I thought maybe this was the year I didn’t blog about Christmas messages from public schools. But, of course, the topic has come up again. ‘Tis the season…
Start with Miguel Guhlin’s post taking some of us to task on this issue.
Then read Justin Bathon’s post (and the ensuing conversation) about Christmas trees in rural Kentucky schools.
Then watch Deer Park (TX) ISD’s annual Christmas card from the tech department.
Then watch Jefferson Junior High’s (Woodridge, IL) video holiday card from the staff.
Then, if you’re really a glutton for punishment, read my posts on this topic from past years:
- 2009 – Secular v. sectarian Christmas displays: What is the obligation of public schools to be welcoming?
- 2008 – It’s time to play… Spot that holiday violation 2008!
- 2007 – Observing religious holidays in schools
- 2006 – Bah, humbug
photo © 2006 Lauren Manning | more info (via: Wylio)Finally, ask yourself how you feel if you’re a Hindu kid, Jewish employee, atheist parent, or some other non-Christian community member and your local public school – one that’s obligated by law to serve you, to stay on the right side of the Constitution, and to provide a welcoming learning and/or working environment – is sending overwhelming messages (through happy ‘secular’ displays, videos, etc.) of CHRISTMAS! CHRISTMAS! CHRISTMAS!
Do you feel welcome? Do you feel valued? Do you feel included? I’m guessing not. And that’s why I have a problem with this. As I said last year:
It’s not about declaring a ‘war on Christmas.’ Heck, I like Christmas; my family celebrates it every year. Much of this isn’t even about religion. Instead it’s about kindness and respect. Why do so many schools talk all year (and even implement curricular programs) about being kind, respectful, and inclusive and then get their backs up and get defensive about their right to do this? Don’t they see the disconnects between their rhetoric and their actions? Why on earth are they fighting so hard to send messages of noninclusiveness?
Many educators still don’t seem to care about this. And that’s what continues to trouble me…
I’d expand on your “how would you feel if…”, by asking:
How would you feel if you child was required in Chorus to sing songs in praise of a god you don’t believe in? Or hymns from a religion that isn’t yours? And if the only alternative was to sit it out, and not participate? We do this to some of our kids every year, and then expect them to feel included and valued.
We’re not talking about stopping individuals from exercising their religion. We’re talking about a government institution refraining from promoting religious beliefs. And the fact is, the current law on this matter is very common-sense, and should be acceptable to believers or non-believers of all stripes. Educators have a responsibility to know the law.
“How would you feel if you child was required in Chorus to sing songs in praise of a god you don’t believe in?”
Note that the question is framed not from the perspective of the child, but from the perspective of the parent.
This underscores my whole point. It’s not about what the kids like or don’t like, it’s about the selfish parents. That parent could never prove that their child is going to be harmed by singing Silent Night.
“Or hymns from a religion that isn’t yours?”
So the child of Christian parents could say they don’t believe in Kwaanza, so should their school be compelled to ban a Kwaanza song because of one family?
Does anyone see what a ridiculous can of worms is opened by this whole issue?
Again, it’s all about selfish people craving attention and wishing to be catered to. They or their children aren’t being harmed and their civil rights aren’t being violated, so the whole issue is nonsense. These parents need to stop projecting their own prejudices through their kids. What kid is going to know from atheism to begin with? What kid is going to consider Silent Night anything but a nice song to sing along with their classmates?
Thank you for writing about this every year. I have really negative attitudes about Christmas as an adult because of the exclusion I felt every year around this time in school. Even when schools pay token attention to diversity it can make students feel even more isolated. Chorus concerts are a great example, when singing 10 15 songs about Jesus’ birth followed a single song about a Dreidl, the message sent to a Jewish student is that you are included 1/10 as much as the rest of the students.
This is the kind of minority advocacy that’s ruining time honored American traditions for a great majority its people. The funny thing is, when my ancestors arrived from Europe decades ago, they didn’t complain about established American traditions not being representative of THEIR heritage. Of course not, they had too much class and too much respect for their adopted country. They simply assimilated or assembling with others of their kind, celebrated their own way. It would have been shameful for them to expect the established majority to conform to their wants. But you see, we no longer live in that kind of world, because small pockets of self-centered individuals can demand and receive special consideration to the detriment of an innocent majority. This isn’t an issue of human rights or protecting children, it’s about selfish parents working out their own petty prejudices through their kids. Need I cite Michael Newdow?
