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 >>
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 >>
A national coalition of Christian groups has joined the fray over the ending of the nearly 60-year tradition of Nativity scenes at a park in Santa Monica, Calif., by announcing it will hold a "Live Nativity Display" on Saturday, Dec. 8. The announcement comes on the same day a U.S. District Judge officially dismissed a lawsuit filed by a local church coalition seeking to challenge the city's ban on Nativity and other seasonal displays in public areas.
The Live Nativity Display campaign is being led by the Christian Defense Coalition and Faith and Action, which are both based in Washington, D.C., along with local Southern California Christians and pastors.
"Sadly, we are seeing an erosion of expressions of faith in the public square," said the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition. "This is especially true during the Christmas season. We must be constantly reminded that the Constitution promises freedom 'of' religion not freedom 'from' religion. more >>
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 >>