A coalition of churches and individual Christians in Santa Monica, Calif., has decided to not let a city ban on Nativity scene displays at a public park deter them from showing their outward expressions of Christmas. Complete with an ensemble of people dressed as historical figures present at the time of Jesus' birth, groups began singing Christmas carols and telling the Nativity story at a park next to the city's pier Monday evening. They plan to continue each night until Dec. 23.
Some are calling the action a "creative loophole" in the recent ruling because it applies to unmanned nativity displays such as the ones at the park hosted by the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee for 59 years. While some of the city's Christian leaders are saying that, in spite of the ban, the chance to be present and interact with those visiting the park is a blessing.
"What I'm realizing this year that's exciting for me is that we are continuing to say we don't think that we are the only ones who get to celebrate this time of year," said Pastor Steve Snook of Metro Calvary Chapel Church in Santa Monica. "The idea is that everybody can celebrate the materialism of Christmas. They can celebrate the lights and family and all these things, but we want to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas and we're going to do it." more >>
A federal court has rejected a suit by a nationwide secular organization to allow their Indiana chapter to oversee marriage ceremonies in the state.
U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker of the Southern District of Indiana ruled Friday that the Center for Inquiry Inc. could not perform solemnization services for marriages, writing that CFI "have not succeeded on the merits of their First Amendment or Equal Protection claim."
"Because Plaintiffs cannot demonstrate actual success on the merits in either of their stated causes of action, their remaining arguments are wholly unavailing," wrote Evans. "As a result, and pursuant to guiding case law, Plaintiffs' motion for permanent injunctive relief must be DENIED. Final judgment shall now issue in conjunction with this entry." more >>
The Scout Association of Great Britain announced Tuesday that it is planning to allow atheist members to join the organization by offering a newly drafted oath that will omit the word "God."
"All bodies have to stay fresh and current, while remaining true to their founding principles," Derek Twine, chief executive of the Scout Association, wrote in a statement for The Telegraph, adding that the association's decision to allow atheist members marks a "historic change" for the century-old organization.
"Let me be quite clear and reassure readers of all backgrounds: the original Scout Promise will remain untouched, but for those who have no faith, there would be a new alternative," Twine added. more >>
Despite having to relocate to private property after losing a legal battle, the 60th annual display of the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes will be available for viewing beginning this Sunday at the Southern California beach-side city.
"The community Christmas tradition will return to full strength this year with 14 scenes featuring life-size figures depicting events surrounding Christ's birth," said organizers.
"We are deeply grateful for the use of this new site to allow all of Santa Monica's distinctive Christmas Story to continue spreading the message of joy, hope, and peace found in the Christ child's birth to residents and visitors," said Nativity Scenes Committee Chairman Hunter Jameson. more >>
An atheist billboard campaign in Poland has compared believed in God to killing and stealing, in what observers call an open challenge to the Roman Catholic Church.
"In a country considered to be Catholic, it's very hard to be an atheist. Contrary to popular belief, however, there are many of us although not all of us have let our beliefs be known. The billboard action is not aimed at believers. It is to show people that in a country where the stereotypical Pole is a Catholic there is a large group of atheists," Jacek Tabisz, President of the Polish Association of Rationalists, explained to The Scotsman
Over 80 percent of the Polish country identify as Catholic, and the popular Pope John Paul II, who served as leader of the Roman Catholic Church from 1978 until 2005, was a Pole who often talked about and praised his roots. more >>
Officials in Chester County, Pennsylvania recently denied a request by local Pastafarian members to have their pasta-covered pine tree displayed on the county's courthouse lawn next to a traditional Christmas tree and a menorah.
"I don't stand in judgement of people's beliefs no matter what they are, God, multiple gods, spaghetti, or lasagna. Whatever you want to worship, there is nothing the government can do to stop you," County commissioner Ryan Costello told the Pastafarians in attendance at a Nov. 27 public meeting.
"I just don't think that this is where our focus should be now. We have something in place and I think we should follow it," Costello added. more >>