Headstone Makers in New Jersey Score Victory Against Church-Based Competitors Who Are Tax-Exempt

New Jersey headstone-making companies have won a battle against the Newark Archdiocese over the latter’s hawking of gravesite monuments.

John Burns, a born-and-raised-Catholic owner of a monuments company in North Arlington, NJ, was appalled that the diocese began offering mausoleums and tombstones last year. He argued that the tax-exempt status of the padres gives them an unfair advantage, so he and his colleagues have been trying to get the state to stop the Catholic expansion.

Quoted in the New York Times,

Mr. Burns, 54, said the fight was “hard because it’s the church.” “Where in my life did I ever think I’d go to my state legislator and ask for legislation against the church to keep my livelihood?” he said in an interview. “It’s a shame.” …

Wilson Beebe, the executive director of the New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association, said the archdiocese had captured 25 percent of the Catholic monument market in less than 18 months, and predicted that its share would increase to as much as 50 percent in a couple of years. “They’re carrying on essentially a for-profit enterprise,” he said. “Given their income- and property-tax exempt status, there’s no way that the monument builders can compete with them.”

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Forget North Korean Threats; Center For Inquiry Tells Sony Pictures It’ll Gladly Screen The Interview

Yesterday, as Sony Pictures announced that it would not release the Seth Rogan/James Franco movie The Interview because of threats from North Korea, the Center for Inquiry stepped up and said it would be glad to host screenings of the film:

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A Day After the Nebraska State Capitol Gets a Nativity Scene, an Atheist Sign Becomes Its Neighbor… Temporarily

Late last night, I heard that the Nebraska State Capitol building was home to a Nativity scene:

The small display, a cedar manger about 6 feet across and 4 feet high, was made possible by a Catholic-associated attorneys association that is seeking to place Nativity scenes in state capitols and other public places across the country.

“We want to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas,” said Omaha attorney Christine Delgado, who heads the Omaha branch of the Thomas More Society.

Nebraska State Capitol Administrator Bob Ripley said Thursday that he has not fielded any requests for competing displays, but he added that some people have asked if other religions could erect displays.

“Believe me, if we allow a Christian religion to come in, we’d allow any other religion to come in,” Ripley said. “Short of something in poor taste or illegal.”

Great! Because atheists know how to play this game by now. And wouldn’t you know it, just hours later, Scott Braley, a member of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, had put up an atheist sign:

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“Jesus is the Reason for the Season,” Baptist City Council Member Reminds Jews at Menorah-Lighting Ceremony

The city of Springfield (Massachusetts) held it’s annual menorah-lighting ceremony to mark the first day of Hanukkah this past Tuesday. Among the 150 attendees was Springfield City Councilor Bud Williams.

While Williams is a Baptist, he decided to offer his own reflections on the Jewish holiday:

Jesus is the reason for the season.

Now, you might think this was bizarrely out of place at a celebration for the Jewish Festival of Lights. And you’d be right.

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Louisiana Governor’s Prayer Rally Will Bring Together Despicable Christian Leaders to Accomplish Nothing

The first problem with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal‘s upcoming prayer rally a month from now is that he’s hosting a prayer rally.

In his invitation, he made it very clear that he wanted to use his position to advance Christianity:

Our nation is faced with fatherless homes, an epidemic of drugs and crime in our inner cities, a saturation of pornography, abortion, racism — Jesus Christ, Son of God and the Lord of Life, is America’s only hope. We need Spiritual Transformation.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State made clear that Jindal had completely crossed a line:

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