conceived toy. (Believe it or not, the toy industry makes this kind of mistake all the time). After more than 8000 signatures Toys R Us got the hint.

At first, Toys R Us claimed that the dolls were in the adult action figure section of the store, and would only be sold to children ages 15 and older.

Apparently, there are adults who buy action figures. Apparently, 15 year olds are adults. But then, looking at a potential loss of sales, Toys R Us caved and took the figures off the shelf entirely.

Those who disagree with this Florida Mom can still buy the figures on Amazon and other online sites not affiliated with Toys R Us. So people can still buy their drug dolls and blame Christmas for it.

43 Year Old Christmas Tree Comes Down in South Korea

43 Year Old Christmas Tree Comes Down in South Korea

We forget in the heat of the rhetorical battles of the so-called War on Christmas that Christmas is sometimes used in places where real guns and bullets matter. This week a 43-year old symbol of Christmas and war was removed: South Korean marines have dismantled a 43-year-old Christmas tower on the border with North Korea that the North had threatened at one time to attack with artillery.

North Korea, you see, hates Christmas, religion, and, yes, South Korea.

This wasn’t your usual jolly Christmas tree. Erected on a front-line hilltop northwest of Seoul in 1971, the 59-foot steel tower, tipped with a cross, used to be illuminated with cascades of light bulbs around Christmas during the Cold War years.

Batteries of loudspeakers sent Christmas carols drifting across the snow-capped border into the North, where the totalitarian regime repressed religious freedom.

It was part of a psychological warfare the two Koreas had continued to wage along the 155-mile border even after their three-year Korean War ended with a truce in 1953. Both sides carved their border hills with large slogans exhorting troops from the other side to defect to the capitalist South “for freedom” and to the “people’s paradise” of the communist North. They also sent radio broadcasts and balloons carrying propaganda leaflets into each other’s sky.

North Korea has repeatedly demanded the destruction of the high steel tower on top of a military-controlled hill just three kilometers from the heavily-fortified border.

In the past, it has even threatened to shell the tower which the South has allowed civilian groups to decorate with lights — including a giant illuminated cross at the top — over the Christmas season.

The defence ministry said it was dismantled for the sole reason that the 43-year-old structure had become unsafe.

“The decision was unrelated to inter-Korean relations. Safety was the main reason,” a ministry spokesman told AFP, adding that work to remove the tower had begun back in August.

“There is no plan to replace it with a new one,” he said.

The South switched off the tree under a 2004 deal to halt official-level cross-border propaganda. It also suspended loudspeaker broadcasts and a propaganda leaflet campaign using large helium balloons.

The deal was scrapped in 2010 following the sinking of a South Korean warship which Seoul blamed on a North Korean submarine.

In 2011 the tower was not illuminated in the wake of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il’s death and it stayed dark over Christmas 2013 when military tensions were running high.

The North has always condemned the Christmas lights show as a provocative display of psychological warfare.

Headline News Joins the Christmas Creep Parade Two Months Late

Headline News Joins the Christmas Creep Parade Two Months Late

Headline News — what used to be part of Turner Broadcasting known for 24-hour non-stop news — seems to be in a bit of a rut. The news channel is still obsessed with the long ago convicted Jodi Arias and now they are jumping on the Christmas creep bandwagon.

Yup, on October 20th, is OUTRAGED to see Christmas BEFORE HALLOWEEN and they mean it, doggone it, BECAUSE THEY USE ALL CAPS TO TALK ABOUT IT:

One of these things is not like the others: Pumpkin carving, apple picking, CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS. In what can only be described as a seasonal scandal, Christmas-themed items have already started appearing in stores.

In case you have forgotten, it’s only October… as in, there’s still Halloween and Thanksgiving to get through first. Although some people are outraged by the very early Christmas cheer, other shoppers were overjoyed.

Would someone please advise they are two months late to this party?

Christmas creep, officially, peaks as breaking news in August and September.

They need to move on to complaining about Black Friday killing Thanksgiving already.

Can Cameron get it right to Save Christmas?

Can Cameron get it right to Save Christmas?

Just as Kirk Cameron’s Christmas movie project Saving Christmas needed another push of media its website was somehow hacked again by “Islamic terrorists”. We’re not saying it isn’t true. We just think it is curious.

Saving Christmas is supposed to be a Christian response to atheists and anti-Christmas detractors who continually harp on Christmas. And Cameron is pushing hard to promote the “us versus them” angle of his movie. The Turkish website hackers appear to possess incredible timing in helping Cameron make this point.

