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Providence Journal: In a break from tradition, the School Committee in June decided to have students and teachers come to school during the Jewish religious holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and the Christian holiday of Good Friday.
The Guardian: New York City schools have added two Muslim holidays to their calendars for official days off, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Wednesday.
WTHR (Kokomo Tribune): The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national membership association based in Wisconsin, submitted a letter Monday to Eastern Schools Superintendent Tracy Caddell, requesting the school district correct what the foundation considers constitutional violations that illegally promote religion in school.
The Blaze: It’s so obvious. Why can’t liberals be more creative? Why do they have to peg their ridiculous “Sex Week” agendas to Valentine’s Day on college campuses?
The Cabin (AP): Classrooms could be filled with Christmas trees, menorahs and other religious holiday imagery under a bill filed by an Arkansas lawmaker.
Crux (AP): Schools and teachers that want to celebrate Christmas and other winter holidays in the classroom could get legal protection to do so, under a bill approved by an Indiana Senate committee on Wednesday.
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.
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.
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.
Satanic Temple allowed to display Satan descending into hell holiday display for first time at Florida capitol
The Christian Post: The Satanic Temple group has for the first time won the right to showcase its holiday display, featuring Satan descending into hell, at the Florida Capitol this year.
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.
Hibbing Daily Tribune: If you feel your religious liberties are being trampled on, it’s important you know there are legal organizations that can fight for your First Amendment free speech rights and freedom of religion — namely the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the National Center for Law and Liberty (NCLL) and the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
Juicy Ecumenism: 2014 has seen ISIS terror threats, Ebola perils, turmoil in Ferguson and a still struggling economy leaving many Evangelicals disheartened over the future of our nation, our freedoms and our families.
Ecumenical News: Public schools in Montgomery, Alabama have decided to remove Christmas, Easter, and other religious holidays from their published school calendars.
Fox News: For some students in the suburbs of Washington, Christmas — or at least recognition of it on their school calendars — has been canceled.
Alliance Defending Freedom: Americans through the years have been increasingly less inclined to incorporate “solemn acts of devotion to God,” into their holiday celebrations. It was July 4 – the day the actual Declaration document was ratified – that future generations opted to honor with their national celebrations.
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.’”
Detroit Free Press: “Some Muslim parents are concerned about public schools in Dearborn handing out flyers to all students advertising an Easter egg hunt, saying it violates the principle of church and state separation.”
The Olympian: “State employees and students in public schools will be able to take off two days per year for religious reasons under a measure headed to Gov. Jay Inslee. House Bill 5173 unanimously passed the Senate Tuesday after members agreed to accept several amendments made by the House. The House previously approved the legislation on a 64-32 vote.”
Associated Press: “The state House is scheduled to take up legislation Monday evening that would protect schools from lawsuits for allowing traditional winter celebrations, or religious displays.”
Daily News: “Members of the K-8 School Committee Wednesday said they are leaning against a controversial proposal to eliminate from the school calendar days off for religious holidays.”
Religion News Service: “Jyoti Sharma fondly remembers Diwali festivities from her childhood in India. The Hindu festival of lights is observed every autumn with prayers, fireworks and feasts. But one thing that made Diwali really special, Sharma said, is that she had five days off from school to observe the holiday.”
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.”
NY Daily News: “New York City is moving to close school for two Muslim holidays and the Lunar New Year — but Mayor de Blasio isn’t so sure about the Hindu festival Diwali.”
WABE: “The Georgia Senate approved a bill that supporters say will ensure schools can recognize ‘traditional’ winter holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah.”
Telegram: “Residents of Northboro and Southboro packed a meeting at Algonquin Regional High School last night to voice their opinions on a recommendation that the school districts no longer close school in observance of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Good Friday.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”