Marshfield School Decline Christmas Again

Marshfield School Decline Christmas Again

Thousands of signatures, a very public protest and hours of debate could not change the 3-2 vote — Marshfield schools will exclude Christmas in describing their holiday break on the school calendars.

More than 4,000 parents in Marshfield signed a petition to change the name of the school break in December and January to Christmas, break from the recently rebranded holiday break.

The School Board met to discuss the decision Monday night, but after two hours the voted to keep the name holiday break.

“Marshfield is not a diverse community. It’s very important that we do whatever we can to expose our students to the global world that they are not part of yet,” School Board Chairman Marti Morrison said.

Parents in support of Christmas break said the school is trying to abolish all things Christian.

“It’s not a way to accept all students. What it’s doing is excluding the Christian faith.” Elaine Taylor, a parent, said.

Nearly 200 parents and residents were at the meeting, most of those who spoke agreed with the name holiday break.

“The school calendar should reflect the diversity of all the students in this town, not just the majority of them,” one parent said.

The school board said they celebrate all the holidays and faiths over the break in December, including Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and Christmas and after receiving complaints through email, felt changing the name to include everyone was the right thing to do.

The two hours of public comment was followed by a 3-2 vote in favor of keeping the name holiday break.

Shocker: New Yorkers Prefer Merry Christmas

Shocker: New Yorkers Prefer Merry Christmas

There’s no “War on Christmas” in New York, according to the results of a new poll released by the Siena Research Institute.

More than half of New Yorkers surveyed (51 percent) said the greeting they most often use is “Merry Christmas,” while 38 percent said “Happy Holidays” is their go-to greeting.

Six percent said they use “Season’s Greetings.”

The number of individuals who say they use “Merry Christmas” is up from 47 percent in 2013, but down from 55 percent in 2012. “Happy Holidays” reached a six-year high in 2013, when 44 percent of respondents said it is their preferred greeting.

The popularity of Merry Christmas differs among several demographics. A plurality of young people (ages 18-34) said they most often use “Happy Holidays,” while a clear majority of individuals over the age of 50 say they prefer “Merry Christmas.”

Nearly 60 percent of white respondents said they use “Merry Christmas,” compared to 30 percent for African Americans and 43 percent for Latinos.

A majority of African Americans — 55 percent — said “Happy Holidays” is their preferred greeting. A plurarlity of Latinos agreed.

Democrats are divided on the use of “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” While 46 percent of registered Democrats said they use “Happy Holidays,” 44 percent said they most often use “Merry Christmas.”

Among Republicans, there’s a clear favorite. Nearly two-thirds of GOP voters — 65 percent — said they prefer “Merry Christmas.”

Siena College surveyed 809 New York residents between Nov. 3-17. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.4 percent.

Fight for Christmas in Marshfield Persists

Fight for Christmas in Marshfield Persists

A simple school calendar change has erupted into a protracted battle. The school board, despite public outcry, changed from “Christmas break” to “Holiday Break” months ago — and the public keeps fighting back.

“There are signs all over town: ‘There’s Still a Christmas,’ ‘Bring Back Christmas.’ There’s some little kids in town picking up on this and wondering if Santa is going to come to their house,” said attorney Dennis Scollins, the Marshfield School Committee’s longest-serving member and one of two who stood up for St. Nick when the board voted 3-2 on Sept. 9 to replace “Christmas” with “holiday” for the Dec. 24 to ?Jan. 2 vacation.

More than 4,245 signatures collected by a pro-Noel petition drive prompted the special meeting at 8 p.m.

Board chairwoman Marti Morrison said she “loves Christmas” but led the charge to scrub the calendar and is now being assailed around town as “the Grinch” because of it.

“Supposedly our whole country is based on religious freedom,” Morrison said. “I certainly appreciate when people feel very strongly about their religious background, but as a School Committee member, my job is to make decisions I believe are in the best interest of our town.”

In a heavily Irish Catholic town, Morrison said, “The world around us looks very different than Marshfield. We want our students to be open to differences.”

