Christmas Displays Brings Charges of Harassment

Christmas Displays Brings Charges of Harassment

A Rockland, Massachusetts man says he is being wrongfully bullied by his town because he has a passion for Christmas and displaying blowmolds, Christmas lights and other festive decorations. A disgruntled neighbor, who happens to be the town collector, is reportedly behind the effort to fine the man repeatedly for running a business out of his home in retaliation for the holiday displays he puts up.

Local newspaper The Enterprise shows David Balch in front of his Rockland home and tells the story of his journeys to bring new decor items into his collection. Those pieces he does not need or want he routinely sells to other collectors.

Balch likens his hobby to occasionally holding a yard sale to clear out unwanted items and that it isn’t a business at all.

But those claims have done little to prevent a town zoning enforcement officer from observing Balch’s transactions with those who visit him to purchase unwanted items. Twice Balch has been fined $300 for violating zoning regulations that ban businesses in residential areas.

Balch contends it is all about the neighbor, Judy Hartigan, and has even set up a Facebook page detailing their long ongoing dispute. Additional photos of Balch’s display can be found on the Facebook page. Balch has lived in the home for over a decade and claims Hartigan has complained about his Christmas display many times. He feels he is being harassed by the town and that Hartigan is instigating it.

    Massachusetts School Committee Rejects Community Vote for Christmas

    Massachusetts School Committee Rejects Community Vote for Christmas

    The fight in Norwood, Massachusetts continues. Despite a vote of 76 percent in favor of calling the holiday vacation “Christmas Break” on school calendars the local school committee insists the name change will not happen. The referendum vote was non-binding and at a meeting this week the school committee rejected the call to acknowledge the vote, according to The Blaze.

    Courtney Rau Rogers, chairwoman of the School Committee and one of the three members who have repeatedly voted in favor of winter recess, said she is not budging on her stance. She said the school calendar is a simple document to tell when the school is in session, but it is not designed to promote any religious philosophy.

    “Christmas is still listed on our school calendar,” Rau Rogers said. “It’s a federal holiday. It’s just no longer the name of the break we have at the end of the calendar year,”

    She noted that 26 different languages are spoken in the schools and that the children belong to many different faiths. “To change this language back at this point in time becomes exclusionary and, whether deliberately or not, promotes one particular religious world view over all the others.”

    Rau Rogers also said that with just 18 percent voter turnout, the vote on the nonbinding referendum could hardly be considered overwhelming support for the measure.

    But committee member Paul Samargedlis, who has repeatedly voted in favor of Christmas recess, believes the board is obligated to listen to the people.

    “The way I look at it is simple: No one asked us to change the language in the first place,” he said. “There was no outcry. There was no one saying, ‘Change it.’ Some committee members took it upon themselves. But now the town has spoken pretty strongly in favor of changing it back.”

    There are many Christians who see a shift in language about Christmas — “holiday cards” and “holiday trees” are oft-cited examples — as evidence of a “War on Christmas.” The Norwood School Committee is no stranger to being drawn into that argument. Several years ago, it voted to remove a nativity scene from the lawn of Balch Elementary School in South Norwood.

    “We had a manger on that lawn for 70 to 80 years,” said Helen Abdallah Donohue, a town selectwoman who voted to put the nonbinding referendum on Monday’s ballot and supports returning to the original Christmas language. “We had 700 signatures in support of it and the whole town wanted it, but the School Committee voted against it. We had to give up on it.”

    Theresa McNulty, who has been the driving force behind the effort to persuade the committee to return to the original language, said that those who say the new language is more inclusive are using it as a cover.“They will say they wanted to do it for diversity, and all that kind of talk, but this is just part of the movement in our country to demote Christianity,” she said.

    Clearly this is yet ANOTHER case of a local school authority unfamiliar with the nature of Christmas as recognized by the U.S. Federal government. Christmas was never set up as a religious holiday in the United States. It came about way back in 1870 as an answer to federal workers’ complaints that they did not get the day off like their private sector counterparts did. In establishing the holiday the United States government established Christmas as a secular observance. That many hold it sacred just happens to be a coincidence that causes great confusion to this day.

      Oklahoma Christmas Bill Clears Another Hurdle

      Oklahoma Christmas Bill Clears Another Hurdle

      The state legislature in Oklahoma passed that state’s version of the Merry Christmas Bill allowing Christmas in public schools by a vote of 73-10. The measure now heads to a vote in the state senate.

      If voting in neighboring states is any indication the chances of Oklahoma passing the bill are pretty good. If it does pass it goes into effect on September 1st, just in time for the 2014 holiday season.

      If there will be court challenges to the law expect them in Oklahoma. The state has been a hotbed of Christian controversy since the state erected a monument to the Ten Commandments on capitol grounds claiming the Christian-based laws were a fundamental part of Oklahoma’s founding history. Since that time Oklahoma has endured lawsuits and proposals to remove the monument, even receiving an absurd offer from a Satanic society out of New York to put up a shrine to Satan to counter the monument.

      The Merry Christmas Bill is designed to help public schools avoid costly lawsuits from out of state interests who bring their anti-religion agenda to bear by attacking the mention or acknowledgement of Christmas in public institutions. Schools are a favorite target of the anti-religious forces of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, who most often bankrolls the anti-Christmas efforts.

      Oklahoma’s bill says public schools can display scenes or symbols associated with traditional winter celebrations on school property providing they include more than one religion or one religion and at least one secular symbol.

      Republican Rep. Bobby Cleveland of Norman authored the bill and says the legislation will protect Oklahoma schools from lawsuits over religious-based holiday displays.

      Opponents say such displays are already allowed. A proposal to include Kwanzaa, a celebration that honors African heritage, was tabled.

      Christmas Tree Tax Not a Worry in February

      Christmas Tree Tax Not a Worry in February

      Congress has just approved a massive five-year farm bill once famously part of the War on Christmas due to the inclusion of a Christmas Tree Tax. The bill, sent now to President Obama for his signature, features a program for taxing Christmas trees. The program was used by Fox News and other media outlets as a means of criticizing the Obama administration for being anti-Christmas.

      But the Christmas Tree Tax is something American Christmas tree farmers want. It is a 15 cent per tree tax used to fund marketing programs for American grown trees, similar to the “Got Milk” campaign for American dairy farmers. Growers in Oregon, North Carolina and other places claim the effort is needed to stem losses from Chinese-made artificial Christmas tree that is affecting the real tree market.

      Once launched in November of 2011 the Christmas tree tax quickly became fodder for those claiming a War on Christmas and it dominated the headlines of that season. It returned last summer in the same fashion.

      But now that it is after Christmas and February Fox News isn’t interested in this story as another anti-Christmas measure. In fact, the war on Christmas is all but dead to them outside of the Christmas season.

      True, this Christmas story wasn’t what they were portraying it to be anyway.

      But that didn’t stop them twice in the past of claiming it was an extension of the war on Christmas.

      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.