This Christmas, is there increasingly "no room" for Jesus?
Every year one hears complaints that people are taking Christ out of Christmas and that the holiday is becoming increasingly secular. This year, however, the cries seem particularly frequent and strong.

Most notably, a family in Queens has filed a lawsuit over school holiday policies. "The display of secular holiday symbol decorations is permitted. Such symbols include, but are not limited to, Christmas trees, Menorahs, and the Star and Crescent," says a memo from the lawyer of the schools chancellor. A menorah and star and crescent are secular?

""I'm offended that we're some sort of second-class religion that would be satisfied with a tree," said William Donohue, president of the Catholic League, which is representing the Queens family. "All we're asking for the city of New York to do is to treat Catholics the same way they do Jews and Muslims. This is nothing but pure, unadulterated religious discrimination."

In nearby Yonkers, interim Superintendent Angelo Petrone is treating all religions equally—everything from trees to menorahs, and "all ornamentation with a message stronger than a generic 'happy holidays' or 'season's greetings' has been banned," reports The Journal News. Teachers weren't even allowed to teach students about Hannukah, Christmas, or other religious holidays.

"Anybody who heard it thought it was a joke at first; they couldn't believe it," said parent Amanda Pendleton. "Then they had to literally tear everything off the walls."

Students were allowed to decorate two Christmas trees, but afterwards they were hauled away.

"Unfortunately, these actions are overreactions that come out of confusion about what the First Amendment requires and the refusal by schools to address religion properly throughout the school year," the Freedom Forum's Charles Haynes told The Journal News. "Focusing on December is a losing game. Whatever they do is going to cause controversy."

It's not just a U.S. issue, either. A school superintendent in British Columbia told schools not to refer to Christmas in their winter concert promotions, reports The National Post. Even clothing store The Gap has ordered its employees not to greet its patrons with "Merry Christmas."

"The stripping away of America's heritage continues as certain legal and cultural relativists pursue their goal of transforming us into moral and spiritual 'Stepford wives' when we will see all ideas as mattering, or not mattering, and it not mattering whether that matters," complains syndicated columnist Cal Thomas.

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World's Gene Edward Veith says such watering down misses the point. "Today, it is widely assumed that all religions are essentially the same," he writes. "Those who believe that way are looking at the forms of religion, while neglecting their content. All the religions of the world are indeed religions, which means that they all have ways of worship, a sense of the sacred, and some sense of right and wrong. From the outside, some of these practices may appear similar. The issue, though, is not what the various religions look like—or when their holidays fall—but what they mean. The purpose of Christian evangelism is to bring people into everlasting life. The purpose of Islamic evangelism is to bring more people and nations under Islamic law."

More commentary is available from National Review Online's Rod Dreher and The Rutherford Institute's John Whitehead.

Boston's Cardinal Law resigns
"I am profoundly grateful to the Holy Father for having accepted my resignation as Archbishop of Boston," Archbishop Bernard Law of Boston said in a statement from the Vatican today. "It is my fervent prayer that this action may help the Archdiocese of Boston to experience the healing, reconciliation and unity which are so desperately needed. To all those who have suffered from my shortcomings and mistakes I both apologize and from them beg forgiveness."

In April, Pope John Paul II had rejected an offer to resign by Law, one of his closest American advisers. But ongoing—and increasingly disturbing—revelations since then have led even Law's supporters to call for his resignation.

"The 71-year-old Law will remain a cardinal, which means he could move into another church post and retains the right to vote in a papal election, until he turns 80," notes the Associated Press. "He also will not be freed from the litigation in Boston, and was subpoenaed last week to appear before a grand jury."

The Associated Press, Boston Globe, and others have reaction stories.

Law will be replaced, at least temporarily, by Bishop Richard Lennon.

