Merry Christmas Law is Gift that Keeps on Giving, Comedy-wise
Published: December 23, 2013
It’s that time of year again. Hanging stockings, decking the halls, caroling and, if you’re a Texas right-wing conservative, spending the hours needlessly fighting a religious war that doesn’t exist.
Thanks to legislation authored by state Rep. Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston) during the 2013 session, conservative groups are in a media blitz promoting the new “Merry Christmas Law,” which allows parents, teachers and students to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah in public schools, “without fear of censorship, litigation or persecution.” (So, why wouldn’t you name it the “Religious-Inclusive Holiday Law” you ask? We could take a few guesses.)
“Our school officials and teachers have enough on their plate without having to worry about frivolous lawsuits for acknowledging Christmas in our public schools,” said Bohac in a release. “This bill simply offers protection for and guidance to school officials and teachers by codifying Supreme Court precedent and providing ‘bright lines.’ This bill ultimately is about bringing ‘fun, joy and magic’ back into our schools during the holiday season.”
In what feels like a now time-honored tradition, conservative groups—led by Texas Values, which runs a statewide campaign to protect the holiday in schools—have begun to launch their counterattack on the “War on Christmas,” and it appears the new law is their latest weapon.
Not surprisingly, some of SA’s most conservative elected officials are drinking the eggnog. State Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels)—a co-sponsor of the law—promises to “stand up for the true meaning of CHRISTmas [emphasis hers] and stay strong for our conservative values in the Texas Senate,” on her Facebook profile and even offers up a dedicated page on her re-election website for monetary donations to “Stop the War on Christmas!” North San Antonio’s Texas State Board of Education representative Ken Mercer joined Bohac and others at public appearances to draw attention to the new law. There is a “culture war being waged on Christmas and Hanukkah,” said Mercer during an an event at the Capitol in early December. “The bad news: We had to pass a law to tell the far left that in a place called Texas, we believe in a document called the United States Constitution that protects our First Amendment rights!”
Perhaps without realizing it, Mercer signaled one of the central redundancies of the law—guarantees in the First Amendment already protect students, teachers and whoever else from religous expression and free speech.
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