Fla. man planned to radicalize, dress like the Joker and murder boss, cops say


A Florida man who allegedly confessed to pledging “allegiance to Allah” and plotting a mass shooting while dressed like a comic-book villain will only need to post $5,000 bond and stay on house arrest as he awaits trial.

Enrique Dominguez, 20, was arrested Friday and charged with aggravated assault, the Miami Herald reported.

Earlier this month, Dominguez allegedly told a co-worker at bicycle part distributor J&B Importers that he’d purchased a shotgun to murder his boss. He then showed the co-worker ISIS execution videos, according to an arrest report reviewed by the Herald.

Dominguez “expressed an intent to become radicalized” and said he would “dress up as the Joker from the Batman movie and bring the gun to work during my break,” the report said. Dominguez has a Joker tattoo on his shoulder, the arrest report stated, and has posted photos dressed as a clown on social media sites. One allegedly shows him posing with 15 knives. The caption for that photo reads “My lil arsenal.”

Investigators said they found a bag with a clown mask, duct tape, plastic wrap, gloves and two large knives when they searched Dominguez’s home. He allegedly confessed to planning a killing spree following a “day of allegiance.”

Dominguez’s attorney, Saam Zangeneh, said in court on Saturday that the charges had been overstated.

“This may have been some Internet lashing out when you get frustrated with someone and you post things on the Internet,” he said.

The allegations against Dominguez are reminiscent of the deadly 2012 theatre massacre in Aurora, Colorado. During that attack, James Holmes dyed his hair orange before opening fire on a crowd watching a Batman film, killing 12 and wounding 70. He reportedly later told police he was “the Joker.” Holmes was sentenced to 12 consecutive life sentences in August.

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Wisconsin teachers union decertified in latest blow to labor under Walker law


Protesters return to occupy the state Capitol June 14, 2011.ReutersTeachers from one of Wisconsin’s largest unions have jumped ship — voting overwhelmingly to abandon the group in the latest in a string of setbacks for the struggling labor movement following Gov. Scott Walker’s union overhaul two years ago.

The decision this week to disband by members of the Kenosha Education Association came after the organization was stripped of its certification and told it had lost its power to bargain for base wages with the district. The group was decertified after missing a key deadline in the annual reapplication process.

When the group might actually disband was not clear and calls to the organization were not returned.

The development is in keeping with an overall downward spiral for Wisconsin’s public worker unions. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported earlier this year that tens of thousands of teachers and other government workers have left their unions since the Walker-backed law took effect.

Known as Act 10, the set of reforms includes a provision that says unions won’t be recognized by the state unless 51 percent of all potential members support them in annual elections.

These elections have contributed to their decline.

According to Reuters, elections in 2011 and 2012 — in which 207 school districts, 39 municipal and six state units participated — resulted in 32 unions and their affiliates, or about 13 percent, being decertified.

However, those decertifications are on hold until the legal cases involving Act 10 are resolved in court.

Union contracts in three Wisconsin districts — Janesville, Milwaukee and Kenosha — were up for renewal over the summer and were required by law to file for their annual recertification by the end of August. Janesville and Milwaukee made the deadline. Kenosha did not, according to Peter Davis, general counsel of the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission.

Christina Brey, a spokeswoman from the Wisconsin Education Association Council, downplayed the re-certification in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

In Wisconsin, unions that aren’t certified are still allowed to operate but aren’t allowed to bargain for limited base-wage increases with the district. However, trying to get re-certified after falling behind a cycle or two will cost the union money. And that money will likely come from dues raised from members. Still, Brey seems to be taking the judgment in stride.

“It seems like the majority of our affiliates in the state aren’t seeking re-certification, so I don’t think the KEA is an outlier or unique in this,” Brey told the paper, adding that certification gives the union scant power over a limited number of issues they’d like a voice in.

But Matt Patterson, labor analyst with the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, claimed the vote was a sign that workers were turning their backs on the unions.

“The news today proves what unions have long feared — that when workers are actually given a free and fair choice, they will often choose opt out of union membership altogether,” he said.

“The public at large — and an increasing number of union members — have become wise to the fact labor unions stifle innovation and burden governments and businesses with unsustainable costs and regulations.”

So what’s this mean for the Kenosha union? For now, not a lot.

The state is still knee-deep in legal challenges to Act 10 and until all of those are decided, the rulings of the lower courts serve more as a moral blow than anything else. However, as these losses pile up, some say it’s only a matter of time before the unions lose their footing in Wisconsin.

Earlier this week, in an unrelated case, federal judge William Conley ruled that Walker’s public union restrictions are constitutional. It was the second major victory for Walker’s Act 10.

Conley’s ruling was based on a case brought by two public-worker unions from the city of Madison and Dane County. The suit, filed in 2011, claims Walker’s law steps on their constitutional right to freely assemble and express their views. They also argue that Act 10 violates their equal protection rights.

Conley ruled the recently enacted laws don’t silence employees or their unions in collective bargaining.

Act 10 was viewed by unions in Wisconsin as well as in major cities across the country as an assault on organized labor. The reforms led to massive protests in Wisconsin’s largely liberal capital city of Madison.

Walker, after taking office, also moved to dilute the power of public unions to collectively bargain, and to require public employees to make pension contributions and pay at least 12 percent of their health insurance premiums.

Republicans move to halt ObamaCare ‘bailout’ for angry unions


A Tea Party member reaches for a pamphlet titled "The Impact of Obamacare", at a "Food for Free Minds Tea Party Rally" in Littleton, New Hampshire October 27, 2012. REUTERS/Jessica RinaldiCapitol Hill Republicans are trying to stop the Obama administration from offering labor unions a sweetheart deal on ObamaCare, as the White House tries to quell a simmering rebellion from Big Labor over the health care law.

President Obama and White House officials reportedly have called union leaders to try and persuade them to tone down their complaints, pledging an accommodation. The AFL-CIO, though, on Wednesday approved a resolution anyway calling the law “highly disruptive” to union plans.

