Merry Christmas Law is Gift that Keeps on Giving, Comedy-wise
Published: December 23, 2013
“There is no prohibition in the Constitution or the law against a student or teacher wishing someone Merry Christmas—we didn’t need a law to protect it, we have a First Amendment to do that,” Dan Quinn with statehouse watchdog group the Texas Freedom Network tells the Current.
So what’s the end game for these freedom-loving, festive conservative players?
“Their real intent is to raise money, it’s a great fundraising gimmick,” says Quinn.
Case in point: $150,000 needed by December 31 to defend “your faith, family, and freedom” according to Texas Values’ homepage. (Amidst the Christmas Law hoopla, the group managed to wrangle in SA to their cause to help boost donation dollars—a message on the same page asks Texans to help protect freedom in the face of San Antonio’s “unprecedented attack” on Christians via our recently passed LGBT non-discrimination ordinance.)
“It’s ludicrous to imagine there is a war on Christmas in a country in which the vast majority of the people openly celebrate Christmas, but that’s what they’ve been trying to do for a long time,” says Quinn of the religious right.
But, wait a minute, how about those pretty ridiculous stories about school districts restricting winter holiday celebrations? After all, Bohac claims his son Reagan inspired the bill after being discouraged from referencing “Christmas” in school.
Quinn doesn’t discredit these isolated instances of censorship, but rather argues they are plenty of examples in which public schools have overstepped the boundaries in reverse—by unconstitutionally injecting religion into education. He points to a sex ed class in one district that suggests students can prevent STDs by making sure they don’t date non-Christians, and Bible courses that amount to “Sunday school devotional classes.”
Nonetheless, says Quinn, both sets of examples are isolated events and in neither case would the law be necessary. “Those kind of things are going to happen because human beings make mistakes, not because there’s some sort of nefarious campaign out there to crush Christmas or wipe it off the face of this Earth,” according to Quinn.
In the case of the most recent and publicly touted instance by the Christmas culture warriors, the claim was about as a real as a Dickens novel. The uproar from Texas Values over a notice sent out by the PTA of a Dallas-area elementary school banning “Christmas or any other religious holiday” and “red/green or Christmas trees,” helped give relevance to their campaign. But the ISD says that’s not what went down. In fact, the e-mail referenced wasn’t from the PTA but from a room mom and the school wasn’t even aware of it. The PTA came out saying they categorically denied any attempt to block Christmas expression, calling it an “unfortunate misunderstanding.” The statewide criticism surrounding the non-event at the school district hasn’t helped the shaky conservative argument while likely pissing off the district to no end.
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