More on the clergy sex abuse scandal:

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More articles

Trent Lott:

Bush's faith-based plan:

  • Study: Faith-based services viable | Diverse state laws and a Supreme Court ruling backing vouchers have complicated the faith-based policy debate, but religious welfare groups still have many ways to operate, according to a 50- state study (The Washington Times)


  • Priest's daughter raped in church | She was allegedly raped and impregnated by a 46-year-old man who is a church elder and a close associate of the priest (City Press, South Africa)

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Persecution and religious violence:

  • In the name of God, why are we fighting? | The politics of religion have become part of the politics of change (Martin Woollacott, The Sydney Morning Herald)

  • Police say group planned to blow up church | Indonesian police investigating the bombings of a McDonald's restaurant and a car dealership today said the group behind the blasts also planned to blow up a church over Christmas (

  • The 'log' of Christian violence | Christian-supported violence makes Islam look peaceable by comparison (Peter Gathje, The Commercial Appeal, Memphis)

  • 'Bloodthirsty' priests attacked | Three Roman Catholic priests were assaulted and taken hostage for a night in southern Malawi by angry villagers who accused them of trying to steal their blood, a priest said on Thursday (City Press, South Africa)

Religious freedom:


  • Bible mailing targets Muslims | Paul Bramsen said he and a fleet of volunteers sent the flier to 16,000 Americans with "Muslim or Arab names." Several have already returned coupons for the book, which bills itself as "a fresh look at the word of God, from the perspective of a Muslim reader" (Herald News, Passaic, N.J.)

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  • Natural evangelism | Christians who can't or won't share their faith with others may be in a crisis of faith of their own (Editorial, Christian Century)

  • Bible club ruling may be fought in Stafford | Earlier this week, a U.S. District Court in Trenton ruled in favor of a proselytizing Christian evangelical group that wants to reach out to students—and through them, to evangelize parents (Asbury Park [N.J.] Press)

Politics and law:

  • A monumental mistake | A judge rules: Pull down those Ten Commandments—soon. (Michael Novak, The Wall Street Journal)

William Jewell College proposes homosexual discrimination bill:


Family and children:

  • What child is this? | I am amazed, when I talk with my fellow wives, how negative we Americans have become about babies (Maggie Gallagher)

  • Try to connect holiday rituals | When preschoolers ask questions about God (''Where is God?''), they are looking for simple, concrete answers (Barbara Meltz, The Boston Globe)
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Life ethics:

  • Call for ban on sex choice clinics | Three sex selection clinics were accused yesterday of encouraging Indian couples to seek boy children rather than girls (The Guardian, India)

  • So far, we're losing | Moral relativism still dominates the abortion debate (Joel Belz, World)




Missions and ministry:

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Prayer and spirituality:

Church life:

  • Making it easier to sack clergy | In one of Dr Williams's first acts since he was confirmed in office last week, he has approved a working party that will examine "the clergy's historic right to freehold" (The Times, London)

  • Clergy could lose right to 'job for life' (The Daily Telegraph, London)

  • The new funday school | The Gospel According to Harry Potter is just the start as churches woo the Nickelodeon generation (Time)

  • Wee Frees face shortage of ministers | A sex scandal and the indifference of the young to their native tongue have created a chronic shortage of Gaelic-speaking Wee Free ministers in the island heartland of the faith and language (The Scotsman)

  • Iconoclastic bishop rapped | Theoklitos, Bishop of Ioannina, accused the Church of Greece of commercially exploiting the "paganistic, sick faith" of certain of its members by staging tours of icons and religious relics (Kathimerini, Athens)

  • Immigrants flock to Russian Orthodox Church | Next week the Russian Orthodox Church of America will hold its semiannual meeting for the Western Diocese in Seattle (The Seattle Times)

Other religions:

India conversion:

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Philip Berrigan:

Virgin of Guadalupe:

Other stories of interest:

  • Examining the spiritualists | Author Ira Rifkin looks at the impact and influence that 75 'spiritual innovators' had in the 20th century (The Baltimore Sun)

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