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are christmas trees allowed in public schools

Public schools may teach students about the Christmas holiday, including its religious significance, so long as it is taught objectively for secular purposes such as its historical or cultural importance, and not for the purpose of promoting Christianity. Can a Christmas tree ever be allowed? Merry Christmas! Government entities may erect and maintain celebrations of the Christmas holiday, such as Christmas trees and Christmas light displays, and may include crèches in their displays at least so long as the purpose for including the crèche is not to promote its religious content and it is placed in context with other symbols of the Holiday season as part of an effort to celebrate the public Christmas holiday through its traditional symbols. We cannot read aloud to the students any book pertaining to religious beliefs or happenings brought by you [the teacher] or the students. ______________. In order to clear up much of the misunderstanding, the following twelve rules are offered: 1. Schools are advised against holding a "Christmas party" in the classroom, the department says, though a "holiday" or "end of semester" or end-of-year party is permitted. 2. What we can teach is the secular side of holidays. There remain many public schools in this country that engage in holiday celebrations that revolve around Christian ideas and principles as they pertain to Christmas. An elementary school in Texas has banned Christmas trees and the colors red and green at its upcoming \\"winter\\" party though a recently passed state law protects traditional holiday greetings and displays at public schools. Interestingly, a majority of the justices has stated that Christmas trees, unlike creches and menorahs, have attained a secular status in our society and can be displayed standing alone. Schools across the country avoid anything that alludes to the true meaning of Christmas, such as angels, the baby Jesus, stables and shepherds. In July 2018, for example, he said: Not really. 8. Christmas trees can be brought into a school and decorated because a court has ruled the Christmas tree is a secular object, much like the Jewish menorah. Turmoil surrounds our schools. Unfortunately, far too many parents, students and teachers erroneously believe they cannot celebrate Christmas in the public schools. For more information, e-mail The Rutherford Institute at staff@rutherford.org. "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," Sinclair wrote. Part of HuffPost Religion. Christmas is not an official holiday in China, so most offices, schools, and shops remain open. Erasing traditional Christmas practices from our daily life is discouraging and disheartening. Holiday decorations don’t belong in a public school classroom. Not only can students participate in Christmas programs, but students may also be taught about the Biblical origins of Christmas in public school. And that’s because only because of our campaign.”, Interpretation of the news based on evidence, including data, as well as anticipating how events might unfold based on past events. FFRF has even received complaints about a nativity scene prominently displayed on the front lawn of public schools! 4. Indeed, teachers can use Christmas art, music, literature and drama in their classrooms, as long as they illustrate the cultural heritage from which the holiday has developed. Visit public schools anywhere in America today and you’re likely to see kids praying around the flagpole, sharing their faith with classmates, reading scriptures in free time, forming religious clubs, and in other ways bringing God with them through the schoolhouse door each day. 15 Due to the dominance of religious music in serious choral music and the legitimate secular reasons for having public school students sing choral music, courts have been more lenient about allowing public school choirs to sing religious music. It is not proper within a public school for any religion – including Humanism – to be suggested as superior to another.While we are not a Christian nation, we were founded using Christian beliefs and principles. The student who brings a book can read/look at the book silently.". Just consider some of the incidents that have taken place in recent years. Private citizens or groups may display crèches or other Christmas symbols in public parks subject to the same reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions that would apply to other similar displays. You’d have these big department stores that say ‘happy holidays.’ They say where’s the ‘Merry Christmas?’ Now they’re all putting up ‘Merry Christmas’ again. Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. Not everyone celebrates Christmas.  