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 >>
A major atheist group unveiled its own nonreligious holiday monument at Florida's capitol building in response to the recent installment of a nativity scene.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is hanging a secular banner at the state's capitol building in Tallahassee. The banner is reportedly a spoof on the classic nativity scene of Jesus in the manger. Instead of Jesus, there is a Bill of Rights laid in a manger with Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the Statue of Liberty gazing admiringly at the slip of paper. The banner reads in part: "Let us also honor the birth of our Bill of Rights, which reminds us there can be no freedom OF religion without having freedom FROM religion in government."
The banner is being hung in response to a nativity scene recently erected at the state's capitol building by the private Florida Nativity Scene Committee. The Capitol building is open to any group that wants to put up a display for the holidays, as long as they are first approved by the Department of Management Services. Another group has already put up a giant menorah to recognize the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. The displays are all privately funded, and they include a disclaimer nearby that asserts the state's government does not support any one religion. more >>
The Internet is in an uproar over a recent viral photo of what appears to be a third grade science quiz from a private, religious school in Florida that says "gravity was designed by God."
A photo of the quiz was uploaded to the "WTF" thread of the image sharing website Reddit on Tuesday by username Dtooth0, who claims the quiz is real and was a part of his daughter's curriculum at a private Christian school in Florida. Although the man does not name the school for privacy reasons, he does write in the comments section of the Reddit thread that the school is accredited and that the quiz given to the students holds a copyright from an instate Christian University.
The quiz includes five multiple choice answers relating to gravitational pull, including "Gravity is the force that holds the sun, moon, and planets in place" and "without gravity we would be pulled into outer space." Then, there are two questions at the bottom that seem to be attracting the ire of some atheist Reddit commenters. One reads: "People who do not believe in God do not believe in gravity," and the other one reads "Christians know that gravity was designed by our God." more >>
NEW YORK – American Atheists has launched a new billboard in New York's Times Square claiming that "nobody" needs Christ during Christmas.
The 40′x40′ billboard uses motion graphics to ask "Who needs Christ during Christmas?" It then crosses out the word "Christ" and replaces it with "Nobody."
AA President David Silverman said in a statement, "This year, start a new tradition: Don't go to church. You hate it, it's boring; you probably only go because you feel guilty or obligated. Instead, spend more time with your family and friends – or volunteer. There are better uses of your time and money." more >>
The park department of Morton Grove, Illinois has rejected a donation from an atheist teacher and blogger, saying that it would prefer to avoid becoming involved in any First Amendment dispute or controversy. The donation had initially been sent to compensate for lost funds after a veterans' group pulled donations to the department after one of its commissioners refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance back in early November.
Hemant Mehta, a 30-year-old teacher in Naperville, Ill. and the atheist blogger behind the popular website "Friendly Atheist," wrote in a recent blog post that his donation of $3,406 to the Morton Grove Park District was rejected. Mehta provided a copy of an email received by the district's Executive Director Tracey Anderson explaining why the department had chosen to reject Mehta's donation, which was reportedly raised by atheists and Christian supporters after Mehta' reported on the park department's defunding in November.
In the email, Anderson said that her department has no intention of "becoming embroiled in a First Amendment dispute or allegations it is sympathetic to or supports/doesn't support any particular political or religious cause." more >>