Pro-“holiday” voter Carol Shrand, the board’s vice-chair, said, “This is really about using inclusive language that reflects the diversity of faiths here in Marshfield. We take an oath to serve all our students and each and every one of them needs to feel welcome, included and represented.”

Elaine Taylor, whose children are now grown, has been the driving force behind the resurrection of Christmas vacation. Her backers will be hitting the streets today holding signs and playing Christmas carols, as well as lighting up the phone lines, reminding supporters to turn out tonight.

Massachusetts School PTA Agonizes Over Questionable Content of The Nutcracker

Massachusetts School PTA Agonizes Over Questionable Content of The Nutcracker

Butler Elementary School of Belmont, Massachusetts has a tradition of sending students to see The Nutcracker. They have done it for decades.

But the PTA there purportedly received complaints from “some parents” that The Nutcracker had “questionable content”.

What would that questionable content be? Religion? A Christmas tree?

Some parents of the second graders, who didn’t want to appear on camera, told 7News that they’re also upset because PTA leaders secretly cancelled the field trip without telling anyone, but word spread.

PTA Co-President Barbara Bulfoni said, “In the past years there were parents complaints as ‘The Nutcracker’ has a religious content. I think we clarified with the parents.”

Some of the parents that pushed back against the decision are happy they won but are concerned it’ll come up again next year.

Figures it was Massachusetts, where there is a loon in every school.

For more on this absurdity, see this link.

FFRF Goes After Snow Plows in Sioux Falls

FFRF Goes After Snow Plows in Sioux Falls

Two snow plows painted by a local school as part of the Sioux Falls annual ‘Paint the Plow’ event might not make it out on the street this winter.

One group is challenging the city.

City Hall soon will be decorated for the holidays but one group is attempting to fight city hall on just how much government can get into the Christmas spirit.

The group Freedom From Religion Foundation or FFRF recognizes several state and local government buildings are decked out for the holidays.

Freedom From Religion Foundation staff attorney Patrick Elliott said “the courts have looked at displays and have said a Christmas Tree is something that is permissible, proclaiming the birth of Jesus is something that is impermissible for the government to do.”

It”s why the group has an issue with these city snow plows decorated by a local school.

“They’re basically a roving billboard. I think citizens in the community would perceive a problem with it if a plow said ‘praise Allah, or there are no gods.’ That’s city equipment. It’s moving around the city basically all winter,” Elliott said.

Now those plow will come with a disclaimer.

Mayor Mike Huether said “we prefer utilizing compromise and common ground and common sense vs. the court system to resolve issues we have.”

Even after the Christmas season is over, some may argue religious symbols are part of our daily life, whether it’s on our money or in our Pledge of Allegiance.

“We think those things are problematic as well. The courts obviously haven’t agreed on a number of those things and when they’ve addressed those, they’ve more so been allowed because of their history,” Elliott said.

The group Freedom From Religion Foundation says it has about 10 other cases it’s working on challenging the separation between church and state as a violation of the Constitution.

2nd Grader Wants to Pass Out Candy Canes Again

2nd Grader Wants to Pass Out Candy Canes Again

Advocates for Faith & Freedom has filed a request for a preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Wednesday, November 12th 2014. The injunction, if granted, will prohibit the West Covina Unified School District from stopping seven-year-old Isaiah Martinez from passing out candy canes to his classmates with the candy cane legend attached during the Christmas season.

Last Christmas, Isaiah Martinez took Christmas gifts intended for his first grade teacher and classmates at Merced Elementary in the West Covina Unified School District. Each gift consisted of a traditional candy cane with a message attached that recited the legend of the candy cane. The legend references a candy maker who created the candy cane to symbolize the life of Jesus Christ.

