Elf Trouble in Boston Schools

Elf Trouble in Boston Schools

Such a sad tale of woe. A Boston-area parent, Deborah Seri, logged a complaint with the Superintendent of schools in Milford, Massachusetts because her daughter was exposed to an Elf on the Shelf in her classroom.

“My daughter was the only one in the class who didn’t celebrate Christmas,” Seri said. “It made her feel awkward; it made her feel like she was the only one.”

So the school board responded by promising to take a look at district policy regarding Christmas decorations, symbols, and displays in public schools.

This comes only after having changed the policy just last summer. Among the new restrictions: Religious symbols or displays were not permitted in public spaces, in spaces visible from the outside of the school, or on teacher-generated materials, except those related to curriculum on religion or culture.

That Elf on the Shelf, you know, is such a world-wide religious symbol.

Now they are going at it again this summer. And nobody, it seems, is happy.

Gee, we wonder why.

Last Christmas, staff in the school district was paranoid about what they could and could not do during the holidays. Cafeteria workers at a high school circulated a petition in December to fight for holiday decorations in the cafeteria — annual decorations that were now prohibited. So many people complained, in fact, that the school board promised to take up the policy again this summer.

The district has come up with an even more restrictive policy proposal this time around.

Committee member Scott Harrison said during the May meeting that Milford is a town of religious diversity and that a policy like the one facing approval is not inclusive of minority religions, but rather exclusive of all religions.

“This seems to be a solution in search of a problem. I understand that there has been, at least to my knowledge, a complaint that has come through, and I get that and we want to be respectful,” he said. “This seems to have a lot of exclusionary language that goes along with it.”

The policy, Harrison said, is too open to interpretation about what constitutes a religious symbol or religious holiday.

In other words, all anyone has to do is claim that ANY symbol favors a certain religion — and all hell will break loose. Even though the Supreme Court has said time and time again that Santa, snowmen, Christmas trees and other such iconic elements of Christmas are, in fact, secular the new policy in Milford would make anything — the color RED — an offense.

People on both sides of the argument do agree — this policy would effectively ban Santa Claus.

And that would push Milford to the forefront of the War on Christmas in 2017.

Someone would take that to court.

And Milford would lose in court.

Watch how fast things change once the threat of lawsuits and money gets involved.

Then you’ll see real principled action.

It happens every time.

Indiana Town Cowers from Bullying ACLU

Indiana Town Cowers from Bullying ACLU

It is a familiar Christmas story in America: a community adopts a symbol of the season — a Nativity, a tree or something similar — then the city gets threatened. Fearing a costly public battle city officials quickly give in. This time it is Knightstown, Indiana and the symbol is a cross atop a city Christmas tree. The ALCU calls that “establishment of a state religion”.

According to several media reports Knightstown resident Joseph Tompkins argues that the Christian symbol on display in the Knightstown town square violates the First Amendment. The lawsuit is seeking for removal of the cross, monetary damages and declaration that the cross display violates the First Amendment.

Tompkins, and the ACLU, agree that the cross is offensive and “forcing” religion on those who don’t want it. What they want is money and to force EVERYONE in Knightstown to believe as Tompkins believes. In essence, if this case is won by the ACLU Knighstown will be forced to be atheist.

Nobody will see it that way, of course.

The community has responded as you would expect. Crosses are suddenly everywhere.

But this will end as it always ends. The cross comes down. There will be no court case. And yet another sad chapter in misreading the Constitution will be written.

The suit says Tompkins “is forced to come into direct and unwelcome contact” with the cross on top of the tree as he drives through town. This, the suit says, has caused him “irreparable harm,” which can only be remedied by taking the cross down and paying Tompkins monetary damages.

The only “irreparable harm” comes from an elected City council that won’t stand up for itself and for the people it represents. They should counter sue for damages caused by all the publicity and take it to the ACLU. Hit them where they live — in the pocketbook.

It’s the American way.

When Did Santa Become a Religious Figure?

When Did Santa Become a Religious Figure?

