Three high school choirs in the Whitefish School District, located in Montana's Flathead Valley, have decided to go through with their holiday concert at a local church despite complaints from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Dozens of student members of the Flathead, Glacier and Whitefish high school choirs performed their annual "Peace on Earth Community Christmas Celebration" at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Kalispell Thursday. They will be performing a second time Friday evening. School officials decided to go through with the performance despite recent complaints from the ACLU and FFRF which argued the concert was an unconstitutional violation of the separation of church and state due to public school involvement with church activity.
"We are concerned that public school students will be performing at a place of worship as part of an event that is expressly religious in nature," ACLU Public Policy Director Niki Zupanic wrote in a letter addressed to the principals of the three public schools on Tuesday, as reported by the Missoulian. "This situation poses serious constitutional concerns and demonstrates a lack of respect for the individual religious beliefs of the students involved." Both the ACLU and the FFRF requested that the schools end their participation in the concert. more >>
An elementary school in Texas has banned Christmas trees and the colors red and green at its upcoming "winter" party though a recently passed state law protects traditional holiday greetings and displays at public schools. The school's principal said in an email that she and the PTA chose to ban Christmas at the party to avoid "offending anyone."
The PTA group at Nichols Elementary School in Frisco, Texas, recently sent an email to parents regarding an upcoming "winter" party for students. The email listed three rules that each student had to abide by while attending the party: no references to Christmas or other religious holidays, no Christmas trees, no colors red or green, and no items that will stain the classroom carpet.
The rules listed in the email go against the "Merry Christmas Law" passed in the state in June. The law, co-authored by Republican Rep. Pat Fallon, who oversees the district where Nichols Elementary School is located, protects schools from having to censor religious references during the holiday season. more >>
Abigail Hernandez, 15, went missing from her high school in New Hampshire in October. New evidence suggests that the teen may be in contact with her mother, reports state, which puts the case in a whole new light and could lead to her being reunited with her family once and for all.
According to CBS, FBI found activity on the teen's cell phone around the time she went missing, but they released no further details. Hernandez was last seen leaving Kennett High School in Conway, New Hampshire, headed home on the normal route she took. However, when her parents returned home, she was nowhere to be found.
"This is still nothing more than a missing person case," FBI Special Agent Kiernan Ramsey said in October, "but we are leveraging every tool, every technique, and every resource we have in hopes of bringing young Abby home to her family. There is no piece of information too small or insignificant to help us locate Abigail. We continue to be asked what we know about the investigation and we continue to answer with what we don't know – and that is, 'Where is Abigail at this very moment.'" more >>
The babysitter for three-year-old Autumn Elgersma has been charged with murder after admittedly throwing the toddler to the ground in a fit of rage. Rochelle Sapp, 33, has been charged with first-degree murder and child endangerment after the toddler died from head injuries.
On October 29, Sapp reportedly called Autumn's mother, Jennifer Elgersma, and told her that the child had fallen down the stairs. Jennifer took her to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with a head injury; later, she was airlifted to another hospital after being diagnosed with a fractured skull and brain trauma. The toddler died two days later.
Sapp confessed to authorities and told them that she had thrown Autumn to the ground when she refused to take off her coat. The in-home caregiver was initially charged with Willful Injury and Child Endangerment, but after Autumn died, her charges were amended. more >>
The Internet is in an uproar over a recent viral photo of what appears to be a third grade science quiz from a private, religious school in Florida that says "gravity was designed by God."
A photo of the quiz was uploaded to the "WTF" thread of the image sharing website Reddit on Tuesday by username Dtooth0, who claims the quiz is real and was a part of his daughter's curriculum at a private Christian school in Florida. Although the man does not name the school for privacy reasons, he does write in the comments section of the Reddit thread that the school is accredited and that the quiz given to the students holds a copyright from an instate Christian University.
The quiz includes five multiple choice answers relating to gravitational pull, including "Gravity is the force that holds the sun, moon, and planets in place" and "without gravity we would be pulled into outer space." Then, there are two questions at the bottom that seem to be attracting the ire of some atheist Reddit commenters. One reads: "People who do not believe in God do not believe in gravity," and the other one reads "Christians know that gravity was designed by our God." more >>
Baby Elaina Steinfurth was murdered in June, and this week her mother and mother's boyfriend were sentenced to serious time in prison for the murder. Steven King will serve at least 25 years for his role in the murder, while Angela Steinfurth has been sentenced to 18 years to life in prison.
The case shocked the Toledo, Ohio area where the family lived, as well as the rest of the nation as the search for the toddler lasted from June until September. In a deal with prosecutors, King led police to the location of Elaina's remains. Her arms and legs had been broken and she was stuffed into a box located in the attic of a garage.
King told prosecutors he found Elaina seriously injured and tried performing CPR, but blood came out of her mouth and nose. He then covered her mouth and nose until she stopped breathing. Steinfurth, prosecutors alleged, threw Elaina across her bedroom in order to have relations with King. The little girl had a bump on her head, a black eye, and bloody nostrils. more >>