Satanic Temple Tries Again for Biblical Christmas Display

Satanic Temple Tries Again for Biblical Christmas Display

Just like last year the Satanic Temple will try to get it’s “holiday display” shown at the Florida state capitol among the Nativity, Christmas trees and Santa displays already there.

The display consists of a kiosk in which Satan — depicted in his angelic form — is seen descending into a sea of fire. It includes two biblical verses, Luke 10:18, which reads, “And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning falling from Heaven,” and Isaiah 14:12, “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations!”

Across the top, it implores viewers to have a “Happy Holidays from the Satanic Temple.”

When the Department of Management Services (DMS) rejected the display as being “grossly offensive” last year, Andrew Seidel of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) said that “the government has decided that one biblical scene is offensive and one biblical scene is acceptable. And legally speaking I don’t think they have a leg to stand on.”

Satanic Temple spokesman Lucien Greaves insisted that it was “not our intention to offend. Like the Nativity scene, it presents an image from a Biblical story, which is shared with other religious traditions besides our own. In addition, a positive sentiment of ‘Happy Holidays’ is displayed.”

In order to make sure that any legal challenge against the display can be met in a timely fashion, Greaves said that “this year, we’re submitting our display early, with plenty of time to confront any objections or concerns. In a nation that respects religious liberty, viewpoint discrimination is simply intolerable.”

“For that reason,” he added, “we feel our holiday display sends a very important, affirmative message that goes above and beyond that of superficial season’s greetings. It’s a message of religious freedom, and Church/State separation expressed in the State’s neutrality.”

The Satanic Temple has also enlisted the aid of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AUSCS), which will release a letter later this week urging Florida obey the letter of the law.

“Once the state has opened up a public forum they can’t say we like these messages and we don’t like those,” AUSCS attorney Gregory Lipper told the Democrat. “Once they have that forum they can’t pick and among religions.”

Anti-Christmas Protests to Launch Thanksgiving Morning

Anti-Christmas Protests to Launch Thanksgiving Morning

As news begins to trickle in of retailers planning to open in the wee hours of Thanksgiving Day we’re hearing that anti-Christmas protesters are planning to be there, too. It begs the question: Will Thanksgiving Day become the ultimate battleground in the War on Christmas?

The media is already in a tizzy each holiday season over “Christmas creep” — the selling of anything Christmas before Thanksgiving.

But when major retailers shifted Black Friday specials before and after Thanksgiving dinner last year the chorus of anti-Christmas voices blossomed in defense of retail workers forced from their families on Thanksgiving.

Unions organized and in parts of the country Black Friday morning protesters marching against low wages and working on holidays made headlines coast to coast.

Social media campaigns and online petitions were launched to seek out supporters who would not shop those Thanksgiving sales events.

But is all this upset of the shopping frenzy-before-the-feast really about Christmas?

We concur with those critical of retailers capitalizing on Thanksgiving Day. We’re against it. But we don’t blame Christmas. We blame retailers.

Regardless, the anti-Christmas forces of the FFRF and other atheist-driven organizations smell opportunity and will use the abuse of Thanksgiving to preach their anti-Christmas gospel.

DefendChristmas.com has been told that protests and banners this year will bear criticism of Christmas as well as retailers. In their view, none of this madness would be happening if not for Christmas. They will claim the sanctity of home, family and tradition are actually being spoiled by…Christmas.

It is a pretty compelling argument. We wonder where it will lead. And we wonder if it just might be enough to begin to turn the tide against culturally popular secular Christmas traditions such as Christmas shopping.

We can’t help but think a more frugal Christmas would be a good thing for everybody. We can’t help but agree the “rush to buy” is an absurd byproduct of an otherwise cherished season. By embracing an anti-Christmas strategy on Thanksgiving the FFRF just might swell their ranks overall.

Black Pete to Get a Makeover

Black Pete to Get a Makeover

Fighting charges of racism Amsterdam’s mayor and the organizers of traditional Christmas festivals featuring the popular figure of Black Pete will work to change his physical features. In Dutch tradition Black Pete is a sidekick to St. Nicholas often portrayed by white people in blackface with big lips and afro hair styles. For nearly 200 years the tradition of Black Pete has persisted but charges of racism surfaced last year calling the tradition into question.

Mayor Eberhard van der Laan said that Pete’s appearance will be changed over several years from his current blackface to make him look like he has been merely covered with soot from going down chimneys to deliver presents.

