Monday, December 7, 2009

Town Outlaws Merry Christmas Sign and Menorah for Holiday Season

NORTH ANDOVER — First it was the menorah on the town common. Now it's the Merry Christmas sign on the fire station.
The town has put an end to a longtime holiday tradition ordering firefighters to take down their homemade Merry Christmas sign from outside the fire station after people complained. The sign had been up for a week before it was taken down Friday.
Fire Chief William Martineau said the sign was made by firefighters some 50 years ago and was never an issue before.
"I think Christmas is officially a religious holiday. But to all of us, it has always been a holiday for the kids," Martineau said. "It just seems sad."
The sign is now sitting in the basement and there's only one decoration hanging from the station — a Happy New Year sign.
This is the second holiday controversy in two weeks for the town.
Andover Rabbi Asher Bronstein has threatened a lawsuit against North Andover after the selectmen would not let him place a menorah on the town common for all eight days of Hanukkah.
Selectmen voted on Nov. 23 to allow the menorah for one day. They argue that their new town common policy only allows displays to stay up for one day, no matter what they are. That way all groups have equal time and there is no discrimination.
Attorneys for the town and the rabbi are in talks.
Town officials said yesterday that the menorah fight is what caused Merry Christmas to be outlawed at the fire station for the first time in five decades.
"This is political correctness run amok," selectmen's Chairman Tracy Watson said. "It's really an unfortunate turn of events. ... This has become all about religion, and from the start it has had nothing to do with religion. We were enforcing a policy."
Selectmen's phones are ringing off the hook with calls from all sides. The town is divided into people who believe the menorah should get its eight days and those who think the selectmen's policy is fair. Some do not want to see any religious displays on the common, saying even a day is too much.
Watson said she expects taking down the Merry Christmas sign is only going to rile people up more.
"It's going to make a lot of people angry," she said.
Town Manager Mark Rees said the fight over the menorah brought a "heightened sensitivity to these kind of issues."

JMC Ministries Response
Written By: Miranda Caverley

This year it seems Christmas has been under attack more than ever before.  Everyday we are hearing story after story of people, businesses, churches, practically anyone who wants to celebrate Christmas being persecuted. So much that we at JMC Ministries wanted to share a story of one woman here in Ohio who took a stand for Christmas. Her name is Connie.

Connie works in a business office, and for Christmas her boss told everyone that they could decorate their desks and spaces for Christmas.  After this announcement was made a fellow employee stood up and said that if anyone had the idea of bringing religious stuff in that she would file a grievance with the Human Resources Dept. (meaning she would try to get people fired from their job).  Connie brought in a little angel and placed it on her desk along with other Christmas decortions a few days later.  She decided not to take the angel down knowing what the co-worker had said.  Connie then went home for the weekend.  Over the weekend, Connie called a family member to tell them what had happened at her work.  She told the family member that she wasn't sure if she would have  job after Monday if the co-worker should be true to her word, and file a grievance for her having the angel on her desk. But Connie said that she would not take the angel off her desk no matter what.  So on Monday Connie had to work late.  Most of the other co-workers had left for the day when she saw the woman who was over the Human Resources dept. Connie stopped the lady and began telling her of what her co-worker had said about filing a grievance for having religious Christmas decorations on their desks.  The lady from the Human Resources told Connie to come with her to her office because she wanted to show her something.  The lady said she had only one decoration in her office for Christmas and she wanted Connie to see it.  When the woman opened the door to the human resources office there on the desk was a small Nativity Scene!

Connie is a family of member of JMC Ministries and we felt we needed to share her story.  Because there are so many silent victims facing this kind of persecution this Christmas season in the United States. We feel their stories need to be told. 

1 Thessalonians 3:7
Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith.

John 15:20 (New International Version)

20Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.'[a] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.

1 Corinthians 4:12,13
12We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.

Romans 12:14 (New International Version) 

14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.