Thursday, November 30, 2006

Anti-Christmas Chill Felt In Windy City

Chicago, IL - Today, Liberty Counsel asked Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley to stop the religious discrimination against the film The Nativity Story, which has been banned from an event in Daley Plaza. The city of Chicago told organizers of the annual Christkindlmarket (Christ child market) festival not to allow the showing of clips of The Nativity Story, a new film produced and distributed by New Line Cinema, a Time Warner Company. Festival organizers, the German American Chamber of Commerce, complied with the city's request and returned the $12,000 sponsorship cost to the filmmaker.Liberty Counsel faxed a letter to Mayor Daley, informing him that the city must not discriminate against religious viewpoints about Christmas nor interfere with the business relationship between the filmmaker and the festival organizers. Liberty Counsel also urged the festival organizers to accept The Nativity Story as a sponsor.The city claims that promoting The Nativity Story on public property could offend non-Christians and "may be insensitive to the many people of different faiths who come to enjoy the market." The city did not comment on whether the mayor was concerned that ousting the film from the popular Christmas festival would offend Christians and the vast majority of Americans who celebrate Christmas.The Nativity Story will start playing tomorrow in theaters nationwide and is expected to be popular with viewers of all ages. The film begins with paranoid King Herod and moves through the story of Mary's visitation by the angel, Mary's visit with Elizabeth, Joseph's visitation by an angel and their trip to Bethlehem where Jesus is born. The film contains realistic depictions of everyday Jewish life and exceptional cinematography. Most of the scenes were filmed in Matera, Italy, the same location used for The Passion of the Christ.Liberty Counsel has been involved in defending religious liberty cases since 1989. On its Web site, http://lc.org/helpsavechristmas, as part of its fourth annual Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign, Liberty Counsel offers legal memoranda to educate government officials, employers and others that it is legal and proper to celebrate Christmas. Liberty Counsel will educate and, if necessary, litigate to ensure that Christmas is not censored.Only political correctness gone mad can conceive of booting a film about the birth of Christ from a Christmas celebration, especially a celebration whose name means 'Christ child market.' We honor mothers on Mothers' Day, but in Chicago we can't acknowledge Christ at Christmas? How rude and insensitive it is to enjoy the festivities of a party but not invite the one who is being honored. Chicago officials have violated the core of the First Amendment by censoring the film for its religious viewpoint.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The War Against Christmas

Orlando, FL - The war against Christmas is still raging but Americans are fighting back. Since launching its fourth annual "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign," Liberty Counsel has received numerous reports from people all across America who are offended at the blatant censorship of Christmas. Here are some of the most recent reports from people who are standing up for Christmas.* A high school in Wisconsin told student leaders that religious symbols, decorations or wording relating to Christmas will not be permitted this year.* In Ohio, a public school told teachers not to say "Merry Christmas."* A public school teacher in North Carolina was told not to display anything in class with the word "Christmas" on it and not to tell students "Merry Christmas."* A city in New Mexico doesn't want the name of Jesus used in the Christmas parade.* The New York Parks Department is having a "Holiday Tree" instead of a "Christmas Tree."* A manufacturer in Virginia told employees to only use "Happy Holiday" as a telephone greeting, not "Merry Christmas".* A school in Wisconsin wanted to move a musical program from a church to another location, but decided to keep the event in the church after receiving Liberty Counsel's Christmas legal memo.As part of the annual Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign, Liberty Counsel has created a "Naughty and Nice" list which catalogs retailers who either censor or recognize Christmas. The list (at http://www.lc.org/helpsavechristmas) was compiled from information gathered by Liberty Counsel supporters and is updated whenever new information is received. The "naughtiest stores" on the list are Best Buy and Eddie Bauer, which blatantly refuse to recognize Christmas in order not to be "disrespectful" or "offensive". Originally, Toys 'R' Us was on the naughty list because a store wrote a letter saying that the company aims to be "neutral" about Christmas to show respect for customers. Toys 'R' Us is now on the "nice" list after the company said it disagreed with the guest relations coordinator.Our Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign is gathering momentum and making changes. I am encouraged to see that more and more Americans taking a stand in defense of Christmas in public places. If we don't combat the grinches, the American observance of Christmas is in danger of sinking under the waves of 'winterfest' driven by gales of 'seasonal shopping'.

