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?

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.

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.

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.

FFRF Begins Annual Assault on Christmas Music in Schools

FFRF Begins Annual Assault on Christmas Music in Schools

Talk about Christmas creep: the calendar just turned to September but already the Freedom From Religion Foundation is looking to impose it’s beliefs on everyone by suing a school for performing traditional Christmas carols. According to local media in Elkhart, Indiana the FFRF has claimed someone from the local community complained to them (it is NEVER to a local school board) about the traditional Christmas concert put on by Concord High School. They are threatening to sue on behalf of this individual.

As usual, the complainer is never identified. He or she may not even exist.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter last week to Superintendent John Trout calling the celebration “illegal” and “inappropriate,” and called on the district to ensure religious themes are not included in the 2015 holiday concert. And the organization said it will consider legal action against the district if the scene is repeated this holiday season.

The FFRF does this every year beginning around this time and continuing through the Christmas season. Some school districts immediately change concert plans while others make more of a fuss. It is too early to tell which way school officials at Concord High will respond.

The Christmas concert of Concord High is quite the tradition. It is a two hour program that usually features a mostly secular program of traditional holiday songs. But the climax of the program, usually the last fifteen minutes, features a nativity depiction on stage with songs such as “We Three Kings” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” being performed.

For now, school officials have only responded with this terse statement:

Recently, Concord Community Schools received a letter from the Madison, Wisconsin based Freedom From Religion Foundation questioning an aspect of one of the high school music department’s performances. As in past dealings with Concord Schools, that foundation provided copies of its letter to the local media before school administrators were able to review the letter. It is a long standing practice of Concord Schools to not publicly comment on concerns, valid or invalid, initially raised by students, parents, or patrons to the media instead of first addressing them with school administrators. Rest assured that Concord Schools routinely reviews all of its programs, curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular, to ensure not only compliance with legal and financial standards, but also the educational goals of the school corporation. Consistent with its past practice, Concord Schools will have no further public comment concerning the letter received from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Clearly the battle lines have been drawn. An event takes place like this every year thanks to the FFRF. We’ll see how this one turns out.

Michigan Town Wants to Donate Giant Nativity After Threats

Michigan Town Wants to Donate Giant Nativity After Threats

Small-town America is under assault from out-of-state threats of lawsuits and it is changing the way locals celebrate Christmas. Grand Haven, Michigan has for more than 50 years placed a giant nativity scene on a prominent local hill every holiday season — without complaint.

But the city received a threat of a lawsuit from a Washington DC activist group called Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. Now the city is getting rid of the nativity and closing off the hill from all public displays.

This is not your average nativity scene. Pieces of the collection are as tall as 18-feet and made of porcelain.

An annual Christmas attraction for many local families, the Giant Nativity Scene has other local historical ties, Radtke noted.

“It was manufactured locally by Challenge Porcelain,” he said. “It’s a part of local history, so it is something that we should preserve.”

A local museum has been asked to accept the collection and perhaps work with other local groups in displaying it each year. It won’t go on the hill and the city would not be able to have a part in the tradition.

A for the cost of a threatened lawsuit.

And we note: separation of Church and State is STILL not in the Constitution.

La Jolla Anti-Christmas Parade in the Works

La Jolla Anti-Christmas Parade in the Works

The City of La Jolla, California — a ritzy-titzy suburb of San Diego — may opt for an anti-Christmas parade to be held on December 13th as an alternative to the city’s nearly six decade old Christmas parade, scheduled to be held the week before. Each year protester and anti-faith crusader Howard Singer claims the Christmas parade is not inclusive enough of the overall community and too flush with churches. The new parade will be called the La Jolla Community Parade.

We’ve seen this before — in the city of Omaha, Nebraska. A competing parade to the city’s annual Christmas event was established when protesters claimed it was “too Christian”. The competition between the two events made national media attention. Eventually the two parades merged when it was agreed to keep the word “Christmas” as part of the event.

The City of La Jolla claims organizers of the parade may be presuming too much. Without commenting on the clearly anti-Christian slant of the event the city says organizers are jumping the gun and skipping the process put in place to approve of such events.

Business owner Nancy Warwick has reservations. “We have a lot of street closures in La Jolla and the Christmas Parade is challenging for the businesses because parking is a huge issue. It’s a parade for the community so many businesses, including myself, support it for one business day.” She said it would be “shocking” to her to have her business lose accessibility two Sundays in a row during the peak holiday shopping season.

While the city of La Jolla works out the details you can bet media eyes will be on San Diego come December while they anxiously wait to see who supports the new parade effort in politically correct California.

The biggest question is if the parade at all will feature Christmas. It is expected to draw atheists, Satanists, LGBT activists, environmentalists and politicians.

Stay classy, La Jolla. You’re about to become the next big spectacle in the war on Christmas.

Christmas on Minds of Lawmakers

Christmas on Minds of Lawmakers

Tis the season for extending the reach of Merry Christmas legislation in two more states — Arkansas and Indiana. The state senate in Indiana passed their version of the Merry Christmas Bill earlier this week and a nearly identical measure has just been introduced in Arkansas by Representative Justin T. Harris.