“We have expected opposition to the message of ‘Saving Christmas‘ from the beginning,” said an executive for Provident Films, Mediaite reported. “But we had no idea it would come from the other side of the world. This incident only heightens our resolve to help this important message get out.”

The Saving Christmas website was taken over by Ayyildiz Tim International Force, a group that has also hacked pages run by the United Nations. The site was reportedly replaced with a banner image of a man in armor—believed to be the Muslim sultan Saladin, who fought Christian crusaders in 788 to 793 B.C. (Before Cameron)—along with Turkish text reading, “The Turkish spirit will shine again and the use of weapons will emerge in the nation’s history as this hero will shine again.”

After hearing “music and a loud gunshot,” visitors were automatically redirected to the Ayyildiz Tim Twitter page, where the group regularly brags of all the other, equally important enemies of Islam it’s waged its holy hacker war upon. Oddly enough, the Ayyildiz Tim Twitter account doesn’t actually boast about hacking Cameron’s website itself—and in fact, it only retweets The Blaze’s story about the hacking.

“Coincidence?” Cameron asks. “Or does it actually prove the title of the movie? Will you and your family join me and my family this year in putting ‘Christ’ back in Christmas?”

Cameron is promoting his movie to Christian websites, Christian publications and Christian groups to sell tickets to Christians during a limited two-week run of the movie in November.

He claims the movie puts Christ back in Christmas.

Will it?

In media interviews Cameron claims there is religious significance to all the elements of the season — from mistletoe to Santa Claus — because they all celebrate Christ. Yet, at the same time, movie previews appear to belittle the use of the phrase “happy holidays”, which of course is derived from the term “happy holy days”.

Can Cameron rise above it all or will he only continue to divide Christmas and Christians?

We haven’t seen the movie. But we would be surprised if Cameron included the following in his production:

1. Christmas existed and was celebrated before Christ. (Tell the story of Isaiah, Kirk!)
2. Christmas embraces elements of pagan worship that were adopted later as Christian symbols. (Truth is truth).
3. Christmas has evolved over time to morph into both a sacred and secular observance. (And that’s ok).

Ultimately, this “war” on Christmas is never ending because the extremes — and Kirk Cameron is an extreme in this conversation — will only argue with other extremes. Both push agendas that extend far beyond Christmas and the celebration of a holiday.

In the end, we declare, with the movie yet unseen, Saving Christmas is nothing more than propaganda for one side.

And it won’t help or solve anything.

Black Pete Makeover Plans Announced

Black Pete Makeover Plans Announced

The Dutch tradition of Black Pete begins its transformation this year with Santa being accompanied by a whole lot of Petes not colored black. There will be yellow Petes, white Petes and Petes with faces streaked with soot.

In Gouda, where Saint Nicholas and dozens of Petes will ‘arrive’ on November 15 with a gift-filled boat from Spain in a national event broadcast live on television, the mayor on Tuesday decided to introduce some new colours. Besides a number of Black Petes, there will also be ‘Cheese Petes’ with yellow faces and ‘Stroopwafel Petes’ with striped, light brown faces resembling the traditional Dutch syrup biscuit of the same name. ‘There is no simple way to find a solution that everyone can identify with,’ said Gouda Mayor Milo Schoenmaker.
Gouda’s Black Petes ‘changed several years ago to dark brown without stereotypical big red lips and earrings,’ the city hall added.

Some in the media are covering this story “after years of debate” in charging the tradition with racist undertones.

Here’s the truth: for nearly 200 years the Dutch have had the holiday tradition of Sinter Klaas and Black Pete, a whimsical character of debatable origin. Pete is usually portrayed by with black faces, big red lips and curly afro hair. It was only last year that the caricature was charged as racist, which was fueled by International commentary from a U.N. observer. The issue went to court and the court declared that, yes, Black Pete is indeed racist.

Amsterdam’s mayor and a council of festival organizers met to discuss a makeover for Black Pete, which led to a counter protest from traditionalists who claim this whole thing is just political correctness run amok.

With the date for the festival fast approaching on November 15th, and the culminating events later planned near St. Nicholas day, you can bet this story will continue to be in the news for weeks to come.

Paris Christmas Tree Looks Like a Sex Toy

Paris Christmas Tree Looks Like a Sex Toy

Citizens of Paris are asking: what is that thing? Apparently, it’s a Christmas tree.

Although it is only mid October the tree is up and getting lots of attention. The work of American artist Paul McCarthy is considered by some to better resemble a giant sex toy more than a Christmas tree. Many are openly wondering if it is a joke.

