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-Merry Christmas 2015

by Dr. D ~ December 24th, 2015

04567_Christmas_nativity_scene_at_the_Franciscan_church_in_Sanok_2010_thumb

                                                                                          (Image via Wikipedia)

Merry Christmas to you and yours and may God truly bless you this Christmas Day.

The Real Christmas Story

When our children were growing up it was a family tradition to read about the ‘real’ Christmas story in the Bible on Christmas Eve.

You’ve probably seen a dozen or so ‘Christmas stories’ on TV in the last couple of weeks but the real Christmas story is found in Matthew (Matt. 1:18-2:18) and in Luke (Luke 1:26-56, 2:1-40). However, Isaiah should never be ignored:

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Matthew gives us the story largely from the perspective of Joseph, including the dreams that he had and his family genealogy. In this gospel the ‘Kingship’ of Jesus is the major topic. Starting with the Davidic Kingly genealogy through Joseph and the coming of the Magi (Wisemen) who are looking for the new king. Also King Herod’s reaction is in Matthew.

The events in Luke are given to us from Mary’s view. The angel Gabriel appears to Mary and announces the coming of the child. Mary’s genealogy is also given in Luke (Luke 3:23-38), she was also a descendant of David, but not in the ‘Kingly’ line. Chapter 2 begins with the Christmas story that everyone is familiar with:

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

However, nothing explains the real reason for the season better than John 3:16-17:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  -KJV

*Top

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-Brunei: Wear a Santa Hat and Go to Jail?

by Dr. D ~ December 22nd, 2015

220px-Hassanal_Bolkiah

(Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan of Brunei)

In the Muslim nation of Brunei it is against the law to publically celebrate Christmas in any way. Those caught could receive 5 years in prison. Here’s the story from the Blaze

Citizens of the oil-rich nation of Brunei could face up to five years in prison if they engage in public celebrations of Christmas, such as wearing Santa hats and sending holiday greetings, British and Australian media reported.  …

Under the directive, Christians are allowed to celebrate the holiday but only in private.  …

“During Christmas celebrations, Muslims following that religion’s acts — such as using their religious symbols like cross, lighting candles, making Christmas trees and singing religious songs, sending Christmas greetings, using signs praising the religion, putting up decorations or creating sounds and doing anything that amounts to respecting their religion — are against Islamic faith,” the Muslim leaders said.

<Read the whole article>

Response: This is really nothing new. Any public displays and celebrations of Christmas in most Muslim nations are against the law or at least subject to local persecution.

This should remind us to treasure our religious freedom in America and the West where everyone can celebrate religious traditions openly without worrying about persecution or jail.            *Top

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-Is “White Christmas” a ‘Racist’ Song? Some College Students Think So?

by Dr. D ~ December 22nd, 2015

Is the popular Christmas classic “White Christmas” a ‘racist’ song that needs to be banned from radio? Apparently some college students think so. Though I am not sure how much actual thinking went into this. See the video above and read the story from MRCTV:

Last week, I presented some college students with a petition urging radio stations to stop playing the holiday classic "White Christmas" because the song only focuses on "White" Christmases. This clearly makes it racially insensitive, since it completely ignores Christmases of other colors.

<Read the whole article>

Response: Obviously the petition was designed to show how ‘Political Correctness’ has run amuck on our college campuses. Add this to the recent stories of college and university administrators banning ‘taco days’ in the cafeteria because they were also supposedly ‘racist’ and offensive.

I guess a white guy (Bing Crosby) hoping for a ‘white Christmas’ falls into the same category? Only in PC America.               *Top

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-School: Biblical Content Cut from ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ Play

by Dr. D ~ December 18th, 2015

The whole point of the famous ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ is to answer the question  ‘what is the true meaning of Christmas?’ In the TV production and the play the answer and the punch line is provided by Luke 2:8-14- it is all about the birth of Jesus Christ. So how exactly can the ‘Biblical content’ be satisfactorily cut from the play?  Nevertheless that is what a public school in Kentucky is doing to their production of the play. Here’s the story from the Blaze:

A conservative legal firm is pushing back against a public school district’s decision to “censor” an elementary school production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” after a family’s complaint reportedly led officials to remove all religious references from the show.  …

After all, there’s a famous scene in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” in which character Linus Van Pelt directly recites from the Bible, reading Luke 2:8-14 in an effort to communicate the true meaning of Christmas to Charlie Brown. While it’s beloved by many, the scene is likely to cause contention among those who believe that it violates the First Amendment to permit such a scene in a public school play.

