A Florida Commission has adopted a new ordinance allowing for non-sectarian prayers before their meetings officially begin, prompting concern from church-state watchdog groups.
The Miami-Dade County Commission voted 8 to 3 on Tuesday to allow for non-sectarian prayers either from invited clergy or Commission members themselves. This new policy on prayers at meetings replaces the older practice of holding a moment of silence before meetings, which had been instituted in 2004.
The Christian Family Coalition, a socially conservative organization based in Miami, led the 18-month lobbying effort to change the policy on prayers. Anthony Verdugo, CFC Founder and Executive Director who formerly worked for the Florida chapter of the Christian Coalition, told The Christian Post that it was a good decision. more >>
A church in Little Rock, Ark., canceled one performance of "Merry Christmas Charlie Brown" after an atheist organization complained and said students should not be exposed to a show with Christian themes as part of a school field trip.
Happy Caldwell, pastor of Agape Church, issued a statement on the church's website on Wednesday, stating that while he believes the school was within its constitutional rights to bring students to the production, the church has nevertheless decided to cancel a Friday showing for students.
"It is not our desire to put hard working, sacrificial teachers and cast members in harm's way," wrote Caldwell. "What we want said is that we love our city, our schools, parents and families. People are at the heart of the matter to us." more >>
A coalition of churches and individual Christians in Santa Monica, Calif., has decided to not let a city ban on Nativity scene displays at a public park deter them from showing their outward expressions of Christmas. Complete with an ensemble of people dressed as historical figures present at the time of Jesus' birth, groups began singing Christmas carols and telling the Nativity story at a park next to the city's pier Monday evening. They plan to continue each night until Dec. 23.
Some are calling the action a "creative loophole" in the recent ruling because it applies to unmanned nativity displays such as the ones at the park hosted by the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee for 59 years. While some of the city's Christian leaders are saying that, in spite of the ban, the chance to be present and interact with those visiting the park is a blessing.
"What I'm realizing this year that's exciting for me is that we are continuing to say we don't think that we are the only ones who get to celebrate this time of year," said Pastor Steve Snook of Metro Calvary Chapel Church in Santa Monica. "The idea is that everybody can celebrate the materialism of Christmas. They can celebrate the lights and family and all these things, but we want to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas and we're going to do it." more >>
A federal court has rejected a suit by a nationwide secular organization to allow their Indiana chapter to oversee marriage ceremonies in the state.
U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker of the Southern District of Indiana ruled Friday that the Center for Inquiry Inc. could not perform solemnization services for marriages, writing that CFI "have not succeeded on the merits of their First Amendment or Equal Protection claim."
"Because Plaintiffs cannot demonstrate actual success on the merits in either of their stated causes of action, their remaining arguments are wholly unavailing," wrote Evans. "As a result, and pursuant to guiding case law, Plaintiffs' motion for permanent injunctive relief must be DENIED. Final judgment shall now issue in conjunction with this entry." more >>
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 >>
A Montana ranch that operates on behalf of disadvantaged children is entangled in a legal dispute over whether it can benefit from a certain regulation exemption regarding religious nonprofits.
Ranch for Kids, based in Eureka near the Canadian border, seeks to be freed from state oversight on the condition that they are part of a religious nonprofit.
Joyce Sterkel, owner of Ranch for Kids, told The Christian Post that "about governmental administrative regulations." more >>