Marshfield School Decline Christmas Again

Thousands of signatures, a very public protest and hours of debate could not change the 3-2 vote — Marshfield schools will exclude Christmas in describing their holiday break on the school calendars.

More than 4,000 parents in Marshfield signed a petition to change the name of the school break in December and January to Christmas, break from the recently rebranded holiday break.

The School Board met to discuss the decision Monday night, but after two hours the voted to keep the name holiday break.

“Marshfield is not a diverse community. It’s very important that we do whatever we can to expose our students to the global world that they are not part of yet,” School Board Chairman Marti Morrison said.

Parents in support of Christmas break said the school is trying to abolish all things Christian.

“It’s not a way to accept all students. What it’s doing is excluding the Christian faith.” Elaine Taylor, a parent, said.

Nearly 200 parents and residents were at the meeting, most of those who spoke agreed with the name holiday break.

“The school calendar should reflect the diversity of all the students in this town, not just the majority of them,” one parent said.

The school board said they celebrate all the holidays and faiths over the break in December, including Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and Christmas and after receiving complaints through email, felt changing the name to include everyone was the right thing to do.

The two hours of public comment was followed by a 3-2 vote in favor of keeping the name holiday break.

Shocker: New Yorkers Prefer Merry Christmas

There’s no “War on Christmas” in New York, according to the results of a new poll released by the Siena Research Institute.

More than half of New Yorkers surveyed (51 percent) said the greeting they most often use is “Merry Christmas,” while 38 percent said “Happy Holidays” is their go-to greeting.

Six percent said they use “Season’s Greetings.”

The number of individuals who say they use “Merry Christmas” is up from 47 percent in 2013, but down from 55 percent in 2012. “Happy Holidays” reached a six-year high in 2013, when 44 percent of respondents said it is their preferred greeting.

The popularity of Merry Christmas differs among several demographics. A plurality of young people (ages 18-34) said they most often use “Happy Holidays,” while a clear majority of individuals over the age of 50 say they prefer “Merry Christmas.”

Nearly 60 percent of white respondents said they use “Merry Christmas,” compared to 30 percent for African Americans and 43 percent for Latinos.

A majority of African Americans — 55 percent — said “Happy Holidays” is their preferred greeting. A plurarlity of Latinos agreed.

Democrats are divided on the use of “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” While 46 percent of registered Democrats said they use “Happy Holidays,” 44 percent said they most often use “Merry Christmas.”

Among Republicans, there’s a clear favorite. Nearly two-thirds of GOP voters — 65 percent — said they prefer “Merry Christmas.”

Siena College surveyed 809 New York residents between Nov. 3-17. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.4 percent.

Fight for Christmas in Marshfield Persists

A simple school calendar change has erupted into a protracted battle. The school board, despite public outcry, changed from “Christmas break” to “Holiday Break” months ago — and the public keeps fighting back.

“There are signs all over town: ‘There’s Still a Christmas,’ ‘Bring Back Christmas.’ There’s some little kids in town picking up on this and wondering if Santa is going to come to their house,” said attorney Dennis Scollins, the Marshfield School Committee’s longest-serving member and one of two who stood up for St. Nick when the board voted 3-2 on Sept. 9 to replace “Christmas” with “holiday” for the Dec. 24 to ?Jan. 2 vacation.

More than 4,245 signatures collected by a pro-Noel petition drive prompted the special meeting at 8 p.m.

Board chairwoman Marti Morrison said she “loves Christmas” but led the charge to scrub the calendar and is now being assailed around town as “the Grinch” because of it.

“Supposedly our whole country is based on religious freedom,” Morrison said. “I certainly appreciate when people feel very strongly about their religious background, but as a School Committee member, my job is to make decisions I believe are in the best interest of our town.”

In a heavily Irish Catholic town, Morrison said, “The world around us looks very different than Marshfield. We want our students to be open to differences.”

Pro-“holiday” voter Carol Shrand, the board’s vice-chair, said, “This is really about using inclusive language that reflects the diversity of faiths here in Marshfield. We take an oath to serve all our students and each and every one of them needs to feel welcome, included and represented.”

Elaine Taylor, whose children are now grown, has been the driving force behind the resurrection of Christmas vacation. Her backers will be hitting the streets today holding signs and playing Christmas carols, as well as lighting up the phone lines, reminding supporters to turn out tonight.

Massachusetts School PTA Agonizes Over Questionable Content of The Nutcracker

Butler Elementary School of Belmont, Massachusetts has a tradition of sending students to see The Nutcracker. They have done it for decades.

But the PTA there purportedly received complaints from “some parents” that The Nutcracker had “questionable content”.

What would that questionable content be? Religion? A Christmas tree?

Some parents of the second graders, who didn’t want to appear on camera, told 7News that they’re also upset because PTA leaders secretly cancelled the field trip without telling anyone, but word spread.

PTA Co-President Barbara Bulfoni said, “In the past years there were parents complaints as ‘The Nutcracker’ has a religious content. I think we clarified with the parents.”

Some of the parents that pushed back against the decision are happy they won but are concerned it’ll come up again next year.

Figures it was Massachusetts, where there is a loon in every school.

For more on this absurdity, see this link.

