Archive for December 7th, 2005

Some Megachurches to Close on Christmas

Wednesday, December 7th, 2005

Wow, look how far down churches have come. Closing church on Christmas because of “low attendance” Read about it below.

WASHINGTON — This Christmas, no prayers will be said in several megachurches around the country. Even though the holiday falls this year on a Sunday, when churches normally host thousands for worship, pastors are canceling services, anticipating low attendance on what they call a family day.
Critics within the evangelical community, more accustomed to doing battle with department stores and public schools over keeping religion in Christmas, are stunned by the shutdown.
It is almost unheard of for a Christian church to cancel services on a Sunday, and opponents of the closures are accusing these congregations of bowing to secular culture.
“This is a consumer mentality at work: ‘Let’s not impose the church on people. Let’s not make church in any way inconvenient,'” said David Wells, professor of history and systematic theology at
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a leading evangelical school in Hamilton, Mass. “I think what this does is feed into the individualism that is found throughout American culture, where everyone does their own thing.”
The churches closing on
Christmas plan multiple services in the days leading up to the holiday, including on Christmas Eve. Most normally do not hold Christmas Day services, preferring instead to mark the holiday in the days and night before. However, Sunday worship has been a Christian practice since ancient times.
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Cally Parkinson, a spokeswoman for Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., said church leaders decided that organizing services on a Christmas Sunday would not be the most effective use of staff and volunteer resources. The last time Christmas fell on a Sunday was 1994, and only a small number of people showed up to pray, she said.
“If our target and our mission is to reach the unchurched, basically the people who don’t go to church, how likely is it that they’ll be going to church on Christmas morning?” she said.
Among the other megachurches closing on Christmas Day are Southland Christian Church in Nicholasville, Ky., near Lexington, and Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, outside of Dallas. North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga., outside of Atlanta, said on its Web site that no services will be held on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day, which also falls on a Sunday. A spokesman for North Point did not respond to requests for comment.
The closures stand in stark contrast to
Roman Catholic parishes, which will see some of their largest crowds of the year on Christmas, and mainline Protestant congregations such as the Episcopal, Methodist and Lutheran churches, where Sunday services are rarely if ever canceled.
Cindy Willison, a spokeswoman for the evangelical Southland Christian Church, said at least 500 volunteers are needed, along with staff, to run Sunday services for the estimated 8,000 people who usually attend. She said many of the volunteers appreciate the chance to spend Christmas with their families instead of working, although she said a few church members complained.
“If we weren’t having services at all, I would probably tend to feel that we were too accommodating to the secular viewpoint, but we’re having multiple services on Saturday and an additional service Friday night,” Willison said. “We believe that you worship every day of the week, not just on a weekend, and you don’t have to be in a church building to worship.”
Troy Page, a spokesman for Fellowship Church, said the congregation was hardly shirking its religious obligations. Fellowship will hold 21 services in four locations in the days leading up to the holiday. Last year, more than 30,000 worshippers participated. “Doing them early allows you to reach people who may be leaving town Friday,” Page said.
These megachurches are not alone in adjusting Sunday worship to accommodate families on Christmas. But most other congregations are scaling back services instead of closing their doors.
First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla., led by the Rev. Bobby Welch, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, will hold one service instead of the usual two. New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., led by the Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, will hold one Sunday service instead of the typical three.

Holy family, Magi nixed from nativity

Wednesday, December 7th, 2005

And more news on Nativites…
Oh for Heaven’s sake, what is the point of having a nativity if Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the Magi are excluded. Of all the bone headed things to do, this one wins an award.

Saying it would be “inappropriate” to include them, Memphis, Tenn., library officials have banned Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the wise men from a promotional nativity scene – leaving only the stable animals and a shepherd boy.
Attorneys from the
Alliance Defense Fund say they are working to “educate” the officials about their action, saying the exclusion of the figurines is blatantly unconstitutional.