You see, where the Left can’t reshape society at the ballot box, they try and accomplish it in the courts, hence the power and influence of the ACLU.
“Diversity” has become a buzz term hijacked by politically motivated operatives to essentially destroy the fabric of America. By making a big deal out of differences, they only succeed in driving people further apart.
In fact, I don’t know any Jews who have a problem with Christmas. In fact, many stage dual celebrations.
“We’re talking about a government institution refraining from promoting religious beliefs”
This is a complete misunderstanding of Constitutional law. Christmas songs promote American and European tradition, not religion.
Schools do teach American history and its traditions. That’s part of learning. That’s part of American citizenship.
Here’s a fact … an overwhelming number of Americans descend from the Judeo-Christian tradition of observation and celebration.
Here’s an opinion … egalitarianism is a tool of the Left to elevate certain groups at the expense of other groups. One group doesn’t succeed when another one is compelled to fail.
Why am I not surprised that this blog entry arrives from an institution of higher learning, part of a system that for the past fifty or so years has been inculcating youth with the belief that we should love the enemies of America and hate ourselves based on our own history.
I should know, I taught in American universities for ten years and witnessed it first hand.
This is a complete misunderstanding of Constitutional law. Christmas songs promote American and European tradition, not religion.
Interesting take. I guess I’ll have to remember that I’m not really singing about the birth of Jesus when I’m singing “Away in a Manger” this weekend in church.
Are Christian values a part of the lives of most Americans?
But public schools serve ALL Americans, Mark—including those who aren’t as ready to celebrate the true glory of European traditions with you.
Public schools bear the responsibility to be respectful of all Americans—-which is hard to do when you put one culture’s traditions ahead of another’s, don’t you think?
This really isn’t hard. If you want the kind of religious and European cultural traditions that you talk about integrated into the education of your child, go to a private school.
Bill: I prefer the approach of my ancestors… assimilate and adapt out of respect for your country, yet, do not forget where you came from. It is the utmost in selfishness to believe that the majority should conform to your own individual wants. I stand by my assertion that the diversity movement is motivated purely by political gain and quite frankly, to impugn Judeo-Christian tradition. Witness how lightly many people tread around those who worship Islam, the violent backlash created over editorial cartoons critical of Islam, or the treatment of a copy of the Koran, or the strident advocacy of CAIR, or the on-going threats against Israel. Yet, it’s OK to display a Christian crucifix in a jar of urine or smeared with animal dung, or to produce a play depicting Jesus Christ and his disciples as homosexuals. The double standard that is created is utterly ridiculous but condoned by academe in the spirit of “fairness.”
Your interpretation of New Testament scripture regarding the birth of a messiah is based on faith. Some can view it as folklore, as I do. Yet, I have no problem with any school celebrating that folklore because it’s part of human history and part of this nation’s (as well as the world’s) traditional observance.
Funny, but too many of those who cry for “diversity” end up being the most intolerant of all.
I think some people need to reread the Constitution and learn that “separation between church and state” doesn’t exist, or the First Amendment (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”) does not disallow the observance of Judeo-Christian traditions in public schools. No law exists that requires any school to observe any particular tradition. No law exists forcing anyone to participate. It’s done by choice and in the best interest of the greatest amount of people.
I’ve said if before … the kids don’t care about this stuff, it’s their nattering parents with the problem. It’s about asserting control and trying to get one’s own way at any cost, up to and including hiring an attorney, which is just one of the grave failings of too many Americans born since the 1950s.
ME, ME, ME ……!
A lesson lost on too many people is that life is neither fair nor just. I know that’s not taught in schools anymore.
“This really isn’t hard. If you want the kind of religious and European cultural traditions that you talk about integrated into the education of your child, go to a private school.”
You don’t have to as long as the teacher isn’t proselytizing. Singing Silent Night at a Christmas show isn’t proselytizing, either.
I am a former agnostic leaning toward atheist, and I never objected to mangers, Christmas carols, and the like. I didn’t say “under God” when I recited the pledge, but I didn’t make a big deal of it.
Why can’t we all just be more tolerant of other beliefs? Why does everything have to be so blown out of proportion?
Pam, if we all were ‘more tolerant of other beliefs,’ then we wouldn’t need protections like the First Amendment. Unfortunately, humanity hasn’t progressed that far yet. Here in America, we decided to do something about it to help us along. But it’s meaningless if we then ignore it.
