LUZERNE COUNTY, Pennsylvania — A menorah and statues in the nativity scene on the Luzerne County Courthouse lawn were removed Wednesday night after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) threatened legal action. County officials opted not to spend time and money on a lawsuit – at least not at this time – because they are swamped with the budget crisis and other pressing matters, the Times Leader reports. The empty manger remains. FULL STORY (Photo: Pete G. Wilcox/TimesLeader.com)
“The City’s practice of funding a Nativity scene in the City’s annual ‘Christmas on the Cumberland’ celebration is constitutionally suspect and such practice must be remedied.” –ACLU SCROOGE ALERT LEVEL: HIGH
Leaf-Chronicle: ACLU objects to church’s plan to put scene on city’s riverfront
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — The pastor at Grace Church of the Nazarene says he and his congregation will present their “Christmas on the Cumberland” Nativity scene despite objections from the American Civil Liberties Union.
Steve Estep, the church’s pastor, said Saturday the church went through all the proper channels to present the display, and won’t let the ACLU effort diminish their celebration of the season, and “what it’s really all about.”
“We’re gonna do what we’ve been doing,” Estep said.
The ACLU sent a letter to City Attorney Lance Baker on Nov. 11, alleging the city’s riverfront Christmas observance violated the First Amendment in an “apparent promotion and endorsement of Christianity.” …
Later in the story…
…the ACLU is not asking the city do away with the “Christmas on the Cumberland” celebration altogether, rather implement an “equal access” policy to allow other religious and non-religious groups to participate, clearly state the city’s non-endorsement and not provide funding for a religious display.
Of course, the pastor has said the church is not keeping anyone out or preventing anyone from attending. The Dec. 11 and 12 performances will include choirs from multiple churches of varying faiths at McGregor Park.
A lawsuit challenging prayer at Presidential inauguration is currently before the federal D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and could be ruled on soon, according to a legal group defending the tradition.
LA CHURCH & STATE EXAMINER
The lawsuit, filed by hundreds of atheists and atheist groups, led by frequent litigant Michael Newdow, was thrown out by the lower federal court. The two pastors who offered prayers at President Obama’s inauguration, Dr. Rick Warren and Dr. Joseph Lowery, are named defendants in the lawsuit and are being represented by Pacific Justice Institute.
Last week, the Pacific Justice Institute countered the legal arguments of atheists who said public prayer traumatized them to the point of illness… read more
Georgia school district bans banners with words from the Bible at high school football games
For six years or so, cheerleaders at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School in Georgia have painted elaborate paper banners, adorned with Bible verses, through which football players have dashed at the outset of games, writes AJC Political Insider Jim Galloway.
For instance, recently, from Philippians 3:14: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me in Christ Jesus.”
After receiving a complaint, the Catoosa County school system cracked down… full story
SANTA ROSA COUNTY, Florida — After a 7½ hour hearing in federal court, federal District Judge Casey Rodgers told Michelle Winkler that she would not be held in civil contempt over her husband’s prayer at an awards banquet. Ms. Winkler, who is a clerical assistant for the Santa Rosa County School District, is represented by Liberty Counsel. Senior Litigation Counsel Horatio Mihet and David Corry defended Winkler against the ACLU last Friday. On September 17, Liberty Counsel will be back in court defending Principal Frank Lay and Athletic Director Robert Freeman on charges of criminal contempt over a blessing of the meal at a separate luncheon to honor private contributors to the athletic program.
Last year the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Santa Rosa County School District. Judge Rodgers entered a broadly worded injunction in January 2009 regarding prayer and religious activities of school employees. Winkler attended a privately funded event off campus at a nearby Naval base, held after school hours to honor noninstructional employees of the school district. She invited her husband, who is not employed by the school, to read a beautiful prayer blessing she wrote for the honorees. The ACLU ran to court, claiming that Winkler should be held in civil contempt of the court order. The ACLU claimed they had a “rock-solid case” against Winkler, but after 7 ½ hours, the ACLU had no case. Judge Rodgers ruled against the ACLU, concluding that Michelle Winkler’s husband’s prayer at a voluntary gathering outside of school did not violate the court’s order.
Upon hearing the ruling, Ms. Winkler hugged Liberty Counsel attorney Horatio Mihet and was overjoyed with the result. The courtroom was packed with people, who sat through the long ordeal to support Ms. Winkler. Dozens of additional supporters spent the day waiting and praying outside the courthouse.
Mathew D. Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: “The wheels came off the ACLU’s steamroller. While we are pleased with the ruling, we are saddened that a wonderful woman had to spend a day in court, with the ACLU’s crosshairs aimed at her back. Prayer is neither contemptuous nor criminal. It is outrageous that the ACLU sought civil contempt charges against an outstanding woman whose husband prayed a beautiful prayer at a privately sponsored event held off campus. The ACLU needs to take a good dose of the First Amendment and call us in the morning.”
Contact: Liberty Counsel Public Relations Department, 800-671-1776
LONG BEACH – An on-campus Christian club at California State University Long Beach is vowing to continue its Bible-based ministry despite losing a federal lawsuit accusing campus officials of violating its constitutional rights by denying the group official status.