Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"Grinch" Stores and "Grinch" Cities

Some Retailers Refuse to Acknowledge Christmas --
We have received many reports about stores that sell "holiday trees" instead of Christmas trees, use the word "holiday" and "Seasons Greetings" instead of "Merry Christmas and some that even ban the Salvation Army from outside.

Some cities are lighting "holiday trees" rather than "Christmas trees" -- although everyone knows that there is no other holiday in December that uses a tree in its celebration.

We want our blog readers to share their stories with us. Write about your experiences with what we are calling "grinch" stores and post them in comments on this blog. In case you didn't know -- the dictionary defines a "grinch" as someone who spoils the fun of others. That's what these stores do. We look forward to hearing from you!

Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign Gains Ground

Read about Liberty Counsel's "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign," as featured on the O'Reilly Factor, Fox and Friends, Hannity and Colmes, Fox News, CNN, Good Morning America and many other programs.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hillsborough County School Board Restores Religious Holidays

Liberty Counsel provides legal memo regarding Christmas holidays

Tampa, FL - Last night the Hillsborough County School Board restored several religious holidays to next year's school calendar. By a 5-2 vote, the board adopted a calendar that gives children a day off on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, Good Friday and the Monday after Easter. Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, has provided a legal memo to the Hillsborough County School Board regarding the constitutionality of celebrating Christmas during the holiday season.

After 24 people spoke last night, the school board voted in favor of Superintendent Mary Ellen Elia's recommendation to restore religious holidays to the calendar and to further study the issue. The issue gained national attention when Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair criticized the school board on the Fox News channel program, The O'Reilly Factor.

Liberty Counsel's memo is part of its "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign," which the religious liberty organization launched a few weeks ago. Christian Educators Association International has joined Liberty Counsel in the "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign." Its 8,000 members, consisting primarily of public school teachers and administrators, have also received the Christmas memo and are distributing it in their communities. Last week Dr. Jerry Falwell urged tens of thousands of pastors around the country to join Liberty Counsel's "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign" by placing advertisements in their local newspapers. The advertisements and the Christmas memo are available on our Web site at LC.org.

We are pleased that the religious holidays have been restored by the Hillsborough County School Board. The community senses a sigh of relief. Schools may coordinate days off with religious holidays. It is not only constitutional, but it is common sense to do so. Moreover, during the December holiday season, it is constitutional to celebrate Christmas. It sends a wrong message to either eliminate all holiday celebrations or to eliminate only the religious and Christian components of the holiday season. The Founding Fathers never intended the First Amendment to be used as a weapon against the celebration of Christmas.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Parents Will Ask for Rehearing of Ninth Circuit Court's Ruling on Outrageous Sex Questionnaire

Liberty Counsel joins the fight and becomes lead counsel for the parents

At the request of seven California parents, Liberty Counsel has agreed to become lead counsel in a case that shocked the nation last week. In Fields v. Palmdale School District, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that parental rights to direct the upbringing of their children stop at the "threshold of the school door."

The parents in Fields objected to a survey given to their children at Mesquite Elementary School. The survey was administered and developed by Kristi Seymour. Ms. Seymour volunteered at the school as a "mental health counselor" while enrolled in a master's degree program at California School of Professional Psychology. The survey asked children aged seven to ten about the frequency of: "Touching my private parts too much," "Thinking about having sex," "Thinking about touching other people's private parts," Thinking about sex when I don't want to," "Not trusting people because they might want sex," "Getting scared or upset when I think about sex," "Having sex feelings in my body," and "Can't stop thinking about sex."

Writing for the court, Judge Reinhardt, the same judge who ruled against the Pledge of Allegiance, stated that parents do not have a "right to compel public schools to follow their own idiosyncratic views as to what information the schools may dispense." The court stated that parents have no constitutional right "to prevent a public school from providing its students with whatever information it wishes to provide, sexual or otherwise, when and as the school determines that it is appropriate to do so." The court ruled that the only choice parents have is whether to enroll their children in public school. Once in school, the parents have no authority over what their children are taught. The school, according to the court, can teach the children anything, short of committing treason.

The parents feel like their children were mentally raped when they were subjected to embarrassing and inappropriate sexually explicit materials. Americans will be stunned to learn that parental rights
stop at the threshold of the school door. In the court's opinion, it's okay to teach kindergartners to use condoms or to tantalize youngsters with pornographic materials. Anything, at anytime, for any grade is fine. The court said that the only constitutional restriction is that the school may not commit treason! Such a ruling is unthinkable.