I don’t think it’s a bad thing to try not to exclude minority groups per se (and it’s certainly not ‘leftist dogma’) but I do get a little annoyed when people suggest that Christmas be toned down because it might offend a few people, or make them feel excluded.
There’s obviously no denying the fact that Christmas is a distinctively Christian celebration, but surely it’s safe to say that it has transcended beyond a mere religious holiday. I consider myself agnostic and I still think Christmas is the most important holiday of the year. I can’t think of a single atheist I know who doesn’t celebrate it to some degree. Plenty of non-Christian countries, such as Japan, include it as a national holiday on their calendars and celebrate it in their own way.
It’s unfortunate that some people who other beliefs may feel excluded, but I’m almost inclined to say: so what? Instead of simply cutting down on Christmas celebrations, how about doing something positive, like recognising and celebrating holidays of other religions? I wouldn’t be at all offended to see Jewish or Islamic iconography displayed during their celebrations. Some would, for sure. They can sit in the corner with the other negative nancys and grumble about it together.
What about during, say, football playoffs, when football fans celebrate the games and have football-related functions; what’s a non-football fan to do at this time? Surely they feel excluded too, but it would be ludicrous to suggest that the football fans ought to tone down their celebrations so as not to exclude others. Is there really so much difference between this example and Christmas?
@baekgom84: Well, one huge difference between football and Christmas is that the First Amendment doesn’t protect the rights of sports fans. But it does protect the rights of speech, press, assembly, and, yes, religion. If the First Amendment means something to us, we need to stand up for it – and wrestle with what it means – and try our best to implement it. If we just tell those who are in the minority when it comes to speech or press or religion to suck it up and deal with mainstream hegemony, doesn’t the First Amendment become meaningless?
Well I’m not American, but my understanding is that the First Amendment protects Americans’ right to free speech and freedom of religion, right? If so, then my interpretation would be that by attempting to ‘tone down’ Christmas celebrations, you would actually be infringing on rights that the First Amendment was designed to protect – and like I said, given that Christmas has a significance far beyond a religious holiday, you are not only infringing on people’s rights to religious worship but also to free speech.
I understand where you’re coming from but I do sometimes wonder if this whole thing isn’t just an overcompensation for past and present persecution of minorities. I was fairly appalled (but not really surprised) at the negative reactions people had towards the ‘ground zero mosque’, but if it was wrong to oppose that project, then I also believe it is wrong to try and restrain the celebration of Christmas.
Not quite. It’s an ongoing challenge to respect the religious observance rights of the majority while simultaneously respecting those of the religious minority. That’s the tension (for public institutions, anyway) between the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court has said repeatedly and consistently that public institutions may NOT favor one religion over other religions or non-religion.
Well okay, but my initial position still stands: instead of easing off on Christmas celebrations, promote more diversity with celebrations of other religious holidays. I think it would be a great lesson in multiculturalism for the students.
This approach will definitely offend some people, but so will EVERY OTHER approach. I’m afraid I simply don’t understand people who get easily offended by anything and everything. Of course there are some things that no-one should ever have to tolerate, but I refuse to believe that Christmas cheer is one of those things.
Christmas. CHRISTmas. It is a Christian holiday. Yes, it has been secularized, but that is because it has become commercialized. I don’t believe that we should completely overwhelm our students, staff, and faculty with religious references in a state institution. Nor should we support the over-commercialization of important values such as respect, joy, peace, and generosity.
I do not see the posting of “Season’s Greetings” signs, or “Joy to the World,” or “Peace on Earth,” at my school. I see Santa Clause, “Merry Christmas,” and decorative presents. The difference between this and football season is that football is a school-sponsored event where many of the students learn things about perseverance and teamwork (granted they may also learn things about intimidation and overly stimulate their competitiveness), but Christmas, while being an important part of home life for many, is not used in schools to teach anything. It is merely stuffed down your throat in its current religious/commercial manner.
If we begin to acknowledge the other holidays that occur around the time and actually use this opportunity to discuss inclusiveness, tolerance, diversity, generosity, peace, joy, etc. Then, I will be less likely to cringe when I see religious decorations in my public school.
How about taking it even a step further. Why is Christmas a federal holiday yet to observe their believes Muslims, Jews, and others need to take a vacation or a personal day or a child needs to miss school?
How about football and other teams having a mandatory prayer prior to taking the field for a religion you don’t observe?
