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 DefendChristmas.com 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.
breakingbad
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 Change.org 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.