But reports have surfaced on a plan that would give union workers — and only union workers — subsidies to help pay for health insurance even if they’re covered through their job. The purported “carve-out” could soothe the simmering discontent within Big Labor. The loyal Democratic supporters and early champions of ObamaCare say they have been slighted by the act’s final regulations, which they say is pushing some employees into part-time work and threatens their health insurance plans.

At least three congressional Republicans are trying to stop any effort to give the unions special treatment, which could cost $200 billion over 10 years.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., on Monday introduced the “Union Bailout Prevention Act,” which would stop the granting of subsidies to offset premium costs for the multi-employer plans held by many union members. Separately, the House voted on Thursday to stop all subsidies until the administration launches a system to verify recipients are eligible.

Big Labor argues that workers without additional subsidies will switch to less-expensive, major-insurer plans, creating a withering effect on the so-called Taft-Hartley plans.

Thune and others argue the plans are already government-subsidized and the workers’ contributions are already tax-exempt.

“A deal such as this by the administration for the union would be illegal,” Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and Michigan Rep. Dave Camp said in a letter Tuesday to the Treasury Department. “Giving union workers exchange subsidies in addition to the income-tax exclusion would be double dipping.”

News reports about the plan have been circulating for days, including an early one by the Inside Washington news service. The Health and Human Services Department did not return calls or emails from FoxNews.com asking about the veracity of those reports.

Labor unions launched a multi-targeted attack this summer to force changes to ObamaCare, including one on the mandate for employers to offer insurance to full-time employees, which they say has resulted in more part-time jobs. Though that provision has been delayed, the concern is that employers are shaving the number of full-time employees in order to stay under the law’s threshold for when they have to start offering coverage.

“Unless you and the Obama administration enact an equitable fix, the (Affordable Care Act) will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40-hour work week,” union leaders wrote in a letter this summer to congressional Democratic leaders.

The letter, co-signed by the Teamsters union, was sent to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada, and followed a resolution by a Nevada chapter of the AFL-CIO hammering on the same issues.

“The unintended consequences of the ACA will lead to the destruction of the 40-hour work week … and force union members onto more costly plans,” the resolution stated.

Labor unions also feel slighted because low-income Americans are eligible for subsidies to help them purchase insurance through exchanges or marketplaces created by ObamaCare, when enrollment begins Oct. 1.

“Other stakeholders have repeatedly received successful interpretations for their respective grievances,” the unions told Pelosi and Reid in the July letter.

At least 3 dead as Colorado flooding cuts off mountain towns


Sept. 12, 2013: Boulder Creek floods its banks in Colorado. (Fox News)Days of heavy rain in Colorado caused flash flooding that cut off remote towns Thursday and left at least three people dead across a rugged landscape.

After a rainy week, up to 8 more inches fell in an area spanning from the Wyoming border south to the foothills west of Denver. Flooding extended all along the Front Range mountains and into some cities, including Colorado Springs, Denver, Fort Collins, Greeley, Aurora and Boulder.

Boulder County appeared to be hardest hit. Sheriff Joe Pelle said the town of Lyons was completely cut off because of flooded roads, and residents were huddling together on higher ground. Although everyone was believed to be safe, the deluge was expected to continue into Friday.

Numerous roads and highways were washed out or made impassable by floods. Floodwaters poured into homes, and at least a few buildings collapsed in the torrent.

“The rains have been sitting over that area,” Boulder Office of Emergency Management spokeswoman Gabrielle Boerkircher said. Boulder offices and facilities, including libraries and recreation centers, were closed Thursday due to the conditions. Hundreds of university students living near a creek in the city have also been evacuated.

The Weather Service said that county officials reported some homes had collapsed in Jamestown, where dozens of people live, according to a report by The Denver Post.

Boerkircher told The Associated Press that one person was killed when a structure collapsed in Jamestown, but that she didn’t have any other details because rescuers hadn’t reached the scene.

“There are mudslides prohibiting us from getting to that area,” Boerkircher said.

Another person drowned in northern Boulder as he was trying to help a woman who was swept away in a torrent of water, authorities said. Boulder County sheriff’s Cmdr. Heidi Prentup said the woman is still missing.

To the south, Colorado Springs police conducting flood patrols found the body of 54-year-old Danny Davis in Fountain Creek on the west side of the city.

An evacuation center for the mountain residents has been sent up in nearby Nederland, officials said.

Meanwhile, about 400 students at the University of Colorado housing in Boulder were evacuated and classes canceled Thursday because of the flooding, Boekircher said. The school said it will assess the situation and determine when it will reopen portions of its campus.

Firefighters performed a daring rescue of two men trapped in vehicles in Rock Creek, east of Boulder. After rushing water collapsed a section of road, rescuers used a raft to reach the men, broke the car windows and lifted them to safety.

Some of the flooding was exacerbated by wildfire “burn scars” that have spawned flash floods all summer in the mountains. That was particularly true in an area scarred by fire in 2010 near the tiny community of Jamestown and another near Colorado Springs’ Waldo Canyon that was hit in 2012.

“We’ve asked people in low-lying areas all through the county to evacuate,” said Andrew Barth, another Emergency Management spokesman.

In addition to the two counties where there were flood emergencies, the Weather Service posted flash flood warnings for parts of Broomfield, Adams, Weld, Larimer, and El Paso counties.

Mudslides and rockslides were reported in several areas, with parts of U.S. 6, Boulder Canyon, Colorado 14 and U.S. 287 all reporting problems and temporary blockages during the evening, the Denver Post said. Lefthand Canyon was reported blocked by one of the many slides.

Boulder police dispatchers were receiving calls of flooding basements and homes and of flooded streets and submerged cars. Authorities said the flooding has made many Boulder streets impassable.

Emergency Management Director Mike Chard.said people should avoid creeks and waterways, and not attempt to cross flooded intersections in their cars.

“We’re also asking people who are OK to shelter in place Thursday, just because the roads are so bad,” Barth said.

Rain showers and thunderstorms were expected through the night, with some storms capable of dumping an inch of water in 30 minutes, the weather service warned.