Black Pete has become the subject of protests in the Netherlands. Opponents say he is a caricature of an African slave carried over from colonial times – he is usually portrayed by white people wearing blackface makeup, bold red lipstick and Afro wigs.

But a large majority of the Netherlands’ mostly white population says that Pete is a positive figure and denies any racial insult.

Last month an Amsterdam court agreed with findings by a Dutch discrimination vetting board and a UN advisory panel that Black Pete’s look is offensive.

Pam Evenhuis, spokesman for the Amsterdam committee that organises the arrival of Santa Claus, or Sinterklaas in Dutch, says change is necessary to make sure the children’s festival is fun and not controversial. Details were still being debated.

“The Pete photoshoot for 2014 isn’t ready yet,” he said.

In the Dutch tradition, Sinterklaas arrives on a steamboat laden with gifts, accompanied by numerous Black Petes. More than 250,000 people attend the celebration in Amsterdam alone.

Evenhuis said it’s not possible to change Pete’s appearance drastically in just a year, as his look is engrained in the minds of Dutch adults and children.

Although Amsterdam is influential, other towns, businesses and individuals across the country may not want to change his look, the mayor added.

    Sydney Struggles Keeping Christmas Christian

    Sydney Struggles Keeping Christmas Christian

    The tug of war between the sacred and secular of Christmas knows no boundaries. The City of Sydney, Australia is debating the theme of that city’s holiday celebration in decorations. At issue is whether this year’s proposed theme of Christmas trees is really just a politically correct dodge of that city’s traditionally Christian Christmas and if it truly reflects Sydney’s unique Christmas flavor.

    “Evergreen Sydney, City of Christmas trees,” has been chosen as the theme for this year’s festivities, with “forests” of festive pines dotted around the CBD, including a hi-tech whopper at Martin Place. Councillors will be asked to rubber stamp the idea next Monday, with one slamming it and calling for something more unique to Sydney.

    However, local shopping center executives fear another more Christian theme will offend their non-Christian shoppers. Australian Retailers Association chief Russell Zimmerman sits on a council retail advisory committee that helped devise the trees theme.

    He revealed several shopping center executives had raised private concerns about Christmas decorations causing offense.

    “One of them was a shopping center in the Sydney metropolitan area and it was discussed that ‘We’re a multicultural society and we can’t have people having Christmas decorations up, we might ­offend’,” Mr Zimmerman said.

    Another, however, said: “I’m going to say that we are a Christian society and if you go to another society you do as that society does.”

    The Council, however, believes they are on the right track.

    “Anyone who celebrates Christmas knows the symbolism of the Christmas tree. There is no move to make Christmas more secular in Sydney,” the council spokeswoman Clover Moore said. Santa and Jesus will still feature in the council’s Christmas celebrations. Moore, it should be noted, gained notoriety more than a decade ago for slashing Christmas decorating budgets.

    The council has published tracts promoting the idea: “Historically secular and recognised by many cultures, the Christmas tree reaches out across communities with a message of inclusion, generosity and celebration — green, global and connected.”

    A council spokesman defended the plans and revealed this year’s Christmas budget has more than doubled from the miserly $879,000 spent last year to a far more festive $1.925 million in 2014.

    Reports from Sydney indicate that local Christian activists are mobilizing to fight the “watered-down” Christmas theme, as some are describing it.

    Massachusetts Town Braces for Christmas Controversy

    Massachusetts Town Braces for Christmas Controversy

    Since the 1950s and maybe before the town of Walpole, Massachusetts has allowed a privately owned nativity scene to be displayed each Christmas season. It appears that tradition will continue — just so long as there is a permit applied for it and that a “winter solstice” banner has equal opportunity for display.

    The new policy is the result of a complaint from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, the Wisconsin-based group that wrote to Walpole officials in January questioning whether the town’s holiday tradition is an illegal endorsement of Christianity.

    Rebecca Markert, an attorney for the foundation, said earlier this week that she is satisfied with the new Walpole policy that allows any group to apply for permission to put up holiday displays on town property. She added that her group may ask to install a “winter solstice” banner — as a counterpoint to the privately owned nativity scene, which has gone up on the town common since at least the 1950s.