ADF confirmed to WND that the “nativity” scene is up at the library but includes just three palm-sized farm animals and a boy with a sheep over his shoulders.
According to a statement from ADF, the controversy arose when Brandi Chambless, a member of the music ministry at Broadmoor Memphis Church, submitted an announcement for display on the library’s community shelves regarding the church’s upcoming Christmas show. Library officials accepted the announcement but told Chambless that she would have to remove the “inappropriate” figures of the baby Jesus, Joseph, Mary, and the wise men from an accompanying nativity scene and limit it to farm animals alone.
“Now we’ve got a bunch of barnyard animals,” Chambless said last night on the Fox News Channel’s “O’Reilly Factor.” “We just think it’s the most ridiculous thing.”
“This is not the same as a city building a manger on city property at city expense,” said Andrew Napolitano, senior judicial anlayst for Fox News. “I think the library’s going to back down and let the baby Jesus and the blessed mother in there.”
ADF says the community shelves have traditionally been open to groups and individuals for the display of announcements, advertisements and other items as a means of providing information to the community.
“It truly is ridiculous that we even have to discuss whether a nativity scene can be displayed at Christmas,” said ADF senior legal counsel Nate Kellum. “Libraries are supposed to encourage free expression and thought. Government officials do not have the authority to pick and choose which items in a Christmas nativity scene are acceptable for display.”
In a Dec. 5 letter to Memphis/Shelby County Public Library officials, Kellum explained that displays such as the one submitted by Chambless in no way violate the U.S. Constitution.
“It is blatantly unconstitutional for the government to single out speech from a church for discrimination simply because it is religious,” Kellum wrote. “For this reason, the refusal to allow Broadmoor Memphis an opportunity to display the nativity scene because the display is religious is a violation of First Amendment rights.”
As part of ADF’s
Christmas Project, the law firm says it has contacted more than 10,300 school districts nationwide this year to inform them of what is legal regarding religious expression at Christmastime.

So this is what it might look like. Real nice…Boneheads!!!

Fla. Cities Sued After Nativity Scene At Park Banned (The Shoe is on the Other Foot -ed.)

Wednesday, December 7th, 2005

Well, well, well…it appears that the shoe is on the other foot concerning a nativity scene in Florida. Instead of being sued by the ACLU for allowing a nativity scene on public property, these cities are being sued for not allowing one. Check this out:

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A conservative legal group sued two Florida cities Tuesday after they banned the display of a nativity scene at a public park they share while allowing a Menorah and Christmas tree.
Mathew Staver, president and general counsel of Orlando-based Liberty Counsel, is seeking a temporary restraining order requiring the cities of Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach to permit the nativity display in Town Center Park. Staver said he would like to have a federal judge hold a hearing soon.
The federal suit was filed on behalf of Ponte Vedra Beach resident Ken Koenig, whose request to display a 40-inch-tall nativity scene was denied by both cities. Koenig did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.
“To exclude a private nativity scene from an open forum where a Christmas tree and a Menorah are displayed is a clear violation of the First Amendment,” Staver said. “While the towns justify their discrimination by contending that the Menorah is secular, the Supreme Court has recognized the Menorah as a religious symbol.
By banning the nativity scene while permitting the Menorah, the towns has engaged in the worst kind of constitutional violation — preferring one religion over another.”
He added the recent controversy over some governments and business referring to “holiday trees” instead of Christmas trees reinforces his belief that there “is a war on Christmas.”

Read the rest here.

Fla. Cities Sued After Nativity Scene At Park Banned (The Shoe is on the Other Foot -ed.)

Wednesday, December 7th, 2005

Well, well, well…it appears that the shoe is on the other foot concerning a nativity scene in Florida. Instead of being sued by the ACLU for allowing a nativity scene on public property, these cities are being sued for not allowing one. Check this out:

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A conservative legal group sued two Florida cities Tuesday after they banned the display of a nativity scene at a public park they share while allowing a Menorah and Christmas tree.
Mathew Staver, president and general counsel of Orlando-based Liberty Counsel, is seeking a temporary restraining order requiring the cities of Neptune Beach and Atlantic Beach to permit the nativity display in Town Center Park. Staver said he would like to have a federal judge hold a hearing soon.
The federal suit was filed on behalf of Ponte Vedra Beach resident Ken Koenig, whose request to display a 40-inch-tall nativity scene was denied by both cities. Koenig did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.
“To exclude a private nativity scene from an open forum where a Christmas tree and a Menorah are displayed is a clear violation of the First Amendment,” Staver said. “While the towns justify their discrimination by contending that the Menorah is secular, the Supreme Court has recognized the Menorah as a religious symbol.
By banning the nativity scene while permitting the Menorah, the towns has engaged in the worst kind of constitutional violation — preferring one religion over another.”
He added the recent controversy over some governments and business referring to “holiday trees” instead of Christmas trees reinforces his belief that there “is a war on Christmas.”

Read the rest here.