Senate leaders take final crack at fiscal crisis solution, Obama urges ‘immediate action’


Published December 28, 2012

FoxNews.com

  • ReidMcConnellsplit.jpg
    AP

Senate leaders from both sides of the aisle vowed late Friday to scramble over the weekend to produce a new bill aimed at averting the fiscal crisis, on the heels of a high-stakes White House meeting — seen as the last chance to come together before the tax-hike deadline next week.

Though the meeting did not yield a breakthrough or any “concrete” proposals, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell gave taxpayers a glimmer of hope by announcing on the floor that the Senate would adjourn Saturday to allow staff to work on a bill. McConnell said he hopes they can come forward with a recommendation as early as Sunday.

“We need to have everybody step back a bit,” said Reid, who called the meeting “very constructive.”

The pledge to work on a new bill is by no means a solution to the sweeping set of tax hikes set to hit Jan. 1, followed by steep spending cuts. Lawmakers still have to write the bill, and produce something that can pass both chambers.

President Obama, speaking from the White House briefing room late Friday, voiced a dose of doubt about the Senate leaders’ final push for a deal.

He said he’s “modestly optimistic” but that if Reid and McConnell fail, the Senate should allow an up-or-down vote on a scaled-back proposal the president is pushing.

“The hour for immediate action is here, it is now,” Obama said. “We’re now at the last minute, and the American people are not going to have any patience for a politically self-inflicted wound to our economy. … We’ve got to get this done.”

Considering how late this effort is getting underway, lawmakers easily run the risk of missing the deadline and causing at least some uncertainty with Americans‘ tax bills starting next week.

The developments late Friday, though, at least showed Reid and McConnell were beginning to work together. And it marked a decision by lawmakers that the Senate should make the first move — for days, House Speaker John Boehner has insisted that the Senate act, but Reid has resisted and put the onus on the House.

It’s unclear what the new bill would entail. It appears the Senate wants to tweak the Obama plan, which would include an extension of current tax rates for most Americans — but potentially adjust it so fewer earners see a tax hike, and add a provision dealing with a looming expansion of the estate tax.

The debt ceiling, which Obama wants increased, would not be part of this bill. And a senior White House official admitted it is unclear how a looming set of spending cuts would be addressed.

The White House official said that during the meeting, Reid and McConnell jumped in and offered to draft a new plan after Obama told them he thought his scaled-back proposal could pass both chambers.

The president’s plan is a far cry from the kind of “grand bargain” lawmakers were shooting for just a few weeks ago — something that would narrow the deficit, overhaul the tax code and set the country on a course to curb its entitlement spending, all while averting massive tax hikes and spending cuts.

Instead, Obama wants a bill that primarily nixes the tax hikes for families making under $250,000. He has pushed that particular provision for months, though Republicans have adamantly opposed raising taxes on those making above $250,000.

Obama’s proposal would also extend unemployment benefits for roughly 2 million people expected to lose them next year, and deal with “other outstanding issues.”

Obama referred to those other issues last week when he called for laying “the groundwork for future growth and deficit reduction,” which presumably would be a commitment to return next year and draft broader tax and entitlement reform.

The latter idea, though, could stir deep skepticism in Congress — the last big budget deal in the summer of 2011 ended precisely with such a commitment, which in turn ended in failure and the fiscal crisis facing the country today.

The immediate challenge for negotiators, though, will be to craft a plan that does enough to spare most Americans a big hike without doing so much as to complicate the bill’s passage. There are a host of expiring provisions next year — from Medicare rates to doctors to payroll tax cuts — that some lawmakers hoped to address before the end of the month. The more items added to the bill, the trickier it gets to pass it.

Lawmakers have been hesitant to predict whether Congress will be able to arrive at any solution.

“We are obviously running out of time here,” McConnell said earlier Friday.

Lawmakers effectively have fewer than two working days to pass legislation. While the Senate was in session this week, the House does not return until Sunday afternoon.

Between now and Jan. 1, Congress has just a handful of options for sparing taxpayers. Aside from the scaled-back plan being offered by Obama or the new plan being drafted in the Senate, lawmakers could simply pass a short-term extension of current rates — buying more time to work out an agreement. Lawmakers might have to do this even if they reach an agreement by the weekend — because of the sheer time it would take to write that bill and bring it to the floor.

Or Congress could let the tax hikes happen, only to retroactively deal with them next year. The Boston Globe reported Friday that the IRS may delay the impact of tax hikes by holding off on telling employers to change how much they withhold from workers.

Special Report: Taking Christ out of Christmas


 Special Report: Taking Christ out of Christmas

                    Christian ideals, prayer targeted in public sphere, mocked by journalists.

Christmas: a season of generosity, good cheer, preparation for Christ’s birth – and a swarm of lawyers seeking to purge any mention of Christianity from the public square.

Every Christmas, the so-called secular community starts shrieking whenever any mention of religion is brought into the public eye. Lawyers successfully targeted a school’s  performance of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas.’ Even Christmas trees have too much religious content to suit the self-appointed censors.

Secularist Grinches have long sought to obscure “the reason for the season.” But censorship of Christianity is increasingly a media mission for all seasons; Christians are pressured to hide their public faith under baskets. From the media-driven assault on Christian restaurant Chick-fil-A to increasingly snide commentary masquerading as journalism, the media are increasingly pushing for a public retreat from religion.

And it’s working, at least according to one study. In October, Pew reported that a fifth of the American public, and a third of adults under 30, have no religious affiliation. And 88 percent of those people aren’t interested in belonging to a church.

Federal, state, and local governments have taken up the mantle of censors of publicly expressed Christianity. A lawsuit filed by 43 different Catholic institutions against the Obama administration’s HHS mandate received next to no coverage from the broadcast networks. Government efforts have also been implemented against crosses put up in public.

Schools are also displaying increasingly hostility to Christianity. One North Carolina school even refused to allow a first grader to recite her poem in an assembly because it mentioned the word God. Louisiana State University (LSU) photo-shopped crosses out of pictures on their official website. Schools across the South have been pressured by atheist groups to repress longstanding traditions of prayer before football games.