Naughty and Nice List

Orlando, FL – As part of the Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign, Liberty Counsel has created a “Naughty and Nice" checklist (available online in pdf or MSWord) which catalogs retailers who either censor or recognize Christmas. The complete list can be found at www.LC.org or www.HelpSaveChristmas.org. The list was compiled from information gathered by Liberty Counsel supporters.Partial “Naughty List"Lowe’s – Employees cannot say “Merry Christmas" to customers. Lowe’s corporate advised that only when customers initiate a “Merry Christmas" greeting can employees respond in kind. Toys ‘R’ Us – “Holidays" are in, “Merry Christmas" is out. Banana Republic – Web site has “Holiday Gift Guide" with no mention of Christmas. Bed Bath & Beyond – No mention of any holidays. Barnes & Noble – Web site says “Gift Guide," “Holiday gift baskets," “Holiday sled," “Holiday delivery," but no Christmas. Stores not allowed to put up Christmas trees, and employees are not allowed to say “Merry Christmas." Best Buy – Web site says “Unique gifts for the season," “Holiday gift ideas." Spokesperson said the use of “Merry Christmas" is disrespectful. Dick’s Sporting Goods – Web site says “gifts" and has images, but no mention of Christmas. Eddie Bauer – Customer service would not recognize Christmas, they “don’t want to offend Jews, those who celebrate Kwanza and those who have no religious preference." Gap – “Holiday Survival Guide" with no mention of Christmas. Home Depot – Web site says “Holiday Store" and “Holiday Lighting" and only at bottom of site says “Make your Christmas decorations complete." Stores have “Holiday Home Accents." K-Mart – Selling “Holiday trees" and “Holiday wreaths."Partial “Nice List"Dillard’s – Advertises “Christmas Catalog." JC Penney – Web site has “Christmas Shipping Countdown." Joann Fabrics – Offers Christmas and Holiday fabrics. Kohl’s – Christmas is all over TV, print and radio ads. L.L. Bean – Advertises and distributes “Christmas Catalog." Linens ‘N Things – Has a “Christmas Shop" and “Christmas Checklist." Macy’s – “Merry Christmas!" on its home page. Michaels – Web site has a Christmas section. M&M-Mars Candies – Will have red and green candies with pictures of Christmas trees and angels among other images. Target – Web site says “Christmas Decor," although the physical store has “Holiday entertaining." TV ad says “Merry Christmas." Wal-Mart – Has a “Christmas Shop," plays Christmas carols, and employees can say “Merry Christmas."Every consumer should make a list and check it twice, stop patronizing retailers which are naughty and shop at those which are nice. Retailers which seek to profit from Christmas while pretending it does not exist should realize they have offended the vast majority of Americans who enjoy Christmas. Customers have a choice and they will not patronize corporate Scrooges.

