The Freedom From Religion Foundation is countering the "Keep Christ in Christmas" billboards with its own "Keep Saturn in Saturnalia" ad – a reference to an ancient Roman god festival – which went up on Thursday in Pitman, N.J.
The atheist association, one of the largest in America, explained in a press release that the billboards are in a direct response to "Keep Christ in Christmas" displays by Roman Catholic society the Knights of Columbus. FFRF says that its local members were "stonewalled" in December 2012 when Pitman officials denied them a permit to display their "Saturn" banner, but allowed the Christmas one.
"FFRF first became involved in December 2011, when a resident reported the Christian banner as a potential state/church violation. Legal staff made numerous calls and sent messages to various public agencies and the Chamber of Commerce, including open records requests, and asked to erect FFRF's own banner, which wasn't allowed," the organization explained. more >>
Last Christmas season (2012) a fellowship of Christians from Orange County, Calif. partnered with believers in Santa Monica to deliver a Nativity flash mob gift to the popular Los Angeles County tourist destination. Watch soprano Lynette Tapia stun shoppers with her beautiful voice opening up the flash mob.
As a wonderful and heartfelt reminder of the purpose of Christmas, this was performed at the Santa Monica Place mall on December 16th, 2012.
The group decided it was time to encourage others, to let them know that celebrating Christmas with outward expressions of faith in the public square was OK. It did not matter that the city of Santa Monica decided that holding its 60-year tradition of Nativity scene displays at Palisades Park had become a hassle because of protesting atheists. It was not of major concern that the city cancelled the displays or that the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee had to find private land to keep its tradition alive. more >>
Dr. William Lane Craig, philosophy professor and a leading Christian apologist, believes there is an urgent need for the church to equip its members to give good responses to tough questions about their faith, especially in light of a cultural climate that has made it easier for atheists to be more outspoken, sometimes aggressively so, in their attacks on religious beliefs.
Expressing skepticism over the accuracy of a 2012 Pew Research Center survey that found an increase in the number of religiously unaffiliated Americans, Craig suggested that the New Atheism movement inspired by the works of Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, and others has removed "the stigma of being an atheist or self-identifying as an atheist."
The Pew survey, whose response rate is less than 10 percent, reported that nearly 20 percent of Americans are religiously unaffiliated, but many of them remain "religious" or "spiritual" in some sense. The survey also found that among that number were 6 percent who described themselves as atheists and agnostics more >>
The Festivus pole, a relic from the 1990s NBC sitcom "Seinfeld," made an appearance in the Florida Capitol on Tuesday, after a self-described "militant atheist" received permission to set it up near a Nativity scene.
"A Pabst Blue Ribbon Festivus pole is a symbol of ridiculousness," Chaz Stephens, editor in chief of South Florida advocacy blog MAOS (My Acts of Sedition), told The Christian Post on Tuesday. He set up the pole, not to celebrate a 1990s holiday, but to protest the Nativity scene and other religious monuments set up in public spaces.
"It's a made up holiday from the 1990s, but it's a symbol of separation of church and state, in my mind," Stephens explained. more >>
An atheist group in Ellsworth, Maine, recently made a float to be shown in the town's annual Christmas parade this past weekend in an attempt to make local residents more aware of the atheist organization.
The local atheist group, known as the Downeast Humanists and Freethinkers, created a float consisting of a decorated Christmas tree to honor last Saturday's holiday parade theme, "Rock Around the Christmas Tree." The tree was reportedly decorated with natural ornaments, such as cranberries, popcorn and mussel shells. Members of the atheist group reportedly walked alongside their homemade float during the parade, passing out pamphlets that explained the Christmas tree has been used in Winter Solstice celebrations for thousands of years.
"For more than 5,000 years people have brought greenery into their homes to remind them of all the green plants that would grow again when longer days would return," the pamphlets read, according to the Bangor Daily News. "Long before the advent of Christianity, ancient Egyptians, Romans, Druids and many others had celebrations at the winter solstice." more >>
Three high school choirs in the Whitefish School District, located in Montana's Flathead Valley, have decided to go through with their holiday concert at a local church despite complaints from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Dozens of student members of the Flathead, Glacier and Whitefish high school choirs performed their annual "Peace on Earth Community Christmas Celebration" at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Kalispell Thursday. They will be performing a second time Friday evening. School officials decided to go through with the performance despite recent complaints from the ACLU and FFRF which argued the concert was an unconstitutional violation of the separation of church and state due to public school involvement with church activity.
"We are concerned that public school students will be performing at a place of worship as part of an event that is expressly religious in nature," ACLU Public Policy Director Niki Zupanic wrote in a letter addressed to the principals of the three public schools on Tuesday, as reported by the Missoulian. "This situation poses serious constitutional concerns and demonstrates a lack of respect for the individual religious beliefs of the students involved." Both the ACLU and the FFRF requested that the schools end their participation in the concert. more >>