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Cross Map (Morning Star News): Police on Wednesday (Dec. 17) arrested 16 Christians, including four women, as they celebrated Christmas in Navipur, Pipraich, Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, Liris Thomas of Alliance Defending Freedom-India (ADF-India) told Morning Star News.
Utica Fire Chief refuses to take down ‘Happy Birthday Jesus’ Christmas sign despite complaints from atheists
The Christian Post: A Utica, N.Y. Fire Chief is refusing to take down a Christmas-themed sign displayed outside of a firehouse, despite growing complaints from atheists.
National Law Journal (Subscription may be required): Squabbles between neighbors over twinkle lights. Constitutional challenges to government-sanctioned holiday displays. A fight over the sale of Christmas trees. ‘Tis the season to get litigious. The National Law Journal unwraps holiday-related legal action across the country.
National Right to Life: Christians use the Christmas holiday to remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. This event (apart from everything else it entails) provides a number of insights about human life and dignity. Here are three.
SCOTUS Blog: ‘Twas the last Conference before break, when all through the land;
Becket Fund: For more than 15 years, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty has awarded th eEbenezer award, its lowest honor,to the government official that makes the most egregious affront to the Christmas and Hanukkah holidays. We have also followed up with an eggnog toast to government officials who got it right (see 2014’s top contenders here).
Religion News Service: A billboard posted in Arkansas as part of a campaign targeting “in-the-closet atheists who are pressured to observe religious traditions during the holidays” prompted a local church to purchase an ad of their own to appear on the same digital display.
Aleteia: One of the earliest attempts at Christmas censorship occurred in 1969, after the crew of Apollo 8 read from the Book of Genesis during a telecast of their moon orbit on December 24, 1968.
News Max: Lawsuits do occur over religious displays on government property, attorney Matt Sharp, of Alliance Defending Freedom, told USA Today. But courts typically lean toward the government entity, he said, if there’s a secular or educational purpose for the display.
USA Today: Matt Sharp, an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom, says while lawsuits pop up often in regard to religious displays, the courts typically side with the government entity or school district if there is a secular or educational purpose for including the religious elements in the display or school production.
Christianity Today: The lyrics to a popular yet much maligned Africa advocacy song are now a bit more defensible, given that Ebola has led Sierra Leone to ban Christmas celebrations.
The Daily Signal: Despite annual controversy surrounding religious holiday displays, nearly 3 out of 4 Americans believe Christian symbols should be allowed on government property, according to the Pew Research Center.
The Christian Institute: A third of children aged between ten and 13 do not know that Christmas marks the birth of Jesus Christ, a survey of 2,000 families has found.
The Christian Institute: British society must not shy away from its own beliefs or traditions such as saying “Happy Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays”, former Cabinet Minister Liam Fox has said.
Alliance Defending Freedom: One of the earliest attempts at Christmas censorship occurred in 1969, after the crew of Apollo 8 read from the Book of Genesis during a telecast of their moon orbit on December 24, 1968.
Aleteia: In Communist China, “Merry Christmas!” banners are conspicuously displayed along the shopping streets. “A serious challenge” according to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences who sees “a new advance of Christianization.”
Ellwood City Ledger: During her comments, Bergfelt said Christian advocacy organizations such as the Alliance Defending Freedom could defend the borough free of charge — an offer made three years ago when borough officials were debating removal of the Nativity.
The Christian Institute: Doctors said Jacob Shaw would not live beyond his first birthday – but defying expectations, he has just turned three.
American Atheists’ ‘Skip Church’ This Christmas billboards aimed at non-believers in religious households, says AA president
The Christian Post: American Atheists President David Silverman has said that his group’s holiday billboards this year, with a message to “skip church” this Christmas, are aimed at atheists who are living with theists in mixed families and are under pressure to participate in religious activities.
The Christian Institute: Pupils are not being taught the true meaning of Christmas because teachers fear “offending” different faiths, a BBC presenter has said.
