Massachusetts School Committee Rejects Community Vote for Christmas

The fight in Norwood, Massachusetts continues. Despite a vote of 76 percent in favor of calling the holiday vacation “Christmas Break” on school calendars the local school committee insists the name change will not happen. The referendum vote was non-binding and at a meeting this week the school committee rejected the call to acknowledge the vote, according to The Blaze.

Courtney Rau Rogers, chairwoman of the School Committee and one of the three members who have repeatedly voted in favor of winter recess, said she is not budging on her stance. She said the school calendar is a simple document to tell when the school is in session, but it is not designed to promote any religious philosophy.

“Christmas is still listed on our school calendar,” Rau Rogers said. “It’s a federal holiday. It’s just no longer the name of the break we have at the end of the calendar year,”

She noted that 26 different languages are spoken in the schools and that the children belong to many different faiths. “To change this language back at this point in time becomes exclusionary and, whether deliberately or not, promotes one particular religious world view over all the others.”

Rau Rogers also said that with just 18 percent voter turnout, the vote on the nonbinding referendum could hardly be considered overwhelming support for the measure.

But committee member Paul Samargedlis, who has repeatedly voted in favor of Christmas recess, believes the board is obligated to listen to the people.

“The way I look at it is simple: No one asked us to change the language in the first place,” he said. “There was no outcry. There was no one saying, ‘Change it.’ Some committee members took it upon themselves. But now the town has spoken pretty strongly in favor of changing it back.”

There are many Christians who see a shift in language about Christmas — “holiday cards” and “holiday trees” are oft-cited examples — as evidence of a “War on Christmas.” The Norwood School Committee is no stranger to being drawn into that argument. Several years ago, it voted to remove a nativity scene from the lawn of Balch Elementary School in South Norwood.

“We had a manger on that lawn for 70 to 80 years,” said Helen Abdallah Donohue, a town selectwoman who voted to put the nonbinding referendum on Monday’s ballot and supports returning to the original Christmas language. “We had 700 signatures in support of it and the whole town wanted it, but the School Committee voted against it. We had to give up on it.”

Theresa McNulty, who has been the driving force behind the effort to persuade the committee to return to the original language, said that those who say the new language is more inclusive are using it as a cover.“They will say they wanted to do it for diversity, and all that kind of talk, but this is just part of the movement in our country to demote Christianity,” she said.

Clearly this is yet ANOTHER case of a local school authority unfamiliar with the nature of Christmas as recognized by the U.S. Federal government. Christmas was never set up as a religious holiday in the United States. It came about way back in 1870 as an answer to federal workers’ complaints that they did not get the day off like their private sector counterparts did. In establishing the holiday the United States government established Christmas as a secular observance. That many hold it sacred just happens to be a coincidence that causes great confusion to this day.

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