The city council of Murfreesboro, Tenn., voted unanimously to replace the word ‘God’ in a local firefighters’ Sept. 11 memorial outside a city fire hall, reports The Nashville Tennessean .

Earlier, the city manager -- responding to an anonymous voicemail message -- had ordered the memorial removed or the language changed to avoid illegally mixing government and religion. In response, firefighters had spray-painted over the word ‘God’ on the memorial, leaving only the words ‘Bless America.’

The city manager had said in a statement that such displays ''should be as inclusive as possible and reflect recent Supreme Court decisions and federal policy on governmental endorsement of religion.''

He later apologized.

Councilwoman Beth O'Brien drew lengthy applause when at the same meeting she urged fellow council members to take a stand and not allow the trend toward political correctness to ''chip away at the values of America.''

Merry Christmas to All

Parents of some kids in Alberta, Canada don’t want their children boxing up treats for needy kids overseas because the packages contain literature about Christ and are a form of proselytizing, reports The National Post .

Parents complained that the program, headed by Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse, is a form of evangelizing to both the Canadian children and those abroad who receive the gifts. The critics also have whined because Graham had the gall to say last year that Islam is an "evil and wicked" religion.

According to officials with the group, children in countries that permit such literature receive a booklet with the boxes called The Greatest Gift of All, which celebrates the life of Christ. Some 750,000 boxes a year filled with rubber balls, pencils, crayons and stuffed toys are sent from Canada to poor kids from central Africa to the Balkans.

Because of the complaints, one school district has disallowed the program during school hours and others may soon follow suit.

"We have students with a wide range of cultural and religious beliefs," said Mike Lloyd, board chairman of the Banff-based Canadian Rockies Public Schools. "We figure we're a melting pot and because of that, it's not our mandate to be promoting one religious belief over another."

Pitt Stop

Officials in Malaysia say they pulled the plug on an ad campaign for Toyota featuring actor Brad Pitt because it was an insult to Asians, reports The Associated Press .

Deputy Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin said ads featuring models and personalities who don’t look Asian "plant a sense of inferiority among Asians."

"Why must we use their faces in our advertisements?" he said. "Aren’t our own people handsome enough?"

Hazy Days of Summer

Kids attending West Virginia University Extension Service’s 4-H summer camps will no longer do "stereotypical motions and dances" and chanting as part of the program because such traditions have been deemed offensive to Native American heritage, reports the Associated Press.

The kids will, however, still be allowed to join one of four tribes -- Mingo, Cherokee, Delaware or Seneca -- during their summer sojourn.

A review of the 80-year-old traditions of face-painting and tribal cheering was ordered earlier this year after one parent complained about some practices to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Civil Rights.

West Virginia University Extension Service Director Larry Cote said the reforms "achieved what the thousands of passionate and dedicated West Virginia 4-H'ers asked for: Keep as many of our West Virginia 4-H traditions as possible, and halt anything that might be stereotypical or offensive."

Reading Lists

An 11-year-old Colorado student who wanted to do a book report on the Bible had to sic lawyers on the school district before her teachers would allow such a thing, reports The Rocky Mountain News .

Elizabeth Johnson wanted to do her report on the Book of Exodus, but her teachers at Peak to Peak Charter School initially rejected that idea. They told her, she said, that the Bible might offend students of different religions and to not even to bring the book to school.

Elizabeth said she wasn't trying to push her religion on the other students, but merely likes the drama of Exodus. "I just wanted to do how he (Moses) rescued the slaves, and how he was born," she said.

The school district backed down after the Alliance Defense Fund, which specializes in religious-freedom issues, threatened to bring a civil rights suit against it.

Not That They Would Do Anything Like That

Muslims in Hong Kong accused the government there of being insensitive for having police officers pose as Middle Eastern terrorists during an exercise at the airport, reports the Associated Press.

The exercise at Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok airport simulated the capture of airline passengers being transported by bus while they were stopping at Hong Kong's airport on a trip from the Middle East to New Zealand.

Saeed Uddin, chairman of the Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong, said he may seek an apology from the government. "This is the wrong practice. It hurts many people," he said of the exercise.

Groton Guppies Maybe?

A Massachusetts school district is under pressure to change its Crusader mascot because the armored figure evokes images of holy war and genocide to some people in town, reports the Lowell Sun .

