Michigan School Board Won’t Change Winter to Christmas

School boards across America have debated whether to call a holiday break period “Winter Break” versus “Christmas Break”. But a school district in Petoskey, Michigan claims that even though Christmas is a national holiday and they legally can change the name of the break they won’t simply because the school board treasurer wrote an email with religious undertones in favor of the move.

“Upon reviewing the legality of this change in light of Mr. Waldvogel’s email of August 10th, 2009 it is the opinion of this Board, along with legal counsel, that the School District would not be successful in court if challenged. The ability or right to change the wording is not at issue. It is well settled that schools have the right to refer to the break as Christmas. Christmas is a federal holiday and the vacation period can be named as such as has been traditionally accepted. However, it is also well established that government actions (including Public School Boards) must have a secular purpose for their actions (Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971)). The change to “Christmas Break” cannot be initiated or driven based on religious agenda.

This has got to be the single most creative cop out in the history of school boards fighting Christmas. Since when does a school board treasurer dictate board policy?

Texas Won’t Mess with Christmas

Christmas will stay in Texas textbooks, State Board of Education members said Thursday while reviewing early recommendations for new social studies standards after pubic outcry over dropping Christmas in a Worlds Religions course for the study of Diwali (a custom observed by some Hindus and Buddhists).

The board will not approve the new curriculum standards for public schools until next year, but wanted to assure constituents they will not accept a recommendation to yank Christmas.

“We have heard quite significant feedback from parents, from people who are very disturbed that we are not going to continue keeping Christmas in our standards. No one on this board intends to take out Christmas,” said Gail Lowe, of Lampasas, chair of the 15-member board.

Christmas Tensions Rising in London, Disney to Blame?

The actions of a militant anti-Christmas group in London who in recent weeks vandalized merchants marketing Christmas cards too soon have many worried about the marketing efforts of the Walt Disney Company in their push to promote their latest version of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol — and what those efforts might do to set off the anti-Christmas crowd.

The London newspaper The Independent is critically reporting that Mayor Boris Johnson has sold out to Disney by allowing them to change long-standing tradition and turn on the famous Christmas lights and decorations of London’s west side on the day the movie premieres. Disney has also some how managed to convince the city to go with a Scrooge theme to their holiday decor this year, just to make the marketing exploitation complete.

The further advancement of Christmas-before-its-time has some worried that the vandalism — and perhaps, violence — will get worse.

New Jersey School Ban on Christmas Music Headed to Court

Arguments are set to begin in a federal appeal seeking to reverse a New Jersey school district’s policy that banned the performance of religious music in the district’s public schools. Opponents of the ban claim it singles out Christian traditions for disapproval and hostility.

Robert Muise, an attorney with the Thomas More Law Center, will argue before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia on September 14, the Law Center reports.

Muise noted that Christmas is a national holiday and described religious music in the public schools as “one of the rich traditions of this season.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Michael Stratechuk, who sued on his own and on behalf of his two children, who are students in the South Orange-Maplewood School District in New Jersey. The suit alleges that the ban is an impermissible government-sponsored message of disapproval of and hostility towards religion, violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

Further, the suit claims that the ban deprives Karl and Kurt Stratechuk of the right to receive information and ideas. The Law Center describes this right as an “inherent corollary” of their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and academic freedom.

The Thomas More Law Center charges that the school district’s 2004 ban was specifically aimed at preventing Christmas music, including simple instrumentals, during the traditional year-end holiday concerts. Traditional Christmas music has been performed at these concerts for over 60 years.

“Those that are hostile to these traditions hide behind the mantle of ‘tolerance,’ only to promote intolerance,” Muise commented. “We learn to understand and respect traditions, customs, and beliefs not by being offended or threatened by the traditions of others, but by understanding the meaning of such traditions and why they have the capacity to inspire.”

According to the Law Center, the disputed school district policy was featured in Fox News anchor John Gibson’s book “The War on Christmas

Texas Removing Christmas from Curriculum

A proposal for a new social studies curriculum for Texas public schools removes the word “Christmas” in a sixth-grade lesson.

Jonathan Saenz is a lobbyist for the conservative Free Market Foundation, calls it “outrageous that the war on Christmas continues in our state and in our nation.” He contends removing “Christmas” from the curriculum is an “effort to mislead students about current society.”

The draft proposal being considered by the State Board of Education removes the word Christmas in a section on culture. The section now instructs students to explain the significance of religious holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Ramadan, Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. The proposal deletes Christmas and adds Diwali, a Hindu festival.