Teachers at a Georgia elementary school reportedly were told to nix any religious pins and refrain from referring to a party as a “Christmas” party, while the local district has censored certain religious Christmas songs from its “winter” program.
The Alliance Defense Fund, a religious-liberties law group, wrote a letter to the district yesterday informing the Jackson County School System in Jefferson, Ga., that it stands on shaky constitutional ground due to its actions.
“Frankly, it’s ridiculous that we’re even discussing whether it’s OK to say ‘Merry Christmas.’ I’m sure just about everyone would rather have a merry Christmas than a meaningless winter holiday,” said ADF senior legal counsel David Cortman in a statement.
Cortman penned the letter to the chairman of the board of education and the superintendent of the school district. According to ADF, the letter was written on behalf of a teacher in the after-school program at Benton Elementary School.
The district has reportedly prohibited teachers from wearing “any pins, angels, crosses, clothing” that contain any religious connotation or affiliation, referring to any party as a “Christmas” party, or displaying a Bible in their rooms. ADF says the district has also removed certain religious Christmas songs from a “winter” concert and censored the word “God” from another song.
“Jackson County school officials are attempting to prohibit teachers from expressing any religious aspect of Christmas,” Cortman stated in the letter. “Classroom decorations may no longer include nativity scenes and angels. Jackson County has gone so far as to prohibit the common greeting ‘Merry Christmas,’ and also now refers to the Christmas break as ‘Winter Break.'”
Says the attorney: “Many school districts aren’t trying to be difficult; they simply don’t know the facts about the law. The fear, disinformation and intimidation that the ACLU and other groups like them have promoted over the years with regard to religious expression on public property at Christmastime have led to such misconceptions. ADF desires to educate schools, teachers, and students on the truth about what the law really says.”
As part of ADF’s Christmas Project, attorneys allied with the organization have contacted more than 9,100 school districts nationwide this year to inform them of what is constitutionally protected religious expression at Christmastime.
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