Fight for Christmas in Marshfield Persists

Fight for Christmas in Marshfield Persists

A simple school calendar change has erupted into a protracted battle. The school board, despite public outcry, changed from “Christmas break” to “Holiday Break” months ago — and the public keeps fighting back.

“There are signs all over town: ‘There’s Still a Christmas,’ ‘Bring Back Christmas.’ There’s some little kids in town picking up on this and wondering if Santa is going to come to their house,” said attorney Dennis Scollins, the Marshfield School Committee’s longest-serving member and one of two who stood up for St. Nick when the board voted 3-2 on Sept. 9 to replace “Christmas” with “holiday” for the Dec. 24 to ?Jan. 2 vacation.

More than 4,245 signatures collected by a pro-Noel petition drive prompted the special meeting at 8 p.m.

Board chairwoman Marti Morrison said she “loves Christmas” but led the charge to scrub the calendar and is now being assailed around town as “the Grinch” because of it.

“Supposedly our whole country is based on religious freedom,” Morrison said. “I certainly appreciate when people feel very strongly about their religious background, but as a School Committee member, my job is to make decisions I believe are in the best interest of our town.”

In a heavily Irish Catholic town, Morrison said, “The world around us looks very different than Marshfield. We want our students to be open to differences.”

Pro-“holiday” voter Carol Shrand, the board’s vice-chair, said, “This is really about using inclusive language that reflects the diversity of faiths here in Marshfield. We take an oath to serve all our students and each and every one of them needs to feel welcome, included and represented.”

Elaine Taylor, whose children are now grown, has been the driving force behind the resurrection of Christmas vacation. Her backers will be hitting the streets today holding signs and playing Christmas carols, as well as lighting up the phone lines, reminding supporters to turn out tonight.

Massachusetts School PTA Agonizes Over Questionable Content of The Nutcracker

Massachusetts School PTA Agonizes Over Questionable Content of The Nutcracker

Butler Elementary School of Belmont, Massachusetts has a tradition of sending students to see The Nutcracker. They have done it for decades.

But the PTA there purportedly received complaints from “some parents” that The Nutcracker had “questionable content”.

What would that questionable content be? Religion? A Christmas tree?

Some parents of the second graders, who didn’t want to appear on camera, told 7News that they’re also upset because PTA leaders secretly cancelled the field trip without telling anyone, but word spread.

PTA Co-President Barbara Bulfoni said, “In the past years there were parents complaints as ‘The Nutcracker’ has a religious content. I think we clarified with the parents.”

Some of the parents that pushed back against the decision are happy they won but are concerned it’ll come up again next year.

Figures it was Massachusetts, where there is a loon in every school.

For more on this absurdity, see this link.

2nd Grader Wants to Pass Out Candy Canes Again

2nd Grader Wants to Pass Out Candy Canes Again

Advocates for Faith & Freedom has filed a request for a preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Wednesday, November 12th 2014. The injunction, if granted, will prohibit the West Covina Unified School District from stopping seven-year-old Isaiah Martinez from passing out candy canes to his classmates with the candy cane legend attached during the Christmas season.

Last Christmas, Isaiah Martinez took Christmas gifts intended for his first grade teacher and classmates at Merced Elementary in the West Covina Unified School District. Each gift consisted of a traditional candy cane with a message attached that recited the legend of the candy cane. The legend references a candy maker who created the candy cane to symbolize the life of Jesus Christ.

When Isaiah brought his Christmas gift to school, his teacher took possession of the candy canes. At the direction of the school principal, the teacher instructed Isaiah that “Jesus is not allowed in school” and she removed the candy cane messages from each candy cane, threw the messages in the trash, and handed the candy canes back to Isaiah for delivery to his classmates. Isaiah then nervously handed the candy canes to his classmates in fear that he was in trouble for trying to bring a little Christmas cheer and “good tidings” to class.

The case is already in federal court after the parents of Isaiah Martinez felt the school violated their son’s right to freedom of religious speech.

Robert Tyler, lawyer and General Counsel, explained their decision to file a federal law suit saying, “the school has neglected to correct its actions, and after exhausting all options to avoid a lawsuit we were left with no choice but to file a complaint in federal court. We are asking the court to protect Isaiah’s rights and the rights of others like him from having their religious speech censored. Students do not shed their First Amendment rights just because they enter into a classroom.”

In January the story garnered attention from major news outlets including Fox, Univision, and NBC.

Attorney James A. Long, legal counsel with Advocates explains the injunction is necessary “because the West Covina Unified School District has made clear that the only theology allowed in the classroom is the government’s theology, it has given every indication that it will again prohibit Isaiah from passing out the candy cane legend at his school’s holiday party in the name of ‘religious neutrality,’ Isaiah’s constitutional rights will be violated again this year unless the Federal Court grants Advocates’ request for a preliminary injunction.”

