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.”