It is hard to be a minority. Thankfully the 1st Amendment protects one’s right to worship as they choose.
My opinion- school is for learning, not for cultural celebrations. Hannukah and Kwanzaa are not major holidays nor is saying “Happy Holidays” a nod to acceptance.
It’s only hard to be a minority when you view yourself as a victim.
Protecting the rights of minority groups is a fundamental component of a free society. It’s enshrined in our founding documents, and a celebrated part of our American heritage.
Why do we need our government and its institutions to promote our religious beliefs and traditions? Wouldn’t it be better altogether for individuals and private groups to be free to practice their faiths, and for the state to just stay out of it? When the state involves itself in religion, it inevitably becomes a tool for the majority to promote its beliefs.
And, again, there is a clear body of law on this matter. It’s very workable and common-sense, and it protects the freedoms and rights of both the majority and minority groups.
“Protecting the rights of minority groups is a fundamental component of a free society. It’s enshrined in our founding documents, and a celebrated part of our American heritage.”
We know that, but you have to prove that you are a member of a legitimate minority group that’s being robbed of its life and liberty.
“Individuals have the right to participate in religious observances. “The School” does not. Individuals do not have the right to use government institutions as tools for promoting their religious beliefs.
In a church, it’s a religious observance. In a public school, it’s a cultural observance. This is why this issue doesn’t get any widespread traction in the courts, because of everything I’ve said.
The reason why schools knuckle under the pressure is the FEAR of being sued. It’s not a matter of believing they are right or wrong, it’s matter of not wishing to hire expensive attorneys to adjudicate a case that could drag on forever. So a fringe group only wins through a war of attrition, as long as they have radical front groups like the ACLU to work pro bono.
That’s not justice. That’s a travesty.
Like I’ve said before, the Left only has the courts to help promote its agenda. There are enough knuckleheaded judges, such as the ones from the Ninth Circuit Court, to actually grant credence to every fringe group that cries foul.
Do you mean to be hanging out in a political chat room or blog?
Your uninformed attacks on what you see as the “Left” and “knucklehead judges” is far off of our topic.
Stop being angry and hateful and start getting empathetic and thoughtful about education please.
To respond thoughtfully to a post of yours from above. You don’t need to try to view yourself as a victim when you are a minority, but sometimes it happens.
For instance, I teach in Vienna, Austria where, in an International School, a Jewish student of mine complained to me that the new music teacher did nothing but play christian songs. I found out she was right.
While there was no bodily harm, I was interested as to why she pointed this out to me.
Her reply paraphrased went something like this. “I’m in thin international school my entire life and I could always count on singing a song about me as a person once a year. It gave me pride to be here and to be part in this community. It hurts to know they forgot me, that this new teacher can’t see me.
We are student centered people and the person comes first. So, race, creed, religion all are factors to these real people that we are trying to connect with and bring to learning.
Jim: There may be certain aspects of the American education scene that you aren’t aware of.
First of all, it’s highly politicized. To deny that would be folly.
If you don’t think so, just read up on the NEA vs. NCLB. Note how the debate is heavily split along ideological lines.
There ARE knuckleheaded judges, just like there are knuckleheaded politicians. We vote for them, so we are at liberty to judge them as we see fit.
You must be aware how U.S. Presidents are lambasted in the world press.
It’s part of the process. I don’t understand the objection.
I have never been in a school where any Jewish students were denied their moment to share in the celebration of the Christmas season. In Europe, where anti-Semitism still runs rampant, for reasons I won’t get into here, I can understand how such oversight can still happen.
In fact, most American Jews I know are big fans of Christmas and fully participate while celebrating Hannukah.
I do have a problem with certain fringe groups, like atheists, who believe they are entitled to protections or special considerations without justification.
A segment of America has devolved into perpetual victimhood, because enough misguided attorneys and judges know they can legally strong arm institutions (without the abundant resources to defend themselves) into compliance by twisting the meaning of the Constitution.
Like I’ve said elsewhere, said fringe groups have it pretty easy when they have the ACLU working pro bono on their behalf.
I live in Vienna, but I’m an Arizonan. I’ve even had a fine career in schools and summer camps in AZ before moving to Europe a few years ago. I am an immigrant to Europe and an ethnic Mexican-American atheist living in Vienna. (hence, one heck of a minority)
Again, I think your posts are way off. I’d like to stick to the topic and discuss how to best connect with our students (and this blog is in respect to respecting different cultures). Some of that means to leave your own feelings at the door, Mark.
