A December parade in Denver will feature everyone from Chinese lion dancers (search) to gay and lesbian shamans, according to the Rocky Mountain News, but not Christians who want to sing yuletide hymns or carry a Merry Christmas message.

Denver pastor George Morrison said his request to enter a float in the annual Parade of Lights (search), which apparently only coincidentally happens in late December, was rejected because parade officials won't allow any "direct religious themes."

"It's a little confusing to me," said Morrison. "Here we have this holiday, Christmas, approaching, and Parade of Lights is suddenly changed into something where you can't even sing a Christmas song?"

The one-hour parade features elaborate floats with holiday symbols such as Santa Claus and gingerbread houses, plus an "international procession" of cultural groups.

The international portion this year features the Two Spirit Society, which honors gay and lesbian American Indians as holy people; a German folk dance group; and performers of the Lion Dance, a Chinese New Year tradition "meant to chase away evil spirits and welcome good luck and good fortune for the year."

Those groups are considered examples of ethnic diversity, not religious groups, a parade official said.

New Lows

The Sarasota Herald Tribune says some schools in Florida are so worked up over the thought of anything smacking of Christianity appearing in classes that they are banning seasonal celebrations altogether.

In this year’s winter concert at Freedom Elementary School in East Manatee students will be singing about America and patriotism instead of about C-----mas and the holidays. Even snowflakes are verboten among the classroom decorations.

"There's a lot of rules and regulations out there," said Freedom Principal Gary Holbrook. "You're trying to be respectful of everyone."

High Irony

A Georgia principal who read a satirical ditty about how kids today can elect pregnant prom queens and dress like freaks but can’t mention God in school was accused of breaching that pesky line between church and state, reports The Associated Press.

Tommy Craft, principal of Cedar Shoals High School in Athens, apologized for reading a poem entitled "The New School Prayer" over the school's intercom. He said he just wanted to provoke a little thought.

But because the poem sounded sorta like a prayer and mentioned God, some parents complained. "Basically, I found the poem offensive, but even if I didn't, I still would believe it crossed the line between church and state,'' said Ginger Smith, whose daughter is a junior at Cedar Shoals.

The poem has circulated on the Internet since at least 1992 and is written in the rhyming style of the children's prayer that begins "Now I lay me down to sleep."

Sign of the Times

A sign outside a California church promoting a Sunday sermon titled "Why I Am Not a Muslim" has drawn complaints from some locals who say it is offensive to people of that faith, reports The Associated Press.

The sign outside the Church of the Nazarene in the San Francisco suburb of Sunnyvale is intended to promote a lecture by the Rev. Donald Fareed about his conversion to Christianity and attempts to close the rifts between Christians and Muslims since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"My goal is not to offend Muslims, but to communicate why I changed my religion," said Fareed, who was born an Iranian Muslim and fled after the Islamist revolution.

But local resident Jay Keller was among a handful who called the sign offensive. "I work with a lot of Muslims and don’t know why someone would put up a sign like that," he said. "They can’t possibly be oblivious to the fact that it might be offensive to some people."

'Most Festive of Seasons'

The mayor of Somerville, Mass., has to issue a written apology for daring to refer to the city’s upcoming celebration as a "Christmas party," reports the Somerville Journal.

Mayor Joe Curtatone's apology statement said: "A press release issued from my office last week mistakenly identified this month's City Holiday Party as a 'Christmas Party.' I apologize for the mistake and to anyone who was offended by it. On Dec. 21, City Hall will welcome the entire community to a party honoring all holiday traditions and celebrating this most festive of seasons."

For more doses of politically correct nuttiness, head on over to the TongueTied daily edition.

Mailbag:

Robert B. in Stockholm wonders:

According to the Declaration of Independence, God endowed Americans with certain inalienable rights, including life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. Since God is supreme, it is not within the purview of the state to diminish these rights.

Rather, it is the state's sacred and moral obligation to God to ensure that our rights are honored and secured.

But if the secular progressives succeed in expunging God from American public life, then who endows Americans with inalienable rights? The state, of course. And once the state becomes supreme, our inalienable rights will be subject to the state's whims. This is the secular progressives' ultimate goal, and banishing God is the first step of their plan.

Isn't it deliciously ironic that the ACLU, which is supposedly the foremost champion of our inalienable rights, is in fact leading the secular progressives' campaign to diminish them?

Oliver S. writes:

Any attempt to remove the word "God" from historical text or from student-generated papers should be considered an establishment of religion, namely atheism. The U.S. Supreme Court recognized the existence of atheistic religions in 1961, in its ruling on the Maryland case Torcaso vs. Watkins. And compelling anyone to behave like an atheist is nothing less than an establishment of religion.

Ryan R. writes:

In respects to people speaking out about having a statue of a goddess in the park: does this mean that Cupids in water fountains must be taken out of parks nationwide because they represent Greek gods?

People must have a lot of time on their hands to complain about beautiful pieces of art that bring serenity to places such as parks. This has to be one of the most ridiculous things I have heard. It is almost as bad as taking Halloween out of the schools because it offended local pagans. When will people stop trying to be so damn politically correct and accept art and poetry for what it is?

Jackie P. writes:

I have been so upset with so many stories about how Islam, Hinduism and all the other religions in the world can be discussed openly and without reprisal in the public schools of America, yet even mention Christianity, God or Jesus in hushed tones and you are subject to dismissal, administrative leave or other forms of discipline.

What is it with the people in this country?! We beat our chests and proclaim our "tolerance" as long as it's anything but Christianity! And we have the nerve to call Christians hypocrites! What? No one has mirrors at home?

Alex H. writes:

I just read today's article on the controversy of the Hebe statue in Roseburg, Ore. As a long time Roseburg resident, I've been following the story rather closely, so naturally I was interested to see it on Tongue-Tied. Most of the people I know don't care about the statue. However, there's a very small group of extremely conservative people who absolutely can't stand it; in their letters to the editor in Roseburg's newspaper, the News Review, they use the word blasphemy quite a bit (though to be blasphemous, people would have to worship the statue, and I doubt we'll see to many people trying to do that).

Actually, a lot of the names on the list of people protesting the statue are the same as the people who are busy protesting things like Harry Potter novels and movies or Dungeons and Dragons.

Ultimately, the controversy has been going on for about two-three years now, and I think that what we're seeing is a last ditch effort to keep a nice piece of art out of Downtown.

Eric A. writes:

I can't believe you have not run a correction on the story of the teacher in California who claims that he can't teach the Declaration of Independence etc. because of its references to God. The fact is, if you had done any follow-up, that he was using bits and pieces from American documents to proselytize his view that America is a Christian nation -- not merely, as part of teaching history, pointing out the religious motivations of many (not all) of this country's early settlers (which is of course entirely legitimate).

Go check a few blogs, where this story has been thoroughly debunked.

Jim M. writes:

Another collection of sad whinings from the not at all silent majority. The American right-wing, religious fanatics are truly the Rodney Dangerfield of majorities. Here they are, white, redneck, born again Americans without the ability to push everyone else around. Damn that Bill of Rights and those Founding Fathers. That was 200 years ago and they didn't realize all these foreigners and liberals were going to take over our country. We need to change our Constitution, majority rule, one man one vote, yada yada yada.

Speaking as a good, God-fearing, gun-owning liberal, with this bunch in power, I'm going to need my guns.

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