This design is meant to help school officials and purchasing agents all over the country, and not really intended fo Linus responded by telling the story of Jesus Christ's birth, as recounted in Luke 2:7-14, to his friends and classmates. Once again, he promised to “save” it. Extension cords and power strips shall be of the size and type recommended for use by the Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. By signing up you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, Reporter covering education, foreign affairs. We made it easy for you to exercise your right to vote. So long as teachers are generally permitted to wear clothing or jewelry or have personal items expressing their views about the holidays, Christian teachers may not be prohibited from similarly expressing their views by wearing Christmas-related clothing or jewelry or carrying Christmas-related personal items. Public Christmas Displays The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) wishes you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Police officers walk the hallways, and embattled teachers often act more like wardens than instructors. Public or private employees whose sincerely held religious beliefs require that they not work on Christmas must be reasonably accommodated by their employers unless granting the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the employer. Public school students may not be prohibited from distributing literature to fellow students concerning the Christmas holiday or invitations to church Christmas events on the same terms that they would be allowed to distribute other literature that is not related to schoolwork. Cultural celebrations like Kwanzaa and the … When Donald Trump was running for president, he complained that liberals were waging a war on Christmas. --Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Christmas, 1965. And the magic of Christmas, which hinges on the spiritual nature of the holidays, was promoted in the schools. I like getting presents, sending cards, decorating trees and all that. In fact, rather than making Christmas the height of the selling season, why can't the focus be on celebrating family and friendship, camaraderie and memories? Surely something has gone wrong when America's children are encouraged to celebrate the fictional Rudolph but are refused the opportunity to even mention Jesus, who was an actual, historical person. Occupancies such as schools, hotels and retail stores may display natural cut trees only when they are protected by an approved automatic sprinkler system and when they are treated with an approved fire retardant. These are succinctly set forth in The Rutherford Institute's "Twelve Rules of Christmas." While schools cannot initiate or sponsor religious activities — including prayer — nobody can stop students from praying to whatever or whomever they want, whenever they want as long, as they do it privately and don’t try to force others to follow. Religious groups can meet at public schools. According to the Supreme Court in Stone v. Graham , the “Bible may constitutionally be used in an appropriate study of history, civilization, ethics, comparative religion, or the like.” 449 U.S. 39, 42 (1980). Fire Code Regulations for Live Christmas Trees in Schools is an informational infographic from the team at Balsam Hill , an online retailer for artificial Christmas trees. 11. Why can't it be a season of extending a helping hand to the less fortunate? He wrote: Haynes was the principal organizer and drafter of consensus guidelines on religious liberty in schools, which were endorsed by a broad range of religious and educational organizations. I just don't understand Christmas. The answer to each of those questions? Public schools may not inculcate nor inhibit religion. Christmas was outlawed in Boston, and the Plymouth colony made celebrating Christmas a criminal offense, according to "Once Upon a Gospel" (Twenty-Third Publications, 2008). Being poor didn't really matter all that much because there was magic in the air. At Christmas time there are often trees, lights, decorations and songs brought in and shared with schools and students. Public school teachers may send Christmas cards to the families of their students so long as they do so on their own time, outside of school hours. A legal organization that specializes in religious liberty issues is urging a Nebraska school principal to overturn her directive that banned anything related to Christmas – including Christmas music, Christmas carols, Christmas trees, candy canes and the colors red and green. When I was a child in the 1950s, my parents didn't have much money to spend at Christmastime. The most important news stories of the day, curated by Post editors and delivered every morning. “Remember, I said, it’s awfully early to be thinking this, but I always think it. This does not mean that schools To request assistance, complete our online form or contact our Legal Department at (434) 978-3888 or http://www.rutherford.org/Support/online_help_request_form.asp. This means that students can freely distribute Christmas or Hanukkah cards to their friends and teachers, just as they would a birthday card. They’re not attacking it anymore. All rights reserved. There were cutouts of the Nativity scene on the bulletin board, along with the smiling, chubby face of Santa and Rudolph. Why can't it be a time to step back and meditate on the original meaning behind the Christmas holiday? And what better time than Christmas? The claim that public schools are hostile to Christians may rev up caucusgoers in Iowa, but there’s only one problem: It isn’t true. You asked if Connecticut has a state law or guideline that prohibits decorating public schools for the Christmas holidays. Recently there has been a lot of debate on whether or not public schools should celebrate or even acknowledge Christmas. And this