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Schools Ban Charlie Brown, Nativity Scenes and Poinsettias

First, schools banned Halloween. Now a class outing to see a church performance of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" could be nixed as well. Have schools taken things too far when it comes to 'anti-Christmas' activities?

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” has been a holiday TV classic for years. So when students at Terry Elementary School in Little Rock, Ark., were invited on a class field trip to see a performance of the show this December, they were excited. But their excitement was quickly quenched when a parent complained; an atheist group got wind of the outing and called it a “violation of religious freedom” because it contains some religious content and will be performed at a church.

The school sent a letter home to the parents detailing the field trip and letting them know that it did, indeed, contain a small amount of religious content but that any child who wished not to go could be exempt from attending. The outing also included a food drive for area food pantries, which parents hope students will not miss out on if the outing is cancelled.

Schools around the nation have dealt with similar anti-Christmas sentiments. In Alabama, a group of 5- to 7- year -olds were asked not to sing “Silent Night” in their Christmas program because it was considered “unconstitutional.” The school overrode the complaint and students will be allowed to perform as planned. But in Davis, Cal., students at Emerson Junior High encountered a different outcome when the play they planned to perform, Charles Dickens’ “ A Christmas Carol,” was banned because of—you guessed it—the word “Christmas.”

The list goes on. In 2011 in Stockton, the school district warned teachers not to put up any poinsettias, Christmas trees or other decorations that would be considered festive, just to make sure they did not offend anyone.

Contrast these times with the 1950s, when many kids performed in nativity plays at school, complete with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus in the manger. Now, in places like Santa Monica, the mere sight of a nativity scene on public property is reason for outcry. In an age of “over-political correctness” have schools and cities taken things too far and taken the fun and meaning out of a holiday that’s been celebrated worldwide for years and years?

“We still talk about Kwanza, Hanukkah, Ramadan and the pagan celebration of winter solstice,” one blogger mom wrote. “I have no problem with exposing my children to those cultural holidays, but in fairness, shouldn’t we be able to discuss the origins of Christmas as well?”

Surprisingly, a Rasmussen Reports national television survey showed that 68 percent of most Americans still preferred the traditional greeting, “Merry Christmas” during the season. Yet most store employees and schoolteachers have been required to now use the less offensive “Happy Holidays” approach. A Christmas break is no longer called such at most schools; it is referred to as a holiday or winter break, merely due to the religious implications of the word. So are we really so offended after all?

I believe in God and celebrate Christmas with my family, yet I respect others’ views as well. However, I have yet to meet one person in my entire life who was offended by a poinsettia, a nativity scene, a Christmas cookie or—Heaven forbid—Santa Claus himself! For some reason, I can’t picture a 6-year-old child growing horrified upon seeing a wreath on his teacher’s door.  It seems a shame that we’ve taken not just the “Christmas” but the “Merry” out of so much of this special holiday season because of a few Grinches who insist on spoiling the fun for the kids.

Interestingly, no one seemed too “offended” when Black Friday shopping this year, as they piled their carts high with bargain brand named clothes, electronics and must-have toys. And no one yet has complained about the fact that Christmas is a Federal Holiday for all employees. Perhaps if we were being truly politically correct we should re-open the post office and send kids to school on December 25.

I’m being facetious, of course.

Parents, what do you think? Do you think schools should celebrate Christmas in the classrooms? And what of the schools that have banned certain plays, songs, decorations and activities? Do you think they’ve taken things too far, or do you think they’ve done the right thing?

Have you experienced any holiday controversies in Grayslake schools? Tell us in the comments.

Chris Lewitzke December 11, 2012 at 09:09 PM
The author totally misses the point of the entire principle of the separation of church and state. It's not about trying to not offend anyone; it's about upholding the establishment clause of the Constitution. Schools, as part of the federal government, must abide by this same understanding that there is no one, true religion in America. Picking and choosing stories to demonstrate how we've gone too far really doesn't show anything. In cases of religion and schools, it's all about context. There's nothing wrong with learning about Christmas or seeing "A Christmas Carol" because it's a famous piece of literature. What's wrong is when the school assumes everyone is Christian and tries to CELEBRATE Christmas as a school. I don't care if 100% of the classroom is Christian, schools are not the place for celebrating any holiday. They're for learning. As a government entity, schools have the duty to make sure no one religion is held above any other religion. When a classroom is decorated entirely in poinsettias, Christmas trees, and nativity scenes, how do you think that Muslim girl feels? Or that Atheist boy? Or the Hindi girl? It's clearly sending the message that this classroom is a place where Christmas is celebrated whether you believe in it or not. On a somewhat related note, why do 67% of Americans prefer "Merry Christmas"? Well considering 73% are Christian, I'm baffled as to why you consider that number surprising or noteworthy.
Terri December 12, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Separation of Church and State is not in the Constitution...
Chris Lewitzke December 13, 2012 at 03:14 AM
Are you familiar with the establishment clause? As in the part of the First Amendment that says "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion"? That, in essence, is the separation of church and state. If a school-as a part of the state government-were to make rules allowing the support or celebration of a religious holiday, that would effectively be breaking the First Amendment. And I understand it says Congress, but the First Amendment has been incorporated into state law for over a century. (See Everson v. Board of Education)

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