Yippee! The words of the great Linus can hang on the door of a Killeen ISD school room:
Today, a Bell County judge issued a ruling that a Christmas poster in Killeen, TX could be placed back on the door with the additional text “Ms. Shannon’s Christmas Message.” Texas Values president Jonathan Saenz represented Dedra Shannon in court today, a staff member of Killeen Independent School District (ISD), who was forced to remove portions of a Christmas poster that she had displayed on her door at Charles E. Patterson Middle School last week. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s legal team also made an appearance in court in support of Ms. Shannon.
Ms. Shannon is a clinic aide decorated the nurse’s office door with a scene from A Charlie Brown Christmas with a direct quote from Linus, when Linus tells Charlie Brown about the religious history of Christmas. Ms. Shannon was told her door decorations must be torn down by the school’s principal because they were “an issue of separation of church and state.” The principal told Ms. Shannon that the drawing of the Linus character and symbol could stay, but Linus’s quote referencing the religious history of Christmas that included the word “Christ” had to be removed, if not, the entire poster had to be removed.
Despite the fact that there was public unanimous support for Ms. Shannon’s poster, the Killeen ISD school board voted Tuesday night, 6-1 to enforce the ban on a Charlie Brown Christmas poster that references the religious history of Christmas. Only school board president, Terry Delano voted to allow the poster to go back up.
The judge’s ruling stated that Ms. Shannon may put up her Christmas poster with the additional wording “Ms. Shannon’s Christmas Message.”
Jonathan Saenz, President of Texas Values and Legal Counsel for Ms. Shannon, stated,:
“Nothing says ‘Merry Christmas’ like a court victory for religious freedom in December in public schools. Ms. Shannon is a brave and faithful woman that we are honored to represent. This scenario is exactly why the Merry Christmas law was written- to protect teachers, staff, and students in their expression of the Christmas season. We are so thankful for General Ken Paxton’s support.”
Details on the Merry Christmas law can be found at merrychristmastexas.com.
In 2013 the Texas Legislature passed the Merry Christmas law (Texas Education Code 29.920) which guarantees the freedom of children, teachers, parents, and school administrators to acknowledge Christmas on school grounds without fear of censorship, persecution, or litigation.
Look. I like Jonathon and appreciate his efforts at the Texas Legislature on a multitude of issues. But “Nothing says ‘Merry Christmas’ like a court victory for religious freedom in December” is ridiculous when you consider that the “victory” has to do with a cartoon character talking about a religious tenet. And for those of you that like cartoons, here is the victorious cartoon quote in living color:
I’m reminded of a pastor at a church that I attended in Pasadena in the 70’s. At the time, most of Pasadena was ‘dry’, which meant that the Baptists couldn’t buy beer/wine/liquor without driving to ‘wet’ areas of Pasadena. It was an inconvenience, especially to those Baptists that wanted to buy a bottle for their ‘hot toddy’ (a cold remedy of course). But hey, we were Baptists after all, so there was a faction of the church that wanted the entire city to be ‘dry’ because they knew that hot toddys weren’t exactly always or ever for ‘colds’. The pastor, wisely, told that faction to be careful, be happy with what you have. They listened and didn’t start that war and Pasadena stayed dry for years. Until someone else decided to take on that battle.
Now that we have started this particular war, what do you think will happen when teacher Mairah Teli finds a job in a Texas school and wants to hang a poster on her door touting the benefits of Islam and why all females should wear a hijab? You know, if she puts a ‘disclaimer’ saying this is Ms. Teli’s message.
Do you think Jonathon Saenz will be shouting that Ms. Teli has a right to hang that poster? Will Texas AG Ken Paxton step in and file a lawsuit allowing Ms. Teli to express her religious freedom?
Is this what you want in public schools? Or maybe, just maybe, should we focus on reading, writing, and arithmetic? Instead of cartoon characters telling us about religion?
Jeff Larson says
Had this hung on the door in my daughter’s middle school, I wouldn’t have had a problem with it. Nor would I have had a problem with its Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindi, Wiccan, or even Atheist equivalent (not that I am aware of any holidays that have an Atheist, as opposed to a merely secular, origin).
The line that needs to be drawn is the one between religious Expression and religious Indoctrination. Go far enough down the road of separating people from their deeply-held beliefs, and not only must the nurse’s aide be forbidden from quoting the Bible (by way of a popular TV show) on her door, but from wearing a cross around her neck that was a keepsake from her mother. I don’t want children raised in a fantasy world where everyone “has freedom of religion”, but the nobody is permitted to express that freedom in public.
By the time children are of middle school age, most of them are well able to discern the difference between a teacher expressing her own religious beliefs or presenting a particular religious belief as one that should be mandatory for all. And if they can’t figure that out by middle school, in my mind that is a bigger concern than whether the school nurse posts a scene on her door quoting a Bible verse from a cartoon that they have seen many times as a child.
Fat Albert says
Well said, Jeff!
Fat Albert says
“. . Is this what you want in public schools? Or maybe, just maybe, should we focus on reading, writing, and arithmetic? Instead of cartoon characters telling us about religion?. . ” Really David?? Could you try to be a little more hyperbolic?
David Jennings says
I can try.