Monday, November 20, 2006

In God We Trust

San Francisco, CA - Today, Liberty Counsel filed an amicus brief in the case of Newdow v. United States Congress with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Atheist Michael A. Newdow suit claims that the national motto, "In God We Trust" violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. Newdow lost at the district court and the case is now on appeal. Newdow's previous suit to remove "Under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance was unsuccessful.In 1865, Congress passed an act placing "In God We Trust" on all coins. The motto has been used on paper money since 1957. The constitutionality of the motto was challenged in 1970 in Aronow v. United States, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the phrase "has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion". In 1979, atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair also unsuccessfully challenged the motto in the case of O'Hair v. Blumenthal.Although the District Court ruled against Newdow on the merits, Liberty Counsel's brief argues that the District Court improperly applied the standing rules when it found Newdow had standing to bring the suit in the first place. In order to have "standing" a person must have sufficient connection to and harm caused by whatever the person is challenging. In the brief, Liberty Counsel argues that the District Court "stretched precedents beyond the breaking point to find that Newdow had standing to challenge the national motto because the word 'God' offended him." In doing so, the court usurped its very limited role as adjudicator of legal rights to become a creator of legal rights, thus blurring the lines between the legislature and judiciary.Permitting a citizen to sue merely because the person is offended by religious words goes far beyond the intent of the First Amendment. Passive words cannot establish a religion. If Michael Newdow is permitted to proceed with his claim, then the court would become a 'bully pulpit' for any malcontent. American was founded upon religious principals and the belief in God. How can the mere expression of our American heritage establish a religion? Such a thought is preposterous.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Growing Support for Christmas Forces Retailers to Take Notice

Orlando, FL - Following on the heels of Wal-Mart admitting censoring Christmas is not a good idea, other retailers, cities and school systems are starting to take notice of Liberty Counsel's Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign and the growing public support for Christmas.Massachusetts - After the Medway School District was criticized over its censorship of Christmas, the superintendent recently gave teachers guidelines that allow celebration of the Christmas holiday. Last Christmas season, Liberty Counsel contacted the District on behalf of parents who complained that Medway Middle School had banned students from wearing red and green elf hats during its "winter" pageant, Christmas trees were called "Magical trees" and a religious song was censored. This year, according to the guidelines, Medway schools can have Christmas trees and religious Christmas songs.Wisconsin - After a year of persistent effort by Robert Wortock, with Liberty Counsel's assistance, the Racine Common Council reversed last year's decision and voted 15-0 last week to allow a nativity scene display downtown in Monument Square. (On October 17, the Council voted 14-1in favor of the nativity scene, but a re-vote was taken on November 8 due to a question about notice.)Around the Nation - This is only the beginning of the Christmas season and already, Liberty Counsel is receiving many telephone calls and email reports about Christmas censorship. In Florida, a student was chosen to be Mrs. Claus in an after-school choral group, but the principal later told her that the play would not take place because a parent complained about Santa Claus. The same group learned songs for Kwanzaa and Hanukah. In another Florida public school, the calendar of holidays lists "Christmas" as "winter" and Thanksgiving Day as "International Festival." A church in New Mexico entered its float in a Christmas Parade, but local government officials advised church leaders not to use the name of Jesus in songs performed in the parade. The words to "Silent Night" were changed to "Candle Light" in an elementary school program in a New York school. Teachers in North Carolina were told not to wish students "Merry Christmas" or display anything in their classrooms using the word "Christmas." Teachers at a Tennessee public school were told to keep Christmas out of their plans for this year. A clothing store worker in Virginia was advised by her supervisor that the company mandates that the employees use "Happy Holidays" as their greeting over the phone.On its web site, www.LC.org, Liberty Counsel offers legal memoranda to educate government officials, teachers, parents, students, private businesses, employees and others that it is legal to celebrate Christmas.Thanksgiving isn't even here yet, and already we are having a tremendous response to our fourth annual Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign. We are pleased that the Medway School District took our advice and stopped censoring Christmas. Medway has been removed from our 'Grinch List', but we will continue to expose other Christmas foes until we win the war on Christmas.