The work is 80 feet tall and is simply titled “Tree”. It was evidently placed now because a big International Art Fair will be held nearby in coming weeks.

Public reaction to the tree has been swift and condemning — some expressing shock, others amusement.

This isn’t McCarthy’s first rodeo with controversial works. In 2011 an exhibition of his work in London included a pair of George W Bush sculptures having sex with pigs.

Be prepared to see this image for some time to come of unusual public Christmas trees from around the world.

Satanic Temple Tries Again for Biblical Christmas Display

Satanic Temple Tries Again for Biblical Christmas Display

Just like last year the Satanic Temple will try to get it’s “holiday display” shown at the Florida state capitol among the Nativity, Christmas trees and Santa displays already there.

The display consists of a kiosk in which Satan — depicted in his angelic form — is seen descending into a sea of fire. It includes two biblical verses, Luke 10:18, which reads, “And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning falling from Heaven,” and Isaiah 14:12, “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations!”

Across the top, it implores viewers to have a “Happy Holidays from the Satanic Temple.”

When the Department of Management Services (DMS) rejected the display as being “grossly offensive” last year, Andrew Seidel of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) said that “the government has decided that one biblical scene is offensive and one biblical scene is acceptable. And legally speaking I don’t think they have a leg to stand on.”

Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves insisted that it was “not our intention to offend. Like the Nativity scene, it presents an image from a Biblical story, which is shared with other religious traditions besides our own. In addition, a positive sentiment of ‘Happy Holidays’ is displayed.”

In order to make sure that any legal challenge against the display can be met in a timely fashion, Greaves said that “this year, we’re submitting our display early, with plenty of time to confront any objections or concerns. In a nation that respects religious liberty, viewpoint discrimination is simply intolerable.”

“For that reason,” he added, “we feel our holiday display sends a very important, affirmative message that goes above and beyond that of superficial season’s greetings. It’s a message of religious freedom, and Church/State separation expressed in the State’s neutrality.”

The Satanic Temple has also enlisted the aid of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AUSCS), which will release a letter later this week urging Florida obey the letter of the law.

“Once the state has opened up a public forum they can’t say we like these messages and we don’t like those,” AUSCS attorney Gregory Lipper told the Democrat. “Once they have that forum they can’t pick and among religions.”

TIME Magazine Blames Christmas Creep on You

TIME Magazine Blames Christmas Creep on You

TIME Magazine. Funny people. Trying so hard to be relevant in a world that long passed magazines by.

Last year TIME set a record in complaining about “Christmas creep”. Of course, nearly all their conclusions were wrong. Christmas wasn’t any earlier last year than it has been for decades.

This year it appears TIME is throwing in the towel. Now they say Christmas creep isn’t the media’s fault — it’s yours.

You, after all, keep buying Christmas stuff before Labor Day. YOU, obviously, don’t seem to mind Christmas commercials on television in September. And YOU, evidently, aren’t buying all the media hoopla about Christmas creep.

What’s wrong with you?

Regulators Going After Christmas Lights

Regulators Going After Christmas Lights

Since 1980 more than 250 people have been killed when decorative Christmas lights malfunction, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. So, the same folks that took the .25 cent light bulb and turned it into a $5 light bulb that never lasts as long as they promised and doesn’t save the energy they guaranteed, now want to change all your Christmas lights, too.

The new rules would apply to everything from Christmas tree lights to the light sculptures and animated figures of Santa Claus and his reindeer that illuminate front yards across the country.
Decorative lighting that does not meet new standards will be considered hazardous, the agency said.

“Consumers can be seriously injured or killed by electrical shocks or fires if seasonal and decorative lighting products are not made using minimum wire size, sufficient strain reliefs, or over-current protection,” the agency wrote.

No word on whether or not they plan to regulate the old Christmas lights and decorations many have been using since the 1950s.

Calls for Christmas Go Unheeded in Massachusetts

Calls for Christmas Go Unheeded in Massachusetts

The age-old debate of a school district labeling time off in December “Christmas break” continues to rage in Marshfield, Massachusetts. As we reported more than a month ago the school board already stuck a fork in Christmas, despite public outcry to their decision.

But residents in Marshfield are not giving up.

At a school committee meeting Tuesday night, several residents asked members to reconsider the September vote that changed the name “Christmas vacation” to “holiday break” on the calendar. The vacation week begins on Christmas Eve and ends the Monday after New Year’s Day.

Resident Elaine Taylor presented the committee with a petition signed by 443 people who want to see the vote reversed and the name “Christmas vacation” restored.

