A coalition of legislators in Oklahoma have come together to advance that state’s version of the Merry Christmas Bill. Designed to protect schools from litigation over the use of the word “Christmas” or the study of Christmas history, the bill is patterned after a similar bill in Texas of the same name that was passed in June of this year.
Lawmaker Ken Walker, one of the sponsors of the bill, explained to Defend Christmas.com the purpose of the bill. â€œThe purpose of this Oklahoma Merry Christmas bill is to put a beacon of light, a safe harbor if you will, in the pages of the statutes so that our children, our parents and our teachers can run to a lighthouse whose light shines boldly from the pages of our stateâ€™s law books,â€ Rep. Walker said. â€œIt will declare that we have a right to express our core beliefs and celebrate winter traditions without fear of lawsuit, retribution or reprisal.â€
Unlike Texas, who has seen a flurry of lawsuits aimed at schools where Christmas was included, Oklahoma’s major Christmas controversy has centered on a traditional parade that for decades was known as the Tulsa Christmas Parade of Lights. That name was changed and resulted in a huge public outcry and a competing parade was set up to counter the action. The new “Christmas” parade proved more popular than the old “Holiday” parade. A recent poll from SoonerPoll.com says that better than three-quarters of Tulsans want a “Christmas” parade.
An attempt was made to consolidate the parades in a new spirit of including Christmas but the attempt failed when a compromise could not be reached that adequately acknowledges Christmas. From the commentary alone from that linked article something is clearly afoot in Oklahoma that pits the forces of secularism against the traditions of Christmas there.
This may be why a former mayor’s wife — Kathy LaFortune — has pushed lawmakers into creating Oklahoma’s version of the Merry Christmas Bill. â€œI want our public schools to be able to display Christmas decorations and other significant icons side by side without fear of lawsuits,â€ LaFortune said. â€œTeachers should have the freedom to discuss the cultural and historic meanings behind these symbols with our children.â€
Supporters of the bill have launched a website to explain the legislation, MerryChristmasBillOK.com. Here is video of the press conference announcing the bill: