Nativity out but other "secular" religious symbols okay, says judge
The rule on religious expression and government property generally works like this: acknowledge one religion, and you have to be open to acknowledging them all.

This is the philosophy the New York City Department of Education used when it set up its holiday display with every possible symbol: a Christmas tree, menorahs, dreidels, a crescent and star, a Kwanzaa candelabra, Christmas wreaths and bells, Santa Claus, and a snowman.

Andrea Skoros, a mother from Queens, noted something missing: a crèche. "I just think that if you're going to put up religious symbols, then you have to respect all religions," she explained. "If you have Jewish and Muslim symbols, then it's not enough for Catholics to have a Christmas tree. We should be able to display the Nativity scene, too."

Ah, but not so fast, said a federal judge ruled yesterday. None of the current displays are religious. The menorah and crescent and star may have a religious history to them, but they "have developed significant secular connotations," Judge Charles Sifton said. Not so with the Nativity, which is "purely religious." (No word on which category the cross would fall into.)

"I don't understand how [Sifton] can say a menorah is not a religious symbol," said Skoros, who had also complained that her sons were taught the story of Chanukah, but not Christmas. "That blows my mind." Not that she expected to win. "I didn't think that a judge in New York state would rule in favor of Christians," she told the New York Post. "It's too liberal. They're worried about hurting everybody's feelings."

Skoros is backed by the Thomas More Law Center, and plans to appeal.

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's editorial director. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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