You are right that the American public education system that I taught in for years is politicized, but I’m not seeing thoughtful discussion from you about the realities about being in a classroom. Just finger pointing wherever you please.
You know lots of Jews who like Christmas, well, great for you. The student I speak of has a crazy soft spot for candy canes and sucking on them in the halls at all times. This doesn’t change her disappointment when our school missed its opportunity to connect with her as a person.
That is my point and also a feature of my blog that I hope to blog about more and more. Connecting with our students, and using data to do so is incredibly powerful.
What do I mean by data that connects teacher to learner in an new way? Well, you will have to find out!
Scott is coming at this directly from an educational administrative point of view, I believe. Scott, I know that you are totally accurate in your position based upon the duality of the Establishment Clause and the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has been very clear on that in many educational law cases. However, if we also look at this from a practicality standpoint, there is the argument that Christmas can and should be honored based upon pure numbers of individuals within the school that celebrate that religion.
Addressing CR’s comment above – the reason that schools/federal governments do not observe other religious holidays as frequently is based upon how many members of the state celebrate that holiday. The last time I checked, the number within any school district needed to be 75% or more. Therefore, if a school has a population wherein 75% or more of the students celebrate Christmas, then it can be honored, but not TAUGHT from a religious point of view. That is where I believe we get into sticky situations in the schools. While it is acceptable to honor Christmas and in conjunction honor all the other December holidays, it is our duty to respect the beliefs of our students and leave the teaching of these beliefs to their religious organizations. It is the educators’ due diligence to refrain from teaching about these celebrations as this is where the line is drawn from a legal standpoint.
This also somewhat addresses the conversations about a choral holiday program. Obviously, a concert should be well balanced and address religious music appropriately. In the national standards for music education it clearly states that music of all genres may be used if it is of musical and historical value. If the music is being used to teach a concept of rhythm or melodic phrasing and happens to be a Christmas song, that’s fine. Similarly, if the Christmas song is the Hallelujah Chorus, it is relevant due to the historical nature of the piece from Handel’s era and considered universally to be a classic.
As a music teacher, I support including music from all genres, traditions and cultures in order to teach musical concepts and historical context, while also picking music that is appropriate to the season of the year. As a certified administrator, I understand Scott’s point about all educators being responsible for knowing the law (which is very clear) and honoring/respecting all individuals who walk within our hallways.
The First Amendment isn’t subject to democratic vote. In other words, we don’t tally heads to decide when to observe it. So the number of people that want their public school to celebrate Christmas actually is irrelevant legally (and, last I checked, all school officials are obligated to follow the Constitution, federal, and state law).
You also say ‘it is acceptable to honor Christmas and in conjunction honor all the other December holidays.’ That’s somewhat more inclusive, of course, but many other religions don’t celebrate in December. Many schools try this approach but they ignore holidays at other times of the year. How respectful is that? Quick: how many schools in your area do a good job of celebrating fairly equally a wide diversity of religious holidays – throughout the year – rather than just Christmas? There are some but they’re few and far between…
Also, I’m not clear how you’re making the distinction between ‘honoring’ a religion through expression by a public school and the Constitutional requirement of separation of church and state.
“and the Constitutional requirement of separation of church and state.”
The Constitution doesn’t state such a requirement. Please cite the section of the Constitution that specifically states a “separation of church and state.”
Funny, many of the same people who represent themselves as such fierce advocates of the First Amendment can’t seem to find the energy to advocate equally for the Second. Why is that?
Are you really a Constitutional literalist? Clearly the phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the Constitution, and that’s not news to anybody. But the word “democracy” isn’t in there, either. Neither is the phrase “separation of powers.” And yet, we understand those to be implicit concept, largely because the Framers were asked this, and provided clarification. This is when more than one Framer used that exact phrase. Context is important. The question of whether the Constitution mandates separation has been addressed, over and over, and the answer has always been in the affirmative.
Now, certainly, one can ask, to what extent does this apply, or what constitutes an unconstitutional entanglement. But to simply claim that the concept doesn’t exist is a worn-out argument that has never held water.
And bringing in an irrelevant assumption about the second amendment adds nothing to the debate.
“And bringing in an irrelevant assumption about the second amendment adds nothing to the debate.”