Baby, It’s Cute

We got ourselves into a little trouble last month when the preview to Idina Menzel’s Christmas album video came out and we called it “awkward”. Somebody must have heard us. The video below of Menzel’s duet with Michael Buble of Baby It’s Cold Outside not only keeps Menzel off the screen and keeps the vocals first — it’s cute as the Dickens and starting now to sweep through social media.

We also know that they’ve diffused some of the controversy behind this song, changing up a few of the lyrics and making the male “wolf” a bit less predatory than the original lyrics suggest:

FFRF Goes After Snow Plows in Sioux Falls

Two snow plows painted by a local school as part of the Sioux Falls annual ‘Paint the Plow’ event might not make it out on the street this winter.

One group is challenging the city.

City Hall soon will be decorated for the holidays but one group is attempting to fight city hall on just how much government can get into the Christmas spirit.

The group Freedom From Religion Foundation or FFRF recognizes several state and local government buildings are decked out for the holidays.

Freedom From Religion Foundation staff attorney Patrick Elliott said “the courts have looked at displays and have said a Christmas Tree is something that is permissible, proclaiming the birth of Jesus is something that is impermissible for the government to do.”

It”s why the group has an issue with these city snow plows decorated by a local school.

“They’re basically a roving billboard. I think citizens in the community would perceive a problem with it if a plow said ‘praise Allah, or there are no gods.’ That’s city equipment. It’s moving around the city basically all winter,” Elliott said.

Now those plow will come with a disclaimer.

Mayor Mike Huether said “we prefer utilizing compromise and common ground and common sense vs. the court system to resolve issues we have.”

Even after the Christmas season is over, some may argue religious symbols are part of our daily life, whether it’s on our money or in our Pledge of Allegiance.

“We think those things are problematic as well. The courts obviously haven’t agreed on a number of those things and when they’ve addressed those, they’ve more so been allowed because of their history,” Elliott said.

The group Freedom From Religion Foundation says it has about 10 other cases it’s working on challenging the separation between church and state as a violation of the Constitution.

Band Aid, for Better or Worse

This video, this song, this re-do for whatever reason is controversial. 30+ years after the first Band Aid song came along to benefit the poor and hungry of Ethiopia the focus is now the dreadful Ebola virus tearing through West Africa. So this song was shuffled a little and redone for an all new purpose this Christmas. It doesn’t appear to be getting the love it once did oh so long ago.

Why?

2nd Grader Wants to Pass Out Candy Canes Again

Advocates for Faith & Freedom has filed a request for a preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Wednesday, November 12th 2014. The injunction, if granted, will prohibit the West Covina Unified School District from stopping seven-year-old Isaiah Martinez from passing out candy canes to his classmates with the candy cane legend attached during the Christmas season.

Last Christmas, Isaiah Martinez took Christmas gifts intended for his first grade teacher and classmates at Merced Elementary in the West Covina Unified School District. Each gift consisted of a traditional candy cane with a message attached that recited the legend of the candy cane. The legend references a candy maker who created the candy cane to symbolize the life of Jesus Christ.

When Isaiah brought his Christmas gift to school, his teacher took possession of the candy canes. At the direction of the school principal, the teacher instructed Isaiah that “Jesus is not allowed in school” and she removed the candy cane messages from each candy cane, threw the messages in the trash, and handed the candy canes back to Isaiah for delivery to his classmates. Isaiah then nervously handed the candy canes to his classmates in fear that he was in trouble for trying to bring a little Christmas cheer and “good tidings” to class.

The case is already in federal court after the parents of Isaiah Martinez felt the school violated their son’s right to freedom of religious speech.

Robert Tyler, lawyer and General Counsel, explained their decision to file a federal law suit saying, “the school has neglected to correct its actions, and after exhausting all options to avoid a lawsuit we were left with no choice but to file a complaint in federal court. We are asking the court to protect Isaiah’s rights and the rights of others like him from having their religious speech censored. Students do not shed their First Amendment rights just because they enter into a classroom.”

In January the story garnered attention from major news outlets including Fox, Univision, and NBC.

Attorney James A. Long, legal counsel with Advocates explains the injunction is necessary “because the West Covina Unified School District has made clear that the only theology allowed in the classroom is the government’s theology, it has given every indication that it will again prohibit Isaiah from passing out the candy cane legend at his school’s holiday party in the name of ‘religious neutrality,’ Isaiah’s constitutional rights will be violated again this year unless the Federal Court grants Advocates’ request for a preliminary injunction.”

Advocates claims the school has no legally viable reason for suppression of the speech, such as disruption, profanity or vulgarity or evidence that the schools conduct would be seen as advocating a particular religion.

Michigan Shapes Up as Battle Ground Over Nativity Scene

Michigan state officials are considering whether a Christian Nativity scene and a counter-display from a secularist group should join the state Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn this holiday season.

The State Capitol Commission on Monday agreed to contract with the Michigan attorney general’s office for a part-time staff attorney over six months for $37,000. The attorney would advise the commission on various issues, including the request to place a representation of the birth of Jesus at the state Capitol.

Commission member John Truscott said he expects the office will approve the Nativity with the same conditions as demonstrations that are frequently held on the grounds. He declined to say who made the request.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation based in Madison, Wisconsin, said Tuesday it would request a counter-display if the Nativity is approved.

The displays would have to be taken down daily.