The Christmas Wars
The Anti-Defamation League advised government officials on the placement of religious symbols on public grounds. One of the matters explained by ADL was “Choosing appropriate holiday symbols to decorate school grounds—among them Christmas trees, menorahs, reindeers, and snowmen.” Christian displays did not make the cut.
Section, CT – The Connecticut Valley Atheists erected a ten-foot-tall sign of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers with the words “Imagine No Religion” next to a nativity scene in a public park.
Columbus, OH – The Freedom from Religion Foundation asked for an investigation on Governor Ted Strickland to see whether or not he violated his oath of office to uphold the constitutions of Ohio and the United States by allowing religious displays on public property. Strickland had resisted erecting non-seasonal pagan displays.
Madison, WI – The Freedom from Religion Foundation objected to the nativity scene on the lawn of the Manitowoc County Courthouse. Because the nativity scene was owned by a Catholic organization, the Foundation argued that the government was endorsing Catholicism.
Racine, WI – Atheists were upset that a crèche was erected on the city’s Monument Square. They said that the local church groups that sponsored the nativity scene were, “shoving [religion] into the face of the entire population.”
Webster, MA – Americans United for Separation of Church and State urged the town to remove a nativity scene from the Town Hall lawn. Americans United claimed that the crèche was a government endorsement of religion.
Green Bay, WI – The Freedom from Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit challenging the city’s display of the crèche on the roof of the City Hall.
Los Angeles, CA – The “Merry Titmas” exhibit opened. The display included sacrilegious artwork such as a large-breasted Blessed Virgin Mary wearing a Hooters tank-top with chicken wings on the blanket where the Baby Jesus should be. The curator commented on the painting saying, “I really feel that if the Virgin Mary found herself knocked up today that she would have to go work at Hooters to support the baby Jesus.”
Lowe’s, the nationwide home improvement chain, apologized for referring to Christmas trees as “family trees” in its holiday catalog. A spokeswoman called the use of the term “family trees” a “plain old error.”
Oak Lawn, IL – The Oak Lawn School District voted to include Ramadan as well as Christmas on the school calendar. Christmas had previously been removed from the school calendar as had Easter and secular holidays such as Halloween. Christian holidays were removed from the calendar because of complaints made by Muslim parents and students which make up one-third of the district’s enrollment.
A public elementary school in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. held its “Winter Concert” with various secular songs. During the concert a class performed the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” but the word “Christmas” was replaced throughout the song with the word “winter”.
Moore, OK – The Moore, Putnam City, and Midwest City-Del School Districts did away with Christmas parties in elementary schools. They replaced the Christmas parties with “Winter” parties. District administrators said that moving away from Christmas parties reflects the changing demographics of the area.
Weatherford, OK – The word “Christmas” was banned from Southwestern Oklahoma State University. Decorations in the registrar’s office containing the words “Christ” or “Christmas” were covered up and there could be no use of “Merry Christmas” in e-mails.
Oklahoma City, OK – The City Manager e-mailed a memo to the department and division heads of the city government concerning “Holiday Decorations.” In the memo the City Manager bans nativity scenes, cherubs, crosses, menorahs, etc. The memo also lists acceptable displays such as snowmen, reindeer, and evergreen trees.
Larimer, CO – A county sheriff was under investigation because he publicly expressed his frustration with the political correctness of Christmas.
New York City – A press conference was called at City Hall to discuss the topic of religious discrimination in the New York City schools. The schools allow the display of Jewish and Islamic religious symbols, but neglect to display Christian religious symbols. Bill Donohue spoke at the press conference along with Councilman Tony Avella, Rabbi Yehuda Levin of Jews for Morality, and Martin Kelly of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
The press conference followed months of correspondence between Donohue and the New York City Department of Education (DOE). On June 24, a press conference was called at City Hall to announce Councilman Avella’s resolution to allow the display of nativity scenes in public schools during the Christmas season. In October, Donohue wrote to New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, “There is no constitutional prohibition or court ruling that disallows the display of nativity scenes in the New York City public schools.” The DOE responded that they permit “the display of holiday secular decorations with secular dimensions.”
On November 21 Donohue responded to the DOE stating that the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that it was constitutional for religious symbols to be displayed in the schools, and stated that the federal district court erred by declaring the menorah and the star and crescent secular in nature. So by displaying the menorah and the star and crescent, the DOE is denying Christians parity by not allowing a crèche to be displayed.
The DOE’s General Counsel, Michael Best, replied to Donohue that the courts have upheld the DOE’s policy and that there is nothing wrong with it. On December 4, Donohue responded to Best stating, “It is plain to see that although New York City is not barred from permitting a crèche alongside the menorah and star and crescent, it has elected not to do so. This is not a matter for the courts, but for the legislature.” At the December 13 event, Donohue discussed Councilman Avella’s resolution that would grant parity to Christians.
Kearney, MO – A large portion of a man’s Christmas display was destroyed Thanksgiving night.
Schaumburg, IL – Two plastic figures of the Baby Jesus were stolen from two homes in a neighborhood. The homeowners had placed the figures on their front lawns only days before they were stolen.
Westbury, NY – A 72 year-old man was attacked as he was hanging Christmas lights in his front yard. The attacker, a 21 year-old man, followed the older man and smashed his nativity scene during the attack.
Lattimore, NC – A life-size Baby Jesus figure was stolen from a daycare. The figure was stolen a day after the children of the daycare, all under the age of 5, assisted the staff in setting up the display.