When Isaiah brought his Christmas gift to school, his teacher took possession of the candy canes. At the direction of the school principal, the teacher instructed Isaiah that “Jesus is not allowed in school” and she removed the candy cane messages from each candy cane, threw the messages in the trash, and handed the candy canes back to Isaiah for delivery to his classmates. Isaiah then nervously handed the candy canes to his classmates in fear that he was in trouble for trying to bring a little Christmas cheer and “good tidings” to class.

The case is already in federal court after the parents of Isaiah Martinez felt the school violated their son’s right to freedom of religious speech.

Robert Tyler, lawyer and General Counsel, explained their decision to file a federal law suit saying, “the school has neglected to correct its actions, and after exhausting all options to avoid a lawsuit we were left with no choice but to file a complaint in federal court. We are asking the court to protect Isaiah’s rights and the rights of others like him from having their religious speech censored. Students do not shed their First Amendment rights just because they enter into a classroom.”

In January the story garnered attention from major news outlets including Fox, Univision, and NBC.

Attorney James A. Long, legal counsel with Advocates explains the injunction is necessary “because the West Covina Unified School District has made clear that the only theology allowed in the classroom is the government’s theology, it has given every indication that it will again prohibit Isaiah from passing out the candy cane legend at his school’s holiday party in the name of ‘religious neutrality,’ Isaiah’s constitutional rights will be violated again this year unless the Federal Court grants Advocates’ request for a preliminary injunction.”

Advocates claims the school has no legally viable reason for suppression of the speech, such as disruption, profanity or vulgarity or evidence that the schools conduct would be seen as advocating a particular religion.

Michigan Shapes Up as Battle Ground Over Nativity Scene

Michigan Shapes Up as Battle Ground Over Nativity Scene

Michigan state officials are considering whether a Christian Nativity scene and a counter-display from a secularist group should join the state Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn this holiday season.

The State Capitol Commission on Monday agreed to contract with the Michigan attorney general’s office for a part-time staff attorney over six months for $37,000. The attorney would advise the commission on various issues, including the request to place a representation of the birth of Jesus at the state Capitol.

Commission member John Truscott said he expects the office will approve the Nativity with the same conditions as demonstrations that are frequently held on the grounds. He declined to say who made the request.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation based in Madison, Wisconsin, said Tuesday it would request a counter-display if the Nativity is approved.

The displays would have to be taken down daily.

AFA Takes Aim at Companies that Will Not Say Christmas

AFA Takes Aim at Companies that Will Not Say Christmas

It’s a holiday tradition — er….a Christmas tradition! The American Family Association has published their annual “naughty and nice list” of retailers who won’t use the word Christmas in their advertising or public relations efforts. The big offender this year: Petsmart, a perennial abuser of the holiday versus Christmas tug of war.

When it comes to Christmas retailers just can’t win. Those brave enough to advertise early have to endure charges of Christmas creep. While those who don’t use the word Christmas get labeled for being politically correct or anti-Christian.

This year’s list appears to be similar to the list the AFA has published for years now. Barnes & Noble, Limited Brands, Office Depot — these are the same folks always on this list.

But does the lack of use of the word Christmas make them anti-Christmas? Really?

And what about the word holiday. Does using that word constitute an absence of acknowledgement of sacred days of observance?

And what of those who do liberally make use of the word Christmas in their ads? Can we rightfully say, as the AFA claims, that these companies “celebrate” Christmas? What part of putting the word “Christmas” in an ad is acknowledging the sacred OR secular celebration of Christmas?

We ask these questions not because we don’t support use of the word Christmas. We just think it is continued absurdity to define Christmas so narrowly. The AFA has been at this for years. And while the list of who is naught and who is nice has most decidedly changed — with more moving to the nice list as the AFA has harped on this issue over the years — has it really affected any kind of change?

Has it been helpful in the “war on Christmas”? Has the embracing of Christmas helped those companies who are nice to be successful? Has being on the naughty list adversely affected those who are on it?

The answers to these questions, of course, is no.

The AFA is not promoting the “peace and goodwill” that is Christmas. They continue to be harsh voices in the “war on Christmas” by focusing on the wrong things. They should be promoting the real messages of Christmas: charity, goodwill, peace and understanding.

