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.

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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.

Administration now denies they linked film to attacks at consulate


On Tuesday, the State Department denied that it had ever concluded that the attacks at the consulate in Libya that killed four Americans was linked to an anti-Islam film, despite the Administrations statements to the contrary in the week after the attacks. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the UN went on several Sunday talk shows, saying that the attacks were spontaneous protests that were caused by the film.

Vicky Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman, said the next day that “the comments that Amb. Rice made accurately reflect the government’s initial assessment.”  White House spokesman, Jay Carney, had been telling the press the same thing for the entire week. He said,”there was a reaction to the video, there were protests in Cairo, Egypt that spread elsewhere and that was what led to the unrest.”

The administration denied that anything other than the film contributed to the violence despite intelligence officials suspecting that the violence coincided with the anniversary of 9/11. Apparently, the President didn’t get the memo, because the administration officials repeated the video claim for more than a week.

When asked about the administration’s initial explanation that the video was what caused the violence, one official said, “That was not our conclusion.” Even with video and audio evidence to the contrary, the administration is denying they ever said the violence was caused by the video. Even though Ambassador Rice said, five days after the attack that “The administration believed the violence was not planned and that extremists “hijacked” the protest.

Now, with Congressional hearings taking place, administration officials are going to have testify under oath about what they knew in the aftermath of the attack, and why they didn’t share the information with congress or the American people. Democrats, obviously, are calling the hearings “highly partisan.” “The chairman and his staff failed to consult with democrats members prior to issuing public letters with unverified allegations, concealed witnesses and refused to make one hearing witness available to democrat staff, withheld documents and effectively excluded democrat committee members from joining a poorly-planned trip to Libya.”

Of course, the democrats wouldn’t provide any evidence of their claims. It would seem that if they wanted to get documents related to the investigation, they could. The administration is, after all run by democrats.  What are the “unverified allegations” they claim the Republicans issued? Do they not want to find the truth behind the brutal murder of Four Americans? If the administration said in the beginning that the attacks were the fault of a video, but now, with hearings on the horizon, one would think the democrats would be looking for answers too, instead of covering up for in inept administration that doesn’t have any idea of how to run foreign policy. Or did the president tell them the truth in the beginning, that the attack was related to the anniversary of 9/11,  and just keep the information from the Republican members?