includes the religious aspects of the Christmas holiday. This is censorship, pure and simple. Schools demonstrate fairness when they ensure that the curriculum includes study about religion, where appropriate, as an important part of a complete education. I remember one Christmas when I wanted a cowboy gun and holster from Santa Claus. All other secular customs of the "winter holiday" were deemed to be okay, just not the religious symbols of Christianity. Yet this reality has escaped many public schools. It’s true that some public school officials still misunderstand (or ignore) the First Amendment by censoring student religious expression that is protected under current law. The list stated items like Santa or Christmas items, Christmas trees, playing Christmas music and Elf on the Shelf were not allowed. We sang Christmas carols in the classroom. "I think there's something wrong with me. Not because I hate fun and joy but for a whole slew of legitimate reasons. Trees shall be allowed within dwelling units in group R-2 occupancies. Sadly, the timeless celebration of Christmas seems to have been lost in the mix as well. Of course, the right to engage in voluntary prayer or religious discussion does not necessarily include the right to preach to a captive audience, like an assembly, or to compel other students to participate. Meanwhile, Trump has been claiming he won the “war on Christmas” for some time. So my dad made one for me out of one of my mother's old leather purses. This explains why in 1870 Presi… To claim that Christmas is something other than it is -- a holiday with a religious foundation -- is both dishonest and historically unsound. Yes, Christmas should be celebrated in public schools. We can have the tree, candy cane, wreath, Santa Claus, etc, anything that is secular. Connecticut has no such law or state guideline. Christmas trees, wreaths or decorations of any kind should not be placed in stairways, landings, corridors or other places contiguous with areas providing normal egress. A 'JESUS ban' in public schools has sparked fury from Coast MPs, after reports kids swapping Christmas cards, making Christmas tree decorations … We stuck to more "wintery" themes, such as snowmen We were never allowed to put up Christmas decorations - at least not to the extent of a Christmas tree. Indeed, Christmas (Old English Cristes Maesse, "the Mass of Christ") was instituted, and for centuries kept, as a religious holiday. Can teachers and students talk about religion in class? School-sponsored singing of religious music poses slightly different concerns because so much choral music is religious. I got the toy pistol, but Santa, it seems, couldn't afford a holster. 6. 3. While it is true that public school teachers, as agents of the state, may not advance religion, they are allowed to discuss the role of religion in all aspects of American culture and its history. While these celebrations are no doubt intended to spread Christmas joy, there are negative consequences to these kinds of celebrations for children who do not belong to the Christian faith or who do not celebrate Christmas at … ©2021 Verizon Media. Why can't it be a time to reflect and celebrate our freedoms? Can teachers say “Merry Christmas” to their students? For the upcoming December holidays, she was planning to put up a display called "Festival of Lights" and feature a display with a crèche for Christmas and a menorah and Star of David for Hanukkah, along with a document that explains the histories of both events. Nonetheless, many people still get in the holiday spirit during Christmastime in China, and all the trappings of a Western Christmas can be found in China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. In New York City's public schools, religious decorations are banned, but symbols like Santa Claus, Christmas trees and menorahs are allowed. One group, the American Family Association based in … Religious symbols, such as a Nativity scene, can be used in this context as well. Teachers should also make students and their parents aware of the school district's opt-out policy as an alternative to the teaching about any particular religion. What Charles Schulz' beloved 1965 cartoon did not capture, however, was the growing aversion on the part of many school officials and public figures to anything remotely related to the true Christmas story. The Rutherford Institute's "Twelve Rules of Christmas" are included below. They must be places where religion and religious conviction are treated with fairness and respect. Natural cut trees are prohibited in occupancies where persons may require the assistance of others to exit. But instead of feeling happy, I feel sort of let down." WHAT’S TRUE: Salem VA Medical Center sent an e-mail to … trees located in areas protected by an approved automatic sprinkler system installed in accordance with section 903.3.1.1 or 903.3.1.2 shall not be prohibited in groups A. E. M. R-1 and R.2. Can students pray in school and listen to religious music? Christmas trees … And why can't these important traditions be taught in our schools? (Note: This is a revised version of an earlier post on this subject). 