They appear to be doing just the opposite of that.

Nazi Christmas Decorations Outrages Bidders

Nazi Christmas Decorations Outrages Bidders

As the holiday season quickly approaches, some “fancy” and “authentic” Nazi Christmas decorations have been posted to a Czech auction site. The items have sparked public outrage.

“I offer to sell Christmas decorations SS troops. All in original condition. Undamaged. This is a blown ornament. Ornaments are the original colors in top condition. Slightly worn with age. This is a rare piece,” the user, known as Anti95, says on the website.

The seller adds that the decorations were “used by SS units over 70 years ago.”

The set, which is reportedly original and undamaged, consists of four Christmas ornaments for a tree. The deocrations quickly made headlines after being spotted on the Aukrowebsite.

Bids started at about $280 for the entire set. However, Aukro customers didn’t find the offer tempting and lashed out at the seller.

“My granddad would cry if he saw this,” said one Facebook user on Aukro’s Facebook page, as cited by the Daily Mail.

Others – especially older generations – remembered wartime stories of misery and death told by grandparents, many of them fighting in the Nazi resistance.

One user suggested that such items should be destroyed, regardless of their historical value.

The offer was deleted from the site’s Facebook page following the public outrage.

But the seller maintains that the set is “intended solely for collecting purposes” and expresses his non-allegiance to any ideology “suppressing human rights…or a movement which supports national, racial or class hatred.”

The ornaments aren’t the only Nazi-friendly pieces of memorabilia on the website. There’s a host of allegedly authentic souvenirs, ranging from books to decorative plates, and even a Nazi helmet which is in relatively good condition.

    Anti-Black Pete Protests Mar St. Nicholas Celebrations in Netherlands

    Anti-Black Pete Protests Mar St. Nicholas Celebrations in Netherlands

    0,,17253679_303,00News reports out of the Netherlands today say that anywhere from 60 to 90 people were arrested for protesting the tradition of Black Pete. Children were involved in the confrontations, reports say.

    A Dutch court earlier this year declared the practice racist, although in the 200-year history of the tradition there has never, until today, been protested. The issue was brought forward by UN observers from Jamaica who declared the practice racist a year ago. A higher Dutch court just this week overturned the ruling and anti-Black Pete protesters organized. (Reports last month said traditionalists were going to protest when it appeared Black Pete was doomed).

    Across Belgium and the Netherlands, celebrations in which Saint Nicholas rolls into town surrounded by a host of “Black Petes” have come under increasing pressure year by year from complaints about racism. Pete is usually played by a white person who paints his face pitch black, dons a frizzy wig and gives himself bright red lips.

    On Saturday, police detained several anti-Black Pete protesters as Saint Nicholas arrived in the historic Dutch city of Gouda in a nationally televised event. Thousands of children and their parents lined the streets and gathered at a central market square to catch a glimpse of the saint known in the Netherlands as Sinterklaas.

    Police spokeswoman Yvette Verboon said the protesters were detained because they were in the center of Gouda and not at two locations that had been set aside for protesters well away from the festivities.

    The Netherlands’ highest administrative court, the Council of State, ruled in favor of the controversial Christmas figure “Black Pete” or “Zwarte Piet” as he is known in Dutch on Wednesday. The helper of Sinterklaas (the name of Santa Claus in the Netherlands) was brought before thae court after a lower judiciary in Amsterdam agreed that the figure should be banned from the traditional festivities marking the arrival of St. Nicholas on December fifth.

    Black Pete has evolved over the years. A quarter century ago, Black Pete was a scary character, carrying a big bag to hold naughty children and a whip to punish the disobedient. Promoting him in recent years as a happy-go-lucky sidekick full of quirky madness has helped him to compete in popularity with Saint Nicholas himself.

    “The last few years, Pete is at least as popular. Kids cling to him, ask him questions, hold his hand,” said Raf Rumes, the secretary of the Flanders Saint Nicholas Guild.

