Elkhart School Blinks, Adds Kwanzaa to Christmas Spectacular

Elkhart School Blinks, Adds Kwanzaa to Christmas Spectacular

The widely reported case of a high school sued by the Freedom from Religion Foundation for performing a production with a live Nativity has taken a new twist. In an announcement to local media the school now says the Bible verses previously used in the production have been removed and replaced with historical references to Kwanzaa and Hanukkah. The live Nativity stays, making the event “consistent” with other legally allowed events associated with public schools, according to a local attorney.

The case has been one of the rare events where a school refused to back down on their production and face the FFRF in court — until now. Reactions to the moves on social media have been mixed.

“I see nothing wrong with including Hanukkah and Kwanza I think it brings unity to the season.” writes Debbie Barden.

Richard Dick Trowbridge takes exception. “Apparently Mr. Wheeler has not read the Constitution, and has caved into the demands of the bullies that want to force Christianity out of our culture. The School should hire a real attorney who understands the Constitution. You have never needed to have equal representation of other religions or their history at a Christian presentation. Government can support religion but not interfere in the Free exercise of that religious experience.” Educate yourselves it is your Freedoms that are at stake.”

Some are predicting more kids than ever are now going to drop from participating in the program because of the changes.

Georgia Non-Profit Bans Christmas Trees as a Religious Symbol

Georgia Non-Profit Bans Christmas Trees as a Religious Symbol

A 22-year tradition in Georgia is no more — and all because the governing board of a non-profit believes a Christmas tree is a religious symbol.

The annual “Light Up Dunwoody” Christmas event has been canceled and now moved from Dunwoody, GA — located a short distance north east of Atlanta.

The event was sponsored by the Dunwoody Homeowner’s Association and is usually held at the preservation trust’s farm house. In addition to lighting the Christmas tree this year, the homeowners association wanted to light a six foot menorah.

“We were concerned about putting the menorah on the lawn,“ said Melanie Williams of the Dunwoody Preservation Trust. “We really wanted to be inclusive of everyone. We didn’t want to display things that would reflect exclusivity.”

They made the request last year for the menorah but was denied then because of short notice. So they requested early this year and ended up losing not only the menorah but now the Christmas tree — and that’s because the board somehow feels the Christmas tree is a religious symbol.

Williams said the board didn’t want to exclude any member of the community so it decided to ban all non-secular symbols. In a statement released to local media the board asks that the homeowners association move the tree somewhere else. Absent from the statement was the admission that the Christmas tree was the dominating feature of the event.

The homeowners association president, Robert Wittenstein, said he’s disappointed in the Preservation Trust’s decision and has decided to move the event elsewhere.

“It’s hard for us to reconcile a desire not to have the Christmas tree because its potentially a religious symbol, but welcome Santa and the reindeer,” said Wittenstein.

In a rather funny twist to this story the Preservation Trust board didn’t want publicity over the disagreement and local media reports they made threats against the home owners association if bad publicity was the result. Looks like someone will have to make good on those threats.

It would be important to note that at no time in this debate has there been raised the issue of Church versus State. This is a case of pure religious exclusion and discrimination by the Preservation Trust. In their effort to be inclusive they have managed to say that religion is to be excluded simply because it is religion.

Perhaps someone should educate the Preservation Trust about what the Supreme Court says about the Christmas tree — that it is NOT a religious symbol.

That simple knowledge could resolve this whole situation.

Spain Abandons Black Face Tradition

Spain Abandons Black Face Tradition

The issue of black-faced whites portraying Christmas characters in parades and seasonal festivities is not limited to the Netherlands. After years of controversy government officials in Madrid say that any future depiction of King Balthazar in Spain will be portrayed by a black person. In years past the part has been played by a white individual with a blackened face. Spanish tradition in Madrid includes a parade in which the three Wisemen are shown.

“This change is much more than just anecdotal,” Socialist city councillor Mar Espinar said on Wednesday. Her party has spent years championing changes to the event. “Given the increasingly large community of colour in our city, it seems absurd that this role continues to be represented by a person with their face blackened.”

Over in the Dutch capital of The Hague meanwhile, the education board said elementary schools would no longer use Santa helpers with painted black faces, another holiday tradition that had caused considerable offence.