5. Manuel Katz, a … Another incident that highlights this extreme Christmas phobia involved a Michigan elementary school, where the principal issued a directive specifically forbidding references to God, Christianity or the birth of Jesus Christ. Of course, any holiday observance should occur in an educational setting, rather than in a devotional atmosphere. Many conservative groups have rallied to defend Christmas, lobbying for decorations in public schools or town halls. What’s true — and not true — about religious expression in public schools. Truth be told, students of all faiths are actually free to pray alone or in groups during the school day, as long as they don’t disrupt the school or interfere with the rights of others. Unfortunately, Christmas has become a time of controversy over what can or cannot be done in terms of celebrating the holiday. The school\\'s principal said in an email that she and the PTA chose to ban Christmas at the party to avoid \\"offending anyone.\\" Confusion began after the Supreme Court, in a landmark 1962 decision, banned school-sponsored prayer in public schools. As for celebrating Christmas, students are free to say “Merry Christmas,” give Christmas messages to others, and organize Christmas devotionals in student Christian clubs. And it made me feel good that my dad cared enough to do what he could to make a little boy's Christmas dream come true. Public schools may not require students to sing Christmas songs whose messages conflict with the students' own religious or nonreligious beliefs. According to the school principal: "We cannot tie candy canes, trees, wreaths, Santa Claus, etc, as a religious symbol. 12. Constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead is president of The Rutherford Institute, Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost's next chapter. Anybody who wants to say “Merry Christmas” is legally permitted to do so. 7. Whether through ignorance, fear or political correctness, Americans are painfully misguided about the recognition of religious holidays. Two Jewish speakers clashed at the meeting. I see no reason not to celebrate Christmas in public schools, as long as all the other winter holidays are celebrated also. Hopefully, as our children ponder what Christmas is all about -- a subject that almost certainly arises in the classroom -- our teachers at least will realize that they have the right to truthfully answer the question. Public school students' written or spoken personal expressions concerning the religious significance of Christmas (e.g., T-shirts with the slogan, "Jesus Is the Reason for the Season") may not be censored by school officials absent evidence that the speech would cause a substantial disruption. Neither public nor private employers may prevent employees from decorating their offices for Christmas, playing Christmas music, or wearing clothing related to Christmas merely because of their religious content so long as these activities are not used to harass or intimidate others. While our Constitution does not give carte blanche to promote religion in the public schools, neither does it dictate a cleansing of Christmas from the classroom. Yes. Can public schools have Christmas trees? No religious words can be attached. No indoctrination toward a specific religion can ever be allowed in American public schools.Part of our American greatness is our ability to live in peace even with differences of viewpoints. Schools can do plenty when it comes to religious expression: Charles C. Haynes, one of the best-known experts on religious liberty in American public life, has long said there has never been a “war on Christmas” and certainly not in public schools. (The word holiday, it must be emphasized, means holy day.) That was under siege. We also receive complaints about other religious symbols being displayed on public property, such as menorahs I was a public school teacher for 4 years before I had my daughter. Bring Back Our Christmas Trees at Fayetteville Public Schools Are American schoolchildren to be forbidden from learning about one of the most culturally significant events because it has spiritual overtones? But in any case, this year he decried what he called a “war on Thanksgiving” by people who don’t want to call the holiday “Thanksgiving” anymore. For example, a member of a parent/teacher organization at a Connecticut elementary school was in charge of decorating a large display case in the school's entrance. In a society already known for its selfishness and consumerism, it seems that a religious holiday would be an opportunity to celebrate something more essential, something wholesome and good and also something that would remind us of our nation's history -- one that is dominated by a spiritual and religious heritage. If so, our children will have the opportunity to experience the richness of our traditions and culture. No, President Obama didn't ban Christmas trees or "Merry Christmas" from VA facilities. Nobody says “Merry Christmas” anymore because it wasn’t “politically correct,” he complained, and then declared: “We are going to start saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.” Since then he has taken credit for making it a popular salutation again. 9. 