The media, government, and schools, pushed by secularist groups, aim to litigate, browbeat, and photo-shop Christianity out of the public sphere. Christmas remains their most high-profile target, but increasingly, it’s an all-weather campaign.

Have a Holly Jolly Winter Festival

It wouldn’t be Christmas without the secular crowd actively trying to censor the holiday (especially the religious aspects) out of existence. This annual assault grows more and more intensive – and more ridiculous – each year.

The most ridiculous effort was the efforts of an anonymous parent who tried to stop production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at an Arkansas school, because, as attorney Anne Orsi explained: “The problem is that it’s got religious content and it’s being performed in a religious venue and that doesn’t just blur the line between church and state — it oversteps it entirely.”

In Hawaii, the Department of Education canceled an annual Christmas concert over the threat of a lawsuit. A group called Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church objected to involvement of a church in organizing and publicizing the event, which has for years raised money for the poor of Africa.

Back on the mainland, the city of Santa Monica, Calif., has banned Nativity scenes in Palisades Park, where they’d been a holiday feature for decades. “Last year, atheists overwhelmed the city’s auction process for display sites, winning 18 of 21 slots and triggering a bitter dispute,” according to a report. Rather than get involved in the argument, the city simply banned all displays, and a federal judge dismissed a Christian group’s lawsuit to for the city to repeal the policy.

Even the dreaded Christmas tree is too religious for some people. Senior citizens in Los Angeles were told they couldn’t have a Christmas tree in their apartment complex because it’s a “religious symbol.” Western Piedmont Community College told students that they could not use the word “Christmas” – to promote a Christmas tree sale. And the replacements for Christmas items are predictably secular. Frosty the Snowman replaced a Nativity scene at one school in the Floridapanhandle.

Of course, clever public officials realize they might head off criticism and burnish their diversity credentials by preemptively calling things by different names. That’s what liberal Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) did last year, renaming the state capitol’s Christmas tree a “holiday tree.” But, as Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn recently described it, “a flash mob of carolers showed up at the lighting ceremony and delivered themselves of a rousing rendition of ‘O Christmas Tree.’ To avoid a repeat, this year Gov. Chafee announced the tree lighting ceremony only 30 minutes before it happened.”

And of course there are the annual denials from the left that a war on Christmas exists, as the Media Research Center has documented over the years. Liberal comedian Jon Stewart launched a broadside at Fox News for raising the issue of the “war on Christmas,” mocking Fox hosts as “nuts.”

This denial is singularly hypocritical, coming from a comedian who got in trouble for showing a“vagina manger” on his program. But Stewart isn’t the only person mocking the idea of the War on Christmas and attacking those who dare to raise the subject. MSNBC washout and Current TV host Cenk Ugyur lashed out at Bill O’Reilly, jokingly declaring that the Fox News host “might burn in hell” for “calling a pagan tree a Christmas tree.”

The Huffington Post’s Jeff Sorenson declared: “to a person who doesn’t drink bleach and rub sand in his eyes for pleasure, this entire concept is completely insane.” MSNBC’s David Schoetzdismissed Fox’s coverage of the subject as “baseless segment after segment.”

But at least one writer on the left believes in a “war on Christmas” – although religion has nothing to do with it. Kate Sheppard of Mother Jones complained that the real war on Christmas was “spurred by climate change.” (Apparently, climate change is somehow responsible for a drought killing Christmas trees.)

But that’s just the December campaign. The secular left works the other 11 months too.

The Complicity of the Media

While the Christmas battles tend to be about symbols and signs of Christianity, what drives the animus the rest of the year is outrage that Christians take their faith seriously and try to live by its precepts. Liberal journalists who loathe religious principles also seek to marginalize any expression of traditional Christian morality.

The Culture and Media Institute chronicled the media-driven campaign to destroy and humiliate Christian-owned restaurant Chick-fil-A, sparked when Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy spoke in favor of traditional marriage.

Christians displaying their religious faith in public have also drawn journalistic derision. The Washington Post’s Lisa Miller derided black pastors opposed to gay marriage as “astro-turfers.” The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which claims to be “an umbrella for those who are free from religion and are committed to the cherished principle of separation of state and church.” filed a lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service, complaining that the IRS allowed Catholic bishops and Billy Graham to get away with “blatantly and deliberately flaunting the electioneering restrictions.” The headline of the AP story on this subject blared: Atheist Group Sues over Religious Electioneering.”

Journalists aren’t the only self-appointed media censors of Christianity; the entertainment industry has also actively attempted to muzzle Christians. ESPN pulled its sponsorship of an ad by NASCAR driver Blake Koch, because he linked to a Christian ministry on his website and a group that registers pro-life voters. The producers of American Idol warned singer Colton Dixon not to speak about his Christian faith on air. Dixon ignored the warnings and did so anyway, and explained his decision to Today.com:

“When we first started the Twitter and Facebook stuff, they said beware of political and religious tweets. Just because it can turn off voters or whatever. But, you know, being a Christian is who I am. It is a part of me musically. It is what I want to do after the show — go into Christian music.” […]

“I am not going to hide it, and I am not going to stray away from it just because I am on a TV show.”

Christians like Dixon argue that they cannot be silent about their faith in public, since their faith is inextricably bound up with their public activities. To force devout Christians to be silent about their faith in public is to effectively drive them from the public square altogether.

Media Cheers on Government Suppression

But the media isn’t the only group with an aversion to God – government is also cracking down of public expression of Christianity. Georgetown University was literally asked to do just that during Obama’s May 2012 visit to the campus, covering over the name of Jesus at the request of the White House.

Government attempts to run roughshod over religious liberty (not to mention the fact thatsegments of the Democratic party sought to purge God from their platform) have apparently emboldened secularists to push for ever greater religious repression. The anti-religion crusaders at the Freedom From Religion Foundation requested that President Obama not use the Bibleduring his second inauguration ceremony. And the American Humanist Organization is pressuring newly elected members not to join the Congressional Prayer Caucus (which only Fox covered).