The move, which came after the United Nations called last month for the “Black Pete” practice to be modified to avoid reflecting negative stereotypes, is the broadest measure against the practice, and will affect more than 160 schools, Reuters reported.

A majority of Dutch people reject any suggestion that Black Pete, typically played by white people in blackface, is racist. But many others disagree. Starting this year, schools in The Hague will begin phasing out the use of blackface, curly hair wigs and red painted lips, with the changes to be completed within three years. They will be replaced with visually neutral Santa servants.

It would be important to note that while Spain and other Catholic dominated societies enjoy the tradition of Three Kings Day the Bible doesn’t actually mention how many of the Magi there were or what their ethnicity might be. The names of Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar are nowhere to be found in Christian scripture. Many places around the world show the Wisemen at the Nativity but the Bible says they actually did not show until the Christ child was likely more than 2 years old.

Christmas Banned in Brunei

Christmas Banned in Brunei

If you dress like Santa in Brunei the government there has one message: no Christmas for you. Oil-rich Brunei has officially banned all public celebrations of Christmas, announced its Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Businesses that publicly displayed Christmas decorations were also asked to take them down and the ministry confirmed receiving their “full cooperation” on it.

The move follows Brunei’s wealthy Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah’s announcement last April on the introduction of a new Islamic penal code making it the first East Asian country to ever introduce Islamic criminal law.

Under the new law, Brunei’s Muslim residents will face prosecution by Islamic courts for offences, including pregnancy outside marriage, failure to perform Friday prayers, and propagating other religions, reported Reuters.

Starting this April, offences like theft and alcohol consumption by Muslims, will be punishable by whipping and amputations, and death penalty by stoning is also to be introduced in the next phase for offences like adultery, sodomy and insulting the Quran or the Prophet Muhammed.

In response to queries on the new ban, a spokesman quoted a 27 December ministry statement on The Brunei Times that condemned any public act of celebrating non-Islamic rituals as they, “can be seen as propagations of religions other than Islam.”

The statement further said, reported The Brunei Times: “Believers of other religions that live under the rule of an Islamic country – according to Islam – may practise their religion or celebrate their religious festivities among their community, with the condition that the celebrations are not disclosed or displayed publicly to Muslims.

“Muslims should be careful not to follow celebrations such as these that are not in any way related to Islam, for it is feared that this could lead to tasyabbuh (imitation) and could unknowingly damage the aqidah (faith) of Muslims.”

Town Thumbs Nose at FFRF

Town Thumbs Nose at FFRF

Once again the FFRF is claiming that an anonymous citizen is complaining to them about their rights being violated when a city puts up a Nativity scene. But this time a city in Indiana is saying, “Oh yeah? Put up or shut up.” Brookville, Indiana received a letter threatening a lawsuit for their Nativity display from the FFRF. They have received a letter every year since 2010 when the FFRF claimed they were contacted by a citizen.

That’s the odd consistency about the Freedom from Religion Foundation. Rarely do these “citizens” they are suing for contact local city councils or authorities about their complaints. It is often anonymously done. The FFRF will send a letter threatening lawsuit and the city, county or school who receives the letter will back down or change. Nobody needs the expense of lawyers.

But there’s a stubborn streak in Brookville.

Wayne Monroe decided to put the scene on a trailer a few years ago and volunteers to set it up every year.

“There was just a group of us at the coffee shop one day that said “well, let’s go build it,” said Monroe who says he’s never had one complaint about it.

“As far as I know, the town is 110% for it,” said Monroe.

Then came the FFRF letters.

“Tell them to take a bill out of their wallet and look on the back of it. It says In God We Trust,” says Monroe.

In response to the controversy, the community has put up nativity scenes all over town including street corners, roofs and even the local grocery store. IGA store manager in Brookville Jim Singer says he hasn’t received any complaints either.

“It’s always been a Christian community and everybody just gets into it and rallies the support when somebody says you can’t do that,” said Singer.

“I don’t understand why people are getting so offended by this. It doesn’t matter what religion you are you should respect everybody,” said Francis Yee, a 16 year Brookville resident.

The FFRF isn’t saying what they are going to do about it. For four years all they have done is send threatening letters. And they have made their case on their website — still dated 2010.