    She said the banner — similar to one on Boston Common last year — would read: “At this Season of the Winter Solstice, let reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

    Selectmen unanimously passed the new policy in June for holiday displays on town-owned property, noting that the board “recognizes and celebrates the diversity” of the Walpole community.

    The stated purpose of the new policy is “to ensure that each town-owned facility and property has a welcoming atmosphere and does not result in the town acting to advance or inhibit any particular religion, culture, or ethnicity.”

    The policy explicitly says that displays cannot be erected using town staff or town equipment. The “winter holiday display season” extends from 14 days before Thanksgiving until Jan. 15.

    Town Administrator Michael Boynton told selectmen the new policy was crafted in response to the complaint from the Freedom from Religion Foundation. He said the town was within its rights to allow the crèche scene, since it was privately owned, as long as other groups also were allowed to put up displays that met safety and other guidelines.

    The crèche scene is owned, installed, and maintained by the Walpole Chamber of Commerce, which inherited it from the Downtown Businessmen’s Association, according to former chamber president Tom Rockwood.

    “We will absolutely abide by the policy the selectmen established,” he said.

    Rockwood said the chamber had been aware of possible issues with the manger scene since Norwood was engulfed in controversy over its public crèche displays about 14 years ago. Quincy also ran into problems with a crèche at City Hall in 2001.

    In Walpole, Rockwood said that over the years there had been “an occasional inquiry — I wouldn’t call it a complaint” about why the chamber put up a crèche display, and why it did not also put up something else for other religions.

    “It was an open policy,” Rockwood said. “If somebody was willing to fund it, [the chamber] was more than open to other displays,” but no one stepped forward.

    “It’s not like we’re trying to violate anyone’s sensibility,” said Dick Power, the chamber’s former secretary. “But there [have been] almost no complaints — one phone call in four years maybe.”

    He said the chamber also owns, installs, and maintains the Santa sleigh and reindeer that are displayed in front of the old Walpole Town Hall in the center of town. They date to the 1950s, when they were hung “flying” over the street. The chamber also pays for a live Santa to greet children in a hut on the Common, he said.

    Media Ignores Christmas in July

    Media Ignores Christmas in July

    Christmas in July is in full swing in stores and on television — and the media gives it a pass. But just wait: come August and September the media will be complaining about “Christmas creep” the minute someone launches any Christmas related in advertising.

    The Hallmark Channel has aggressively marketed their “Christmas in July” campaign replaying movies usually reserved for November and December. The event is popular with Christmas enthusiasts who post schedules and spread word of showing times on social media.

    QVC is hosting their annual Christmas in July sales events, another enthusiastically received event that is followed closely in Christmas communities.

    Many communities across the country sponsor Christmas in July events with craft fairs and makers of Christmas decor customarily use July markets, conventions and gatherings to showcase new designs for consumers for the first time each season.

    But while Christmas in July gets a pass all bets are off come August 1st. Between August 1st and Thanksgiving the media rigorously campaigns against “Christmas creep”, religiously making note of who is guilty and worthy of shame for being so greedy.

    Last year the media jumped all over Kmart for their pre-Labor Day launch of marketing their Christmas layaway program.

    As back to school sales events wind down major retailers as Hobby Lobby and Michael’s begin stocking Christmas craft items. Most seasons they do not even advertising those items — yet the media makes notes and criticizes them, claiming that Christmas creep comes earlier and earlier every year (and how is that possible?).

    Louisiana Lawmakers Unanimous in Support of Christmas Bill

    Louisiana Lawmakers Unanimous in Support of Christmas Bill

    Louisiana law makers love Christmas. Not a single lawmaker in Louisiana cast a “no” vote on that’s state’s version of the Merry Christmas Bill.

    Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed legislation that would allow for holiday symbols to be displayed in public schools as long as items representing multiple religions or secular belief systems are represented. No part of the display could promote adherence to a particular religion.

    Educators would also be authorized to teach children about the “traditional celebrations in winter” and offer greetings such as “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Kwanzaa”.

    The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Alan Seabaugh, has said the proposal is largely based on a Texas law that has been upheld in court. He said he was confident that the law would be upheld by the courts if legal challenges from groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) materialized. The ACLU typically frowns on religious symbols being placed in public schools and government buildings.

    Georgia VA Hospital Apologizes for Banning Christmas Carolers

    Georgia VA Hospital Apologizes for Banning Christmas Carolers

    In a sudden turn of events the Augusta, Georgia VA Hospital administration that has turned away a local school singing group from performing religious Christmas carols at the facility last December has apologized for their actions and has invited the group to return this Christmas without any of their music censored.

