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 >>
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 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 >>
A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that a lawsuit filed by an atheist group asking for the removal of a World War II era statue of Jesus near a Montana ski resort can proceed.
The Knights of Columbus and four others had requested that the lawsuit be dismissed since the Freedom From Religion Foundation had not found an individual or group that maintained they were harmed by the statue's presence.
Now William Cox, a self-avowed atheist who occasionally skies past the statue and lives 15 miles away, has said he considers it too religious and offensive. 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 >>