Not at all, but it underscores the disingenuous and duplicitous nature of the secular Left, the front behind the effort to destroy Christmas celebrations in public schools.
Perhaps I am the only one able to see the hypocrisy of an advocacy so invested in promoting only one Amendment that they completely ignore and at times, fight against the promotion of another.
I thought the Left was all about equality?
I guess they are only when it agrees with their agenda.
There is a big difference between “equal” and “equitable”. Obviously, the first amendment isn’t up for a vote. However, as has been ruled in many public school cases, we must provide education that is equitable to all, not equal for all. If the vast majority in a school or district celebrates Christmas, then allowing a break for Christmas would be considered equitable. Same would be said for districts that have a large population that return to a different country to celebrate Las Posadas.
As far as the requirement of separation of church and state, it’s our responsibility as educators to provide the knowledge of different religions and cultures to our students so they can make their own decisions in regards to their beliefs. Our students don’t live in a vacuum and we can’t teach in one. However, it is not our duty to teach the finer principles and of each religion. As far as I’m concerned, that’s where the line exists.
I think I can pretty much completely agree with your last paragraph. In fact, I’ll go even further, and say we SHOULD teach the finer points of the world’s major religions. However, we should teach them from an objective position, not from a devotional one. For example, we absolutely should be teaching kids about Christianity, but we should not be teaching that the events of the Gospels are historical fact. We should absolutely teach about Islam, but not that Muhammed’s rise to heaven is a historical fact.
Our students need to understand religion, but we have to do it in a way that is educational, not devotional. The problem is that this is really hard to do. And the sorts of “holiday celebrations” we see in our schools really have nothing to do with this.
I respect your opinion. However, why not just move the “Winter Concert” to January and then perform whatever music you want and not be beholden to holiday music?
As a Jew, I don’t have to ask myself how I would feel. I live it every year and I enjoy it. My family came to the US after the Pogroms of 1919. Read up on what my family went through and you will see why I wouldn’t let Deer Parks Christmas card offend me. There are a lot worse things to being worrying about.
I have participated in school Christmas parties and have always felt welcome. I have never felt put off receiving a Christmas card Yes, Christmas is a Christian holiday. But you don’t have be a Christian to celebrate it and enjoy the fun. Much the same way my Christians friends don’t need to be Jewish to eat my latkes, play driedel, light the menorah, and enjoy my Hanukkah party.
You’re right FA. It’s not about what’s practical or common sensical. It’s about a power grab for political reasons. Any means to punish traditional institutions is the desired goal. Any rationale that purports to advocate on behalf of the alleged “disenfranchised” is pure nonsense.
“Any rationale that purports to advocate on behalf of the alleged “disenfranchised” is pure nonsense.”
Are you kidding me? So, there’s never such a thing as an overreach of authority, because anybody who complains about it is just trying to grab power?
It sounds like you don’t think anybody has a right to complain until they’re being lined up on the firing range. Being concerned about minority rights is nothing to be ashamed of. Maybe you’re not old enough to remember people saying those exact things about blacks a few decades back. I suppose you might have told Rosa to quit complaining and give the white man his seat?
Of course if you strip that quote of mine of its context it’s going to appear as callous. However, I stand by my assertion that the clamor over Christmas celebrations is all about power, because no one is being harmed or denied their pursuit of life and liberty by hearing some Christmas songs or looking at a manger scene.
Which is completely different from denying someone the right to choose what seat on a bus they want to sit in.
Chalk it up to the Left for framing every argument into one of haves vs. have-nots, victimizers vs. victims, black vs. white, etc.
People are being offended? Guess what, the Constitution doesn’t protect you from being offended.
Basically, this represents an attack orchestrated by the secular Lefton the Judeo-Christian power structure .
I am not at all religious, but I do recognize assaults on traditional American institutions. I am also all too happy to expose the disingenuous and duplicitous nature of the secular Left on this matter, because their churches are court rooms. That is their only means to bend society’s direction toward their own agenda.
I’m going to give this one more shot, because you seem intelligent enough, and yet I feel that you keep missing the point.
It’s not about individuals having the right to express their opinions. It’s also not about certain “fringe” groups having their feelings hurt. It’s about government institutions being used to promote religious ideas. I gather from your posts that there are probably some other instances of government overreach that you would have a problem with. Why don’t you have a problem with government sticking their nose into religion? Don’t you see how it’s only a non-problem when the religion being pushed is your religion?
