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Back to Jan. Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 240 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS JANUARY 2006

What Happened to Christmas and History?
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REMARKS TO THE
R-12 SCHOOL BOARD
SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI

By Dee Wampler
December 13, 2005

I am Dee Wampler and once served as the elected Greene County Prosecuting Attorney.* I understand the stress and often thankless hours you spend working on school issues. You are appreciated!

I address this School Board about two things:

(1) The fact that "Christmas" has been removed from the official school calendar and;

(2) The increased editing of our American History and Social Studies books omitting mention of the faith of our Founding Fathers.

There is great confusion in our day regarding the relationship of church and state. Some have bought the idea that religion is not to be a part of any educational system, confident that it requires a total strict separation so that Biblical principles must never be mentioned.

This so-called "strict separation of church and state" has never been the law, it is not now, and it never will be in the future.

There are hundreds of examples of God, Jesus Christ, Christianity and religion in general in our nation's monuments, documents, and laws.

Just to give you a few examples, God's name is in our National Anthem, the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Liberty Bell, the Pledge of Allegiance, and our national motto is on every single coin and bill in your pocket which is "In God We Trust."

There are some who believe that religion and government must be "ruthlessly separate" and all symbols of faith be erased - a sort of "religious cleansing"- that our monuments from the crosses at Arlington to the Washington and Lincoln Memorials should be sandblasted.

The United States Supreme Court has nullified the idea of a total separation of church and state.1 There has always been an "accommodation" between religion and government and we must never forsake our national traditions and history.


I. Christmas
 
Some years ago2 the word "Christmas" was removed from the R-12 School calendar. "Easter" or "Good Friday" was also removed.

I believe it is utterly ridiculous that the word "Christmas" has been removed from the calendar. It is time to put it back. Christmas should be called what it is! It is recognized by Federal Statute as an official federal holiday.3 Christmas is a most outstanding fact in the history of the world. For 2000 years Christmas has been a celebration of peace on earth, good will towards all men; to stop and reflect on the birth of a person that altered the course of history. Our calendar is dated from His birth. We have no reason to be ashamed of the birth of Christ. Our nation was not based on freedom from anything religious.

There is not one single federal or state court case that has ever once ruled that a school board is wrong by calling Christmas "Christmas".4

When the former School Board changed its calendar, I believe (using the words of the U.S. Supreme Court) that it was an "overreaction contrary to our history".5

II. American History
 
Many of our public school books may have been originally published in the 1950s and 1960s; as you know, they are regularly edited and updated. Our school books have gradually lost any focus on the faith of our Founding Fathers. "God", "Christianity", or "religion" are rarely mentioned or not even mentioned at all.6

Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving are not even mentioned in several of the books. In only one book Thanksgiving is mentioned but there is no reference of giving thanks to God.

The Bible has been removed as the authoritative source for determining right from wrong; prayer is outlawed; the Ten Commandments became offensive; the mention of Jesus Christ became taboo; but when Christmas became politically incorrect enough is enough!

Please! I am asking you to not give in to the absolutist view that any mention of God or religion must be sanitized from the calendar and school books.

Our students are being cheated out of a true American history, sacrificed upon the altar of political correctness.7 Let us resist efforts to redefine or surrender our national tradition. If our children are going to make informed decisions about the future of our nation, they need to know about its past.

Pass a Resolution now to restore our traditional greatest national holiday on the official calendar!

Thank you for your consideration.



* I attended Rountree Elementary, Jarrett Middle School, Central and Parkview High Schools, Drury University, University of Missouri-Columbia, and Southwestern University. Our two children attended Wilder Elementary, Jarrett Middle School, and Glendale High School.


Footnotes
  1. Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 674 (1984). (See Exhibit l, which contains a portion of the court opinion.)

  2. I wrote all of the members of the School Board, and never received the courtesy of a reply. I then appeared before the School Board and made objection. I never received the courtesy of a reply. Weeks later, I again wrote the members of the School Board and never received the courtesy of a reply. Now, ten years later, here I am again.

  3. See attached Exhibit 2.

  4. A 1999 federal case upheld the statutory holiday of "Easter" and "Good Friday" as not a violation of the First Amendment "establishing a church").

  5. Quoting from Lynch vs. Donnelly (1984); also see other area school calendars and "The Truth about Religious Expression at Christmastime," by Alliance Defense Fund, Scottsdale, AZ.

  6. In American Government, touted on the first page to be an "outstanding example of Americanism at its very best" and that the book is a "shining example of the enduring author's faith in American ideals and institutions". Guess what? Religion isn't even mentioned in the book. It's not even in the index. This book, as well as Adventures in Time and Place and American Government barely mention the Mayflower Compact which contains God's name and none of the books refer to one of the greatest addresses ever given, Washington's Farewell Address, in which he says that religion and morality are the two indispensable supports of this nation. (And anyone who tries to subvert those two great pillars cannot be considered a true patriot.) It is amazing that these are omitted from our school books today. Creating America, our popular American history book refers to Washington's Farewell Address in one single line only.

  7. See attached article from "The Forum" to the effect that three (3) recent surveys show that between 72%-87% of our college professors admit they are "left/liberals"; Ralph Neas, President of the liberal "People for the American Way" recently acknowledged religion is overlooked in our history books: "Religion is simply not treated as a significant element in American life — it is not portrayed as an integrated part of the American value system or as something that is important to individual Americans." Source: Paul C. Vitz, Censorship: Evidence of Bias in our Children's textbooks (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Books, 1986); John C. Whitehead, The Rights of Religious Persons in Public Education: The Complete Resource (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1991).


Exhibit 1
Excerpts from: Lynch v. Donnelly
Supreme Court of the United States
465 U.S. 668 (1984)
BURGER, C.J., Opinion of the Court

. . . the Court has recognized that “total separation is not possible in an absolute sense. Some relationship between government and religious organizations is inevitable.”

The concept of a “wall” of separation is a useful figure of speech probably deriving from views of Thomas Jefferson. . . . But the metaphor itself is not a wholly accurate description of the practical aspects of the relationship that in fact exists between church and state.

. . . “It has never been thought either possible or desirable to enforce a regime of total separation . . . .” Nor does the Constitution require complete separation of church and state; it affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any. . . .

There is an unbroken history of official acknowledgment by all three branches of government of the role of religion in American life from at least 1789. Seldom in our opinions was this more affirmatively expressed than in Justice Douglas’ opinion for the Court validating a program allowing release of public school students from classes to attend off-campus religious exercises. Rejecting a claim that the program violated the Establishment Clause, the Court asserted pointedly: “We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.”

Our history is replete with official references to the value and invocation of Divine guidance in deliberations and pronouncements of the Founding Fathers and contemporary leaders.

Exhibit 2
5 U.S. Code § 6103 (2005)
§ 6103. Holidays

(a) The following are legal public holidays: . . . Christmas Day, December 25.

Annotation:
Legal public holiday on Christmas Day under 5 U.S. Code § 6103 did not impermissibly impose Christian beliefs on nonadherents in way that violated their right to freedom of association, since nonadherents were not forced to participate in religious services, but were free to act as they saw fit. Ganulin v. United States (1999, S.D. Ohio), affirmed (6th Cir. 2000)


 
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