    The report comes as a surprise because most recent reports indicated the VA Hospital was not looking to change their policy but were interested in a compromise.

    Alleluia Community School administrators said Tuesday that VA Director Bob Hamilton apologized for his staff’s restricting student carolers to the hospital’s chapel last December and forcing them to sing from a pre-approved list of 12 nonreligious Christmas songs that the facility’s Pastoral Service “deemed appropriate for celebration within the hearing range of all veterans.”

    Alleluia leaders said in a statement to The Augusta Chronicle that Hamilton assured them their students “are welcome to sing their own repertoire of songs and carols, including those with religious content, without discrimination at locations appropriate for singing within the VA.”

    The “amicable agreement” brings a peaceful ending to an incident that drew more than four months of national criticism from veterans and residents, members of the Alleluia Community, First Amendment law firms, congressional leaders and representatives of The American Legion.

    Bob Garrett, Alleluia Community School’s overall coordinator and administrative team chairman, said that the private south Augusta Christian school accepts Hamilton’s apology, appreciates his candor and good will in handling this matter, and is overjoyed a resolution could be reached.

    “We did not want to take them to court, but we would have. We were prepared for that event,” Garrett said. “It means a lot to us to be able to serve veterans and to try to make a difference in encouraging them with our music and presence.”

    In its statement, the school thanked hospital leaders for clarifying questions that arose from the Dec. 20 incident, in which Alleluia students left the hospital without singing carols because of the Augusta VA’s taking a stricter stance on a 5-year-old policy it had against imposing religion on patients.

    Though students had sung at the hospital without incident in previous years, Hamilton said during a March 5 meeting with school administrators that VA policies “uphold the right to free exercise of religion by all medical, domiciliary and nursing home patients,” which he said includes providing or facilitating appropriate worship opportunities.

    Hamilton told the school that the hospital did not and does not have policies that allow “viewpoint discrimination” or prevent groups from singing Christmas carols.

    He added that compiling such a list of approved Christmas songs “did not represent the (medical center’s) position” and acknowledged that the hospital is awaiting additional guidance or policy clarification from national VA leadership following the completion of reviews of governing policy on such matters.

    The apology was well-received by the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

    “We are pleased to hear that Augusta VA Medical Center officials have acknowledged their mistake in curtailing the celebration of Christmas in 2013 and pledged not to repeat it in 2014 and beyond,” said Rep. Jeff Miller. “We will be watching closely to ensure VA facilities across the country don’t allow political correctness to unjustly interfere with activities honoring Christmas or any other federal holidays in the future.”

    The Augusta VA said in a statement that Hamilton was grateful for the opportunity to correct any misunderstanding.

      VA Hospital Negotiating to Censor Christmas Carols

      VA Hospital Negotiating to Censor Christmas Carols

      The flap over a public school choral group turned away from a Georgia VA Hospital at Christmas has taken a new twist. The Augusta Chronicle is reporting today that the hospital has a “caroling deal” in the works that would limit schools to singing only non-religious Christmas carols at the hospital.

      Five days before Christmas 2013 choral students from Alleluia Community School in Augusta were told they had to perform music other than what they prepared due to a five year old policy the hospital was enforcing that banned religious music in public areas. The story went viral as charges of first amendment abuses were levied in the media, resulting in a Congressional review of VA Christmas policies.

      Amongst the songs the group tried to perform were Silent Night, Joy to the World and O Come All Ye Faithful.

      “Military service veterans, male and female, represent people of all faiths,” hospital spokesman Brian Rothwell said in a statement. “It is out of respect for every faith that The Veterans Administration gives clear guidance on what ‘spiritual care’ is to be given and who is to give it.”

      Alleluia Community School Principal Dan Funsch said he was sad to hear that the Veterans Affairs hospital’s “spiritual care” grants holiday exemption only to Frosty, Rudolph and the secular characters that make up the 12 Days of Christmas.

      “This is not a religious proselytizing, evangelistic issue,” said Funsch, arguing that Christmas songs are broadcast during the holidays on area radio stations and in local retail outlets. “The song Joy to the World is as much a part of the holiday spirit as the Christmas tree.”

      Funsch said the peculiar part of the policy is its recent enforcement.

