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ZGram - 12/23/2004 - "Christmas is Taboo in America"

zgrams at zgrams.zundelsite.org
Thu Dec 23 12:16:30 EST 2004

Zgram - Where Truth is Destiny:  Now more than ever!

December 23, 2004

Good Morning from the Zundelsite:

With Christmas approaching, this Zgram should be a wake-up call for 
Christians and non-Christians alike:


"Christmas Is Taboo In America"


By Philip Sherwell
The Telegraph - UK

For her son's school "holiday party" last week, Julie West baked a 
birthday cake for the baby Jesus - a gesture of defiance both against 
his teachers and the growing campaign in America to remove any trace 
of Christmas from public life.

Six-year-old Aaron had brought home a note from his school, in 
Washington state, that asked parents to provide food that their 
family traditionally enjoyed during the holiday season.

"He asked for the cake I make at Christmas with the words 'Happy 
Birthday Jesus'," said Ms West. "I called the school to let them 
know, but a few days later the teacher phoned back to say that I 
couldn't bring the cake as the party was not a religious event."

Ms West, who attends a non-denominational church in Edmonds, near 
Seattle, was amazed. "It wasn't an attempt to impose my beliefs on 
anyone. It was just a cake," she said. "I think all traditions and 
religions should be celebrated at this time of year."

After researching the issue on the internet she contacted the 
Rutherford Institute, a mainstream pressure group that defends 
religious freedom. It assured her that even though the American 
constitution bans the promotion of religion by the government, simply 
bringing a cake iced with "Happy Birthday Jesus" into the school 
broke no laws. "So I took the cake in for the party on Tuesday and 
none of the other parents or children were offended," she said. "The 
only comment was how delicious it was.

"I didn't set out to make a point, but now I hope I have helped a few 
other people understand their rights."

Not everyone is as robust. Across the United States, celebrations for 
what many Americans now refer to as the "C word" have been all but 
restricted to churches and private homes.

In Wichita, Kansas, a local newspaper ran an apology after referring 
to a "Christmas tree", rather than a "community tree" at the city's 
Winterfest celebration. In Denver, a Christian church float was 
barred from the city's parade while Chinese lion dancers and German 
folk dancers were welcomed. In parts of Florida, fir trees have been 
banned this year from government-owned property.

A mayor in Massachusetts issued a formal apology to anyone offended 
by a press release that mistakenly described the town of Somerville's 
holiday party as a "Christmas party". Schools in Florida and New 
Jersey have banned all carols and elsewhere in Washington state a 
school principal banned a production of A Christmas Carol mainly 
because Tiny Tim prays: "God bless us, every one."

In one New Jersey school district, where the singing of Christmas 
carols has long been abandoned, officials have this year forbidden 
children's orchestras to play songs such as Silent Night because that 
might remind people of their Christian content.

Frosty the Snowman and Winter Wonderland have, however, been deemed 
acceptable as they are devoid of any religious references.

"The majority of people in the towns think that this policy is 
unnecessary," said William Calabrese, the town president (mayor) of 
South Orange. "This feels like a slap in the face to diversity, not a 
symbol of it. They're sterilising the school systems, taking away 
freedom of choice. It's a type of totalitarianism."

The fightback, however, has begun. Showdowns are taking place across 
the country as individuals, and conservative and religious groups, 
come out against the zealous interpretation of the separation of 
Church and state.

In Chicago, a Nativity scene has been given police protection after a 
life-sized model of the infant Christ was briefly stolen before being 
recovered earlier this month.

"This has been getting worse for years and people have finally had 
enough," said John Whitehead, the founder of the Rutherford 
Institute, which has issued its own "Twelve Rules of Christmas" 
setting out people's religious rights.

"Political correctness is all-pervasive here. Christmas has become a 
taboo in America but now people are fighting back."

In the Oklahoma City suburb of Mustang, voters angered by a school 
board's decision to remove a Nativity scene from a school play 
demonstrated their fury at the ballot box last week. They rejected 
the board's plans to raise $11 million (£5.7 million) by issuing 

Many parents were particularly angry that the play still featured 
Santa Claus and a Christmas tree in addition to symbols of the Jewish 
festival of Hanukkah and of Kwanzaa, an African-American celebration 
established in 1966 as a counter to Christmas. These were deemed 
"cultural" rather than religious.

Also last week, a court challenge began in New York to overturn a 
policy that allows the Jewish menorah and Islamic crescent and star 
to be displayed in schools, but forbids Nativity scenes.

The Catholic League and Thomas More Law Centre are appealing against 
a lower court ruling that found that the Jewish and Muslim symbols 
have a secular dimension while the Nativity is "purely religious".

Organisations such as the Americans United (AU) for Separation of 
Church and State believe that the campaign to put Christ back into 
Christmas is being pushed by conservative Christian groups buoyed by 
the victory of President George W Bush and the religious Right in 
last month's elections. "They are emboldened," said Robert Boston, an 
AU spokesman.

The Chicago Nativity has been at the centre of controversy since the 
American Civil Liberties Union, the American Jewish Congress and the 
American Atheists launched a legal challenge against its location on 
public property.

Their case was thrown out because the scene was erected by a private 
group. This year, at least, other expressions of religious freedom 
are also being allowed in the city.

Pressure groups such as the Rutherford Institute and the Alliance 
Defence Fund, which hires lawyers to fight perceived anti-Christian 
bias, say that many teachers and public officials are confused about 
the law and wrongly believe that any religious displays or symbols 
are forbidden on government property.

Others have been cowed by a stream of complaints and are just seeking 
"the easy life", according to Mr Whitehead. Retailers are 
particularly sensitive to complaints. Several stores, including 
Macy's, have reportedly banned their staff from referring to 
Christmas in case they deter non-Christian customers, prompting a 
group of angry Californians to boycott its outlets.

While President Bush's holiday greetings card, posted to a record two 
million recipients this year, carries a line from Psalm 95 - "Let us 
come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song" 
- there is no mention of Christmas on the White House website. Even 
Fox News, the conservative television network, cannot bring itself to 
wish a merry Christmas to its viewers. Instead, "Happy Holidays" is 
flashed up to the tune - but not the words ñ of Ding Dong Merrily on 

The Rutherford Institute despairs. "This is not a Left-Right, 
Republican-Democrat issue," said Mr Whitehead. "It's about everyone's 
right to celebrate their religious beliefs as they want. We should be 
including all religions, not excluding one."


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