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.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) placed the big "A" in downtown Chicago. They say the "A" stands for Atheist, but it also represents Attack, given its timing and placement. While the nativity scene is linked to Christmas, and the menorah is part of Hanukah, the only apparent purpose for this lighted letter "A" is to demean the other displays.
In Florida's State Capitol, the rotunda is available to different groups who apply for space. In early December, a group called the Florida Nativity Scene Committee sponsored a traditional nativity scene of Jesus' birth to mark the Christmas season. FFRF wasted little time in snagging a spot immediately following them, displaying what they describe as a "nativity scene parody in which Ben Franklin, the Statue of Liberty, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison on bended knee, gaze adoringly at a copy of the Bill of Rights in a crib." This display is not an expression of faith or faithlessness, or even a political statement, but an uncalled-for attack on the traditional nativity. more >>
A church in Wisconsin has filed a motion against an atheist group suing the Internal Revenue Service over its alleged refusal to enforce a ban on church politicking.
Holy Cross Anglican Church of Wauwatosa, headed by Benedictine Abbot Father Patrick Malone, filed the motion to intervene last week in U.S. District Court.
Holy Cross Anglican's motion was done in response to the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation's lawsuit against the IRS. more >>
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 >>