For the second time this year Santa has been booted from a public school for being “too religious”. This time a high school in Hillsboro, Oregon sent its staff a memo stating that Santa wouldn’t be allowed:

We will not be holding a door decorating contest this year. You may still decorate your door or office if you like, but we ask that you be respectful and sensitive to the diverse perspectives and beliefs of our community and refrain from using religious-themed decorations or images like Santa Claus.

When did Santa Claus become religious? Do people pray to Santa? Is he some kind of prophet? Is he a savior, a god or even a member of the clergy?

The Supreme Court ruled way back in the 1980s that Santa Claus is a secular figure. That means he’s NOT religious.

St. Nicholas is a religious figure — but he was just a priest. Not a prophet, a savior or a pope. But Santa Claus is none of those things.

Santa Claus lives at the North Pole. He flies in a sleigh pulled by reindeer. I can’t believe we need to cover this stuff.

But this Oregon high school is no different than the South Carolina PTA board that banned Santa earlier this year — for the same “religious” reasons.

How much more evidence will you require to see that the phony “war on Christmas” is really just a war on religion?

South Carolina PTA Boots Santa for Being Religious

South Carolina PTA Boots Santa for Being Religious

Here we go: another absurd, ill-informed and sadly wrong PTA has kicked Santa Claus from school pictures at a public school in South Carolina.

The reason? Because they want kids of all religious backgrounds to be included in the pictures. Santa is being replaced by a “winter wonderland” scene.

Santa is religious?

Show me where Santa is in the Bible, will you? Tell me where Santa has ever given a sermon, said a prayer or uttered a religious thought.

The Supreme Court LONG AGO declared Santa — and Rudolph and Frosty and other characters of Christmas — SECULAR.

Don’t mistaken this for mere political correctness. This is BLATANT religious discrimination. What the PTA in this school is doing is saying “If it can be remotely associated with Christianity, we’ll ban it.” That’s what this is.

It isn’t a War on Christmas. It is a War on Christians.

Get this right. Pictures of the kids are not taken with Jesus. Not a cross either. For years they have done it with SANTA CLAUS. Now they are saying Santa is “too religious”.

That’s an attack, folks.

According to the media reports there have only been mixed reactions to this news.

We don’t believe that for one second. People should be OUTRAGED.

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.

Veteran Hospitals May Allow Christmas Carols and Trees

Veteran Hospitals May Allow Christmas Carols and Trees

Christmas in veteran hospitals has been an issue for a couple of years now. From Georgia to Arizona VA hospitals have been in the news for banning Christmas carols performed by visiting high school choirs and in some cases for refusing the use of a Christmas tree in the facility because they viewed it as a religious symbol. Now the VA is working in advance of the holidays to skip the controversy this year by outlining the rules for Christmas in VA hospitals.

The new rules allow for Christmas in designated areas and local VA officials are instructed to remain neutral regarding what is presented there.

“No one should try to water down Christmas for our veterans just because they object to any religious references or items. I am most grateful that the VA has clarified their policy prior to the upcoming holidays,” Chaplain Ron Crews, a retired Army Reserve colonel, said Sept. 21.

“This should make clear that churches may sing Christmas carols and distribute Christmas cards at VA hospitals,” Chaplain Crews continued. “The guidelines state that hospital administrators may allow this and provide reasonable guidance as to where displays may be set up and where and how long a church choir may sing.”

At play here, once again, is a misguided interpretation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, which forbids a state sponsored religion. Past local officials viewed any type of Christmas singing, displays or decorations as a violation of that clause.

Of course, it is a gross exaggeration. No way does a Christmas tree establish a religion. And no way does the VA represent Congress nor the ability to pass a law “establishing” a religion.

The VA incidents are nothing more than yet another assault on Religious Freedom. The goal of progressives is to write religion completely out of the public dialogue by banning it altogether. By extension, they “establish” a “state religion” of atheism.

Of course, there will be those who call that an extreme view. But forcing belief is forcing belief — even when they DON’T use a tree to do it.

