Teachers at Brooklet Elementary School in Bulloch County Georgia have had a tradition of posting Christmas cards in the hallways outside their classrooms, for years, but that holiday tradition was shut down, yesterday.
When boys and girls returned from Thanksgiving break, they discovered that their teachers’ Christmas cards had been removed – under orders from the Georgia school’s administration.
Robb Kicklighter’s wife is a third grade teacher at the school. He said many teachers are disgruntled by the school’s decision to confiscate the Christmas cards.
“They took down the cards so the kids can’t see them,” he told me. “Some of the cards had the word ‘Christmas’ and some had Nativity scenes.”
Kicklighter said the cards were put behind an office door so only teachers could access them.
“It’s really sad because the students looked forward to seeing those homemade Christmas cards every year,” he said. “It’s stirred a lot conversation. This has been a tradition and the kids are wondering what happened to the cards.”
Well what happened to the cards is some (most likely militant atheist) Scrooges at the Bulloch County Board of Education decided to crack down on religious expression in their schools – for the children™.
No religious icons or items “ranging from Bibles to Christian music” will be tolerated in classrooms this
Christmas holiday season.. And by, God Gaia – no student-led prayers will be tolerated, either . “Should they be in a room where students are praying, teachers have been ordered to turn their backs on their students.” They’re getting off easy – at least the teachers aren’t being ordered to force the little subversives into attending religious sensitivity training classes.
“It’s an attack on Christianity,” Kicklighter said. “It seems like every time we turn around, someone is offended.”
Hundreds of outraged residents have joined a Facebook page to protest the crackdown – and many are vowing to attend a school board meeting on Thursday to let school officials have a piece of their mind.
The Board of Education tried to justify their action with a statement claiming that there are “established legal requirements to which we must adhere.”
But established legal precedent allows schools to display religious symbols and sing Christmas carols all they want. The American Center For Law and Justice has been fighting and beating the anti-Christian left on these issues in court for decades, now. There’s no reason why schools should feel compelled to bow down to these anti-Christmas scrooges year after year.
This post from the ACLJ spells out “the proper way for students to express their religious beliefs in school during this holiday season.”
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) wishes you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. While students, teachers, administrators, and staff are celebrating the holidays in a variety of creative and entertaining ways in public schools across the country, we are aware that some of these celebrations may be hindered by questions of what is legally permitted or prohibited.
It is our concern that public schools may feel pressured to censor religious expression during the Christmas season. The purpose of this letter is to assist you by answering common questions concerning what activities are permissible for schools to engage in, and to protect the rights of students to participate in Christmas or other holiday observances in public schools.
By way of introduction, the ACLJ is an organization dedicated to the defense of constitutional liberties secured by law. ACLJ attorneys have argued before the Supreme Court of the United States in a number of significant cases involving the freedoms of speech and religion.1
I. May schools display religious symbols during Christmas?
YES. Several federal district courts have ruled that under certain circumstances, it is permissible for a public school to display religious holiday symbols in school calendars and in holiday displays. For example, a district court in New Jersey directly addressed this issue in Clever v. Cherry Hill Twp., 838 F. Supp. 929 (D.N.J. 1993). In Clever, the plaintiffs challenged a school policy that provided for religious symbols to be used in school calendars and in a Christmas display. After noting the importance of context and the absence of denominational preference, the court upheld the policy:
Christmas and Chanukah are celebrated as cultural and national holidays as well as religious ones, and there is simply no constitutional doctrine which would forbid school children from sharing in that celebration, provided that these celebrations do not constitute an unconstitutional endorsement of religion and are consistent with a school’s secular educational mission.
Id. at 939.
The court then recognized that religion is an appropriate subject of secular study and found it “hard to imagine how such study can be undertaken without exposing students to the religious doctrines and symbols of others.” Id.; see also Skoros v. City of New York, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2234 (E.D.N.Y. 2004) (upholding a public school policy which encouraged schools to display “secular” holiday symbols such as Christmas trees, Menorahs, and the Star and Crescent and discouraged the display of more religious symbols such as nativity scenes or excerpts from the Bible, Torah, or Qur’an), aff’d 437 F.3d 1, 4 (2d Cir. 2006) (upholding the policy and declining to decide whether the addition of a crèche would violate the Establishment Clause); Sechler v. State College Area School District, 121 F. Supp. 2d 439 (M.D. Pa. 2000) (upholding a school’s holiday program which included various references to Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanza).
In Doe v. Wilson County Sch. System, the district court upheld “the inclusion of a brief two minute nativity scene at the end of a twenty-two minute Christmas program” that occurred after school hours. 564 F. Supp. 2d 766, 800 (M.D. Tenn. 2008). The court cited the Supreme Court’s cases involving nativity scenes and noted that “[a] nativity scene may be displayed as one item among many secular symbols of Christmas and meet constitutional muster. . . . [but] isolating a nativity scene in such a way as to show government solidarity with the Christian faith violates the Establishment Clause.” Id.(citations omitted). The court explained:
[I]n the main secular portion of the Christmas program, students assumed roles with costumes and special clothing, including members of the chorus, the reader, soloist, ballerinas, toy doll, toy soldier, Santa Claus, jack-in-the-box, teddy bear, reindeer, Rudolph, and a mouse. It was much more of an extravaganza with more student participation and fanfare than the rather meager, stark nativity scene placed at the very end. The nativity scene included at the end of the Christmas program was an example of the religious heritage of the holiday and was very limited in duration as compared to the balance of the program. Unlike in the secular presentation, there were no words spoken by the students or narrated by others in the ending portion of the program. The Court concludes that the nativity scene was presented in a prudent, unbiased, and objective manner to present the traditional historical, cultural, and religious meaning of the holiday in America.
The court concluded,
[c]onsidering the Christmas program as a whole, it was a secular performance with a bit of religious symbolism at the very end to reflect the historic, cultural and religious significance of the Christmas holiday. Taken as a whole, the inclusion of the nativity scene as a part of the program did not offend the Constitution.
Id. at 801; see also County of Allegheny v. ACLU, 492 U.S. 573, 601 (1989) (“[G]overnment may celebrate Christmas in some manner and form, but not in a way that endorses Christian doctrine.”).
II. Are students allowed to sing Christmas carols with religious themes at school events or in holiday programs?
YES. The Establishment Clause does not prevent the singing of Christmas carols with religious origins by public school choirs. A case that addressed this specific issue upheld the singing of religious Christmas carols in public schools. In Florey v. Sioux Falls School District, 619 F.2d 1311 (8th Cir. 1980), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 987 (1980), the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that the study and performance of religious songs, including Christmas carols, are constitutional if their purpose is the “advancement of the students’ knowledge of society’s cultural and religious heritage, as well as the provision of an opportunity for students to perform a full range of music, poetry and drama that is likely to be of interest to the students and their audience.” Id. at 1314.
Read the rest, here
There is no excuse for what the Bulloch County Board of Education did, other than anti-Christian bias.