NEWS BRIEFS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Schools' Excision of Christ from Christmas Irks Catholic League
by Allie Martin

        (AgapePress) - The nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization is blasting schools that make an effort to recognize holiday traditions from around the world-except those that honor Christ.

       Officials with the New York-based Catholic League say they have fielded many complaints regarding the assaults Christianity is taking in public schools across the nation. Catholic League Director of Communications Patrick Scully cited as an example the New Britton Elementary School in Fishers, Indiana, where students studied different customs of cultural groups during holidays. The students learned about Santa Claus, Hanukkah, elves, Christmas traditions in Mexico, and even the Grinch.

        "What people are calling multi-culturalism [today]...means that you're allowed to talk about the secular meaning of Christmas and the religious meaning of Hanukkah," Scully says. "In other words, you can talk about reindeer in trees, but you can't talk about Jesus."

       Scully encourages Christian parents to immediately contact their school officials and insist that Christianity not be left out of Christmas activities.

        "If nothing else, we want a level playing field," he says. "It's perfectly fine, apparently, to talk about the religious meaning in Hanukkah-and well it should be-but we can't talk about the religious meaning of Christmas. You can take pride in other people's backgrounds, but not your own."

        "That's what [schools are] trying to pass off as 'diversity'...and it's extremely troubling," Scully says.

Bush's Meeting With Black Pastors Called 'Excellent Move'
by Bill Fancher

       WASHINGTON, DC (AgapePress) - President-elect George W. Bush's recent meeting with black pastors was welcomed by many conservatives as a very positive move.

       Among those who approved the loudest was Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, who hailed the meeting as an excellent and morally correct action by the new President.

        "I think it's a great moral move," Mahoney says, "and I think it might heal some of the racial divide that we saw during this election and, tragically, was fostered by [black activists Jesse Jackson, [Al] Sharpton, and others."

        "[Bush is] saying, 'I'm not going to deal as directly with the NAACP and...Jackson and...Sharpton, but I'm going to go out and build bridges to the African-American community with the people who count most in that community-its pastors.' I think it's an excellent move," he says.

       Mahoney says the meeting indicates Bush will take his message directly to the people and not concede to self-appointed spokesmen such as Jackson and Sharpton.

KS Official Hopes Her Victory Over ACLU Inspires Others
By Chad Groening

        (AgapePress) - The treasurer of Shawnee County, Kansas, says she is delighted that a federal judge supported her right to post the national motto, "In God We Trust," in her office.

       The American Civil Liberties Union sued Rita Cline for displaying posters, supplied by the American Family Association, bearing the national motto. But U.S. District Judge Sam Crow ruled the ACLU complaint was "groundless" and without any factual or legal foundation. Cline says she hopes her victory will inspire other public officials to stand up for their constitutional rights.

        "I think what we're going to see as a result of this is...a lot more people coming out, especially public officials. People say that public officials don't have any right to say and express their beliefs, whether they're personal or religious. That's not the case," Cline says. "That's not what this country was founded on, that's not what our constitution says. And I believe Judge Sam Crow's ruling sent that message strong and clear."

       Cline believes the ACLU underestimated her resolve, thinking she would cave into pressure like others. But Cline says she made it clear she was not afraid of the ACLU.

'Ten Commandments Judge' Plans to Take His Plaque With Him as He Moves Up
By Allie Martin and Jody Brown

        (AgapePress) - The new chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court has promised to take the Ten Commandments with him to the state capitol in Montgomery.

       Chief Justice Roy Moore became a leader in the Christian conservative movement in 1995 when the American Civil Liberties Union sued him over a hand-carved copy of the Ten Commandments hanging in his circuit court in Gadsden, Alabama. The case ended several years later, unresolved on legal technicalities, but the Ten Commandments stayed on Moore's courtroom wall.

       Moore has promised to take the Ten Commandments to Montgomery, but so far has not said where he will hang the plaque, despite the barrage of questions concerning the issue since his election in November. Perry Hooper, Sr., whose retirement from the bench left the chief justice seat open, notes that the U.S. Supreme Court has a painting of Moses holding tablets that represent the Ten Commandments. He says that may offer some precedent for hanging Moore's plaque in the Alabama courtroom. The Mobile Register reports that except for a clock, some light fixtures, and the words "Supreme Court of Alabama," the walls of the courtroom in Montgomery are bare.

       No one seems to know what rules exist for decorating the Supreme Court. But a fellow Republican and newly elected Supreme Court justice, Bernard Harwood, believes the members of the court would be willing to discuss the subject "in good faith." He said he himself would "keep an open mind" about it, but because he has not discussed with the other court members, he stopped short of predicting the outcome of such a discussion. The Alabama chapter of the ACLU has made no statements thus far on the matter.        During his campaign for the chief justice post, Moore's campaign billboards stated he was "still fighting for the Ten Commandments."

Florida 'Choose Life' License Plates - It's a Matter of Popular Choice
by Rusty Pugh

        (AgapePress) - The hottest-selling specialty license plate in the State of Florida carries a pro-life message. Despite their popularity, pro-abortion forces still want them to be illegal.

       The plates carry the message "Choose Life." More than 8,000 of them have been sold since they became available in August. Florida Right to Life President Lynda Bell says they are currently the most popular specialty plate available. But Bell says despite that-and despite the fact that a Florida law legalized the plates-pro-abortion supporters are continuing a legal battle to have them ruled unconstitutional.

       Bell says pro-abortion groups, like the National Organization for Women, say they are in favor of "choice," but only if that choice is the killing of an unborn baby.

        "I find that so ironic that these organization that call themselves 'pro-choice' are upset about the choice of whether or not to choose this license plate," Bell says. "These same groups will tell you it's just a matter of choice. But when we say it's a matter of choice whether you can choose to buy or not to buy this plate, then they scream and have a fit because it's apparent the only choice they want Americans to make is one in favor of abortion."

       She says the pro-abortion forces have a hard time accepting the fact that the plate is so popular.

        "We realize that we are the first of fifty states to pass such legislation, so it's a little difficult for the (pro-abortion groups) to swallow," she says. "(On the plates) you have a wonderful message that says, 'Choose Life.' I think (the fact) that the (pro-abortion groups) are opposed to them really...shows their true colors."

       The plates sell for $22. The money goes to charities that help pregnant women who are putting their babies up for adoption.

Germans Back Jews

       Brunswick, Germany (EP) - German Christians stood in solidarity with Jews after several vicious outbreaks of anti-Semitic violence. According to Idea News Service, the Protestant Churches of Germany synod passed resolutions during their annual meeting in November that "emphasized their alliance with the Jewish people" and expressed solidarity with the victims of racist attacks. The churches also admitted that they complied with the extermination of European Jews during Germany's Nazi era and confessed that Jews died because Christians were guilty of "negligence and keeping silent." On Nov. 9, over 100 synod leaders gathered with Jews to commemorate kristallnach, an infamous Nazi-led program against Germany's Jewish population in 1938. The synod, which represents 27 million Christians, released a statement saying, "We regard attacks against Jews as attacks against us."

 

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