Windham, NH – Two 18”x 24” signs were stolen from the Windham Bible Chapel. The signs directed visitors to the chapel’s Journey to Bethlehem presentation, a live play with a cast of 100 telling the birth of Christ.
Elyria, OH – Vandals destroyed a man’s inflatable Christmas decorations and stole the Baby Jesus from his nativity set.
Hoffman Estates, IL – A man woke up to find seven or eight boys smashing his decorations and attempted to stop them from leaving. When he stepped in front of their car; he was hit and dragged, running over his foot in the process. The man valued his losses at over $1000.
Rogers, AR – Figures of St. Joseph and a donkey were stolen from a front yard. A few years prior the homeowner had an angel stolen from the set.
Marlowe, WV – A complete set of nativity figures was stolen, save the angel, from a nativity scene at a Christian retreat center.
Bozeman, MT – A full nativity set, except for the stage and hay, was stolen from a yard near Montana State University. Other outdoor decorations including a church, candy-cane lights, and a wreath were not vandalized.
Bal Harbour, FL – A figure of the Baby Jesus was stolen from a nativity set about an hour after it was displayed. In the park where the figure was stolen, a Christmas tree and menorah were untouched.
Glastonbury, CT – Figures of the Mother Mary and a sheep were stolen from a church’s nativity scene. The Baby Jesus was stolen last year from the same display. The stolen pieces would take $2000 to replace.
Tampa, FL – A 13-piece nativity scene was stolen from a front yard only hours after it had been put up.
Greensboro, NC – A nativity scene at Greensboro College was destroyed. Every figure of the scene was either ripped apart or smashed to the ground. The vice president of the school said that the set was an antique and was very valuable.
Longwood, FL – Two teenage girls, who were caught on the surveillance camera, vandalized The Walk Through Bethlehem attraction.
Sylvania Township, OH – A Baby Jesus figure was stolen from a nativity scene outside of a priest’s home. The priest was out of town for the week and returned to find only the Infant Jesus missing from the crèche.
Marietta, GA – A public school coach drove several middle-schoolers in his pickup truck and damaged Christmas displays with them. The coach and students placed lawn figures in sexual positions as well as trashed Christmas displays.
Manchester, NH – Figures of a Baby Jesus and a Wiseman were stolen from a nativity scene along with the nativity star.
Ft. Walton Beach, FL – Figures of Mary, Joseph and the three wise men were stolen from the front yard of a disabled lady’s home. The woman, who is confined to a motorized cart and had a figure of the Baby Jesus stolen in 2006, was only left with a couple of animal figures left in her nativity scene.
Sulpher, LA – A statue was stolen from a nativity set in front of Our Lady of Prompt Succor. The statue was valued at $1200.
Middlebury, CT – Vandals broke through a Plexiglas window vandalized the figure of St. Joseph from a nativity scene.
Antioch, CA – Two men smashed a hand-carved nativity into pieces and destroyed other Christmas decorations in a front yard.
Ft. Walton Beach, FL – A few figures were stolen from a nativity scene a day after they were erected. A week later the rest of the homeowner’s Christmas decorations were stolen and vandalized.
Nyack, NY – Figures of the Baby Jesus and a lamb were stolen from a town’s manger scene. It was the third time in four years that the Infant Jesus was stolen from this crèche.
Santa Clarita Valley, CA – A dozen Baby Jesus figures were found at a Church. A prankster had stolen them from various homes in the area and dropped them off in the grotto.
Ashton, ID – A life-size statue of the Infant Jesus was stolen from the city’s nativity set. The week before a sheep and shepherd figure were stolen from the scene. The shepherd was found damaged in a residents yard.
Mason, OH – A figure of the Baby Jesus was stolen from a nativity scene in a family’s front yard. The figure is a forty year-old family heirloom.
Sagamore Beach, MA – Figures of the Baby Jesus and Mary were stolen from a nativity scene from a deacon’s front yard.
Green Bay, WI – The mayor placed a moratorium on all religious displays until the City Council could draft new guidelines for displays. This came as a result of a Wiccan wreath that was damaged on top of City Hall.
Bangor, PA – The figures of the Baby Jesus and a lamb were stolen from a funeral home’s nativity scene. The nativity scene had been displayed for 21 years.
Eugene, OR – Baby Jesus figures were stolen from two homes and were replaced by pig’s heads.
Hartford, CT – A nativity scene was destroyed overnight outside of a Baptist church. The figures of Mary, Joseph, and the Wisemen were smashed and the Baby Jesus was knocked from the manger.
West Springfield, VA – Homemade figures of Baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were stolen from an elderly couple on Christmas morning. The figures were over forty years old.
Concord, NH – The figure of the Baby Jesus was stolen from a church’s nativity scene. The thieves broke into the Plexiglas shield that protected the set.
Sioux Falls, SD – For the second year in a row, vandals robbed and destroyed Christmas decorations at a home in Sioux Falls. The homeowner stated that none of the secular decorations were destroyed, only the ones with sacred value. This year they stole a Baby Jesus figure from the manger and ripped the lights that spelled “Jesus” from the fence that read, “Happy Birthday Jesus.” The display benefits two charities: Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sioux Falls and the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
Minneapolis, MN – A Baby Jesus figure was stolen from St. Olaf’s Church. The nativity scene, which was carved from the wood of an olive tree four to six hundred years ago, is valued at around $30,000.
Queens, NY – The nativity scene that is setup by the Bayside Business Association was stolen.
East Lampeter Township, PA – A figure of the Baby Jesus was stolen from the front yard of a local homeowner.