The nearly 60-year tradition of a Nativity scene displayed at a park and hosted by a coalition of churches in Santa Monica, Calif., has ended after a federal judge ruled on Monday that the city can ban such displays. A controversy over the display about the birth of Jesus at Palisades Park erupted last Christmas season when an atheist group "manipulated" the city's lottery system for spaces, according to a nonprofit, resulting in only two booths for the Christian group that normally uses 14 booths for the various Nativity-related scenes.
"It's a very sad day when a small number of people with an axe to grind, people who do not like Christianity, and who do not like God, are able to prevail by manipulating rules to censor our message from the public place where it has been displayed for the enjoyment of millions of people for nearly 60 years," Hunter Jameson, head of the nonprofit Santa Monica Nativity Scene Committee, told The Christian Post Monday.
"It's even sadder that a city government would allow itself to go along with this effort to try to snuff out a message that a small group of people did not agree with," Jameson added. more >>
Churches are going to federal court to reclaim their freedom of speech after the city of Santa Monica, Calif., decided to end a nearly 60-year tradition of having Christian displays of the nativity in a public park due to an uproar caused by atheists' anti-God signs.
"It's a sad, sad commentary on the attitudes of the day that a nearly 60-year-old Christmas tradition is now having to hunt for a home, something like our savior had to hunt for a place to be born because the world was not interested," The Associated Press quoted Hunter Jameson, head of the nonprofit Santa Monica Nativity Scene Committee, as saying.
The committee, comprising churches that are behind the nativity display, is suing in federal court, claiming the city violated their freedom of speech by stopping the holiday tradition. A court hearing is scheduled for Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. more >>
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 >>