Sweden Bans SOME Christmas Lights

Sweden Bans SOME Christmas Lights

An early season debate on Christmas lights in Sweden has led to significant misunderstanding in that country. The government there recently announced a ban on Christmas lights that are traditionally hung from street light poles.

Some right-wing media outlets (Infowars and Breitbart) took the story and ran with it, claiming the country was trying to appease Muslim immigrants with the move.

The truth turns out to be something less spectacular. Christmas lights will be banned from utility poles only this year. Lights will still be permissible — and given Sweden’s love of Christmas — still visible everywhere else.

The problem has more to do with an aging infrastructure and the question of who pays for electrical costs than what the lights are actually for. This situation has been building for years and the government is merely stopping a practice that should have been brought under control long ago for safety and cost reasons.

There is some debate within Sweden that the restrictions are a bit too much. But those arguments in debate have more to do with the potential impact more darkened streets will have on commerce than they will have anything to do with Christmas or Muslims.

Sweden, like many other countries in Europe, has problems like any other country. But a love of Christmas isn’t really one of them.

Texas County Votes Against Atheist Christmas Display

Texas County Votes Against Atheist Christmas Display

A county in Texas denied a petition from an atheist group who wanted to place their own banner next to a Nativity scene at the county courthouse there at Christmas.

The banner was displayed in the courtroom before discussion started.

It read, from top to bottom, the Facebook symbol, then “/KerrvilleFreeThought, Happy Winter Solstice, At this season of the Winter Solstice, we celebrate the Birth of the Unconquered Sun – the TRUE reason for the season. As Americans, let us also honor the birth of our Bill of Rights, which reminds us there can be no freedom OF religion, without freedom FROM religion in government. Freedom From Religion Foundation, FFRF.org.

Pastor Greg Young of Kerrville asked to speak at the start of the regular meeting as he had a live radio show to broadcast at 11 a.m. and commissioners agreed.

Young said FFRF “preys upon small communities like Kerrville” saying the organization’s founder “has absolute disdain for Christianity.” He told a story to say allowing this one request would lead to multiple unwanted actions in the future, eventually pushing out current beliefs and values.

About 200 people were in the district courtroom, standing room only, by 11:20 a.m. when commissioners moved upstairs. Pollard had about a dozen speaker forms, offered one more chance for those, warned he expected order in the room, then called on Whitsett.

In case attendees hadn’t seen the photo of this banner in the agenda packet, Pollard helped Whitsett unroll and display it; and again said Whitsett asked to display the banner, and didn’t ask to block the Nativity scene.

Whitsett said, “I ask only that this banner be put up, and I would rather the other Manger Scene be put up, too. I think Christmas is a fine time to celebrate our Bill of Rights which was ratified near that season,” adding the FFRF Facebook page invites atheists and agnostics to take part in discussions. “We only want equal treatment,” Whitsett said.

The audience was mostly quiet, with a few audible “Amens” and supporting short comments. Every speaker opposed Whitsett’s request, and was applauded by the crowd.

Pam Wood called FFRF perhaps new to Kerrville but known elsewhere as an anti-religion group. She cited a definition of “free thinkers” by that group, saying they specifically mention Christians and Jews, making their argument for freedom from religion “disingenuous.” “They want a refusal because it suits their beliefs and allows them to go to court.”

Kenny Bledsoe said he’s a church-goer, and if this banner was allowed, it would be a foot in the door to Christianity in general for the FFRF. “They have the right to worship as they please, but I am opposed to putting this banner anywhere in Kerr County.”

Pastor Del Way of Calvary Temple Church said, “The problem is, they claim freedom from religion, but they want to do it on our holiday. I oppose this, especially on the courthouse square. We believe they are trying to take over our religion.” Way said he had more than 1,000 signatures on petitions from his church, and told Whitsett, “Leave us alone. Get your own holiday.”

John Hammack said America has been a nation under God since Columbus arrived; and asked commissioners “not to let some pagan atheist take Christ out of Christmas,” historically set Dec. 25.
Patricia Carson declared her faith in Jesus, and said it’s His birthday that’s celebrated. “If these other people want a special day, they need to get another special day.”

Starting with Buster Baldwin, commissioners said they are representative of citizens in their precincts, and hired to take care of citizens’ business. “That’s why there’s a ‘no’ vote from me,” Baldwin said.

One by one, Tom Moser, Judge Tom Pollard, Jonathan Letz and Bob Reeves said they agreed. Moser suggested the actual winter solstice Dec. 21 might be a better date, and protests from the audience were quickly quieted. Commissioners voted 5-0 to deny Whitsell’s request.