The most glaring example of government’s disregard for Christianity is the Obama administration’s HHS mandate, which forces religious-affiliated institutions to pay insurance companies to provide contraception. Since the Catholic Church considers contraception to be a moral evil, the Obama administration is effectively forcing Catholic-affiliated institutions to violate their consciences, pay enormous fines, sell off their institutions, or shut down. The administration argues that the mandate does not concern actual churches, just religiously affiliated organizations like schools and hospitals. In effect, the government is determining where religious belief begins and ends and when its observance is legitimate.

And the media have given cover to the government’s overreach. 43 Catholic organizations suedthe federal government in May 2012 over the HHS mandate – and the three broadcast networks responded by burying the story – only CBS and NBC even mentioned the lawsuit (NBC once, CBS twice). ABC completely buried the story.

State and local governments in America and abroad have increasingly tried to force Christians to swallow their objections to supporting gay relationships, winning media plaudits.

Government efforts in foreign countries to repress public expression of Christianity have met with approval from the American media. Washington Post reporter Anthony Faioli lambasted a “small fringe” on the “far right” for daring to oppose a ban on public prayer in Britain.

When German Prime Minister Angela Merkel declared in a Nov. 2012 speech that Christianity was the “most persecuted” sect in the world, the Associated Press’ recounting of Merkel’s comments featured the headline: “Merkel’s ‘Christian Persecution’ Comments Draw Ire.”

The soft stick of tolerance wielded by government is proving increasingly repressive in its own right.

God-Free School Zone

Education gets you more than reading, writing, and arithmetic – it also gives you a chance to be silenced if you have religious beliefs. Schools are actively playing the part of the secular police – or being pressured to do so by groups dedicated to establishing “freedom from religion” in America.

Some schools have proven more that willing participants in the cause of Christianity-purging. The most ridiculous case was that of a first grader being forced to remove God from her poem about her two grandfathers who served in the Vietnam War.

LSU digitally removed Christian crosses from pictures shown on their website. LSU official Herb Vincent explained the school’s reasoning: “LSU Athletics attempts not to imply any particular religious or political message in any of its correspondence with fans. Thus the crosses were edited out of the photos.”

Other schools are being targeted by anti-religious groups. The ACLU has warned public schoolsnot to participate in school prayer. And the Freedom from Religion Foundation has proven to be even more active opponents of Christianity in schools, targeting schools for prayer before football games.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has threatened multiple schools with traditions of prayer before games, by sending letters arguing that their actions are unconstitutional.

One Texas school tried to ban cheerleaders from publicly displaying banners which quote Scripture after being challenged by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. A judge eventually tossed out that objection.

Conclusion

Christmas is one of the few celebrations that most of America wholeheartedly embraces. It is a federal holiday, which practically everyone in America still celebrates.

So the media and secularizing influences have sought to drain Christmas of any religious significance, by purging anything which might be considered religious – from the name Christmas, to trees, to the horror of the Nativity scene.

And their efforts have extended past the Christmas season – any time is a good time for purging the name of God from the public eye.

 Special Report: Taking Christ out of Christmas

                    Christian ideals, prayer targeted in public sphere, mocked by journalists.

December 11, 2012
theseatonpost.com
Christmas: a season of generosity, good cheer, preparation for Christ’s birth – and a swarm of lawyers seeking to purge any mention of Christianity from the public square.

Every Christmas, the so-called secular community starts shrieking whenever any mention of religion is brought into the public eye. Lawyers successfully targeted a school’s performance of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas.’ Even Christmas trees have too much religious content to suit the self-appointed censors.

Secularist Grinches have long sought to obscure “the reason for the season.” But censorship of Christianity is increasingly a media mission for all seasons; Christians are pressured to hide their public faith under baskets. From the media-driven assault on Christian restaurant Chick-fil-A to increasingly snide commentary masquerading as journalism, the media are increasingly pushing for a public retreat from religion.

And it’s working, at least according to one study. In October, Pew reported that a fifth of the American public, and a third of adults under 30, have no religious affiliation. And 88 percent of those people aren’t interested in belonging to a church.

Federal, state, and local governments have taken up the mantle of censors of publicly expressed Christianity. A lawsuit filed by 43 different Catholic institutions against the Obama administration’s HHS mandate received next to no coverage from the broadcast networks. Government efforts have also been implemented against crosses put up in public.

Schools are also displaying increasingly hostility to Christianity. One North Carolina school even refused to allow a first grader to recite her poem in an assembly because it mentioned the word God. Louisiana State University (LSU) photo-shopped crosses out of pictures on their official website. Schools across the South have been pressured by atheist groups to repress longstanding traditions of prayer before football games.

The media, government, and schools, pushed by secularist groups, aim to litigate, browbeat, and photo-shop Christianity out of the public sphere. Christmas remains their most high-profile target, but increasingly, it’s an all-weather campaign.

Have a Holly Jolly Winter Festival

It wouldn’t be Christmas without the secular crowd actively trying to censor the holiday (especially the religious aspects) out of existence. This annual assault grows more and more intensive – and more ridiculous – each year.

The most ridiculous effort was the efforts of an anonymous parent who tried to stop production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at an Arkansas school, because, as attorney Anne Orsi explained: “The problem is that it’s got religious content and it’s being performed in a religious venue and that doesn’t just blur the line between church and state — it oversteps it entirely.”

In Hawaii, the Department of Education canceled an annual Christmas concert over the threat of a lawsuit. A group called Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church objected to involvement of a church in organizing and publicizing the event, which has for years raised money for the poor of Africa.

Back on the mainland, the city of Santa Monica, Calif., has banned Nativity scenes in Palisades Park, where they’d been a holiday feature for decades. “Last year, atheists overwhelmed the city’s auction process for display sites, winning 18 of 21 slots and triggering a bitter dispute,” according to a report. Rather than get involved in the argument, the city simply banned all displays, and a federal judge dismissed a Christian group’s lawsuit to for the city to repeal the policy.