Superintendent Tom Salyer’s announcement about the removal of religious content has sparked controversy and protests, with parents picketing outside of the board of education building on Monday, according to WSAZ-TV.

<Read the whole article>

Response: If common sense prevailed the school officials would have chosen a different play if they wanted to avoid religious content. In spite of all of their formal ‘education’ some educators seem rather stupid in some of their decisions. This one was guaranteed to cause a controversy particularly in Kentucky which is part of the ‘Bible belt.’

Just a week or so ago President Obama seemed to step in it over the same program when he proclaimed that “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was all about “peace on earth and goodwill to all humanity” -also missing the major point of the production. But at least he was citing ‘Biblical content.’               *Top

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-Atheist Complaints Against Public Christmas Displays Backfire

by Dr. D ~ December 16th, 2015

English: Nativity scenes in Sanok

                                           (Image: Wikipedia)

In the last 5 years or so atheist groups like the FFRF have campaigned to eliminate public displays and celebrations of Christmas. Thousands of letters have been sent out to cities and Schools with warnings and complaints. A lot of folks have called this a ‘war on Christmas,’ I have stopped using that designation since I believe that it is an overkill in terminology and in reality it is part of a continuing cultural battle against religion in the public square and Christianity in particular.

This year however a large number of local jurisdictions have opted to ignore the threats and in several instances the atheist efforts have lead to a community backlash  and have actually resulted in larger Christmas celebrations and displays than originally planned. The following story I  Belen, New Mexico  from KOAT 7 ABC News is one example of this effect:

A complaint about Belen’s nativity scene led to the city’s biggest Christmas event ever.

Belen is Spanish for Bethlehem. A nativity scene depicting the birth of Jesus is a long-standing feature of a Theresa Tabet Park, which is right across the street from City Hall at the intersection of Main Street and Becker Avenue.

A Wisconsin-based atheist group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, sent the city a letter this summer demanding the removal of the nativity sculpture.  …

Mayor Jerah Cordova said despite threatening a lawsuit, he was not aware of any court filings.

"They sent a couple of letters and pretty much left the issue alone up to this point so we’re pretty satisfied about that," Cordova said. "We stood strong, we stood tall and will continue to do so as a community and we’ll continue to celebrate who we are."

The mayor, as well as the pastors who coordinate Saturday’s "Follow the Star to Bethlehem" event, said the FFRF’s efforts backfired. …

"One of the things about this organization that I don’t think that they fully understand is when they send a letter like that, all they’re doing is riling people up and getting them to express support more than they ever have before for things like this," Cordova said.  …

Cordova said if the atheist group’s intent was to pull down nativities, it didn’t work as several people throughout the town erected more nativities.

<Read the whole article>

Here’s another example of a backlash against atheist efforts. This one coming from Wadena, Minn.:

For more than four decades, it wasn’t Christmas in Wadena until the city’s big plaster Nativity set came out of storage and went on display in a downtown park.

Until this year, when the threat of a lawsuit prompted the city to turn over custody of the crèche to a group of local ministers, who moved it out of the public park and onto private property.

It might have been a sound legal move, but it left an empty spot in the park — and in people’s hearts.  …

"After the [City Council’s] decision, people were upset," Dani Sworski, who launched the Facebook group, explained in an e-mail. So she and her neighbors decided: "Let’s shower the town with Nativity scenes, let’s share our faith!"