Sonoran News: ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco stated, “The Constitution allows and protects the celebration of Christmas in public schools. School districts do not have to remove religious references from their calendars. They should not violate the First amendment by stifling student expression about Christmas.”
ADF sends memo to school districts, reminding administrators Christmas expression is a constitutional freedom
The Christian Post: ADF senior legal counsel Jeremy Tedesco said that schools have no obligation to prevent their students from participating in Christmas events, such as singing Christmas carols or donating to Operation Christmas Child program.
BBC News: The traditional school nativity play is under pressure to modernise the story and remove religious figures, according to users of a parenting website.
One News Now: Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Matt Sharp says every year his firm sees the same old myths about how it isn’t permissible for students and staff to present Christian music in programs or cooperate with ministries that are providing food and gifts to the needy.
American Atheists’ billboard campaign in Bible belt: ‘Skip Church’ this Christmas and stop listening to ‘Fairy Tales’
The Christian Post: American Atheists has launched a billboard campaign in several Bible Belt states urging people to skip church this Christmas and stop listening to “fairy tales.”
ADF Media: Alliance Defending Freedom sent a legal memo and myth/fact sheet Wednesday to more than 13,000 public school districts nationwide to explain the constitutionality of recognizing Christmas, participating in Christmas-related events, and allowing various forms of Christmas expression. The letter also offers free legal assistance to districts that need help.
Caffeinated Thoughts: “The Constitution allows and protects the celebration of Christmas in public schools,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco.
CBS Denver (AP): The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday rejected a legal challenge to the governor’s right to issue Day of Prayer proclamations, finding that non-believers who objected to the annual events did not suffer harm and do not have grounds to sue.
Ecumenical News: Public schools in Montgomery, Alabama have decided to remove Christmas, Easter, and other religious holidays from their published school calendars.
MassLive: “The measure, approved by 76 percent of Norwood voters, calls for the public school vacation week currently named “Winter Recess” to be renamed as ‘Christmas Recess.’”
The Augusta Chronicle: “Student carolers from Augusta’s Alleluia Community School will return to the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center next Christmas, but the holiday music they will be allowed to sing remains under negotiation, officials said Monday.”
PennLive: “Central Dauphin School Board is scheduled to vote tonight – Monday, February 24 — on a new policy that addresses students’ rights to free expression at school, at school-sponsored events and in certain situations away from school. . . . Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian nonprofit that defines itself as an ‘alliance building legal ministry,’ sent letters to superintendents in 300 Pennsylvania school districts after the federal court ruling.”
The Oklahoman: “The House Common Education Committee approved by a 15-1 vote legislation saying that public school students, teachers and other staff members can greet each other with such traditional phrases as ‘Merry Christmas,’ ‘Happy Hanukkah’ and ‘happy holidays.’”
Sacramento Bee (AP): “A factsheet compiled by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based conservative group that advocates for religious liberty, says federal courts have ruled the display of a nativity scene is constitutional if it is displayed for legitimate secular purposes, such as to celebrate the holiday, and is displayed among other forms of religious and secular seasonal expression.”
WABE: “The Georgia Senate approved a bill that supporters say will ensure schools can recognize ‘traditional’ winter holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah.”
The Augusta Chronicle: “Spokesman Pete Scovill said this week that the facility’s local legal team will instead wait until the Alliance Defending Freedom files a lawsuit stating its case of why the hospital’s decision to exclude religious music violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment. . . . Jeremy Tedesco, the senior legal counsel leading the alliance’s case, initially said if no action were taken, a lawsuit could be considered.”
Fox Atlanta: “State Sen. Mike Dugan plans to introduce a bill in this year’s session of the General Assembly that would give public schools the okay to display Christmas decorations as long as they display decorations for holidays of other religions.” | SB 283
Courier-Journal: “The bill — SB326 — would add language to the state code specifically allowing teachers to say ‘Happy Christmas,’ ‘Happy Hanukkah,’ ‘Happy Holidays,’ and ‘other seasonal greetings.’”