Even the dreaded Christmas tree is too religious for some people. Senior citizens in Los Angeles were told they couldn’t have a Christmas tree in their apartment complex because it’s a “religious symbol.” Western Piedmont Community College told students that they could not use the word “Christmas” – to promote a Christmas tree sale. And the replacements for Christmas items are predictably secular. Frosty the Snowman replaced a Nativity scene at one school in the Floridapanhandle.

Of course, clever public officials realize they might head off criticism and burnish their diversity credentials by preemptively calling things by different names. That’s what liberal Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) did last year, renaming the state capitol’s Christmas tree a “holiday tree.” But, as Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn recently described it, “a flash mob of carolers showed up at the lighting ceremony and delivered themselves of a rousing rendition of ‘O Christmas Tree.’ To avoid a repeat, this year Gov. Chafee announced the tree lighting ceremony only 30 minutes before it happened.”

And of course there are the annual denials from the left that a war on Christmas exists, as the Media Research Center has documented over the years. Liberal comedian Jon Stewart launched a broadside at Fox News for raising the issue of the “war on Christmas,” mocking Fox hosts as “nuts.”

This denial is singularly hypocritical, coming from a comedian who got in trouble for showing a“vagina manger” on his program. But Stewart isn’t the only person mocking the idea of the War on Christmas and attacking those who dare to raise the subject. MSNBC washout and Current TV host Cenk Ugyur lashed out at Bill O’Reilly, jokingly declaring that the Fox News host “might burn in hell” for “calling a pagan tree a Christmas tree.”

The Huffington Post’s Jeff Sorenson declared: “to a person who doesn’t drink bleach and rub sand in his eyes for pleasure, this entire concept is completely insane.” MSNBC’s David Schoetzdismissed Fox’s coverage of the subject as “baseless segment after segment.”

But at least one writer on the left believes in a “war on Christmas” – although religion has nothing to do with it. Kate Sheppard of Mother Jones complained that the real war on Christmas was “spurred by climate change.” (Apparently, climate change is somehow responsible for a drought killing Christmas trees.)

But that’s just the December campaign. The secular left works the other 11 months too.

The Complicity of the Media

While the Christmas battles tend to be about symbols and signs of Christianity, what drives the animus the rest of the year is outrage that Christians take their faith seriously and try to live by its precepts. Liberal journalists who loathe religious principles also seek to marginalize any expression of traditional Christian morality.

The Culture and Media Institute chronicled the media-driven campaign to destroy and humiliate Christian-owned restaurant Chick-fil-A, sparked when Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy spoke in favor of traditional marriage.

Christians displaying their religious faith in public have also drawn journalistic derision. The Washington Post’s Lisa Miller derided black pastors opposed to gay marriage as “astro-turfers.” The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which claims to be “an umbrella for those who are free from religion and are committed to the cherished principle of separation of state and church.” filed a lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service, complaining that the IRS allowed Catholic bishops and Billy Graham to get away with “blatantly and deliberately flaunting the electioneering restrictions.” The headline of the AP story on this subject blared: Atheist Group Sues over Religious Electioneering.”

Journalists aren’t the only self-appointed media censors of Christianity; the entertainment industry has also actively attempted to muzzle Christians. ESPN pulled its sponsorship of an ad by NASCAR driver Blake Koch, because he linked to a Christian ministry on his website and a group that registers pro-life voters. The producers of American Idol warned singer Colton Dixon not to speak about his Christian faith on air. Dixon ignored the warnings and did so anyway, and explained his decision to Today.com:

“When we first started the Twitter and Facebook stuff, they said beware of political and religious tweets. Just because it can turn off voters or whatever. But, you know, being a Christian is who I am. It is a part of me musically. It is what I want to do after the show — go into Christian music.” […]

“I am not going to hide it, and I am not going to stray away from it just because I am on a TV show.”

Christians like Dixon argue that they cannot be silent about their faith in public, since their faith is inextricably bound up with their public activities. To force devout Christians to be silent about their faith in public is to effectively drive them from the public square altogether.

Media Cheers on Government Suppression

But the media isn’t the only group with an aversion to God – government is also cracking down of public expression of Christianity. Georgetown University was literally asked to do just that during Obama’s May 2012 visit to the campus, covering over the name of Jesus at the request of the White House.

Government attempts to run roughshod over religious liberty (not to mention the fact thatsegments of the Democratic party sought to purge God from their platform) have apparently emboldened secularists to push for ever greater religious repression. The anti-religion crusaders at the Freedom From Religion Foundation requested that President Obama not use the Bibleduring his second inauguration ceremony. And the American Humanist Organization is pressuring newly elected members not to join the Congressional Prayer Caucus (which only Fox covered).

The most glaring example of government’s disregard for Christianity is the Obama administration’s HHS mandate, which forces religious-affiliated institutions to pay insurance companies to provide contraception. Since the Catholic Church considers contraception to be a moral evil, the Obama administration is effectively forcing Catholic-affiliated institutions to violate their consciences, pay enormous fines, sell off their institutions, or shut down. The administration argues that the mandate does not concern actual churches, just religiously affiliated organizations like schools and hospitals. In effect, the government is determining where religious belief begins and ends and when its observance is legitimate.

And the media have given cover to the government’s overreach. 43 Catholic organizations suedthe federal government in May 2012 over the HHS mandate – and the three broadcast networks responded by burying the story – only CBS and NBC even mentioned the lawsuit (NBC once, CBS twice). ABC completely buried the story.

State and local governments in America and abroad have increasingly tried to force Christians to swallow their objections to supporting gay relationships, winning media plaudits.

Government efforts in foreign countries to repress public expression of Christianity have met with approval from the American media. Washington Post reporter Anthony Faioli lambasted a “small fringe” on the “far right” for daring to oppose a ban on public prayer in Britain.

When German Prime Minister Angela Merkel declared in a Nov. 2012 speech that Christianity was the “most persecuted” sect in the world, the Associated Press’ recounting of Merkel’s comments featured the headline: “Merkel’s ‘Christian Persecution’ Comments Draw Ire.”

The soft stick of tolerance wielded by government is proving increasingly repressive in its own right.