    In another new touch, almost half of the Petes greeting children in this town’s Saint Nicholas “mansion” — a yearly holiday attraction — are played by women. At the fun house, which reopened this week for a monthlong run, children squealed as female Petes showed them Saint Nicholas’ dining room and sleeping quarters for all of the Petes.

    But efforts at softening Pete’s image have failed to subdue bad blood between the pro- and anti-Black Pete camps in the Netherlands, where resentments over immigration have simmered for years. Liberals want to abolish the tradition, while the right-wing firebrand Geert Wilders and his anti-immigration Freedom Party have proposed legislation that would keep Pete black — by law.

    “There is a war underway against Black Pete,” said Martin Bosma, the party’s culture spokesman. “Ministers and mayors are working to give this loyal helper another color. That must not happen. Our culture should not be damaged from on high. This law must protect Black Pete.”

    Only the Stores Get Slammed for Christmas Creep

    Only the Stores Get Slammed for Christmas Creep

    earlyWalt Disney World kicked off Christmas on November 7th…but you hear no complaints in the media about Christmas creep in the Magic Kingdom. Yes, Costco gets busted for selling Disney Christmas stuff but Disney itself, gets a pass.

    It has been a year of epic rants about “Christmas creep”. This one is so sour you think the writer needs serious counseling. This editorial has been running in newspapers across the country and it claims “Christmas creep is ruining the holidays for everyone”.

    We just love the broad generalizations of the media. Christmas is ruined but Disney sells out Christmas the first week of November. Go figger.

    Meanwhile, the world of Christmas radio flipped on (many before Halloween) and the New York Times sings the praises of the practice…with nary a word about Christmas creep. And why not? Christmas radio is wildly popular. And, of course, radio stations are part of the media.

    They get a pass too.

    Entertainment in general is never accused of Christmas creep. Radio City’s Christmas Spectacular? The media loves them and has no problem with their early November Christmas. A live performance of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas? A great way to spend the first week of November.

    But, say the critics, the problem isn’t with those who perform or entertain for Christmas. After all, they only have so many days to get the job done. It’s part of the Christmas experience. But the stores, those greedy buggers, they don’t have to sell Christmas so early. It’s the selling of Christmas that is so wrong.

    Really? Tell that to the superstars of music. Country star Sara Evans was all over the media talking Christmas — in October. Nobody called her a creep.

    Christmas creep is so awful, so pervasive, so evil that according to a new survey more than 70 percent of us HATE it. REALLY?!!!

    Uh…no. Actually, we love it. Web searches for all things Christmas ramps up in August. And besides, other surveys support the idea that an early Christmas is a good Christmas.

    Christmas creep is a myth — both the idea that it happens and the idea that most of us can’t stand it. Luckily, the media only seems to find it in stores. So if you hate Christmas, stay out of the stores.

    Maryland Schools Ban All Holidays After Muslim Request

    Maryland Schools Ban All Holidays After Muslim Request

    All schools in Montgomery County Maryland will have no religiously named holidays on their school calendars for the 2015-16 school year after a request for inclusion by Muslim activists was denied.

    Muslim community leaders have been asking Montgomery school officials for years to close schools for at least one of the two major Muslim holidays.

    It is unclear how many Muslim students attend Montgomery schools, but in 2013, Muslim community leaders urged Muslim families and their supporters to keep students home for Eid ­al-Adha, hoping that the number of absentees would be persuasive as they made their case for a school closing. Montgomery school officials reported that absences for that day — 5.6 percent of students and 5 percent of teachers — were only somewhat higher than a comparable day the previous week.

    In response, Montgomery’s Board of Education voted 7 to 1 Tuesday to eliminate references to all religious holidays including Christmas, Easter, Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah.

    But Tuesday’s outcome was not at all what Muslim leaders intended. They called the decision a surprise — and a glaring mistake.