Valley News Dispatch: “The policies were used to prevent a fifth-grade student from handing out invitations to a Christmas party at her church. The speech and literature distribution policies of many Pennsylvania school districts are ‘virtually identical’ to the one struck down, says the Arizona-based Alliance for Defending Freedom, which represented the student involved in the case. ‘These policies violate the First Amendment right of students to distribute religious materials at school,’ said Alliance legal counsel Matt Sharp, based in Atlanta.”
The Augusta Chronicle: “Because of Augusta’s actions, the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian-based legal group headquartered in California, sent a letter to VA Director Bob Hamilton on Dec. 30 stating that the facility’s decision to exclude religious music likely violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment. The lawyer who wrote the letter, Jeremy Tedesco, gave the hospital until next Monday to respond and said that if no action is taken, a lawsuit could be in the works.”
Letter to the Editor in The Augusta Chronicle: “I was delighted and overjoyed that the Alliance Defending Freedom legal group has challenged the ridiculous decision by officials at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta as to the singing of Christmas carols by church choirs.”
Medium-Presse-Info (translation from French by Google): The spokesman of the hospital, Brian Rothwell, announced the Monday before the advertised ban manifesting religious songs, that this prohibition was because among military veterans, there are people of all faiths and the hospital policy is to welcome and respect all beliefs, protecting the right to religious freedom of every veteran Counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom , Jeremy Tedesco, observes that ban Christmas carols, the hospital violates the contrary the religious freedom of Christians veterans who felt disrespected by this decision. Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter to the medical center on December 30 recalling that federal courts have held that it was permissible to sing Christmas carols and it fully respected the First Amendment of the United States.
CNA/EWTN: “By banning these Christmas carols, the VA is trampling the very religious freedoms our veterans have sacrificed so much to defend. Contrary to what hospital officials are claiming, they are disrespecting–not respecting – constitutionally protected religious freedoms,” Jeremy Tedesco, senior legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, said Dec. 30.
One News Now: The cards included the phrases “Merry Christmas” and “God bless you,” which created the opposition. It was a Christmas card project of Grace Academy of North Texas. Liberty Institute sent a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs demanding they rescind the discriminatory policy.
PostCrescent.com: Wausau school administrators had started closely scrutinizing the amount of Christian music in school events long before the issue exploded into a public controversy in October, according to a report released Friday.
Religion Clause Blog: Alabama Rep. Martha Roby, one of those complaining wrote in part that she was concerned about “the culture of bureaucracy at the VA [that] would encourage facility administrators to err on the side of suppressing religious expression and discouraging acts of kindness toward veterans.” Rep. Jeff Miller, House Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman, wrote to Shinseki arguing that since Christmas is a federal holiday, VA may be violating veterans’ rights by barring them from celebrating it.
Lohud.com (Gannett): I urge school officials to stand up for the constitutional right of our children to sing Christmas carols at school concerts, and to read the letter sent by the Alliance Defending Freedom to more than 13,000 school districts nationwide explaining this constitutional right (available online at www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org/content/docs/issues/school/Memo-Christmas.pdf).
World Magazine: “Our nation’s veterans have time and again faced and defeated dangerous threats to the liberties we cherish as American citizens—children singing Christmas carols is not among them,” Jeremy Tedesco of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) said in a statement. “By banning these Christmas carols, the VA is trampling the very religious freedoms our veterans have sacrificed so much to defend.” ADF sent the hospital a letter explaining it is unconstitutional to exclude religious carols from a public facility.
One News Now: Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Jeremy Tedesco points out that veterans have fought America’s enemies around the world to protect freedom. A high school choir is not one of our enemies, he says. “By banning these Christmas carols the VA is trampling the very religious freedoms our veterans have sacrificed so much to defend,” Tedesco tells OneNewsNow. [more]
Miami Herald: Wausau public schools leaders plan to craft an official policy regarding the performance of religious music at district events, after students and others rebelled against efforts to limit it in the fall. A school administrator is forming a committee to gather input on the issue . . .