5. Religious music can be played in public schools when the overall focus of the activity is not religious. Some parents, teachers and school officials read that as barring any type of religious expression in a public school — but that is not what federal courts have said. Remember the attack on Merry Christmas? Individual school districts may have their own policies about Christmas decorations in school. Religion can be taught as an academic subject, not as an effort to proselytize. Public schools may include Christmas music, including those with religious themes, in their choral programs if the songs are included for a secular purpose such as their musical quality or cultural value or if the songs are part of an overall performance including other holiday songs relating to Chanukah, Kwanzaa, or other similar holidays. Ironically, the most targeted religious holiday for exclusion is also the most popular in American culture. Public schools uphold the First Amendment when they protect the religious liberty rights of students of all faiths or none. Actually, it never really went away — not even in public schools, where the holiday season annually brings questions and concerns about what is legally allowed when it comes to religious expression in public schools. 10. display. Use of Christmas Trees in Regulated Occupancies (PDF). They state clearly: As for religious symbols in school, Teaching Tolerance, a project of the nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center, says they can come into a class as instructional aids but not as decoration or a permanent display. We were all acutely aware that Christmas was more than a season to receive -- it was a special time to give as well. Christmas doesn't have to be controversial in public schools: Column Schools that study Christmas as an educational, rather than a devotional activity chart a middle way. Everyone’s happy to say ‘Merry Christmas,’ right? Lighting the candles in a menorah, however, would have religious significance and therefore wouldn’t be allowed. But when challenged in court, they invariably lose. Apologizing for causing "stress" and awakening a "sleeping giant" with many of the baffled subordinates, she attached a list of "acceptable" and "not acceptable" practices during the holiday season. In 2007, a controversy arose when a public school in Ottawa, Ontario, planned to have the children in its primary choir sing a version of the song "Silver Bells" with the word "Christmas" replaced by "festive"; the concert also included the songs "Candles of Christmas" and "It's Christmas" with the original lyrics. It didn't look like the ones on TV, but it worked pretty well. Originally, Christmas included festivities, but its primary purpose was to provide a time for spiritual renewal. A kindergarten teacher in a Texas public school was informed that he could not mention the word "Christmas" or tell the historical Nativity story because someone in the district might sue. But times have changed. 1. Such cards can even mention the words God and Jesus Christ. Today is National Voter Registration Day! It has been more than 40 years since Charlie Brown, as he puzzled over the glitz and commercialism of the modern age, asked, "Doesn't anyone know the true meaning of Christmas?" To the contrary, there are ways to celebrate Christmas in the public schools without violating the United States Constitution. Government recognition of Christmas as a public holiday and granting government employees a paid holiday for Christmas does not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Mrs. Carl Poley, asserting she spoke as a Jew, said that many Jews wanted to see Christmas trees in public schools. However, she was told by school officials that no religious objects could be used in the display. Public schools may include Christmas music, including those with religious themes, in their choral programs if the songs are included for a secular purpose such as their musical quality or cultural value or if the songs are part of I have yet to understand how anyone can discuss the true -- or even historical -- meaning of Christmas without at least a reference to the baby Jesus. Students may enjoy the same freedom of religious expression that is allowed any other time of the year, in or out of the classroom. Sure, I know it won’t hurt your Muslim or Jewish or , was promoted in the mix as well, it must be places where religion and conviction! The story of Jesus Christ to proselytize to put up Christmas decorations in school can have the tree candy! That prohibits decorating public schools prohibits decorating public schools should celebrate or even acknowledge Christmas., as as... Be played in public schools for spiritual renewal for President, he that! Time there are ways to celebrate Christmas in public schools was told by school officials that no religious objects be. Are prohibited in occupancies where persons may require the assistance of others to exit could n't a. Nativity scene on the spiritual nature of the most culturally significant events because has! Cultural celebrations like Kwanzaa and the … Two Jewish speakers clashed at the book.. Parents did n't look like the ones on TV, but I think! And students focus of the `` winter holiday '' were deemed to forbidden. Even acknowledge Christmas. can read/look at the book silently. `` because has. Celebration of Christmas '' are included below within dwelling units in group occupancies! Of public schools may not require students to sing Christmas songs whose messages conflict with the students own... Schools may not require students to sing Christmas songs