Liberty Counsel will ask the full panel of the Ninth Circuit to set aside the ruling. Liberty Counsel is also prepared to ask the Supreme Court to hear the case. According to The Weekly Standard, Judge Reinhardt is the most reversed judge in history by the Supreme Court.


Friday, November 04, 2005

Christian Ministry Asks Court to Hold Florida Property Appraiser in Contempt for Refusing to Abide by Court Order

--The Property Appraiser Ignores a Court Order Finding the Holy Land Experience Tax Exempt

Today, Liberty Counsel filed a Motion asking a Florida Circuit Court to hold Orange County Property Appraiser Bill Donegan in contempt for refusing to recognize a property tax exemption for The Holy Land Experience Ministries despite a court order holding the property to be tax exempt. Liberty Counsel represents The Holy Land Experience Ministries in a lawsuit brought in 2001 challenging the denial of a property tax exemption.

The Holy Land Experience, located off I-4 in Orlando, is a living Biblical museum that conveys its religious message through teaching, preaching, dramatic enactments, special music and performances, and multimedia presentations. The Biblical museum contains a walk-through replica of the Holy Land, including a towering Temple. The Scriptorium houses the largest private collection of ancient Biblical manuscripts.

On July 5, 2005, after almost 4 years of litigation, the Orange County Circuit Court issued an order stating, "The property on which The Holy Land Experience sits is exempt from ad valorem taxation due to being used predominately for religious purposes and not for a profitmaking purpose." A few weeks before the court's order, Mr. Donegan issued a letter denying property tax exemption for 2005. Following the order, Liberty Counsel requested that Mr. Donegan abide by the court's order and rescind the 2005 denial. Mr. Donegan has refused on more than one occasion, and has failed to recognize The Holy Land Experience as tax exempt.
The Motion for Contempt requests that the Court hold Mr. Donegan in contempt of court for blatantly refusing to abide by the Court's order declaring the property to be tax exempt. The Motion requests that the Court impose sanctions on Mr. Donegan until he comes into compliance with the Court's Order and recognizes The Holy Land Experience as exempt from property taxes.

Mr. Donegan has blatantly refused to follow the law. The property appraiser's office continues to trample on the rights of The Holy Land Experience and has thumbed its nose at the authority of the court. If Judge Roy Moore can be removed from office for refusing to obey a court order, then Mr. Donegan is not exempt from the law. The rule of law means something, and no official, high or petty, is above the rule of law. When a property appraiser refuses to abide by a court order it should cause concern for every property owner.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Dr. Jerry Falwell Urges Thousands of Churches to Join Liberty Counsel's "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign"

FL - Dr. Jerry Falwell announced today that he is urging thousands of pastors and churches to join Liberty Counsel's "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign." For the past 50 years, Dr. Falwell has been the pastor of the 24,000 member Thomas Road Baptist Church. He is also Chancellor of Liberty University, the largest evangelical university in the world.

In his weekly "Falwell Confidential" sent to a half million subscribers, including tens of thousands of pastors, Dr. Falwell stated: "I am calling upon thousands of pastors and churches to join Liberty Counsel's 'Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign.' We must draw a line in the sand and resist bullying tactics of the ACLU and others who intimidate school and government officials by spreading misinformation about Christmas. Celebrating Christmas is constitutional."

Thomas Road Baptist Church is sponsoring local newspaper ads promoting the Christmas Campaign. The ads, which are available in different sizes, point out that celebrating Christmas is still legal in schools, on public property and in private businesses. The ads also offer free legal assistance by Liberty Counsel to individuals facing persecution for celebrating Christmas. Liberty Counsel provides a free educational legal memo, with a pledge to be the "Friend" to those entities which do not discriminate against Christmas and a "Foe" to those that do.

The idea for church participation in the "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign" began last year when the largest church in Alaska, Anchorage Baptist Temple, pastored by Dr. Jerry Prevo, launched the
Campaign in Alaska by running newspaper ads. Commenting on the Campaign, Dr. Prevo stated: "The ads were a greater success than I had ever imagined. We received an outpouring of community support, and best of all, the preemptive measures resulted in not one incident of religious discrimination. I would encourage every pastor and church to participate."

We are thrilled to see so many pastors and churches promoting the Christmas Campaign. For too many years we have remained silent while the ACLU and others like them have played the role of the Grinch. We will no longer remain silent. We have no intention of letting misinformation chase our religious liberty or our religious heritage from the public marketplace. It's time to set the record straight - Christmas is constitutional.

Earlier this year Liberty Counsel announced that thousands of public school teachers and administrators, who are members of Christian Educators Association International, are also joining the "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign."

The sample full-page newspaper ad and a smaller version are posted on our web site in PDF format.

Click here to download free software to open PDF documents.