Augusta Chronicle: Jeremy Tedesco, the senior legal counsel leading the alliance’s case, said if no action is taken, a possible lawsuit could be in the works. “Our nation’s veterans have time and again faced and defeated dangerous threats to the liberties we cherish as American citizens – children singing Christmas carols is not among them,” Jeremy Tedesco said.
Atlanta Business Chronicle: Jeremy Tedesco, the senior legal counsel leading the alliance’s case, said, “Our nation’s veterans have time and again faced and defeated dangerous threats to the liberties we cherish as American citizens – children singing Christmas carols is not among them. By banning these Christmas carols, the VA is trampling the very religious freedoms our veterans have sacrificed so much to defend. Contrary to what hospital officials are claiming, they are disrespecting – not respecting – constitutionally protected religious freedoms.”
Fox19.com: But the letter sent by the Alliance Defending Freedom says “permitting religious Christmas carols to be sung at public facilities like the medical center fully complies with the First Amendment.”
Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center told high school students from Augusta’s Alleluia Community School last week that they must choose different music if they want to perform in the public areas in light of the new policy.
Evangelical Fellowship of Canada: It causes me, an immigrant to this beautiful country, concern that Canada has become so politically correct that we are seemingly unwilling to acknowledge Christmas. I am not the only immigrant to feel this way. Others do too. “…This whole ‘let’s be politically correct’ [thing] – it’s getting out of hand,” says Shahed Khalili who immigrated to Canada from an Islamic Republic.
Chris Adamo at Renew America: Real America is understandably abuzz over the Phil Robertson Controversy. Robertson, the patriarch of the Arts and Entertainment Network series “Duck Dynasty,” has been accused of every possible crime against humanity ever since word of his interview with GQ magazine, containing his blunt assessment of homosexuality as sin, became known to the public.
Lisa Lusteg-Bennett at Orlando Sun Sentinel (12/25): Legal action organizations like the American Family Association, Alliance Defending Freedom, and the American Center for Law and Justice will all verify the constitutionality of religious displays. Because of fear, intimidation and disinformation that groups promote, many public officials and educational leaders mistakenly believe it’s their duty to silence religious expression. You can’t sue just because you’re an offended observer. In America we have rights and freedoms. So, let’s shout out from the rooftops, “Merry Christmas, and a blessed year to all!”
Jordan Lorence at Washington Examiner: As a constitutional attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, I have personally dealt with situations involving public school officials removing lyrics from Christmas carols or refusing to display student artwork because it contained the Nativity scene. So when I hear someone deny that Christmas censorship happens, I feel like Neil Armstrong hearing someone claim the moon landings were faked. I was there.
One News Now: Jeremy Tedesco of Alliance Defending Freedom says the American Humanists’ allegation that the school cannot work with religious organizations is wrong. Tedesco, Jeremy (ADF)“What the American Humanist Association is basically saying is that schools have to exclude religious people, religious organizations, from all their programs,” he explains. “And that’s unconstitutional hostility toward religion, not neutrality.”
War on Christmas? It’s more like ‘War on Christians’ in many parts of the world | Juan Williams at Fox News
Juan Williams at Fox News: But even as we debate religion in American life we cannot forget a bigger threat — the violent, global “War on Christians.” Here are some of the worst examples of Christian persecution around the world . . .
Constitution Daily: The controversy over a public display in Florida that features a Nativity scene and a Festivus pole has taken a new turn, after an application from satanic followers was denied by a state official.
CBS NY: Kings Park school officials removed several religious references, including “Holy infant” and “Christ the Savior,” from the popular Christmas carol before a student concert last week, WCBS 880′s Mike Xirinachs reported. The intent was to avoid offending non-Christians, but the change left others upset.