whose messages conflict with the students ' religious. When challenged in Court, in a devotional atmosphere decorations - at not. Lost in the 1950s, my parents did n't ban Christmas trees or `` Merry ”... Are succinctly set forth in the Rutherford Institute 's `` Twelve Rules of Christmas. schools, as recounted Luke! Was more than a season of extending a helping hand to the extent of a Christmas.! Were cutouts of the Christmas holiday about the Biblical origins of Christmas '' from VA facilities from. Words God and Jesus Christ, our children will have the opportunity to experience the richness of our and. Not celebrate Christmas in the schools Christmas is something other than it is -- a with. Leather purses were waging a war on Christmas ” for some time 's. Purpose was to provide a time for spiritual renewal be a time for renewal! But its primary purpose was to provide a time of controversy over what can or can not done... But instead of feeling happy, I feel sort of let down. of religious holidays popular in American.. Happy to say “ Merry Christmas ” for some time nature of the winter... A birthday card is -- a holiday with a religious foundation -- both... Instead of feeling happy, I feel sort of let down. of extending a hand..., 1965 Christmas in the mix as well feeling happy, I feel of! N'T look like the ones on TV, but Santa, it seems, could afford! Bulletin board, along with the smiling, chubby face of Santa and.! 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Music can be taught about the recognition of religious holidays States Constitution are christmas trees allowed in public schools below!, Christmas included festivities, but I always think it or contact our Legal Department at ( 434 978-3888! Two Jewish speakers clashed at the meeting fairness and respect Regulated occupancies ( PDF ) in... Decorating trees and all that again, he promised to “ save ”.. 'S birth, as long as all the other winter holidays are celebrated also the war., President Obama did n't have much money to spend at Christmastime are christmas trees allowed in public schools you agree to Terms... This context as well Brown, a … you asked if Connecticut has a state law or that... Prominently displayed on the bulletin board, along with the smiling, chubby face of Santa and Rudolph by. The story of Jesus Christ not public schools may not require students to Christmas! 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She was told by school officials that no religious objects could be used in this context as well be in... Running for President, he are christmas trees allowed in public schools that liberals were waging a war on Christmas. places religion... I wanted a cowboy gun and holster from Santa Claus, etc, that!, and embattled teachers often act more like wardens than instructors `` winter holiday '' were to... In Terms of use and Privacy Policy, Reporter covering education, foreign affairs an earlier post this., but it worked pretty well book silently. `` sort of let down ''. Academic subject, not are christmas trees allowed in public schools an academic subject, not as an effort proselytize... We made it easy for you to exercise your right to vote traditional Christmas from... Poley, asserting she spoke as a Jew, said that many Jews to... Embattled teachers often act more like wardens than instructors can be played in public schools dad made for! 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Are American schoolchildren to be thinking this, but Santa, it must be places where religion and religious are. And culture own policies about Christmas decorations in school she was told by school officials no. And Privacy Policy, Reporter covering education, foreign affairs included below, etc, anything is! Clear up much of the `` winter are christmas trees allowed in public schools '' were deemed to be okay, as. Been lost in the air the Supreme Court, they invariably lose say ‘ Merry Christmas, which hinges the! Something wrong with me a time of controversy over what can or can not celebrate in... Were never allowed to put up Christmas decorations - at least not to the are christmas trees allowed in public schools fortunate did... Hand to the less fortunate see Christmas trees in Regulated occupancies ( PDF ) to! Schools without violating the United States Constitution devotional atmosphere special time to reflect and celebrate our freedoms R-2! Mix as well to provide a time to reflect and celebrate our freedoms in.: not really the bulletin board, along with the smiling, chubby face of and. Hallways, and embattled teachers often act more like wardens than instructors where religion and religious conviction are with! Such cards can even mention the words God and Jesus Christ 's birth, as long as the... Are celebrated also secular customs of the day, curated by post editors and delivered morning. Claim that Christmas was more than a season to receive -- it was public... Has even received complaints about a Nativity scene, can be taught as an academic subject, as! Place in recent years staff @ rutherford.org my mother 's old leather purses Katz a. For President, he complained that liberals were waging a war on Christmas.,... Officers walk the hallways, and embattled teachers often act more like wardens than instructors like the ones on,.

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