Friday, November 10, 2006

'Good News' Clubs Gain Equal Access

Orlando, FL - Liberty Counsel is working with Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) to clear the way for CEF's Good News Clubs to use public school facilities after school. The Clubs are designed to teach character development to children ages 5-12. Liberty Counsel's efforts on behalf of CEF are meeting with great success all across America.Orange County, North CarolinaAfter written demand by Liberty Counsel to reverse a decision forbidding public school teachers from leading Good News Clubs, the Orange County school district agreed on Thursday to no longer restrict any employee's private speech rights and to allow teachers to lead Good News Clubs on their own time, including after school. In 2004 Liberty Counsel won a case in North Dakota against a school district that prohibited a teacher from teaching students after school in a Good News Club.Naytahwaush, MinnesotaOn Monday, the Naytahwaush Community Charter School approved CEF's request for a Good News Club at the school. The school is located on an Indian reservation. CEF has tried to start Clubs at several schools but was met with resistance from the Reservation until Liberty Counsel intervened. Local CEF leaders are excited about the new Club, and the growth of the local chapter.Lone Peak and Forbes, UtahAfter being stonewalled and rejected, two school districts have agreed recently to allow the Good News Clubs to use their facilities. On Wednesday of this week, a club started at a school in Forbes. A Good News Club will start in Lone Peak on next Thursday. Currently, there are 16 after-school Good News Clubs meeting in seven different school districts in Utah. Every school CEF contacted for a Good News Club has now allowed equal access.Liberty Counsel published educational materials focusing on the rights of students and teachers in public schools, and also provides legal assistance to school officials in drafting policies respecting the free speech rights of students, staff, parents and groups using school facilities.We are excited that more and more school districts are getting the message - equal access means equal treatment. Good News Clubs are great for kids and schools. The clubs teach respect, morality and character development. Instead of restricting Good News Clubs, public schools ought to embrace them.http://www.lc.orghttp://www.cefonline.com/ministry/gnc.php

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Customer Backlash Gets Wal-Mart into the Christmas Spirit

Orlando, FL - Wal-Mart has finally admitted that censoring Christmas is not a good idea. After experiencing a backlash last Christmas season from unhappy customers and facing frustrated employees, some of whom turned to Liberty Counsel for help, Wal-Mart retreated from its use of "Happy Holidays" and will let employees greet shoppers with "Merry Christmas.""We, quite frankly, have learned a lesson from last year," said spokeswoman Linda Blakely of Wal-Mart in an interview with USA Today news. Blakely claims Wal-Mart will say "Merry Christmas" early and often. Wal-Mart will be playing Christmas carols now through the end of the year.The world's largest retailer told its associates at a recent conference that it will bring back the Christmas pitch in an attempt to be the leader in this year's sales. Wal-Mart's advertising will announce "Christmas" and its decorations department will change from "The Holiday Shop" to "The Christmas Shop."Liberty Counsel, a nationwide, public interest civil liberties law firm, launched its fourth annual "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign" this year and is already receiving many consumer complaints about stores refusing to recognize the Christmas holiday. On its web site, www.LC.org, Liberty Counsel offers a Help Save Christmas™ action pack, which includes educational legal memoranda to educate government officials, teachers, parents, students, private businesses, employees and others that it is legal to celebrate Christmas. The action pack also includes a very popular "I LOVE CHRISTmas™" button.Anita Staver, President of Liberty Counsel, commented: "We are glad that Wal-Mart stopped censoring Christmas. Wal-Mart should have realized it cannot censor Christmas and would have avoided the wrath of the public. To those that claim there is no war against Christmas in America, Wal-Mart is 'Exhibit A' in our 'Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign'. We are having a tremendous response when we ask the public to report a 'grinch' in their community. Wal-Mart has been removed from our 'grinch' list."Last year our 'Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign' ignited a movement to restore Christmas. Retailers that attempt to profit from Christmas while pretending it does not exist will no longer be patronized. The tsunami of voices fed up with the secularization of Christmas was heard loud and clear, from city hall to the world's largest retailer. I am pleased that Wal-Mart will recognize Christmas this year. Now that the number one retailer has abandoned its generic 'Happy Holidays' greeting in favor of 'Merry Christmas,' other retailers no longer have an excuse to run from Christmas."http://www.lc.org/

