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Back to Feb. Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 229 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS FEBRUARY 2005

Complaints Pile Up on Banning
of Christmas in Public Schools
Christians Fight Back in Courts, Polls
Each year it seems that the anti-Christmas brigade gets pettier about censoring observances of the Christian and U.S. holiday in public schools. However, Christian groups are now flexing their muscle in court and in the political arena to reaffirm the permissibility of traditional celebrations of Christmas in schools around the country.

The Education Reporter (Jan. 2005) already reported on a number of incidents of Christmas suppression by school administrators. So many more reports have surfaced since then - along with parental actions challenging the administrators - that an update is in order.

In December 2003, a Plano, TX administrator stopped an 8-year-old boy from passing out candy canes with a religious message attached at a school holiday party. The message explained that the candy was shaped in a J for Jesus and bore a red stripe to represent "the blood Christ shed for the sins for the world."

TRO for candy canes 
In December 2004, his family and three others persuaded a federal judge to issue a temporary restraining order securing the children's right to hand out "religious viewpoint gifts" at school-sponsored holiday parties. The families were assisted by the Liberty Legal Institute and the Alliance Defense Fund. In addition, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice wrote the Plano district to say it was investigating the district's "alleged refusal to permit students to distribute religious messages during school parties and on school property."

Red and green prohibited! 
The school was so politically correct that it informed parents that only white paper plates and napkins - not Christmas red and green - would be allowed at the "Winter Break" party, according to the father of the boy with the candy canes. (Washington Post, 12-21-04)

Even colored icing on cookies was verboten, and administrators prohibited parents from criticizing school officials or giving religious-oriented items to one another on school property, the Liberty Legal Institute alleged. Earlier, school officials forbade a girl from inviting her friends to an Easter event at her church, and after a mother requested permission for her daughter to hand out a pencil with the word "Jesus" on it at her birthday party, "the principal got so upset with her that he called the police," the institute's chief counsel Kelly Shackelford said. (worldnetdaily.com, 12-15-04)

A New York City school policy allowing menorahs during Hanukkah and the Islamic crescent during Ramadan but not Nativity scenes during the Christmas season was challenged in court by the Thomas More Law Center in December. The same month, the center also sued to overturn the South Orange/Maplewood, NJ district's notorious ban on even instrumental-only Christmas music in its holiday band concert.

Voters incensed by a superintendent's decision to remove a Nativity scene from an elementary school's traditional holiday program vented their anger at the polls in Mustang, OK, helping defeat bond measures worth $11 million. The school board attorney had recommended that the Nativity scene be removed. Symbols of Hanukkah and Kwanzaa were included in the production as well as a Christmas tree and Santa Claus. (Associated Press, 12-16-04)

Mangled 'Grinch' 
In Blair, NE, students wanted to use Dr. Seuss in decorations on a door for a contest. Their teacher recommended the phrase, "Don't be the Grinch that stole the winter wonderland," instead of the Seussian "Grinch that stole Christmas." The principal backed up the teacher, saying in a local newspaper that restricting the use of the word Christmas came from a personal feeling he had that some people look at the season with anxiety rather than celebration. Parents expressed indignation. (TheOmahaChannel.com, 12-16-04)

A San Jose, CA middle school teacher enlisted the aid of the Pacific Justice Institute after her principal banned Christmas songs at a holiday concert. The institute wrote a letter advising the school of the law. (Los Angeles Times, 12-22-04)

A holiday concert by Spring Grove Elementary School in McHenry County, IL included songs about Hanukkah, Jamaica and Santa but not Christ or the Christmas story. An Illinois American Civil Liberties Union spokesman commented that Christmas songs about Christ are fine as long as people don't "feel they spent the past hour at high mass." (Chicago Tribune, 12-6-04)

'Little Drummer Boy' nixed 
The carol "The Little Drummer Boy" was cut along with three others from a holiday concert in Jupiter, FL because of their religious nature, after a student raised an objection. They were replaced with three Hanukkah songs. "Silent Night" bit the dust at E.H. Slaybaugh Elementary School's holiday concert in New Jersey following a complaint by an attorney parent. (Palm Beach Post, 12-16-04)

A private group's performance of the play A Christmas Carol, based on Charles Dickens' classic story, was canceled by the principal at Lake Washington High School in Kirkland, WA. (Seattle Times, 12-8-04) Public schools in Chicago excised the words "Merry Christmas" from a popular song. (abcnews.go.com, 12-7-04)

A school bus driver in Plainfield, IL was pulled off her route for passing out fliers criticizing a school holiday program including a song called "I Hate This Holiday." "They took my school bus job away from me because I protested my child singing an anti-Christ song," Carmen Brown alleged. There were no Christian songs in the elementary Central School's holiday program. (suburbanchicagonews .com, 12-19-04)


 
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