Firefighters Punished for Merry Christmas Billboard

Firefighters Punished for Merry Christmas Billboard

A fire fighting crew from Ohio has received disciplinary action against them for chipping in money to pay for a billboard wishing their community a Merry Christmas.

Seventeen firefighters belonging to one shift, known as Crew 3 or Super Crew 3, have received punishments ranging from reprimands for the firefighters and suspensions and probationary periods for three lieutenants and a captain. In addition, a retired captain has been barred from all fire stations in Lancaster.

The billboard was paid for by the firefighters, who decided that they would show “crew pride” instead of exchanging gifts. The billboard was in place from November 30 to December 15 when it was ordered removed. A city attorney determined it presented a civil liability because the “Merry Christmas” message expressed religious favoritism. Those involved are also in trouble for failing to get permission to take the picture at a Lancaster firehouse while they were on duty.

Once again, the arbitrary decision of one (the city attorney) determines the fate of many proving once again that no good deed goes unpunished.

Ugly Australian Christmas Tree Rejected Again

Ugly Australian Christmas Tree Rejected Again

The Australian city of Hobart — a state capitol city — had a reputation for the worst Christmas decorations in Australia. Australia is big on Christmas — so this was not a good image for the city.

So last year they sponsored the creation of a new city Christmas tree — and it was quickly dubbed by the public as the ugliest tree ever, becoming a joke on social media and an international embarrassment to the city.

The tree was of modern art design and had zero traditional elements to it. No pine boughs, no baubles, and no star or angel at the top. It was merely a twisted frame of metal designed to allow the public to walk inside the tree and look up at the sky through it. To many who walked past the tree the thing did little to suggest it was a Christmas tree at all. As the city publicized the lighting of the tree and sent pictures to the media cries of “Where’s the tree?” were not taken seriously.

Hobart, it seemed, didn’t even have the Charlie Browniest of Christmas trees. It was much, much worse.

So during this off-season the city council in Hobart has taken up the issue and the debate centered on whether or not the tree could be saved and improved upon.

After all, $35,000 had been spent and there was some face saving that needed to be done.

So the Lord Mayor consulted some experts and presented another plan. She was laughed and ridiculed out of the chamber after proposing changes that would cost nearly double the original expense of the tree. Her answer seemed to be filling the center of the tree with a brass dome and dressing the tree skeleton with traditional Christmas elements at Christmas time.

There was hope that someone in Hobart had some love for the tree. “It’s dearly loved by the traders of Salamanca and they want to hold onto the tree, they want to keep it all-year round as an architectural piece and then kept as a Christmas tree at Christmas time,” said one Alderman.

But the tree is simply too hated to be saved.

Alderman Marti Zucco, who dubbed the first design akin to a tomato trestle, said he was surprised the plan even came to council for consideration. “It was overwhelmingly rejected practically all over the world,” he said. “To then try and spend another $50,000 to put a brass dome in the center of it is absolutely ludicrous. I’m baffled as to who actually allowed the report to get to council in the first place – I’m concerned council officers spent time and effort doing this. “It reflects the capital city, and to have a structure that looks like a tomato structure and sell it as a Christmas tree is beyond belief – and to spend another $50,000 sprucing it up is beyond comprehension.”

What will become of Hobart’s tree? Recyclers are apparently standing by.

Atheists Attack Christians, Santa and Christmas

Atheists Attack Christians, Santa and Christmas

As they do every year a group calling themselves American Atheists have erected billboards encouraging people to “skip Church” at Christmas. This is your war on Christmas in a nutshell: attack the religious.

Showing Santa Claus — a figure of antiquity who was a member of the clergy and true believer in Christ — the billboard proclaims: “Go ahead and skip church! Just be good for goodness’ sake”.

The message is anti-religion. It is anti-Christmas. It is anti-Christ.

And it is an affront to many atheists. Surveys have long shown that most atheists celebrate Christmas inclusive of the traditional icons and symbols of the season including Christmas trees and Nativities. While most claim to do so for sentimental reasons they also see no harm in retaining those symbols during a season long lauded for peace, service and “goodwill to all men”.

As is typical, the group posted the billboards in two states highly saturated with Christian believers — and expected the media to carry the message forward. The media has cooperated fully, as it always does.

A spokesman for American Atheists, Randy Gotovich, told Fox News 21 in Colorado that their goal is not to attack Christmas but to make the holiday more inclusive for people of different faiths.

“We’re trying to be inclusive of everyone in Christmas and saying that anyone can celebrate it. It shouldn’t be viewed strictly as a Christian holiday,” he said.

This kind of weird messaging flies in the fact of most American Atheist activities, including the removal of nativities from public spaces and the singing of Christmas carols in schools.