The debate got heated last night on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" when host Bill O'Reilly and David Silverman, president of the American Atheists organization, went head to head on the issue of Christmas and Christianity.
While Silverman argued that the government needs to practice neutrality toward all religions, and therefore not honor Christmas as a federal holiday because it is a Christian tradition, O'Reilly argued that Christianity is "not a religion, it is a philosophy," and therefore all non-religious Americans can honor Christmas.
The debate began with O'Reilly, a self-proclaimed Roman Catholic, questioning Silverman: "Why are you messing around with my tradition, why are you messing around with Christmas? Just leave it alone." more >>
Pope Benedict XVI's latest book, The Infancy Narratives: Jesus of Nazareth, challenges popular beliefs about Jesus' birth, but Roman Catholic officials have squashed media headlines that seem to portray the pope as a sort of Christmas grinch.
"I think that what people need to realize here is that the pope is trying to be as historical as he can be," said Father Robert Dodaro, professor of patristics, or the study of early Church writings, at Rome's Patristic Institute.
"He wants to see the biblical narratives as history where possible but he is also trying to explain details in the narratives that cannot be historically verified," he added. more >>
The Salvation Army responded to the latest blogosphere attacks from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists by stating that they believe that all people are equal and that it provides services and employment opportunities to everyone who is qualified. The Christian-based organization released the statement as the result of opposition from the gay community that appears to resurface every year during the Red Kettle fundraising campaign at holiday season.
"We believe that all people are equal, regardless of sexual orientation or any other factors including race, gender and ethnicity," stated Major George Hood, National Community Relations Secretary for The Salvation Army. "We firmly oppose the vilification and mistreatment of gays and lesbians. Any such incident is in clear opposition to all established Salvation Army policy."
In a recent post by the liberal political media site America Blog, a blogger asks shoppers and supporters to drop off downloadable "vouchers" instead of cash to Salvation Army bell ringers in an effort to let the organization know that "bigotry is not a Christmas value." The vouchers call the organization discriminatory and promises that the giver will donate to other groups. more >>
School officials at Western Piedmont Community College in North Carolina have put "Christmas" back in the name of a student club's fundraising tree sale after previously calling the event a "Holiday Tree Sale." The college made the change on Wednesday after receiving a letter from a religious freedom law group Tuesday that defended the students' constitutional right to reference the Christian holiday.
"Referring to Christmas trees as 'Christmas trees' is perfectly acceptable and constitutional," said Matt Sharp, Legal Counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom. "We commend WPCC officials for doing the right thing in working speedily to correct this problem, and we hope other schools in similar situations will follow their example."
The administration at the small community college in western North Carolina replaced the word "Christmas" with "holiday" in a student club's announcement of the Christmas tree sale, and originally defended the move by saying, "We cannot market your trees in association solely with a Christian event," according to ADF. more >>
School officials at a community college in western North Carolina replaced the word "Christmas" with "holiday" in a student club's announcement of a Christmas tree sale aimed at raising funds for charity, says a religious freedom law group. "We cannot market your trees in association solely with a Christian event," a college official told the club, according to Alliance Defending Freedom.
Lawyers from ADF responded by sending a letter to Western Piedmont Community College pointing out that it had violated the constitutional rights of the club.
"It's ridiculous that anyone would have to think twice about using the word 'Christmas' as part of a Christmas tree sale," said Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. "Not only is it perfectly constitutional to use the word 'Christmas,' it is unconstitutional to prohibit use of it. This is another perfect example of the immense misunderstanding that far too many college officials have about what the First Amendment truly requires." more >>
An atheist organization has set up its own version of the Nativity scene in Madison, Wis., replacing the traditional Christian depiction of Jesus' birth with figures and objects honored by secularists.
"We nonbelievers don't mind sharing the season with Christians, but we think there should be some acknowledgment that the Christians really 'stole' the trimmings of Christmas, and the sun-god myths, from pagans," said Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor.
Emma Goldman, the goddess Venus, the Statue of Liberty, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein and Thomas Jefferson replace the magi, or wise men, in the atheist's Nativity version, while the baby Jesus has been replaced by a baby girl. more >>