Secularists Still Trying To Bully Christmas From The Public Square | Alan Sears at Alliance Defending Freedom
Alan Sears at Alliance Defending Freedom: And, despite news stories you might have seen in which various Christian leaders try to downplay that conflict, the truth remains that any effort to bring out the real meaning of the season in the public square – and in particular, in our public schools – is being met with legal intimidation from those who most aggressively reject the Baby in the manger … and His message.
Christmas Displays Debate: Jeremy Tedesco of ADF vs. Dan Barker of FFRF | The Good Neighbor, WCCO Radio MN
Matt Sharp appeared on the Zeb Bell Show to discuss attacks on Christmas including this one: Atheist group seeks to deny poor children Christmas gifts. | MP3 audio 16:23 mins
Nate Kellum at Christian Post: In Chicago’s Daley Plaza, wedged between – and in front of – the traditional nativity display and a giant menorah, there sits something new this year: an 8-foot-tall letter “A” lit up in red.
AP: Some troops at Guantanamo Bay want the U.S. Navy to remove nativity scenes and Christmas decorations from two base dining facilities, saying they improperly promote Christianity over other faiths, an organization that advocates for religious freedom in the military said Wednesday.
Survey Finds Most Americans Think Christmas should be “More about Jesus” and “Celebrated in public schools” | Care2.com
Care2.com: “Public schools’ confusion about this issue and the legalities of celebrating Christmas in other ways has been largely caused by inaccurate information about the Establishment Clause spread by certain groups opposed to any religious expression occurring in public,” noted the Alliance Defending Freedom in a letter sent last month to thousands of school districts. ADF Senior Counsel, Kevin Theriot added, “The Constitution both allows and protects the celebration of Christmas in public schools. We hope the materials we are providing to school districts will help clear up the misinformation that groups attempting to cleanse all traces of religion from the public square have spread for far too long.”
AP: For a significant number of Americans, Christmas has largely lost its religious meaning, becoming an occasion focused instead on visiting family and friends and exchanging gifts, according to a new survey released Wednesday.
Kelly Shackelford at Fox News: One of the favorite holiday tricks of organizations trying to push religious influence out of American society is to loudly yell, “There is no war on Christmas! It’s a right-wing myth!”– even as their movement wages that same war with Grinch-like zeal. For example, Rev. Barry Lynn, an attorney who heads Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AUSCS), says he doesn’t see evidence of such a war. He must not be looking very hard. This year alone we’ve seen . . .
Bob Kellogg at One News Now: At lot of times, says Tedesco, these atheists groups do not intend to back up their bluster with any real action. “They send letters lots of times when they have no intention to sue, it seems to me,” he tells OneNewsNow. Their purpose, Tedesco adds, is to scare school officials with the threat of a lawsuit. [more]
The New American: The conservative legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) went to bat for the districts, noting that student choirs may not be barred from voluntarily performing at such religious-themed events. The ADF later sent a letter to the districts commending them for standing up to the atheist bullies. “Schools should not have to think twice about whether they can allow choirs to participate in community Christmas events,” said ADF attorney Rory Gray. “Courts have unanimously allowed students to sing Christmas carols at school. Nothing changes when they sing the same Christmas songs at a community festival instead. We commend the districts for rightly ignoring the baseless threats delivered by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation.” ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco added that “a handful of misguided complaints and a misunderstanding of First Amendment law should not be allowed to harm students and deprive them of educational experiences that serve the community. We hope other school districts will follow Kalispell’s and Whitefish’s example and reject the religious discrimination these groups promote.”
Examiner.com: Since 1956, the Catholic foundation has run similar ads with other media outlets without incident. However, it appeared ESPN’s ban on Jesus and God on the air was an indictment of Christmas, as Doug Napier with Alliance Defending Freedom said. ESPN came back to us and said it was denied due to religious advocacy. We were disappointed and dumbfounded with their decision,” said Dan Buck, the Catholic foundation’s executive director. They told us the lines about ‘Celebrate the birth of Jesus’ and ‘Help us reveal God’s healing message’ are ‘problematic’. That’s a quote from them,” Buck added.