Advocates claims the school has no legally viable reason for suppression of the speech, such as disruption, profanity or vulgarity or evidence that the schools conduct would be seen as advocating a particular religion.

Maryland Schools Ban All Holidays After Muslim Request

Maryland Schools Ban All Holidays After Muslim Request

All schools in Montgomery County Maryland will have no religiously named holidays on their school calendars for the 2015-16 school year after a request for inclusion by Muslim activists was denied.

Muslim community leaders have been asking Montgomery school officials for years to close schools for at least one of the two major Muslim holidays.

It is unclear how many Muslim students attend Montgomery schools, but in 2013, Muslim community leaders urged Muslim families and their supporters to keep students home for Eid ­al-Adha, hoping that the number of absentees would be persuasive as they made their case for a school closing. Montgomery school officials reported that absences for that day — 5.6 percent of students and 5 percent of teachers — were only somewhat higher than a comparable day the previous week.

In response, Montgomery’s Board of Education voted 7 to 1 Tuesday to eliminate references to all religious holidays including Christmas, Easter, Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah.

But Tuesday’s outcome was not at all what Muslim leaders intended. They called the decision a surprise — and a glaring mistake.

“By stripping the names Christmas, Easter, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, they have alienated other communities now, and we are no closer to equality,” said Saqib Ali, a former Maryland state delegate and co-chair of the Equality for Eid Coalition. “It’s a pretty drastic step, and they did it without any public notification.”

Colorado School District Sued for Participating in Christian Charities

Colorado School District Sued for Participating in Christian Charities

Last week the American Humanist Association (AHA) filed a lawsuit claiming that officials from various schools in the Douglas County (Colorado) School District used their official positions to endorse and sponsor two Christian evangelical missions groups, Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child and Adventures in Missions, and their proselytizing efforts.

The lawsuit alleges that a number of Douglas County Schools violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by participating in an Operation Christmas Child event during their annual canned-food drives.

Operation Christmas Child is a charity mission run by Samaritan’s Purse, which is an evangelical organization under the direction of Franklin Graham. Volunteers can donate shoeboxes filled with small gifts to be distributed to children in need in underprivileged nations.

Adventures in Missions, is an organization that plans and organizes missions trips all over the world. Two Douglas County schools were alleged to have wrongly participated in an Adventures in Missions trip to Guatemala.

In a statement issued to The Christian Post, Randy Riddle, Domestic Director for Operation Christmas Child, said that the operation is available to all who want to donate shoeboxes, and that includes public school students and teachers.

“Our purpose is to show God’s love in a tangible way to needy children around the world. We do this by distributing millions of shoebox gifts to hurting kids to let them know that they are not forgotten,” the statement said. “Operation Christmas Child is open to anyone who chooses to participate in this Christmas project.”

The AHA maintains that the school officials’ involvement Christian ministries suggest that the schools favor Christianity over the other religions.

“The public school district seems to be on a mission to promote Christianity, using taxpayer dollars for evangelical and missionary purposes,” legal director of AHA’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center, David Noise, said in a press release. “As state entities, public schools must educate students in a neutral environment, not push one particular religious belief.”

The lawsuit specifically mentions the efforts of teachers and principles of Sky View Academy and claims they endorsed the proselytizing message of the Operation Christmas Child. Children that receive shoeboxes from Operation Christmas Child also receive an evangelizing booklet entitled “The Greatest Gift of All.”

The lawsuit also claims that for the last few years two other area schools, Chaparral High School and Flagstone Elementary School, participated in Operation Christmas Child, along with Sky View Academy.

The lawsuit notes an email was sent to staff of Chaparral High from a social studies teacher in charge of the school’s canned food drive that indicated incentive for kids to participate in Operation Christmas Child.

As for the case of the push for participation with Adventures in Missions, the lawsuit also specifically points out that in March of 2014, Cougar Run Elementary School and Highland Ranch High School’s sponsored a mission trip to Guatemala that was organized by Adventures in Missions. The trip was also sponsored by the schools’ Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

The suit also claims that two teachers from Highlands Ranch went on the trip with students and engaged in evangelical activities and also had dinner with a pastor and his wife.

The lawsuit claims that Cougar Run Elementary donated proceeds from its school newspaper to support the trip to Guatemala. The school told parents that the trip was connected to the school’s sixth grade Latin American social studies curriculum.

“This effort was born out of desire for our sixth grade students to make real-world connections with their Latin American social studies curriculum,” a flyer states, which was passed out by Cougar Run officials to students and parents regarding the donation effort supporting the Guatemala trip.