Lighting of the 2018 White House Christmas tree with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melanie Trump (White House photo)

Lighting of the 2018 White House Christmas tree with President Donald Trump and First Lady Melanie Trump (White House photo)

A principal in Nebraska banned red and green items from her school this time of year because they are “Christmas colors.”

Also, carols, trees, candy canes and reindeer are forbidden.

Further, Elf of the Shelf was banned, as were books with Christmas themes.

Even Santas.

But the draconian order from Principal Jennifer Sinclair of Manchester Elementary School in the Elkhorn Public Schools District was overturned after her actions drew a response from Liberty Counsel.

The non-profit legal group contended her actions violate the constitutional rights of teachers and students.

The organization sent a demand letter to Supt. Bary Habrock asking to overturn Sinclair’s ban.

“The ban violates the U.S. Constitution by showing hostility toward Christianity,” the letter states.

“The ban also violates Elkhorn Public Schools board policy; the academic freedom rights of teachers; and it violates the First Amendment right of students to receive information.”

The original notice to teachers said, “We are not to be doing any Christmas or holiday-specific themed activities with students.”

Shortly later, she followed with another notice to teachers explaining, “I come from a place that Christmas and the like are not allowed in Schools, as over the years in my educational career, this has evolved into the expectation for all educators.”

She said acceptable items and displays include hot chocolate, polar bears, penguins, yetis, Olaf, gifts, snowmen and gingerbread people.

Liberty Counsel said the principal”appears to have conflated her own values and preferences with the law.”

“The First Amendment simply does not require elimination of all Christmas symbols – religious and secular – in a misguided attempt to be ‘inclusive’ by eliminating all traditional elements of a federally- and state-recognized holiday.

“The effort to comprehensively eliminate Christmas symbols is Orwellian.”

The organization explained to the district it’s perfectly legal to have a mix of sacred and secular songs in programs and decorations.

“Parents who object to their own child’s participation may opt out from portions of a program or assignment; but they may not deprive other people’s children of the opportunity to practice and perform sacred songs which have attained cultural and musical significance; or for that matter, to make Christmas arts and crafts like Christmas tree ornaments.”

The letter expresses hope that the principal will “conduct herself and make decisions involving other church-state matters with appropriate respect for expressions of faith, and not with hostility.”

Liberty Counsel said the district reversed Sinclair’s decision after the case was investigated.

“We are pleased that Elkhorn Public Schools promptly reversed Principal Jennifer Sinclair’s unconstitutional directive, and required compliance with the Constitution,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. “The First Amendment does not require elimination of Christmas. Nothing prohibits public schools from teaching objectively about Christmas or other holidays with religious significance, from displaying religious and secular Christmas symbols side-by-side or singing sacred and secular Christmas songs together. The First Amendment prohibits censorship based on religious viewpoint. This outrageous three-page memo by Principal Sinclair was not based on ignorance of the law but hatred toward Christianity and Christmas. Principal Sinclair should issue an apology to her teachers and staff.”

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