The struggle continues.

Federal Court Rules in Favor of High School Nativity Scene

Federal Court Rules in Favor of High School Nativity Scene

One of the biggest skirmishes in the 2015 War on Christmas has taken an unexpected turn as a federal court ruled in favor of an Indiana high school’s inclusion of a static Nativity scene in their annual Christmas concert.

Both the ACLU and the Freedom from Religion Foundation brought the suit against the school when they say they were contacted by a local resident who complained about it. The annual production has been a tradition in the community of Elkhart, Indiana for years without complaint.

As the suit was brought forward officials at Concord High School scrambled to make what they felt should have been acceptable changes by adding Hanukkah and Kwanzaa songs and changing the controversial Nativity scene from a live production to static images. But the FFRF in particular balked noting that the Nativity scene and depiction of Jesus Christ were “…coercive, representing an endorsement of religion by the high school and the school corporation, having no secular purpose and has the principal purpose and effect of advancing religion.”

The court ruled that the changes to the production of the Nativity scene did not in fact constitute a violation of the Constitution’s establishment clause.

This debate seems silly to almost anyone who has even read the Constitution. The so-called “Establishment Clause” forbids Congress from establishing a state religion. A high school is not Congress and showing a Nativity scene does not establish anything.

But America has fallen into a trap of political correctness when it comes to cases like these. Because a school is a government run operation the assumption is that if a school depicts or participates in anything religious it is a violation of the Establishment Clause.

The FFRF has threatened schools and school districts nationwide for several years now working to get not only Nativity scenes but even the most remotely religious Christmas carols of antiquity banned from public schools. In most cases, school districts have opted to comply rather than to fight costly lawsuits.

The case is ongoing and the local school district is still facing possible fines for Nativity scenes depicted in previous productions dating back nearly five decades.

Christmas Break Proposal Includes Blast Against Atheists

Christmas Break Proposal Includes Blast Against Atheists

An Omaha, Nebraska school board member raised eyebrows with his rant against atheists in a classic argument of whether the December off-time of students should be called Winter Break or Christmas Break.

“I’m getting a little bit tired of a minute minority in this country that keeps pushing Christmas out, keeps pushing God out, keeps pushing Christ out, when the majority is still a Judeo-Christian country,” Paul Meyer, a Millard school board member, said. “I would like to make a motion that we rename this period ‘Christmas break,’ and those atheists who don’t like it can crawl back into their hellhole because I for one will not put my lord, my god aside for a few atheists.”

Nobody supported Meyer’s outburst — or proposal.

For several years school boards across the country have grappled with how to name calendar break periods given the growing diversity of their student populations. What made this event noteworthy was that the school district made the change to “Winter Break” years ago — and little has been said about it since. There is little to support a change and Meyers appeared to be acting out of personal beliefs.

Omaha-area atheists, naturally, took offense and exception at the outburst.

“His bigoted language, telling atheists to ‘crawl back into their hellhole,’ attempts to discredit the broad range of people who support keeping government out of religion,” said Tom Gray, president of the group Omaha Atheists, who has children in the Millard school district. “If he believes we are literally pitchfork-wielding demons, then we are concerned for his grasp on reality.”

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.

Another Nativity Comes Down in Arkansas

Another Nativity Comes Down in Arkansas

Same story, different state. For four decades the nativity in Baxter County Arkansas was a holiday tradition that went up without complaint. All of a sudden a judge rules it unconstitutional.

Baxter County, Arkansas, home to about 45,000 people in the northern part of the state, was ordered to remove the nativity display after a hearing on a suit brought by county resident Dessa Blackthorn and the American Humanist Association. The suit claimed the county and county Judge Mickey Pendergrass had allowed the Christian nativity display to remain at the courthouse while denying requests from other groups.

Blackthorn said Pendergrass denied her request to put a “Happy Winter Solstice” banner near the display.

The display is owned and erected each year by a local attorney. In 2014, the county leased the small piece of land where the nativity now sits to a local chamber of commerce for $1.