God-Free School Zone

Education gets you more than reading, writing, and arithmetic – it also gives you a chance to be silenced if you have religious beliefs. Schools are actively playing the part of the secular police – or being pressured to do so by groups dedicated to establishing “freedom from religion” in America.

Some schools have proven more that willing participants in the cause of Christianity-purging. The most ridiculous case was that of a first grader being forced to remove God from her poem about her two grandfathers who served in the Vietnam War.

LSU digitally removed Christian crosses from pictures shown on their website. LSU official Herb Vincent explained the school’s reasoning: “LSU Athletics attempts not to imply any particular religious or political message in any of its correspondence with fans. Thus the crosses were edited out of the photos.”

Other schools are being targeted by anti-religious groups. The ACLU has warned public schoolsnot to participate in school prayer. And the Freedom from Religion Foundation has proven to be even more active opponents of Christianity in schools, targeting schools for prayer before football games.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has threatened multiple schools with traditions of prayer before games, by sending letters arguing that their actions are unconstitutional.

One Texas school tried to ban cheerleaders from publicly displaying banners which quote Scripture after being challenged by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. A judge eventually tossed out that objection.

Conclusion

Christmas is one of the few celebrations that most of America wholeheartedly embraces. It is a federal holiday, which practically everyone in America still celebrates.

So the media and secularizing influences have sought to drain Christmas of any religious significance, by purging anything which might be considered religious – from the name Christmas, to trees, to the horror of the Nativity scene.

And their efforts have extended past the Christmas season – any time is a good time for purging the name of God from the public eye.

December 11, 2012
theseatonpost.com
Christmas: a season of generosity, good cheer, preparation for Christ’s birth – and a swarm of lawyers seeking to purge any mention of Christianity from the public square.

Every Christmas, the so-called secular community starts shrieking whenever any mention of religion is brought into the public eye. Lawyers successfully targeted a school’s performance of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas.’ Even Christmas trees have too much religious content to suit the self-appointed censors.

Secularist Grinches have long sought to obscure “the reason for the season.” But censorship of Christianity is increasingly a media mission for all seasons; Christians are pressured to hide their public faith under baskets. From the media-driven assault on Christian restaurant Chick-fil-A to increasingly snide commentary masquerading as journalism, the media are increasingly pushing for a public retreat from religion. 

And it’s working, at least according to one study. In October, Pew reported that a fifth of the American public, and a third of adults under 30, have no religious affiliation. And 88 percent of those people aren’t interested in belonging to a church.

Federal, state, and local governments have taken up the mantle of censors of publicly expressed Christianity. A lawsuit filed by 43 different Catholic institutions against the Obama administration’s HHS mandate received next to no coverage from the broadcast networks. Government efforts have also been implemented against crosses put up in public. 

Schools are also displaying increasingly hostility to Christianity. One North Carolina school even refused to allow a first grader to recite her poem in an assembly because it mentioned the word God. Louisiana State University (LSU) photo-shopped crosses out of pictures on their official website. Schools across the South have been pressured by atheist groups to repress longstanding traditions of prayer before football games. 

The media, government, and schools, pushed by secularist groups, aim to litigate, browbeat, and photo-shop Christianity out of the public sphere. Christmas remains their most high-profile target, but increasingly, it’s an all-weather campaign. 

Have a Holly Jolly Winter Festival 

It wouldn’t be Christmas without the secular crowd actively trying to censor the holiday (especially the religious aspects) out of existence. This annual assault grows more and more intensive – and more ridiculous – each year. 

The most ridiculous effort was the efforts of an anonymous parent who tried to stop production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at an Arkansas school, because, as attorney Anne Orsi explained: “The problem is that it’s got religious content and it’s being performed in a religious venue and that doesn’t just blur the line between church and state — it oversteps it entirely.” 

In Hawaii, the Department of Education canceled an annual Christmas concert over the threat of a lawsuit. A group called Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church objected to involvement of a church in organizing and publicizing the event, which has for years raised money for the poor of Africa.

Back on the mainland, the city of Santa Monica, Calif., has banned Nativity scenes in Palisades Park, where they’d been a holiday feature for decades. “Last year, atheists overwhelmed the city’s auction process for display sites, winning 18 of 21 slots and triggering a bitter dispute,” according to a report. Rather than get involved in the argument, the city simply banned all displays, and a federal judge dismissed a Christian group’s lawsuit to for the city to repeal the policy. 

Even the dreaded Christmas tree is too religious for some people. Senior citizens in Los Angeles were told they couldn’t have a Christmas tree in their apartment complex because it’s a “religious symbol.” Western Piedmont Community College told students that they could not use the word “Christmas” – to promote a Christmas tree sale. And the replacements for Christmas items are predictably secular. Frosty the Snowman replaced a Nativity scene at one school in the Floridapanhandle. 

Of course, clever public officials realize they might head off criticism and burnish their diversity credentials by preemptively calling things by different names. That’s what liberal Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) did last year, renaming the state capitol’s Christmas tree a “holiday tree.” But, as Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn recently described it, “a flash mob of carolers showed up at the lighting ceremony and delivered themselves of a rousing rendition of ‘O Christmas Tree.’ To avoid a repeat, this year Gov. Chafee announced the tree lighting ceremony only 30 minutes before it happened.” 

And of course there are the annual denials from the left that a war on Christmas exists, as the Media Research Center has documented over the years. Liberal comedian Jon Stewart launched a broadside at Fox News for raising the issue of the “war on Christmas,” mocking Fox hosts as “nuts.” 

This denial is singularly hypocritical, coming from a comedian who got in trouble for showing a“vagina manger” on his program. But Stewart isn’t the only person mocking the idea of the War on Christmas and attacking those who dare to raise the subject. MSNBC washout and Current TV host Cenk Ugyur lashed out at Bill O’Reilly, jokingly declaring that the Fox News host “might burn in hell” for “calling a pagan tree a Christmas tree.” 

The Huffington Post’s Jeff Sorenson declared: “to a person who doesn’t drink bleach and rub sand in his eyes for pleasure, this entire concept is completely insane.” MSNBC’s David Schoetzdismissed Fox’s coverage of the subject as “baseless segment after segment.” 

