The month of December is always the Christian depiction of their being victimized because of their belief that the secular world is trying to take away their traditions—many of them pagan. Much of their myth about the “War on Christmas” centers around nativity scenes. For example, the Daily Caller complained that Nebraska was forced to remove the nativity scene from the capitol in exchange for a display from atheists. Actually, the Thomas More Society, which put up the nativity scene, waited too late to get the available space after December 18. Seven other groups used the display to demonstrate the separation of church and state, including scale models of a church, a wall, and federal government buildings to demonstrate the separation of church and state. Instead of asking these people if they could leave up their display, the Thomas More Society preferred to go to the press.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) ordered the removal of a nativity scene with the nation’s founding fathers kneeling over a manger that held the Bill of Rights instead of baby Jesus from the state Capitol. The small painted cutout in the basement of the Texas capitol was installed on December 18 with permission for one week, but Abbot said that there was “no obligation to approve displays that purposefully mock the sincere religious beliefs of others.”
After two years of strife in the state about religious displays in their state capitol, Florida Prayer Network decided against putting the manger scene this year. The network’s president, Pam Olsen, should be commended for her a letter explaining that she wanted to avoid the display debate after news of mass shootings and racial tensions. The only display was a six-foot “Festivus pole” wrapped in rainbow colors.
The person who installed the pole, Chaz Stevens of Jupiter (FL), has also received permission to display a “Festivus Pole,” topped by a disco ball, in the Oklahoma Capitol rotunda. Although dating back to 1966, the Festivus celebration became widely known after a 1997 Seinfeld TV sit com in which a character’s father described a holiday including feats of strength and the airing of grievances. Although Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, and Washington also accepted applications for this display, Arkansas denied a request for the Festivus pole. [Image of Stevens thanks to The Advocate]
The best nativity scene story this year may come from Sycamore Township (Ohio) where Jasen Dixon put up a manger scene featuring zombies. Last year he had to take down the display because he didn’t have a permit; this year he was told that it violated the zoning code. Full of Christianity, Fox business host Lou Dobbs said, “I think if you’re going to mock a religion, I’m thinking they should have chosen the Islamic religion.”
Other countries are either protesting government control of the Christian religion or accepting alternatives to it. Icelanders opposed to the state funding of religion are registering as Zuists, a movement that worships ancient Sumerian gods. A bonus is the possibility of a tax rebate. The law requires Icelanders to register their religion with the state, and almost three-fourths are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland. The nation’s constitution has declared that this church “shall be the State Church in Iceland and, as such, it shall be supported and protected by the State.” Over 40 other registered religious groups qualify for “parish fees” paid through the taxation system—about $80 per person for next year.
The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, created in 2005 as a protest to teaching creationism in Kansas public schools, now has approval to officiate same-gender marriages in New Zealand. Marriage equality has been legal in that country since 2013. Members of the church wear pasta strainers on their heads and have popped up with this gear on official documents in the U.S. such as driver’s licenses. [A Pastafarian holiday tree – Venganza.org]
In a demonstration of Muslims compassion, a group protected Christians. When Kenyan Al-Shabaab militants tried to separate Christians on a bus to kill them, Muslims, mostly women, told the attackers that they had to kill everyone, not just the Christians. The Muslim women gave the Christian women their hijabs and helped others hide behind bags in the bus. Joseph Nkaissery, Kenya’s interior cabinet secretary, said, “We are all Kenyans, we are not separated by religion.” he said.
In contrast to this act of humanity, the rampant hatred of many people in the United States caused a Christian to celebrate Christmas Day by setting fire to a Houston mosque just one hour after hundreds of worshippers filled the place of worship. The tragedy follows a series of hate-filled attacks that include other fires throughout the country which have increased since the killings in San Bernardino. Many people in the U.S. are supportive of Muslims, but leaders of one political party has announced that any of the 1.6 billion members of Islam–22 percent of the world’s population–would not be welcome in the United States if they control the U.S. government.
In another humanitarian move, one Christian college is bucking the Southern tradition of guns everywhere. While other Christian schools are banning LGBT students and suspending professors for thinking for themselves, Southern Methodist University, one of the top private colleges in Texas, has opted out of the state law allowing concealed handguns on campus. SMU students, faculty, and staff overwhelmingly supported a gun-free campus. Several other private universities in Texas, including Rice and Texas Christian University, but public universities have no choice. The law takes effect on August 1, 2016, the 50th anniversary of a mass shooting that killed 16 people at the University of Texas, Austin. The University of Texas system has over 214,000 students.
Christianity will have much more power in Arizona schools after the state’s Senate President Andy Biggs has selected Sen. Sylvia Allen (R-Snowflake) as chair of the Education Committee. The person in this position acts as gatekeeper for education-related decisions and legislation. As a creationist, Allen believes that the Earth is 6,000 years old and that the condensation trails behind jets are actually poisonous sprays to sicken the nation’s population. According to Allen, all U.S. citizens should be forced to attend religious services. She also interfered with Navajo County Sheriff K.C. Clark’s investigation into accusations that Allen’s son-in-law was sexually assaulting female prisoners. Biggs claimed, “She understands what Arizona students and parents need in our education system.”
(Allen has an interesting background. She won her seat for the first time in 2008 after Jake Flake, former speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives and the uncle of U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, was bucked from a horse and broke eight ribs. He died of a heart attack two weeks later. She lost her reelection in 2012 but ran—and won—again in 2014 after state Sen. Chester Crandall was found dead after falling or being bucked from a horse. She supports uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, state funding of a militia run by the neo-Nazi J.T. Ready, anti-Semitic Holocaust denial testimony before the state senate, and elimination of health care for 280,000 with the “reason” that people should do more to take care of their health and avoid seeing doctors.)
In an op-ed piece, Allen explains that the state shouldn’t take Muslim refugees because they follow Sharia law. “Islam is a political system as well as a religious system,” she said to defend her position—highly similar to her own belief that Christianity should control law in the United States because it’s “a political system as well as a religious system.” The new commissioner to Maine’s Department of Education is also a creationist.
As Christians spread ignorance throughout public schools, one 11-year-old student is taking them to task. Brandon Silver wanted to learn about evolution, but the Palm Beach County School District, a public school district in Boca Raton (FL), follows the religious belief of creationism in its science education. Silver’s father, Barry Silver, is a lawyer who filed a lawsuit against the district on November 24, the anniversary of Darwin’s publication of “The Origin of Species.” Speaking to the school board, the 11-year-old said, “Evolution is a very important topic, and it’s the greatest scientific breakthrough ever, so I believe it should be taught.” The United States ranked 27th in the world in science scores by 2012, below Australia as well as most of Europe and Asia. Good for you, Brandon Silver!