      Rothwell could not provide the date the VA’s ban on religious Christmas songs took effect, but Funsch said that in 2011 and 2012 his students were welcomed without hesitation at the Augusta VA’s Uptown campus as part of a yearly caroling the school does on its last day of classes before the holiday break.

      This year, however, when they arranged to sing at the medical center downtown, an official from the hospital’s volunteer services division told a high school senior that he and his classmates could perform only secular songs because of policy.

      Funsch said that because of time constraints and unfamiliarity with some of the songs provided by the VA, his high school students decided – on principle – to forgo this year’s caroling in hopes of finding a suitable location to sing their songs next year.

      The principal said his students were disappointed with the decision but glad to see their administrators stood up for what they felt was right.

      Funsch added that his middle school students were allowed to sing at Georgia Regents Medical Center with no problems.

      Other VA hospitals in other parts of the country reported other incidents of Christmas censorship, supposedly because of the policy. A Dallas area VA hospital refused Christmas cards from kids because they used the words “Merry Christmas” and “God Bless You”.

      The Congressional VA Committee was besieged with complaints but the apparent “negotiations” limiting public performance of religious-themed Christmas music only points to more of the same in VA hospitals and threatens to broaden the issue and the controversy during the 2014 Christmas season.

      It is curious to us that two public institutions oppose each other in this instance — an interesting issue that will likely, someday, end up in front of a judge.

      Georgia Christmas Bill Closer to Passage

      Georgia Christmas Bill Closer to Passage

      Another step was taken this week in Georgia where house legislators overwhelmingly approved that state’s version of the Merry Christmas Bill, which would allow for the celebration of Christmas in Georgia public schools without fear of frivolous lawsuits. One final vote in the Senate is all that is needed before the bill would go to the governor for signing.

      The Georgia House voted 119-52 to approve Senate Bill 283 Tuesday, which would allow educators to use phrases like “Merry Christmas” in schools.

      The bill also allows teachers to display traditional religious and nonreligious holiday images and greetings, as long as at least two traditions are included.

      Schools may educate students about the history of “traditional winter celebrations” according to the legislation, as well as offer “traditional greetings” regarding those celebrations such as “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Hanukkah.”

      Whether the bill will become a law will depend on at least one more vote, as the House changed some of the language of the bill, and it must go back to the Senate for approval. The Senate’s initial vote on the bill passed 43-8 on February 4th.

      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.

      Florida Christmas Display Gets Sued

      Florida Christmas Display Gets Sued

      The now famous Hyatt Extreme Christmas display is being taken to court. The City of Plantation, Florida is suing the Hyatts, calling their display a public nuisance. The family Christmas display held each year on their home property has gained fame for its holiday spirit, traffic and crowds during the season and for the ongoing feud with city officials the rest of the year.

      It appears the city of Plantation has had enough and is taking the gloves off.

      The city filed a complaint in Broward Circuit Court seeking an injunction to the “nuisance” display. The complaint, filed late Friday, called the Hyatt house in Plantation Acres a “holiday spectacle” with its “larger than life commercial size display” that takes three months to assemble. The city also said the display has a “negative impact” on the community.

      “The display is incompatible and inappropriate for a residential neighborhood,” said Mayor Diane Veltri Bendekovic. “The city considers the display to be a nuisance which must be abated to a nature and size compatible with the Hyatts’ residential neighborhood.”

      Mark Hyatt emailed council members last week stating he was “disappointed” they would pursue court action.

      “This is a Plantation tradition has done nothing but bring a positive light on our city,” he wrote. “There has never been a safety problem, only the one created by the mismanagement of last year on the city and police department part.”

      The Hyatts have been in the news constantly over this issue. The city mayor famously dubbed the conflict a local version of “Hatfields and McCoys” last year. Neighbors have testified against the Hyatts for years begging for relief from the chaos the display generates in the neighborhood.

      In emails sent to DefendChristmas.com over the course of the past three months people claiming to be neighbors have insisted they are not anti-Christmas.

      “We love Christmas just as much as the next guy,” a neighbor told us. “But Christmas is also peace and we want to enjoy that, too. They like the attention. They like the crowds. They like the media fawning over them. And that’s fine if they were located somewhere else. But they are here, in our yards, blocking our driveways and disturbing our peace. The city has to do something because the Hyatts don’t have the decency to be good neighbors.”