But at least one writer on the left believes in a “war on Christmas” – although religion has nothing to do with it. Kate Sheppard of Mother Jones complained that the real war on Christmas was “spurred by climate change.” (Apparently, climate change is somehow responsible for a drought killing Christmas trees.) 

But that’s just the December campaign. The secular left works the other 11 months too. 

The Complicity of the Media 

While the Christmas battles tend to be about symbols and signs of Christianity, what drives the animus the rest of the year is outrage that Christians take their faith seriously and try to live by its precepts. Liberal journalists who loathe religious principles also seek to marginalize any expression of traditional Christian morality. 

The Culture and Media Institute chronicled the media-driven campaign to destroy and humiliate Christian-owned restaurant Chick-fil-A, sparked when Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy spoke in favor of traditional marriage. 

Christians displaying their religious faith in public have also drawn journalistic derision. The Washington Post’s Lisa Miller derided black pastors opposed to gay marriage as “astro-turfers.” The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which claims to be “an umbrella for those who are free from religion and are committed to the cherished principle of separation of state and church.” filed a lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service, complaining that the IRS allowed Catholic bishops and Billy Graham to get away with “blatantly and deliberately flaunting the electioneering restrictions.” The headline of the AP story on this subject blared: Atheist Group Sues over Religious Electioneering.”    

Journalists aren’t the only self-appointed media censors of Christianity; the entertainment industry has also actively attempted to muzzle Christians. ESPN pulled its sponsorship of an ad by NASCAR driver Blake Koch, because he linked to a Christian ministry on his website and a group that registers pro-life voters. The producers of American Idol warned singer Colton Dixon not to speak about his Christian faith on air. Dixon ignored the warnings and did so anyway, and explained his decision to Today.com

“When we first started the Twitter and Facebook stuff, they said beware of political and religious tweets. Just because it can turn off voters or whatever. But, you know, being a Christian is who I am. It is a part of me musically. It is what I want to do after the show — go into Christian music.” […]

“I am not going to hide it, and I am not going to stray away from it just because I am on a TV show.”

Christians like Dixon argue that they cannot be silent about their faith in public, since their faith is inextricably bound up with their public activities. To force devout Christians to be silent about their faith in public is to effectively drive them from the public square altogether.

Media Cheers on Government Suppression 

But the media isn’t the only group with an aversion to God – government is also cracking down of public expression of Christianity. Georgetown University was literally asked to do just that during Obama’s May 2012 visit to the campus, covering over the name of Jesus at the request of the White House.

Government attempts to run roughshod over religious liberty (not to mention the fact thatsegments of the Democratic party sought to purge God from their platform) have apparently emboldened secularists to push for ever greater religious repression. The anti-religion crusaders at the Freedom From Religion Foundation requested that President Obama not use the Bibleduring his second inauguration ceremony. And the American Humanist Organization is pressuring newly elected members not to join the Congressional Prayer Caucus (which only Fox covered). 

The most glaring example of government’s disregard for Christianity is the Obama administration’s HHS mandate, which forces religious-affiliated institutions to pay insurance companies to provide contraception. Since the Catholic Church considers contraception to be a moral evil, the Obama administration is effectively forcing Catholic-affiliated institutions to violate their consciences, pay enormous fines, sell off their institutions, or shut down. The administration argues that the mandate does not concern actual churches, just religiously affiliated organizations like schools and hospitals. In effect, the government is determining where religious belief begins and ends and when its observance is legitimate.

And the media have given cover to the government’s overreach. 43 Catholic organizations suedthe federal government in May 2012 over the HHS mandate – and the three broadcast networks responded by burying the story – only CBS and NBC even mentioned the lawsuit (NBC once, CBS twice). ABC completely buried the story.

State and local governments in America and abroad have increasingly tried to force Christians to swallow their objections to supporting gay relationships, winning media plaudits

Government efforts in foreign countries to repress public expression of Christianity have met with approval from the American media. Washington Post reporter Anthony Faioli lambasted a “small fringe” on the “far right” for daring to oppose a ban on public prayer in Britain. 

When German Prime Minister Angela Merkel declared in a Nov. 2012 speech that Christianity was the “most persecuted” sect in the world, the Associated Press’ recounting of Merkel’s comments featured the headline: “Merkel’s ‘Christian Persecution’ Comments Draw Ire.” 

The soft stick of tolerance wielded by government is proving increasingly repressive in its own right. 

God-Free School Zone 

Education gets you more than reading, writing, and arithmetic – it also gives you a chance to be silenced if you have religious beliefs. Schools are actively playing the part of the secular police – or being pressured to do so by groups dedicated to establishing “freedom from religion” in America. 

Some schools have proven more that willing participants in the cause of Christianity-purging. The most ridiculous case was that of a first grader being forced to remove God from her poem about her two grandfathers who served in the Vietnam War.

LSU digitally removed Christian crosses from pictures shown on their website. LSU official Herb Vincent explained the school’s reasoning: “LSU Athletics attempts not to imply any particular religious or political message in any of its correspondence with fans. Thus the crosses were edited out of the photos.”

Other schools are being targeted by anti-religious groups. The ACLU has warned public schoolsnot to participate in school prayer. And the Freedom from Religion Foundation has proven to be even more active opponents of Christianity in schools, targeting schools for prayer before football games.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has threatened multiple schools with traditions of prayer before games, by sending letters arguing that their actions are unconstitutional.

One Texas school tried to ban cheerleaders from publicly displaying banners which quote Scripture after being challenged by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. A judge eventually tossed out that objection.

 Conclusion

Christmas is one of the few celebrations that most of America wholeheartedly embraces. It is a federal holiday, which practically everyone in America still celebrates.

So the media and secularizing influences have sought to drain Christmas of any religious significance, by purging anything which might be considered religious – from the name Christmas, to trees, to the horror of the Nativity scene. 

And their efforts have extended past the Christmas season – any time is a good time for purging the name of God from the public eye.