    “By stripping the names Christmas, Easter, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, they have alienated other communities now, and we are no closer to equality,” said Saqib Ali, a former Maryland state delegate and co-chair of the Equality for Eid Coalition. “It’s a pretty drastic step, and they did it without any public notification.”

    Christmas in Canada told to Wait for Veterans

    Christmas in Canada told to Wait for Veterans

    The emergence of Christmas right after Halloween is coming under fire in Canada where a famous reality television star and entrepreneur is pushing retailers to refrain from decorating or promoting Christmas sales until after a national veterans holiday on November 11th. W. Brett Wilson contends that Christmas decorations in stores shows disrespect to the nation’s veterans.

    “I feel pretty passionately about it,” said Wilson, who’s using his considerable social media clout to drive the point home.

    “In my mind, there’s no economic need to be hitting us with two months worth of Christmas, and it strikes me there’s opportunity to push back a little bit, while raising the profile of what Nov. 11 is all about.”

    On Sunday morning, Wilson Tweeted to his 117,000 followers, “Reminder to retailers — until November 12th — don’t even think about #XmasDecorations — yup — #RespectOurVeterans w/ the #RedPoppy PleaseRT.”

    The idea is resonating with some because Wilson’s finance background lends credibility to the claim that the economics of Christmas don’t get much from early November promotions.

    Canadian business, however, feels quite differently. Economists in Canada forecast a difficult selling season in 2014. Canadians are projected to spend less this year and companies such as Target Canada are already singing the blues.

    Has this opened up a new front in the War on Christmas in Canada?

    It could be. The War on Christmas has been quite active in recent years and quite different in some respects when compared to their cousins to the south. We wouldn’t be surprised to see this idea catch hold with media types here in the United States.

    Black Pete Controversy Now Extends to Seattle

    Black Pete Controversy Now Extends to Seattle

    For more than 50 years the Dutch community in Seattle has held a Christmas party featuring Dutch traditions. The Holland America Club sponsors an event at Lake Forest Park honoring the tradition of Sinterklaas, which includes the traditional entrance of Santa riding a horse accompanied by his helper, Black Pete.

    It should be noted that Black Pete is only black. He isn’t enslaved in the Dutch tradition of St. Nicholas — he is Santa’s willing helper who sometimes acts jovially and in ancient practice would sometimes dole out punishment to kids who were not-so-nice.

    The problem, just as it has been in the past two years in the Netherlands, is that some consider the portrayal of Black Pete racist because it is often pulled off by a white person wearing black face, an afro and big lips.

    Local media in Seattle is covering the controversy where some residents are now declaring they will not participate in the event.

    The event has a 50 year history in Seattle and has never seen this controversy before.

    It is an interesting dilemma. What wasn’t racist a year ago is now vehemently considered such by some. Traditionalists, who claim they have peacefully celebrated Black Pete with nothing more than the good intentions of Christmas behind it, vow to fight the changes to the tradition in the Netherlands.

    While public comments on the news story from Seattle run against criticizing the long standing tradition there doesn’t appear to be a movement afoot to save the tradition in Seattle.

    Bogus Battle of Christmas Music

    Bogus Battle of Christmas Music

    The calendar has turned to November but many in the media claim shoppers in stores don’t want to hear Christmas music.

    This despite the fact that retailers are pushing Christmas sales, “door buster” Black Friday-like bargains and decorations are starting to go up.

    This also despite the fact that radio stations nationwide are flipping to all-Christmas music formats that are oh so profitable.

    Why the disconnect?

    How can the media portray shoppers as “annoyed” when radio stations can’t get the Christmas music on fast enough?

    We’ve reached a common crossroads in the annual so-called War on Christmas. With Halloween behind us it is a little out-of-fashion to keep crying about Christmas creep (though some are still hard at that) so now the media focus takes on two anti-Christmas themes: Christmas music too soon and shopping on Thanksgiving.

    This same chapter plays out every year.

    What’s so wrong with Christmas music? If it is so popular on the radio why does the media mind if stores play it too?

    It is one of the mysteries of Christmas.