Officials at Groton Dunstable Regional High School are considering the request from resident Leslie Lathrop to change the mascot when the high school moves into a new building.

"It was the first genocide," Lathrop said. "It laid the groundwork for the Holocaust."

Finally! The daily edition of Tongue Tied is here. For those who can’t wait until the end of the week for a dose of PC wackiness, head over to the Tongue Tied Web site.

Mailbag:

Michael M. in Antioch, Calif. writes:

It is a shame we are so caught up in the separation of church and state and have changed it's meaning to indicate secular only, or no contact, endorsement or support of religion. The media, and in-turn the public, often miss the point and further contribute to our changing perceptions of the concept of separation of church and state. It was intended by our founding fathers to keep the state from endorsing any particular religious order or having a state sponsored religion.

It was never their intention to have no religious beliefs, to outlaw religious activity, or to keep public facilities and funds away from those who pay for them, to be used only for special interest groups and secular activities. Nor to hide from, deny or abolish religion in government sponsored activities.

Robert G. in Las Vegas writes:

So, according to the Lansing State Journal, "Public school teachers in Michigan do not allow the kids to sing Christmas carols such as Silent Night and First Noel because such religiously themed songs might offend kids from ‘diverse populations?’"

Once again we have Orwellian newspeak for "everything’s acceptable but Christianity." Funny how no one asks if some of these kids might be "offended" by singing "kwanza" songs about a "celebration" invented by a left wing, black nationalist college professor in the '60's. But, then again, if someone has the gall to complain they will just be labeled "racist" and smeared into silence.

Gordon C. in Philadelphia writes:

When I see a school that bans all holiday celebrations with religious implications I get concerned for our futures. On the other hand, when I see a story about school administrators who do just the opposite and allow celebrations of all faiths, I take heart.

The former are shortsighted and their actions are exclusive while the latter are inclusive. I have great concern about placing people in authority with no more common sense than to answer the problem of diversity with exclusion.

Jason L. writes:

I am glad to see the Episcopal Church bishops taking a stand and discerning between homosexuality and perversion. It is now time for the Catholic Church to take moral responsibility and stop blaming homosexuals for the perpetual problems of hypocrisy in the priesthood.

Bonnie G. writes:

I used to be a public school teacher. As a Roman Catholic teaching in a Bible Belt public school, I was regularly told that I was going to hell. So when it came time for the teachers to sing at the Holiday Show, the principal selected the song Silent Night. As I had children of many faiths in my classroom (approximately 20 percent were non-Christian -- many of whom where also destined to go to hell by my colleague’s standards), I felt it improper for me, as a teacher, to promote one religion (mine) over the others. So there I stood, along with the lone Jewish teacher, not singing the song.

It was the only time during my five years at that school that I was reprimanded… I firmly believe, after being belittled for my faith by fellow teachers, that the public school is NO place for Christmas celebrations. It not only hurts the children who are not Christian, but it secularizes one of the most sacred holidays in my faith. As such, I see it as impinging upon my rights as a devout Catholic.

Jefferson S. writes:

As Dave K. and others are unhappy with B.C. and A.D., my sensibilities also reel from the cultural brutality forced on me. Can we get rid of the homage we pay to the ancient Euro-centric gods by using "Tuesday," adopted from the Anglo-Saxon word for the warrior god of the Teutonic mythology Tiu or Tiw?

I have also decided that I am offended by "February," named for the Roman festival of purification Februa. These are pagan terms I, as a Catholic, am forced to use against my will. Can I get money from the government as a form of reparation? Not for personal gain, of course, but to strike a blow for the oppressed.

Rick W. in Southfield, Mich. writes:

I'm glad that the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill has the time to complain about a fictional character appearing in a straight jacket. On our street we have a person who has been diagnosed as a paranoid-schizophrenic. This person has physically assaulted a priest (after the priest asked him to leave when he was found asking children if they wanted to see his penis), has been banned from numerous area churches and businesses due to his disrupting their functions, and is responsible for fairly regular visits to the neighborhood by the local police.

The county mental health people, the police, and the neighbors, all agree that eventually this person will either kill someone or wind up being killed. I guess that spending time on Harry Potter is more important to NAMI than dealing with a person of this type. Maybe we can arrange for him to spend some time in their neighbor hood, with their kids?

 

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