No one has an exact head count, but holy families are starting to outnumber the 4,000 residents of this central Minnesota railroad town,

<Read the whole article>

Response: The example of the backlash in these two towns could lead to a trend in the future considering the national press they have received. The Wadena response is perfect since the FFRF has even been forced to claim they are happy with the results since it is in ‘private’ hands.

The FFRF and other atheist groups have made legal threats that they would be hard pressed to carry through on and in reality they do not have the funds to take every city or town which rebels against their hollow demands. In reality, there are also legal organizations like American Center for Law and Justice, Alliance Defending Freedom, and Pacific Justice Institute which have offered to help cities and organizations battle against attest groups like FFRF and their intrusions upon religious liberty in America..

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-It’s Not Unconstitutional to Call It a ‘Christmas Tree’

by Dr. D ~ December 12th, 2015

Xmastreenewyork06

It is becoming more and more common around America to call a Christmas tree in the public square a ‘Holiday Tree’ under the mistaken impression that it is now ‘unconstitutional’ to use the word ‘Christmas.’ However that is really not the case. In reality references to Christmas and even displays on public property are legal as long as the same space is open to representations of all of the other holiday celebrations during this time of the year.

I really do think that it is ridiculous to call a Christmas tree a ‘Holiday Tree’ instead. Everyone knows what it really is and it is part of the cultural celebration of the Christian holiday and not religious at all. In fact some serious Christians do not even have the trees in their own homes for religious reasons, believing that they are vestiges of past pagan holiday celebrations. I do not share their concerns but many Christians around the world do particularly among protestant believers in Latin America.

Here’s an article from Blaze about a school district which tried to censor the use of the word ‘Christmas’ along with the response from a religious rights legal firm:

A conservative legal firm fired off a letter to a New Hampshire public school district after the superintendent decided that the term “Christmas tree” needed to be changed to “holiday tree” on fliers advertising a local tree lighting ceremony.

The Alliance Defending Freedom’s letter to New Hampshire School Administrative Unit 29 in Keene, New Hampshire, explained that the use of “Christmas” — from the firm’s perspective — is not illegal and that a ban on it is patently unconstitutional.

“Calling Christmas trees what they are is not unconstitutional,” wrote attorney Jeremy Tedesco. “But it is unconstitutional to censor private speech simply because it is religious in nature.”

<Read the whole article>               *Top

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-Federal Court: World War I Memorial Cross Stays

by Dr. D ~ December 5th, 2015

db_cross5

(Bladensburg WWI Memorial Peace Cross)

Another attempt by an atheist organization to take down a war memorial cross was thwarted by a Federal District Court. Here’s the story from the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) Website:

…a federal district court rejected the demands of an angry atheist group to tear down a World War I memorial cross.

The United States District Court for the District of Maryland ruled in favor of the American Legion’s Blandensburg Cross World War I Veterans Memorial honoring the 49 brave residents of Prince George County, Maryland who fought and died in World War I. The cross was erected in 1925, but was attacked by the American Humanist Association in a federal lawsuit in 2014.

<Read the whole article>

Response: Atheists seem to be going around the whole country trying to find ‘crosses’ on public property to be offended by and to legally challenge in lawsuits.

Federal Courts have ruled in both directions on similar cases. Look for this one to continue to go through the federal court system. So far the SCOTUS has upheld most of the memorial ‘cross’ cases which have gotten that far. However in many of these cases private groups or organizations have bought the property they are erected on in order to save the memorials.

Atheist groups claim that this is all about the establishment of religion clause but continue to try and get these crosses taken down even after the property has passed into private hands. It should be noted that when these memorials were set up in the 20th century the cross was rather generic and no one thought that they were supporting a particular religion at the time.

There are tens of thousands of historic headstones with crosses in national cemeteries on the graves of fallen soldiers. They were a generic representation at the time, will atheist groups eventually require all of these to be taken down? There are also thousands of crosses over graves in historic cemeteries on public property. What about all of these?

When the ‘establishment clause’ in the First Amendment was written it was with an eye toward protecting religious freedom and the rights of different religious groups. Some states even had official state supported churches at the time. Now it is used as a legal weapon against religion instead.             *Top

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