In an attempt to quell an avid seasonal debate between religious and atheist residents of Loudoun County in Virginia, officials have ruled that a county-sponsored display may be set up on the local courthouse lawn this upcoming 2012 holiday season, and have also banned all unattended holiday displays.
The local chapter of the American Atheist organization, however, has had their application for an attended holiday display approved as well, and is planning to implement its 'Science on the Lawn" display this Saturday, Nov. 15.
The county-sponsored display, located in the town of Leesburg and approved by Loudoun County's Board of Supervisors last week, will include both secular and religious symbols, including Santa Clause, a decorated Christmas tree, a Nativity scene display, and a menorah. more >>
The Bible Society, a U.K. charity organization seeking to spread the Gospel and engage people with the Scripture, has said that Christmas cards are becoming noticeably less religious in recent times – and is offering its own alternative for people of faith.
"We are hearing from our 300,000 supporters and more widely, that it's quite hard to find cards which tell the story of Christmas, and people want more choice," said Richard Franklin of the Bible Society.
"I know in some charity shops you can often find a lot of these types of cards which is great and we welcome that, but we certainly thought there was a gap in the market." more >>
The Pacific Justice Institute filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the City of Santa Monica, Calif., which decided in June to put an end to a 60-year tradition of allowing Nativity displays to be set up in a public park.
Brad Dacus, president of PJI, told The Christian Post on Friday that it was "anti-religious intolerance" by some individuals that ultimately made the suit necessary. Individuals have a right to reject religious holidays, he says, but they should not be permitted to silence the religious expression of others.
"This park in question has functioned as a traditional public forum in the past, and no city can arbitrarily shut down a traditional public forum that has already been established ... The traditional public forum, based on established case law, recognizes the free speech rights of individuals to express themselves in such forums. This park is no exception, whether the city likes it or not," said Dacus. more >>
One week after a controversy broke out over New York's Department of Education's (DOE) policy of suggesting that school test publishers avoid certain topics and words while preparing the tests- words like "evolution," "birthday" and any topics related to religion - the department announced earlier this week that it is abandoning the much-criticized practice.
"After reconsidering our message to test publishers and the reaction from parents, we will revise our guidance and eliminate the list of words to avoid on tests," Shael Polakow-Suransky, the city's chief academic officer, said in a statement emailed to the press Tuesday. "We will continue to advise companies to be sensitive to student backgrounds and avoid unnecessary distractions that could invalidate test scores and give an inaccurate assessment of how students are doing."
"New York City schools teach the broadest, richest curriculum in the nation and we can't let this distract from the important work going on our classrooms," the official said, alluding to criticism that limiting the list of possible test topics is equivalent to providing children with bad education. more >>
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied an appeal by two religious groups at San Diego State University who sought to limit their membership to those who shared the same beliefs and values.
In a one-sentence order with no comment, the high court declined to hear the case, which came as no surprise to the Alliance Defense Fund, which represented the Alpha Delta Chi sorority and Alpha Gamma Omega fraternity.
"The United States Supreme Court decided not to hear a case today. Alpha Delta Chi (ADX) v Reed. But that's not really news considering that they decide not to hear about 99% of the cases brought to them," said David Cortman, ADF senior counsel. more >>
A Los Angeles County beach city's battle over how to allocate park spaces during the Christmas season after atheist groups overpowered a nativity scene last year by dominating the majority of the lots available will continue until at least April.
The Santa Monica City Council voted earlier this week to set aside a controversial decision on the Christmas and winter displays in Palisades Park until its April meeting "to allow church groups and other supporters time to develop ways to keep the program going," according to the Santa Monica Daily Press.
Last Christmas season, there were 13 individuals that entered the race for the 21 spaces available at the park rather than the usual three. The unusually high demand for spots, especially by atheists, prompted Santa Monica's City Hall to implement a random lottery system to determine who would have access to the spots. more >>