A public interest law firm has launched a new attack on what it calls an “anti-Christmas virus” evidenced by a school district that banned even traditional Christmas tunes.
The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Thomas More Law Center says its lawyers filed a brief in the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia in a case challenging a New Jersey district’s ban on the melodies.
“As so often is the case,” the firm said, “a complaint from one parent resulted in the district’s policy that banned the playing of all Christmas music, including simple instrumentals without words.”
The case dates from more than four years ago, when the issue arose at the South Orange-Maplewood School District.
The district had decreed that performances would be limited to selections such as “Winter Wonderland” and “Frosty the Snowman,” with a complete ban on tuns about Jesus and even Santa Claus.
The high school’s brass ensemble had to rebuild its repertoire, the Martin Luther King Gospel Choir was ordered not to perform and “printed programs” were edited to remove any “graphics which refer to the holidays, such as Christmas trees.”
Just a year before the policy was imposed, the school district’s holiday concert had featured “Joy to the World,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” and “Silent Night.’
The policy to cleanse the religious holiday of religious music was imposed after a closed-session meeting.
The Center’s brief says the ban “conveys the impermissible, government-sponsored message of disapproval of and hostility toward religion in violation of the Establishment Clause, and it deprives the students of the school district the right to receive information and ideas, an inherent corollary of their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and academic freedom.”
“This anti-religious policy is yet another example of the militant hostility that many public schools have towards Christians and Christmas,” said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the Law Center.
“Traditional Christmas music has long echoed in the halls and auditoriums of our nation’s public schools, reflecting our national celebration of this holiday season,” he continued. “Unfortunately, our recent history has not been so favorable to this holiday and its traditions. Even the word ‘Christmas’ itself is becoming a forbidden expression – a casualty to the forces of political correctness that consider it enlightened, if not outright fashionable, to remove all traces of religion from the public domain.
“If we do not stop these policies now, it is likely that they will continue to spread across our nation like an anti-Christian virus. This is an important case; it will likely decide the fate of one of our most cherished traditions,” he said.
Robert Muise is the Law Center attorney handling the case.
He said, “Christmas is a national holiday, and religious music in the public schools is one of the rich traditions of this season. Those that are hostile to these traditions hide behind the mantle of ‘tolerance,’ only to promote intolerance. Indeed, we learn to understand and respect traditions, customs, and beliefs not by being offended or threatened by the traditions of others, but by understanding the meaning of such traditions and why they have the capacity to inspire.”