After the threat of a lawsuit, which was to be filed today, a school district in Wisconsin has backed down from its policy prohibiting Christian students from distributing Christmas cards that include the religious origins of the candy cane.
According to a statement from Liberty Counsel, a religious-freedom law group representing five students, the West Bend Joint School District late yesterday changed its policy, thus averting the filing of a federal lawsuit.
West Bend High School students Jeffrey Weigand, Rebecca Voigt, Danny Garris, David Daniel and Kara Waala are members of an on-campus Bible study and prayer group who decided to distribute Christmas cards that included the story of the candy cane. According to the story, a candy maker wanted to make a sweet that symbolized the religious origin of Christmas, making the cane into the shape of a “J” for “Jesus.” The card explained: “The color white stands for the pureness of Jesus. The color red represents the blood of Jesus shed for us.”
Liberty Counsel says Weigand approached Principal Cassandra Schug on Dec. 6 to get approval to distribute the cards. She denied the request, citing its religious content. The next day, Superintendent David Shapley also denied Weigand’s request.
On Dec. 7, Liberty Counsel intervened, requesting a response from the school board and Shapley. When the organization received no response, it prepared a lawsuit. Just as a Liberty Counsel attorney prepared to board a plane for Wisconsin last night, the school district attorney informed the law group that the district would allow the distribution of the Christmas cards.
Mathew Staver is president and general counsel of Liberty Counsel.
“Christmas is constitutional,” he said in a statement. “To allow the celebration of only the secular aspects of Christmas shows hostility, rather than neutrality, toward religion. Those who censor the religious aspects of Christmas thinking that they are honoring the Constitution, in fact, violate the Constitution by discriminating against the religious viewpoint. The government must respect our religious heritage.”
As WorldNetDaily reported, an Oregon kindergartener was prohibited from distributing cards with the same candy-cane story last Christmas.
Two years ago, high-schoolers in Massachusetts sued school officials after similar candy-cane cards were prohibited.