Harris says the bill will “allow students and school district staff to offer traditional greetings regarding celebrations, including Merry Christmas.” The bill, HB 1272, also makes mention of other holiday greetings including “Happy Hanukkah” and “Happy Holidays.” The bill states that scenes or symbols associated with a traditional winter celebration, including a menorah or Christmas image, can be placed on school property. It also states those same scenes and symbols may not include a message that encourages adherence to a particular religious belief.

The bills are largely designed to prevent threats of lawsuits, which most often come from out-of-state operations of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, who claim they have received a “complaint”.

In Indiana the Senate Education Committee unanimously backed a similar measure, which would allow schools to have Nativity scenes or other Yuletide decorations, as long as another religious or secular holiday is recognized. It would also permit history lessons about winter holidays and traditional holiday greetings, including “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Hanukkah.”

These two states continue a five year trend by local legislators to protect schools from lawsuits.

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.”

University of Maine Erupts Over Christmas Ban

University of Maine Erupts Over Christmas Ban

An email from a University of Maine supervisor, directing employees to refrain from displaying Christmas or other religious-themed decorations on campus, has sparked outrage on the campus and in the community where the University of Maine is located. This is what the email said:

“Just wanted to remind everyone that Auxiliary Services is not to decorate any public areas with Christmas or any other religious themed decorations. Winter holiday decorations are fine but we need to not display any decoration that could be perceived as religious.

This includes xmas trees, wreaths, xmas presents, candy canes, etc.

What is allowed are winter themes, plain trees without presents underneath, decorative lights, but not on trees, snow flakes, etc.

If you are unsure, best to not use or ask me for clarification.”

The story, first reported by WABI-TV on Wednesday, spread wildly across social media: A Facebook group called Bring Cheer Back to UMaine had more than 600 members as of Thursday.

Dean of Students Robert Dana, in a news release Thursday, said that UMaine did not ban Christmas decorations, or representations of any other holiday.

“We want to be absolutely clear that at the University of Maine, we welcome every faith tradition, and we welcome displays of those faith traditions,” said Dana. “The university is a place where, indeed, there is a great deal of diversity and that’s what we want and expect.

At last report university officials are scratching their heads at why students and citizens see these statements as contradictory and why there is a controversy at all.

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.

FFRF Takes Out Christ, Community Puts in Jesus

FFRF Takes Out Christ, Community Puts in Jesus

Last week we shared the familiar story of a community under attack by an out-of-state entity threatening a lawsuit because of a religious theme to a city’s Christmas parade. The community of Piedmont, Alabama received a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation that they would sue if the city put on a Christmas parade with the theme “Keep Christ in Christmas”. The city council met and told the FFRF, as many communities have before, they would change the theme.

The new theme? Jesus in the Reason for the Season.

Residents lined Piedmont streets for the hour-long parade, which included Boy Scout troops, the high school marching band, beauty queens and several church floats. Many of the participants held hand-lettered signs that read “Keep Christ in Christmas,” and several spectators carried hand-held poster boards with the same message.

The parade was the most popular ever in the history of Piedmont according it the mayor, Bill Baker, who also indicated that most floats represented the theme boldly.

“This anti-religious group that started all this stuff, I really believe this has backfired on them,” Baker told the media. “What has happened now is the city of Piedmont, great city to live in, great people, has rallied. They have caused our parade to be bigger and better with more emphasis placed on Christianity.”

Local Media Stirs Anti-Christmas Controversy in Redmond

Local Media Stirs Anti-Christmas Controversy in Redmond

The agenda-driven media is alive and well at the local level in Redmond, Washington. A local television station, KOMO, is suggesting that atheists put up their own signs that say “Merry Spaghetti Monster Day” to counter the “It’s Ok to Say Merry Christmas” signs.

What does the reporter mean by “Merry Spaghetti Monster Day”? He’s talking about militant atheists who mock the religious through a character they call the Spaghetti monster. Pastafarians are members of the “Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster”, a fictional, light-hearted attempt to make fun of those in a god who cannot be seen. Those who claim non-belief through Pastafarianism will place colanders on their heads and even some voted into political office have gone so far to wear them while being sworn in.

What’s the problem with suggesting Pastafarians put up signs? Most Pastafarians celebrate Christmas.

The campaign-style signs, which are put up and taken down anonymously every Christmas, are placed in public access areas. KOMO seems to want to make an issue of the fact that the signs are near the city library and city hall. But the mayor says there is nothing illegal about the signs.

Why would the media want to see “Merry Spaghetti Monster Day” signs up? Do you think that some atheist organizations out there haven’t thought of that? Are there not big national organizations that could help with this?

Of course. But these signs are of a different variety. Someone has to handle them. Someone has to put them up and take them down. That would require something more than money. That would require effort. That would require someone who actually cared. That would require someone with some core conviction in the campaign.

And they really aren’t out there, folks. The Merry Spaghetti Monster is an invention of anti-religious activists. There really aren’t regular everyday atheists who are anti-Christmas. In fact, most garden variety atheists celebrate Christmas and gladly say “Merry Christmas”.

For the media to assume that most atheists feel offended by saying “Merry Christmas” to the point of launching a counter campaign to the Merry Christmas sign campaign in Redmond is to label them. That’s wrong. It’s almost as if KOMO wants the controversy.