Another state has jumped into the fray of legislating the right of schools to teach Christmas traditions and say Merry Christmas without fear of lawsuits. Following the example of Texas, who became the first state to pass a Merry Christmas Bill earlier this year, now it is New Jersey’s turn to consider such a measure after enduring a couple of months during the fall in the national spotlight for frivolous lawsuits brought on against schools performing Christmas music.
A South Jersey assemblyman has introduced legislation that aims to clearly define how school districts can celebrate the holiday season.
The bill stems from a recent incident in Burlington County, where Bordentown Schools Superintendent Constance Bauer pulled three songs from an elementary school holiday concert after parents questioned the musicâ€™s religious overtones.
The songs, which included lyrics about the birth of Jesus, were reinstated a few days later. The situation garnered national media attention, and Fox News commentator Bill Oâ€™Reilly called Bauer a â€œpinhead.â€
he new legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer, R-Burlington, would allow New Jersey school districts to:
â€¢ Display holiday scenes or symbols on school property, although they must include scenes or symbols of more than one religion.
â€¢ Include musical selections with religious themes at holiday concerts, if the concerts also include secular music or music from at least two religions.
â€¢ Teach students about traditional winter celebrations.
The bill also specifies that students and faculty may be allowed to offer traditional greetings, such as â€œMerry Christmasâ€ and â€œHappy Hanukkah.â€
â€œThe holiday season has become a battleground in regards to religious and secular celebrations on public property, with the fighting ultimately ending in the courtroom,â€ Dancer said. â€œItâ€™s time to put such issues to rest.â€
The bill as described mirrors almost exactly the fame Merry Christmas Bill in Texas and similar laws either passed or under consideration in Missouri, Tennessee and Alabama.