Monday, November 06, 2006

Nurse Testifies Before Supreme Court On Partial-Birth Abortion

Washington, D.C. - On Wednesday morning, November 8, 2006, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral argument regarding the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 ("Act") in Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood and Gonzalez v. Carhart. Liberty Counsel filed amicus briefs in both cases with the Court on behalf of the Association of Pro-Life Physicians and Illinois nurse Jill Stanek, in favor of the Act.Nurse Stanek has a special interest in late-term abortions. She worked in a hospital where aborted babies born alive were cast aside to die. Stanek offered riveting testimony during hearings on the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. Stanek's testimony was also introduced into Congressional hearings on the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. Liberty Counsel President Anita Staver represents Stanek and the physician's group. Staver, an attorney who also has a Master's degree in counseling, recognizes the mental anguish experienced by women who have abortions, especially those who are uninformed about abortion's after-effects.This is the second time this decade that the Supreme Court has heard oral argument on partial-birth abortion. In 2000, the Court struck down a Nebraska statute that it deemed too vague and which did not provide an exception for the health of the mother. The Act passed by Congress, which the Court will consider this term, more specifically describes partial-birth abortion. After hearing testimony on the subject, Congress determined that the Act did not need a health exception because "partial-birth abortion is never medically indicated to preserve the health of the mother."While termed a "partial-birth abortion," the procedure is actually infanticide in that a baby is brutally killed during the birth process, just a few inches away from birth with only its head inside the mother.Women in this nation should be horrified that our sisters are still being subjected to the barbaric butchery of partial-birth abortion. Doctors are obligated to protect woman and that means we must be fully informed of the details of any surgical procedure. Partial-birth abortion causes babies to die a painful death. I am convinced that women do not want their offspring tortured. Not even a death-row inmate could legally be subjected to such a punishment in this nation. I predict that the High Court will retreat from its previous decision and will uphold the federal partial-birth abortion ban. Also, in the not too distant future, I believe that the Supreme Court will rectify the worst decision it ever made. The life span of Roe v. Wade and its progeny is waning. One day we will look back with shame and sorrow on this nation's approval of abortion.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Auburn Sees the (Christmas Tree) Light

Auburn, AL - After two open forums held over an eleven-month period, the Auburn University Student Government Association (SGA) announced that the former "Holiday" tree lighting event will now be called "Holiday Celebration featuring the Lighting of the Christmas Tree."The event had been called the Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony since its inception in 2000. The former president of College Republicans, Laura Steele, started a petition to rename the event shortly before last year's tree lighting ceremony. Liberty Counsel worked closely with Ms. Steele to support the effort she spearheaded. According to the Associated Press, over 20,000 e-mails were received over the issue. Thanks to the efforts and persistence of Laura Steele and other student leaders, the stir caused the SGA to review the event, as well as the entire program. "I am so happy that the SGA has decided to call the tree what it is, a Christmas Tree," said Laura. "They have the support and thanks of the thousands of students, alumni and fans that joined the effort to bring the name Christmas back to this wonderful University. We are all very happy to have this resolved and thrilled that we can continue to positively promote Christmas and the real meaning of the season this year at Auburn."Wes Bonds, spokesman for the celebration committee, said the SGA wanted to make sure the tree was called a Christmas tree. "We wanted to find a name that included everything going on," Bonds said. George Stegall, president of SGA, said he believes the new name is more accurate. "There's no holiday tree. Something had to be done about calling a Christmas tree a holiday tree," he said. "I think it will definitely be well received by Auburn University and the Auburn community," he said. The new celebration will include the lighting of the Christmas tree, as well as the lighting of a peace candle and possibly the lighting of a menorah. There has been a disturbing trend toward censorship of Christmas celebrations, but people all across America are fighting back to help save Christmas. Everyone knows that a green, pointed, prickly tree we decorate in December is a Christmas tree. Renaming a Christmas tree to a "Holiday tree" is hypocritical political correctness run amok. Christmas IS constitutional. The Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign is stirring millions of Americans to help save Christmas and to preserve our religious freedom before it is lost forever.
www.lc.org