Officials in the southeast Idaho town of Roberts removed three lighted crosses from a water tower this week after a complaint from a resident who is opposed to the expression of religion on goverment property.
"My opinion is no kind of religious symbol belongs on city property, period," said resident Joe Cohea to ABC Local News 8. Living next door to the water tower, he took the complaint to local city officials and notified the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The crosses "symbolize a particular religion, in violation of the First Amendment, which is separation of church and state," Cohea alleged when he first complained in April. more >>
Texas' "Merry Christmas Bill," which is intended to defend free speech on the issue of "traditional holidays," reached Governor Rick Perry's desk on Wednesday, and he is expected to sign it despite critics saying that the bill violates the separation between church and state.
The bill would permit officials like teachers in public schools to say "Merry Christmas" and put up religious symbols, so long as they do not constitute a state preference for one particular religion.
Russell Glasser, co-host of the Austin public-access TV show "The Atheist Experience," in an interview with www.rawstory.com, contends the bill is an offensive tactic by Christians. "They use this as an excuse all the time to pass laws that basically codify Christianity and make sure that everybody hears about it as often as possible," he said. more >>
ST. LOUIS – Approximately 16,000 students are spending a big chunk of their Christmas break (five days, including New Year's Eve) attending a student missions conference. Most are Christian, some are not, but in either case why would they set aside typical vacation activities to attend Urbana 12 – a series of speaker sessions, Bible studies, times of worship, and more than 250 exhibitors?
"You say why come to Urbana on my winter break? I say why not come to Urbana on my Christmas break? I have the resources and God's put on my heart just adventure and a heart to get to know Him better in a different context," said Kathleen Ziegler, a student at the University of Alberta in Canada.
"Why not come and do that and see where He leads me and just have my eyes open to new opportunities," Ziegler told The Christian Post. more >>
President Barack Obama and the first family have, in years past, attended church services as a part of their Christmas celebration in Hawaii, but a brief description of the President's Christmas Eve and Christmas Day activities doesn't mention churchgoing at all.
The commander-in-chief took time before dinner on Christmas Eve to make "holiday telephone calls" to members of the U.S. military during his vacation in Kailua, Hawaii, a White House press pool report states. On Christmas morning he and his family opened gifts, ate breakfast and sang carols together.
In the afternoon, the president and first lady visited service members and their families at Marine Corps Base Hawaii before enjoying a dinner with family and friends. The president is scheduled to leave Hawaii for Washington, D.C., on Wednesday evening in order to continue working on the nation's fiscal crisis, though the rest of the family will stay behind. more >>
Nigerian gunmen have killed at least 12 Christians, including a pastor, during raids on two churches after midnight Christmas Eve services in the latest attack on believers in the divided African country.
Police reports reveal that one of the attacks occurred at the Church of Christ in Nations in the state of Yobe at Peri village near the city of Potiskum. Another happened at First Baptist Church in Maiduguri, in Borno state, where a deacon and five church members were killed, CNN reported.
While no group has yet officially claimed responsibility for the attacks, the BBC and other sources note that the attackers were likely Islamist extremists from the Boko Haram terrorist organization, which has killed over 700 Christians and burned down dozens of churches in Nigeria this past year alone. more >>
A prominent leader within the United Methodist Church believes that pagan origins for certain parts of the Christmas observance are a non-issue.
Taylor Burton-Edwards, director of Worship Resources with the General Board of Discipleship of the UMC, told The Christian Post that using older pagan symbols is not the same as worshipping as a pagan.
"The United Methodist Church has no ritual for Christmas with explicit pagan grounding," said Burton-Edwards, who also serves as an elder in the North Indiana Conference of the UMC. more >>