You talk about nobody being harmed by having to hear a Christmas carol, or look at a manger scene. Well, nobody is harmed by being asked to celebrate their religious traditions in their own homes, in their churches, or in their private organizations. I don’t want my schools pushing my religious beliefs (Buddhist, if that makes a difference) on your kid, and it’s not because I’m afraid of hurting your feelings, it’s because it’s not right for me to use the school in that way. And the fact that I’m in a religious minority doesn’t enter into it.
Finally, (really), all people like me are really asking for is awareness and sensitivity (which are GOOD things, by the way). Religion is a divisive enough issue, even amongst Christians, that we don’t need government institutions promoting a sectarian position.
My last post on the subject. Merry Christmas, everybody!
CR – a very good question. Simply answered, the parents in the community (of all religious backgrounds) go to my principal every year and request that there be a holiday concert in December to help everyone get into the “holiday spirit”. Their words, not mine. That says a lot, don’t you think?
Really? Your community has Muslim parents and Buddhist parents and Jewish parents and Baha’i parents and [insert more here] all coming to the principal requesting a holiday concert? What about atheist or agnostic parents?
Actually, Scott, yes we do. The parents unanimously come to our PTA general assembly meetings in September and ask unequivocally for a December holiday concert. Even if they are of other religions, they want music that transends all religions and communicates a message of peace and joy for the upcoming year. Even the agnostic parents.
Wow. I think I want to live in your town. 🙂
I don’t think ‘equitable’ is the correct legal concept here. The courts have said that schools may make ‘reasonable accommodations’ (within some limits) of students’ and/or employees’ religious exercise under the Free Exercise Clause. This allows for schools to take off during religious holidays, for example, if sufficient numbers of students would be absent. However, courts have NOT supported the favoring of one religion over another religion and/or no religion under the Free Exercise Clause, noting that such behavior violates the Establishment Clause.
Very cool about your parents. I think I want to live in your town too. 🙂
@baekgom84: Yes, the courts have upheld that if done sincerely and well. Courts have said that there’s nothing legally wrong with fairly equal celebration of a diversity of religions and other ideas. The problem is that most schools and cities and other government organizations do this neither well nor sincerely…
The whole thing reminds me of a Muslim friend who, after much questioning of his otherwise school-loving son, discovered that the reason he didn’t want to go to school was all of the Christian-themed music in the elementary chorus. When the parents worked through the channels to express their concern, they received a stapled packet printed from the internet about why the teacher felt they could sing just about whatever she chose.
Lots wrong with this picture: 1) not getting it; 2) not acting in a way that was consistent with the school’s stated mission, vision, policies, focus, yada yada; 3) horrible heavy handed response to appropriately raised parental concern; 4) all mishandled by folks who certainly should have known better.
I’m going to throw this in, because I think it addresses what we’re talking about really well. Please don’t click the link unless you’re willing to read the whole thing.
I have read Ray Garten’s blog post. It contains all the standard secular liberal talking points, that the backlash against the anti-traditional Christmas factions is rooted in racism, prejudice, etc. (yawn)
Anytime the Left bashes the Right, it’s always based on the same criteria. I’m not surprised some allusion to Nazi Germany wasn’t included, but Bill O’Reilly was cited, plus the hackneyed attack on Fox News, so I guess that sufficed.
Overall, an impassioned plea to be accepted. That’s great, I guess some people have a stronger belongingness need than others.
But that’s liberals for you, ever the collectivists!
What a bunch of cry babies (I’m referring to the people who feel offended by criticism of public institutions portraying religious themes).
The entire society is inundated at this time of the year with crass commercialism, annoying carols, silly hats and the overwhelming desire to buy, consume, drink, and misbehave.
Why is more of it needed at school? What pedagogical purpose does it serve? Who really believes that kids will be harmed by NOT having xmas displays?
Perhaps, Michael, you are projecting your own trepidation over being able to control your own behavior during the Christmas season?
In my experience, it’s the atheist fringe that’s the most vocal against Christian symbols being publicly displayed. They can be as petulant and intolerant as any fundamentalist sect with their uncompromising “my way or the highway” views. Atheism is as much a religion as any, which is why I have nothing to do with them, even though I have little time or regard for Judeo-Christian dogma (or ANY dogma, for that matter). Yet, I couldn’t care less if Judeo-Christianity (or any other religious heritage) is on display in our schools. It’s just not that big of a deal, but certain people have to make it so because they are self centered, not offended.
