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November 30, 2005

Another School Censoring Christmas? (Updated with new information)

Topics: Faith
Update: We have spoken with Mr. Shannon Adams of the Jackson County school system, who sent out the original email, from which this issue evolved. He explained that the matter appears to have gone far beyond his original intent and what he actually said in his email. He has emailed us the content of his original email, which can be found below in the extended post.

It does appear that Mr. Adam's instructions were innocently expressed to "keep the establishment clause" in mind, and that neither he nor educators who received the email had particular knowledge of the legal issues, or the lack thereof, involved in the matter. But it does seem apparent that the actions taken by some educators, subsequent to receiving the assistant superintendents' email, went beyond the legal requirements of the establishment clause, and were indeed, anti-Christmas and anti-Christmas.

Original post begins here: Whatever you do, you can't use the "C-word" (petition below). As Charles Krauthammer has said, "It is Christmas time, and what would Christmas be without the usual platoon of annoying pettifoggers rising annually to strip Christmas of any Christian content?" In other words, it's that time of year when we are most reminded of the 'Newdowsing' of America.

What is with these schools prohibiting everything having to do with Christmas? Now there's another one in Georgia, this time it's the Jackson County School System in Jefferson, Ga. [Phone: (706) 367 5151, Fax: (706) 367 9457].

Teachers at a Georgia elementary school reportedly were told to nix any religious pins and refrain from referring to a party as a "Christmas" party, while the local district has censored certain religious Christmas songs from its "winter" program.

The Alliance Defense Fund, a religious-liberties law group, wrote a letter to the district yesterday informing the Jackson County School System in Jefferson, Ga., that it stands on shaky constitutional ground due to its actions.

The district has reportedly prohibited teachers from wearing "any pins, angels, crosses, clothing" that contain any religious connotation or affiliation, referring to any party as a "Christmas" party, or displaying a Bible in their rooms. ADF says the district has also removed certain religious Christmas songs from a "winter" concert and censored the word "God" from another song.

"Jackson County school officials are attempting to prohibit teachers from expressing any religious aspect of Christmas," Cortman stated in the letter. "Classroom decorations may no longer include nativity scenes and angels. Jackson County has gone so far as to prohibit the common greeting 'Merry Christmas,' and also now refers to the Christmas break as 'Winter Break.'" Read more...

The ADF works to clear up misconceptions about seasonal religious expression on public property:
The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled that public schools must ban the singing of religious Christmas carols or prohibit the distribution of candy canes or Christmas cards.

School officials may refer to a school break in December as "Christmas Vacation" or as a holiday without offending the Constitution.

School officials do not violate the Constitution by closing on religious holidays such as Christmas and Good Friday.

No court has ever held that celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas as religious holidays requires recognition of all other religious holidays.

The "Three Reindeer Rule" used by the courts requires a municipality to place a sufficient number of secular objects in close enough proximity to the Christmas item (such as a crèche) to render the overall display sufficiently secular. Although the overall display must not convey a message endorsing a particular religion's view, Christmas displays are not banned as some people believe. Simply put, the courts ask, "Is the municipality celebrating the holiday or promoting religion?"

ADF will represent people of faith, as well as school districts or other entities, free of charge to defend their freedom of speech regarding Christmas even after Christmas is over.

Support Christmas: Sign the Petition

And yes, we've jumped all over the issue of Christmas and school boards before!

Hat tip - Stop the ACLU

Update: The contents of Mr. Shannon Adams' email to the educators in the Jackson County School System:

"Dear Principals--This is just a gentle reminder as the time draws near for holiday celebrations, programs, musicals, and such. Please keep in mind the general requirements of the Establishment Clause, and remember that we are an increasingly diverse school system. Do what you can to assure that students and/or parents are not offended by something that is included or by something that is left out. Thanks, Shannon" - End item.

The Christmas Vs. Holiday Name Game
Goodbye Christmas?

Posted by Richard at November 30, 2005 3:31 PM

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