When a Tree Is More Than a Tree, Religion As Weapon

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A Christmas charity drive by some elementary school kiddies in Bellevue, Wash., has been axed after some parents complained that the "Giving Tree" with colored mittens all over it was a symbol of Christianity that has no place in public schools, according to KOMO-TV.

The tree at Medina Elementary School, described as a nondescript coil of silver with a star on top, had mittens as decorations with the ages and sex of prospective gift recipients along with some suggestions about what they wanted for Christmas.

When a parent complained that the tree was too Christian, the school covered the star on top with a bow to appease the parent but it wasn't enough. So the principal put the mittens on other secular symbols of the season — a sled, a snowman, a 'regular' tree and a plain old counter.

Koranic Abuse

The Stockton Record says an art gallery at Delta College in California has been asked to remove a piece of art that features a Kalashnikov wrapped in images of Koranic script because it is offensive to some Muslim students on campus.

The piece, part of a show titled "My Country, Right or Left: Artists Respond to the State of the Union" in the L.H. Horton art gallery, consists of a ceramic assault rifle and is intended to make the point that some people in the world are using religion as a weapon.

Muslim students contend the work descrecrates the Islamic holy book and falsely equates Islam with terrorism. They want it removed, a request that school officials have so far resisted.

It Was Inevitable

The success of the Narnia movie is bringing the usual C.S. Lewis critics out of the woodwork — especially anti-Christian zealots who object to its allegory and allusions to Christianity.

The Associated Press, in an analysis of Lewis' Christianity, points out that Americans United for Separation of Church and State criticized Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for offending the Constitution by choosing "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" for his state's annual student reading campaign.

"This whole contest is totally inappropriate," said Barry Lynn, the group's director. "This would be like asking children to watch the movie ‘The Passion of the Christ’ and to write an essay with the winner getting a trip to Rome."

Oh, and Polly Toynbee of the UK's Guardian today says "Narnia represents everything that is most hateful about religion."

Life in a Multi-Faith Society

A schoolgirl in the UK claims she was tossed out of school because she refused to remove a small crucifix necklace, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Sixteen-year-old Sam Morris says she was sent home from Sinfin Community School in Derby for breaking a school policy that bans jewelry. Her mother complained about the rule, claiming it is unfairly enforced because Sikh students are allowed to wear karas because it is required by their faith.

A school official defended the policy by saying Christianity doesn't require its adherents to wear crosses, but the Sikh faith does. "We have to be understanding," he said. "We live in a multi-faith society."

More Figments of the Right-Wing Imagination

The Toledo Blade quotes a high school principal as "quickly correcting himself" when he accidentally says his school has a Christmas tree up:

"Oh, it's a holiday tree," he corrects himself when questioned about end-of-year decorations. "We try to respect everybody's beliefs," he said. "The music department does a Christmas concert. Well, actually it's a holiday concert."

The anecdote comes in a roundup about how local schools have in recent years been sliding away from use of the C-word and opting for the more neutral "Holiday" instead.

A student at a high school in Missouri creating a giant calendar for the hallway was told by a teacher that Christmas tree imagery was off-limits, according to the Springfield News-Leader, and that only winter themes could used.

This follows news about an e-mail sent out to fine arts teachers across the district who were preparing for an assembly to be held later this month. The e-mail stated: "This is just a reminder that we agreed to have a winter assembly on December 8th at 9:00 in the HPER. This assembly will display the talents of your students and can include holiday themes, but not direct references to Christmas or the birth of Jesus."

Food Fight

A group of Danish Muslims is said to be refusing to eat a traditional yuletide treat there because they are offended by their name — "Jewish Cookies."

The cookies, which are made with cinnamon and hazelnuts, are not particularly Jewish. But they are popular during the pre-Christmas period. The Danish daily B.T. quotes one Ole Poulsen, head of the Public Food Consumer Department, as saying that the name may have to be changed at some point.

Denmark’s chief rabbi, Bent Lexner, said he wouldn't mind a name change, but added that "I think that it would be better to educate Muslims to respect the culture of the majority in Denmark, if they want the majority to respect their culture".

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


Chuck G. writes:

As a UM alum, gotta tell you how Ann Arbor works:

It's not about something being judged offensive that causes action, but rather whether it offends the wrong people. If it offends Straight, White, Male, Christians, then it's protected under the First Amendment. If it offends our local raw nerves with no coping skills, then it's to be eradicated. Perceived injustice is also an acceptable basis for outrage. To recap: feces on a crucifix is protected; a statue showing a proud male figure is vulgar. Welcome to the world of Michigan!

Kevin C. writes:

I found it fascinating that officials at the University of Missouri in St. Louis believe that, when it involves a play put on by gays that mocks heterosexuals, "controversial and potentially inappropriate material is a First Amendment issue." I wonder what their opinion would be if a minority-mocking play by white students in black-face makeup was proposed. I’m sure that their "First Amendment issue" decision would then go right out the window.

Karen Q. writes:

While reading your mailbag and other articles of little relevance to life as a whole on your FNC webpage, I had the thought that too many Americans have way too much time on their hands. Sculpture protests? Rare (1600's) pieces of art protests? Give me a break! Get over yourself and move on. I don't know about you, but I love a good Italian feast wherever it is held! And do you think the Bernese Mountain Dogs really give a hoot about what holiday is currently being celebrated?

Boris A. writes:

For years France has pretended that they do not have a racial division problem within their society, nor do they have a brewing issue with a huge population of underprivileged Muslim immigrants who bear the brunt of French xenophobia and racial intolerance.

There is only so long you can sweep the issue under the rug before it comes back to bite you in the ugliest of ways, and attacking people such as Alain Finkielkraut, who simply state the obvious truth, is not going to make the problem go away.

Appeasing the disgruntled masses by chastising a scapegoat is not an alternative to prudent governance, education and civil integration. Whether President Bush, America, or Alain Finkielkraut are the bane of French existence, France owes itself a long and hard look in the mirror, before it can re-enter the modern world as a cultural and political influence.

Lisa H. writes:

I am appalled that Selectwoman Sarah Peake is so "disturbed" by a factual depiction of an actual historic happening that she would prefer to see it re-painted to depict a blatant lie. Does she have a moral compass? When we start re-writing pieces of our history, whether in word or in art, for the sake of polical correctness, we lose the significance of the very history we need to remember.

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