Forced Christmas Music Measure Dies in California

Californians apparently weren’t feeling the Christmas spirit during Merry Susan Hyatt’s five-month carol initiative signature collection effort.

The measure failed Friday when the final signature count turned out to be only half a percent of the required 433,971, according to the secretary of state’s office. In all, 2,176 signatures were collected in California between Nov. 2 and March 29.

Hyatt is a retired substitute teacher from Riverside who now lives in Redding. She announced her initiative drive in November, saying schools needed to provide children with the opportunity to listen to Christmas carols during the Christmas season.

Hyatt, who wouldn’t give her age, said it didn’t make sense to celebrate the birthday of Jesus without inviting him to the party, and she believed bringing Jesus back into the classroom was the only way to curb violence among children.

The initiative would have forced schools to provide children the opportunity to listen to or perform Christmas carols and would have subjected the schools to litigation if the rule wasn’t followed.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, along with other similar groups, opposed the measure and said it was blatantly unconstitutional.

In December, Hyatt joined forces with the Redding Tea Party Patriots to enhance signature-collecting efforts.

“Unfortunately, I think we got involved too late,” said Tea Party Patriots President Erin Ryan of Redding.

Hyatt said it was difficult finding people in other counties willing to partner with her. She said she thinks having paid signature collectors would have helped as well.

“I think you need to pay people because I had volunteers, and I’d call them and they wouldn’t have anything,” she said.

Hyatt said she is disappointed but won’t try again next year.

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