Lately it seems that there is nothing more contentious or detestable to some people than the sight of a Nativity scene, regardless of the seasonal inspiration for its presence. At an Occupy Wall Street protest in Washington, D.C., for example, several people staged a live Nativity scene and bore a sign that read “Occupy Christmas,” provoking varying and bizarre responses from the rest of the crowd. Meanwhile, in Warren, Michigan, a group of atheists is threatening legal action if the local government does not agree to place an anti-God sign in the midst of Nativity scenes and Christmas messages.
In last Saturday’s print edition of The Economist magazine (left), staff writers attempted to compare today’s Internet with the publication of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses in 1517. Claiming that by nailing his complaints onto a bulletin board, Luther started the Reformation. This was done, according to The Economist’s rewriting of history, “when Martin Luther and his allies took the new media of their day — pamphlets, ballads and woodcuts — and circulated them through social networks to promote their message of religious reform.” From there the article concentrates on the alleged “social network” that Luther had to promote his views, rather than on the message — the information — contained in those views:
The New American has been reporting on the controversy surrounding the Christmas season, particularly when Christians attempt to display the Nativity scene or assert the holiness behind the Christmas holiday in any way. These reports would seem to indicate that Christmas brings out the worst in people; however, it's salutary to note that it also brings out the best. A prime example of the latter can be found in reports from Kmarts across the nation that anonymous donors are paying off strangers’ layaway accounts in the spirit of the holiday.
Christopher Hitchens, the outspoken atheist columnist and author who took delight in ridiculing the Christian faith and its adherents, but who also shared a handful of the convictions many of them embraced, died December 15 of cancer at the age of 62. His death was announced by Vanity Fair, the magazine for which he had written since 1992.
Nearly half of America’s public schools failed to meet federal standards under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law in school year 2010-2011. The Center on Education Policy (CEP) issued a report showing that more than 43,000 schools, or 48 percent, did not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) this year, tallying an 11-percent increase over the 39 percent of schools that did not make AYP in 2010 and the sharpest drop in educational achievement since the law took effect a decade ago.
Despite the excitement and anticipation for the Christmas season that pervades the nation every year, the religious element of the holiday continues to be a point of contention for some and a source of great controversy. In Paragould, Arkansas, for example, the Greene County School Board forced the removal of a Nativity scene that was displayed at one of its elementary schools, adhering to local atheists who articulated the tired maxim of “separation of church and state.” After some persistent protest and displays of heroism by the elementary counselor, Kay Williams, however, the school board gave in and permitted the Nativity scene to be put up once again.
A new study by the Pew Research Center has found that only 51 percent of adults in the U.S. are married, an all-time low for matrimony in America. The recent numbers pale in comparison to a high in 1960, when 72 percent of adults 18 and older were married, and represent a trend that is similar to that witnessed in other “advanced post-industrial societies,” says Pew.
The town of Athens, Texas, is modest. The Henderson County courthouse (left), as in many small towns in the South, is the center of the community. Normally, during this time of the year, Christmas decorations are on each corner of the square. But this year, that simple display of the holiday season has run into an unexpected bump.
A group of Girl Scout leaders in Louisiana has decided to dismantle its troops because of a recent decision by the national organization to allow boys who are confused about their gender to join the ranks of the female scouting program. The leaders, who oversee three Girl Scout troops at Northlake Christian School in Lacombe, Louisiana, explained that the move by the group’s national leadership conflicted with their host organization’s Christian beliefs. “This goes against what we [Northlake Christian School] believe,” Susan Bryant-Snure, one of the leaders, told Baptist Press News. Snure has three daughters of her own among the 25 girls participating in the Girl Scout program through the school.
The Cato Institute’s newspaper ad reminding citizens that December 15th was Bill of Rights Day summarized the desperate shape those first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States is in, thanks to an overweening government and an uninformed citizenry. Reviewing each of the amendments, Cato pointed to specific infringements of each of them, concluding that “It’s a disturbing picture, to be sure, but not one the Framers of the Constitution would have found altogether surprising. They would sometimes refer to written constitutions as mere “parchment barriers” [to totalitarian government].