The ACLU claims the cross represents an illegal endorsement of religion on public land. Peter Eliasberg, a lawyer for the group, said the cross "promotes Christian beliefs over others, which is not the role of the government. Federal park land is for all of us."
But John Sandleman, who saw service during World War II and regularly visits the cross, lamented the Park Service's decision: "Many thousands of men and women have died in war to protect the civil liberties of Americans. It is very sad that we cannot remember them the way we wish to."
No Virginia, There Is No Santa Claus Here
The Lawrence school board voted 5-2 last week against a proposal by member Scott Morgan to allow secular Christmas celebrations in the Kansas district. Morgan said he wanted district officials, including teachers, to be allowed to participate in secular aspects of holidays as long as it doesn't foster or promote any particular religious tenet or demean any religious belief or nonbelief. "We have choral groups tying themselves in knots to avoid winter songs that will be perceived as too 'Christmasy,'" Morgan said.
"I don't want Christmas forced down anyone's throat," he added. "I just want an end to the freakish situation where teachers are completely at ease discussing Hanukkah, Ramadan and Kwanzaa but are afraid to utter the word Christmas or place a paper Christmas tree or wreath or candy cane on the wall."
No Cheer Here, Either
St. Petersburg, Fla., police have banned all workplace holiday displays after one Jewish officer filed a religious discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission because of overt displays of Christianity in the department. Nothing with a "religious holiday connotation" will be allowed, according to a memo obtained by the St. Peterburg Times.
Police Chief Goliath Davis III told the Times he does not want to violate the Constitution's ban on government endorsement of religion. "As police chief, I want to make sure we're sensitive to everybody's religious beliefs so we don't offend anybody," he said.
More Mascot Trouble Brewing?
Clinton administration officials are now on record lauding the possibility of cutting off federal funding to schools that don't change their "racist" Indian mascots and team names. The AP says that when the Onteora, N.Y., School District decided not to drop its mascot, activists asked the U.S. Education Department to pull the district's federal funding.
Kevin Gover, head of the Interior Department's Bureau of Indian Affairs, applauded the effort. "Any school putting forward a stereotyped image of any race is in violation of civil rights laws, and I think should lose federal funding," he told the AP. "If the Justice Department won't do it, lots of lawyers like me will do it for them."
Sensitivity Workshops for One and All
Residents in Indian Head Park, Ill., may soon be asked to decide whether to change the name of their village to something more sensitive to Native Americans. The community newsletter, Smoke Signals, is surveying local residents now. But before they decide, village President Richard Pellegrino says he wants to conduct a sensitivity workshop for the 3,500 or so local inhabitants.
K. Ross Writes to Alert Us of the Following:
For the last three Thursdays in a row, a couple dozen employees of Dupont's Spruce plant in Chesterfield County, Va., have gathered outside the factory to protest its managers' decision to ban the Confederate battle flag from company property. They banned it after complaints from some employees that it was racist, plant manager Mike Mayberry tells the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Now, before driving into the parking lot, employee Jimmy Jones stops and covers the Confederate bumper sticker on his pickup with one that says, "My Southern heritage denied by DuPont." The Virginia chapter of the ACLU was reported as saying that private companies have the right to restrict expression on their property.
More Mail from the Central Server:
Jim T: "Religious institutions are not granted tax exempt status by divine edict. Rather, tax exemption is part of a quid pro quo that goes something like this: the government will stay out of the religion business and religious groups will not use their tax-exempt income to support specific politicians or political parties. There is absolutely nothing in law or custom which prevents the tax exempt Screamin' Jesus Church of the Rabbi Mohamed from incorporating a non-exempt political action group to lobby for, contribute to, or sponsor ads on behalf of any given politician or political party. The magic part here is non-exempt. Tax exempt dollars are for building churches, buying hymnals, sponsoring missionaries, and otherwise spreading God's word. God's word is not: 'Vote for Gordon Liddy.'"
Tzvi N.: "Keep up the good work of keeping America informed about the state of free speech, or lack of it. Most people do not realize to what extent we have muzzled speech in the last couple of decades so as not to 'offend' all the sensitive people. I am a Jewish-American (I hate these hyphenated identities) and I have learned to have a sense of humor about my ethnicity as well as others."
Joe S: "The way to foil the anti-10 Commandment nuts is not to display the 10 Commandments per se, but to display a photo of the U.S. Supreme court chambers — perhaps the justices posing in front of the 10 Commandments inscribed on the Chamber Wall."
Jack P.: "Fox 'News' is once again showing remarkable vision. Who else would think of jumping on a 20-year-old bandwagon and coming out against — hee hee! — political correctness? Please relax. It's dead. It was practically still-born. You won."