      The Hyatts did scale back the hours of their display and removed a moving spotlight. The city tried to convince the Hyatts to hire off-duty detail to control the crowds, but they declined. So the city placed “no parking” signs on the major street near their home; people ignored the signs, even parked under them, and then scurried to their cars when police showed.

      In December, the frustrated police chief paid three officers overtime to shut down the street to keep people from wandering in traffic to get to the Hyatts. People parked at a nearby church and made the eight-minute walk. Police Chief Howard Harrison said the city spent $5,000 for police overtime plus another $300 for crews to pick up trash afterward.

      Hyatt’s attorney, Richard Skeen of Hollywood, did not return a message left with his secretary.

      City officials said going to court was last resort, but felt compelled to take action, especially since Hyatt posted on his Facebook page in January that “we are busy planning even more fun things this year for Hyatt Extreme 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.

      House Committee Orders Review of Christmas in VA Hospitals

      House Committee Orders Review of Christmas in VA Hospitals

      The House Committee on Veterans Affairs has ordered a review of all VA policy prohibiting guests from wishing patients a Merry Christmas after four VA hospitals – including Augusta’s Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center – prevented letters, gifts and carols that contained religious phrases from being sung or delivered.

      Committee chairman, U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), has sent a letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki demanding an overview of the steps the Department of Veterans Affairs is taking to correct this “potential infringement of basic constitutional rights”, the paper reports.

      Miller said he wants to know by Monday what is being done to hold the VA employees responsible for the incidents.

      “Christmas was declared a federal holiday by our government in the 1800s, and it is not up to the department to decide whether veterans, their families, volunteers, and veterans service organizations should be free to sing Christmas carols or exchange Christmas gifts within VA facilities,” Miller said in a statement.

      The Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta recently told high school students they could not perform religious-based carols at the site.

      Media reports indicate that VA officials in Iowa City, Iowa, told American Legion representatives they could not hand out gifts to veterans if the wrapping paper included the words “Merry Christmas.”


      Read more
      .

      Media Complaints of Christmas-Too-Long Beginning

      Media Complaints of Christmas-Too-Long Beginning

      Much ado is made of Christmas too soon in America. Just as the Christmas-in-July signs come down from retailers the media begins a season they call “Christmas creep”, a three month period of whining about the presence of Christmas in the marketplace. There is a post-Christmas whine as well, though generally not as prolific. It is known as “Christmas crapping”, a period of time extending into spring when the media assails those who keep their decorations up too long.

      Christmas has always been a long season. For many, the extension of the bright colors of red, green, gold and white of Christmas are merely a means of adding cheer to the frigid gray of winter. But in different countries Christmas is genuinely celebrated more in January than in December. Russia and Slavic countries celebrate Epiphany, Puerto Rico relishes the 12 Days of Christmas and in Norway they extend it up to 20 days.

      Post Christmas in America has three stages: the post-Christmas sale, the post-Christmas blues, and post-Christmas crapping.

      For many, kicking that dried out Christmas tree to the curb on December 26th is a practice made necessary for safety’s sake alone. But for some, stripping those decked halls of all evidence of Christmas is more of a signal that the new year is fresh and the weight loss season has begun (that ends on Super Bowl Sunday, TV rules the American observance of all holidays). Once those houses have been de-Christmasfied it is time to hit the stores to buy….more Christmas stuff at deep discounts.

      Much of the media made note that the first Monday after the New Year is always the most depressing day of the year. The holidays are over, it’s cold, there are bills to pay and work to be done. This kicks in the post-Christmas blues — genuine regret that the fun and frivolity of the holidays are over. For some, the blues last as long as a day or two and for others it can extend weeks.

      But things get really ugly when post-Christmas crapping begins. This part of the year round cycle of Christmas starts just as January as ending, as neighbors and maybe even “concerned” city councils look askance at those still displaying Christmas displays outside. Letters to the editor, newspaper opinion pieces and aired commentary at the end of local broadcast news will generally fill their dead space with expressions that “It’s time for Christmas to be put away.”

      By Ground Hog’s day the critics are all claws and venom. The media by then will be openly disdainful of neighbor-on-neighbor rifts about Christmas stuff left up and out too long. For some, it may even end up in court. And the media gives a play-by-play of these events well past the month of March and into the Easter season.

      Already a New Jersey media outlet is asking…when should those Christmas decorations come down?

      Let the Christmas Crapping begin.