You want respect and power? Earn it. It’s not an entitlement.
Atheism is the belief that there is no god. That is not a religion. The dogmatic atheists can be as annoying as religious nuts, but that does not make it a religion.
If you don’t care if religious symbols are on displayed on campus, then you shouldn’t care if they’re not displayed on campus.
Easy solution for everyone: No religious symbols. Everyone can be happy.
“That is not a religion.”
They would count as a religious sect.
Their advocacy, their organized efforts, etc, belie your claim.
They have a singular belief and promote their own dogma.
Sounds like a religious sect to me, no different from Scientology or Zoroastrianism.
The problem is that you are a dogmatist, an intellectual bully and a moron.
If advocacy and organization = religion, then unions and Earth First = religions, which makes the term “religion” meaningless.
It’s time for you to get over yourself and get over whatever stupid issue you have with religion and xmas symbolism.
Everyone can live without an xmas tree at school. No one will notice if there’s no tree. Since some people are offended xmas trees, the polite, respectful, intelligent and simple solution is to NOT HAVE xmas trees at school.
The fact that I am being called names is likely attributed to the other side not constructing a valid enough argument to support their claim. I am used to this, Scott, believe me.
Thinking back to my sociology notes, atheism could be a classified as a cult, not a sect
Sorry, but the “polite, respectful, intelligent, and simple solution” would be for the tiny dissenting cult to withdraw, because they are only thinking of themselves, not the greater good of all. It’s about their problem with having no power. Gaining any victory over the majority gives them a false sense of power. It’s an empty victory.
This is not a human rights issue. This is not Rosa Parks or Brown v. Board of Education. One chooses to be an atheist.
One is not BORN an atheist.
What would them stop me from saying I am offended by the color red and that every room I work in must be devoid of that color? No one would be permitted to wear red clothing in my presence.
Who needs to wear the color red? There are plenty of other colors to wear.
You see, the expectation is unreasonable, as is the atheist, which makes this lifestyle choice, makes an unreasonable request to ban Christmas decorations to suit them.
That’s an interesting idea Mark: So what Diety/Dieties is one born worshiping?
“So what Diety/Dieties is one born worshiping?”
None, you make your own choice. You have that freedom. You don’t have the freedom to interfere with other’s expressions of religious tradition in schools.
If atheism isn’t a religion, as Michael Dunn says, then you have no Constitutional protection, do you? Atheism is just a life style choice, right?
If you think you do have the right to interfere with school observances of Christmas, then resort to the only useful method the Left can accomplish anything in changing society to suit their preferences … take it to court.
Individuals have the right to participate in religious observances. “The School” does not. Individuals do not have the right to use government institutions as tools for promoting their religious beliefs.
Everyone: As conversation gets more heated here, I would like to request that you feel free to disagree vigorously with each other’s ideas but not devolve to name-calling and personal insults. In other words, please attack ideas, not people. Thanks.
“The fact that I am being called names is likely attributed to the other side not constructing a valid enough argument to support their claim.”
Or it could be karma.
Well, sweetie, I don’t believe in karma, just like I don’t believe in great bearded legends or supernatural beings. But the difference between me and many others is that I don’t care if people who don’t see it my way, including my own children or students, choose to celebrate American traditions as they see fit in public. I also never use my classroom as a bully pulpit for my politics, as many teachers do. You would know about that, right? Not even my co-workers know whom I politically support and vote for in elections.
Sweetie? Bully pulpit? I’m fairly certain you have me confused with someone else entirely.
Then why not post under your real name, as I know of no one named David Black.
This seems appropriate for this discussion and this blog:
Christmas doesn’t bother me. The songs are great, so I can listen to a choir sing them and not feel that I’m getting a religious message–it’s more like a history message. But as an atheist, I was extremely bothered to the point of quitting my last job by these things: prayer at graduation (initiated by a vote of the graduating seniors, therefore okay, I was told); prayer before each track practice; prayer at football games; baccalaureate service held at the high school and advertised on the high school website, with flyers posted in the school, & on the marquee; parents telling my Buddhist colleague that he will burn in hell because he isn’t a Christian; four girls dropping out of the musical because it had a character who was an adulterer; social studies teachers who taught Tea Party principles; science teachers who taught creationism instead of evolution. Yes, that’s what botehred me.
And it bothered me *so* much that I mistyped “bothered” above.