None of the school committee members responded to the residents’ request, which was presented during the public comment period of the meeting. Chairwoman Marti Morrison said the committee would hear residents’ concerns but would not engage in any dialogue on the matter.

Marshfield resident Gregory Hargadon said he sampled 85 people around town about the change to “holiday break” and not one person voiced support for it.
“This is Marshfield. It’s not Cambridge,” he said. “The overwhelming majority would like it changed back.”

He called the vote by members “an arbitrary decision based upon their own opinions,” and said the vacation is based around Christmas, which is a federal holiday whether or not one celebrates it.

“The holiday is called Christmas. That’s what it’s called,” he said. “It’s a race to be politically correct. … One person says something and you change it like that. If someone says they don’t like the American flag, are you going to remove that? Where does this end?”

The school board didn’t engage the conversation and there are no indications Christmas will be back on school calendars any time soon in Marshfield.

Black November to Stir the Anti-Christmas Pot

Black November to Stir the Anti-Christmas Pot

Black Friday is dead and everyone knows it. The fact that holiday shopping “door-buster” sales now kick off Thanksgiving morning is not exactly tradition — and retailers may never give it time to become such. The truth is that Black Friday is now really Black November — a full month or more of serious price promotions to kick start holiday shopping.

This is the real menace of retail people are talking about. This is the real Christmas creep. And it is about to become a part of the conversation in the so-called War on Christmas.

Late-night, early morning and even 24-hour shopping have become so common that many retailers believe they must stay open nearly all the time to keep up with their competitors, reports Richard Feinberg, Purdue professor of retail management.

With consumer pocketbooks stretched thin, shoppers will be looking for deals, according to Feinberg. That means most of the large, non-luxury retailers will be offering heavy promotions and constant sales. Retailers will rely on “flash” and limited-time sales because they create a sense of urgency and shoppers respond to them. Shoppers will also see more signs of holiday creep as “Black Friday” – the day after Thanksgiving that used to mark the first day of the Christmas shopping season – has transformed into “Black November.”

Black Friday backed further into Thanksgiving in 2013, as stores including Target, Younkers, Sears and J.C. Penney opened at 8 p.m. Thursday, and others even earlier. Walmart, open 24 hours, released Black Friday deals at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and sold some Black Friday merchandise as early as Nov. 1.

For stores that were open, shoppers followed, with 45 million people shopping online or in stores on Thanksgiving 2013, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s up from 35 million in 2012 and 29 million in 2011.

The sad truth despite these facts? Sales were DOWN for what is called “Black Friday” — by 2.9 percent.

The other sad truth is that many people protest now the presence of Christmas-themed shopping on Thanksgiving Day. Workers threaten to strike, campaigns to boycott retailers on Thanksgiving are launched and editorials run amok with anti-Christmas rhetoric.

It isn’t so much about Christmas, really. But Christmas gets blamed for creating the frenzy and urging retailers to “sell, sell, sell” in an effort to generate more revenue than they did the year before.

Media Starts War on Christmas in Germany

Media Starts War on Christmas in Germany

There’s a movement against Christmas afoot — in Germany. It is being waged mostly by the media.

About 1000 people responded to an online survey in Germany last month that concluded German citizens were fed up with early sales of Christmas items and wanted a law imposed restricting sales of Christmas goods no sooner than November 30th of each year.

How many people said this? Some media outlets say “most”. The survey results actually say about a third.

Of course, Germany is home to traditional Chriskindelsmariks, or Christmas markets. How could a country central to the rise of Christmas Markets in Europe come to this point?

The truth is, they haven’t. Christmas is as popular as ever in Germany. The media there and all over Europe, however, is active in speaking out against Christmas in any way possible.

Many traditional symbols and icons of the season worldwide originated in Germany and Christmas is a beloved season of the year. Could Germans really be put off by seeing Christmas in stores three months before Christmas?

Not really.

The backdrop of this survey doesn’t take into account current economic conditions. Supermarkets and large box retailers world wide are mostly guilty of the early Christmas marketing and nothing they are doing this year is new. In fact, other recent media reports suggest that supermarkets worldwide are struggling and retailers are looking for any edge they can find. The early sales of Christmas isn’t new and may, in fact, be more pronounced this year.

In other words, Christmas in stores in Germany, like in stores in America, has been a long standing tradition. If people were really against it, they would not be buying it.

So why then these surveys?

Because the media continues to hammer anti-Christian and anti-religious messaging in any way that they can. Political correctness has run rampant in Germany in recent years as evidenced by the outright banning of Christmas in parts of Berlin last year. Observers fully expect more of the same this holiday season.