In their December 2014 suit, Blackthorn and AHA had asked the county to either allow displays from other faiths – or no faiths at all – or remove the nativity scene. The county maintained the plaintiffs lacked standing in the case since they have not suffered any injury from the nativity.

In his order, U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks ordered that Baxter County must either “refrain from placing any religiously sectarian seasonal display on the courthouse grounds” or “create a public forum on the courthouse grounds for a seasonal display open to persons of all faiths as well as of no faith at all, without discrimination on the basis of viewpoint.”

The AHA is celebrating the ruling with a pin-the-nose-on-Rudolph party at headquarters while sticking voo-doo pins in Baby Jesus dolls.

Minnesota City Sells Nativity Scene Rather Than Fight Lawsuit

Minnesota City Sells Nativity Scene Rather Than Fight Lawsuit

The FFRF threatened to sue — and no one even put up a fight. It is an old and familiar story. The city of Wadena, Minnesota has for years displayed a Nativity in a local park. They even had a lighted archway illuminating the path to the scene.

Last year Wadena resident Tyler Rud brought the issue to the attention of the Wisconsin-based organization Freedom From Religion Foundation. They wrote a letter threatening to sue the city on the basis that they feel the display is unconstitutional and that it violates the separation of Church and State (though there is no “law” they can cite that was broken).

The city council replied to the letter by saying they would take the display down and decide on the matter before Christmas this year. That meeting was this week.

Residents of the city showed up to speak out in support of the display. In fact, not ONE single person spoke out against it. The city council offered several options as a course of action. They spoke out fervently against having to get rid of the display.

Then they simply voted to do so. They opted to sell the display for $25 to a local ministerial association, who has promised to display the Nativity on private property this year.

We have been unable to confirm reports that the residents of Wadena have unloaded and boxed up their firearms, turned over 100% of their paychecks and baptized themselves into the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

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.

Sometimes Christmas Lights Go Too Far

Sometimes Christmas Lights Go Too Far

FoxNews is reporting a new light fight in the early War on Christmas 2015. In the little town of Hayley, Idaho a man who traditionally erects an epic light display reportedly received a letter from his homeowner’s association telling him that his display would be offensive to non-Christians.

We get behind most of these stories but on this one we smell a rat.

First of all, the man’s display does sound like it would be a problem in just about any neighborhood. In addition to turning night into day with thousands of lights the display of Jeremy Morris includes a 22-voice choir and a live Nativity featuring Dolly the Camel.

Second of all, this is a new resident bound by an agreement with a home owner’s association. Have you ever signed a contract with a home owner’s association? Basically you waive most of your property rights when you do so. Any kind of exterior decorating will fall under the jurisdiction of association. That is just common sense.

“Your event will be offensive to the senses and will interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of your neighbors’ private property rights,” an attorney representing the home owner’s association evidently told the Morris’.

Of course, Morris uses all the usual and very valid arguments of religious freedom.

But we’re skeptical in cases like this. Just as with the Hyatt Extreme Christmas display in Florida we tend to simply take the WWJD approach to these issues and declare that real Christians are good neighbors first.

Dolly the Camel does not seem like a good fit in a typical residential neighborhood.

Portland Schools Kill Christmas Performances After FFRF Threat

Portland Schools Kill Christmas Performances After FFRF Threat

The threatening letters from FFRF continue to swamp school districts around the country.

The Blaze is reporting today that several schools in Portland, Oregon will now back out from performing at a choral festival called Grotto’s Christmas Festival of Lights, a traditional event the schools have participated in for years. The Grotto is evidently sponsored by the Catholic Church.

As usual, the FFRF claims a student complained to them — continuing an amazing trend of anonymous complaints that nobody can identify.

While Portland schools caved quickly others are taking up the fight. In Elkhart, Indiana a school district claimed performance and attendance at these events were optional and thus not a violation of any law. They appear willing to go to court over the matter.

Expect a lot more schools to fall victim to FFRF complaints and threats of lawsuits.