State lawmakers in Texas have passed legislation that permits public schools to display nativity scenes, menorahs, or Christmas trees, and allows students and school district staff to use greetings such as, “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hanukkah,” and “Happy Holidays.”
According to Fox News in Austin, the legislation (HB 308), introduced by Rep. Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston) and dubbed “The Merry Christmas Bill,” received overwhelming approval in the state house, by a margin of 145-2, and was passed unanimously in the state senate, 29-0. The bill will now be sent to Gov. Rick Perry (R) for his signature.
“I was a little flabbergasted and a little upset that we’ve become so politically correct that we can’t call a federal holiday by its name,” Bohac said. “Teachers have enough on their plate to worry about the school districts going to be sued or if they can call a Christmas tree a Christmas tree.”
Bohac said there are two pending lawsuits in Texas related to the use of traditional holiday greetings in schools. “Tales from Christmas Past” provides stories, posted on the bill’s website, submitted by citizens who write of oppression and threats of firings against teachers if they say, “Merry Christmas,” to students or exchange cards or gifts at school.
However, Linda Bridges, president of the Texas branch of the American Federation of Teachers, which opposed the bill, questioned the importance of the legislation.
“I think we really have to say does this help education when we are caught up in discussions that have become pure partisan discussions that is not the way we should be looking at education,” Bridges said.
The ACLU of Texas also opposed the bill. Spokesman Tom Hargis said, “We hope administrators and teachers remain mindful that it is of utmost importance that it’s parents who teach their children about matters of faith, not public schools.”
According to the National Post, Russell Glasser, co-host of the Austin public-access TV show, “The Atheist Experience,” referred to the legislation as one of the many “idiotic little bills.”
“As far as I can tell, nobody has ever actually stopped saying ‘Merry Christmas’ because they’re afraid to get sued,” Glasser told the Raw Story. “Does anybody sue anyone for saying ‘Merry Christmas’? Because I think that’s a bunch of bulls-t.”