A Texas school principal forced a staffer to take Charlie Brown Christmas decorations off a school door because it included a quote from Linus which had the word “Christ” in it.
The principal reportedly said it was “an issue of separation of church and state.” The Texas Attorney General called the action “an attack on religious liberty and a violation of the First Amendment and state law.”
The door, covered in brown paper with a picture of Charlie Brown, bore the following quote from “A Charlie Brown Christmas:”
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord. That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
Dedra Shannon who is a staffer at Charles E. Patterson Middle School in Killeen, Texas, was told to take the decorations down two days after she decorated the door of the nurse’s office with it, reported Todd Starnes.
Ms. Shannon was reported to say, “She [the Principal] said, ‘please don’t hate me, but unfortunately you’re going to have to take your poster down’.” Shannon added, “I’m disappointed. It is a slap in the face of Christianity.”
“Throughout the school there are talks about diversity. Well, you aren’t being very diverse if you are not allowing the Christians to put something up that refers to a Christian holiday,” Starnes reported. Her father, Danny Breyeris, who is the pastor for the Soldiers of the Cross Cowboy Fellowship near Fort Hood contacted Starnes.
The war on the meaning of Christmas met with this response from the president of Texas Values, “a non-profit organization dedicated to standing for faith, family, and freedom in Texas.” Jonathan Saenz noted: “This kind of outrageous attack on Christmas is exactly why the Texas ‘Merry Christmas Law’ was passed in 2013–to protect the Constitutional rights of students, parents and staff.”
As reported by Breitbart Texas, Texas State Representative Dwayne Bohac was the author of the “Merry Christmas Bill.” HB 308 amended Texas Education Code section 29.920 to protect the right of students and teachers to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah without fear of retribution. Bohac said the bill protects school teachers and others from litigation and harassment.
The “Merry Christmas” bill was signed into law in 2013 by then Governor Rick Perry. Bohac said he got the idea for the bill when he picked up his 6-year-old son Reagan from school and he was talking about the “holiday tree” they had decorated.
Rep. Bohac and his former staffer, Kay Glenn Clinton, are the authors of Merry Christmas, Y’all, Texas Style! The Christmas book takes you through Santa’s journey through the Lone Star State.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton responded to the episode by saying:
I am proud to have voted for the Merry Christmas law in 2013, when I was a member of the Legislature. We passed that law precisely because of this type of discrimination against people of faith. No school official in Texas can silence a Biblical reference to Christmas. This is an attack on religious liberty and a violation of the First Amendment and state law. I am calling on the school board of the Killeen ISD to immediately reverse their unlawful decision.
Texas Values has a project on a website called “Merry Christmas Texas“. It contains a summary of the “Merry Christmas” legislation which can be shared with the schools and school districts. It also provides a method of reporting on a school or district, or simply sharing how your school district is acknowledging Christmas.
Saenz, the president of Texas Values, chastised the principal saying:
The public school principal in this case has directly attacked, banned and censored a reference to the religious history of Christmas while allowing a secular symbol to remain. This outrageous religious discrimination is a violation of the First Amendment and a direct violation of state law and must be stopped. The school should apologize immediately and allow the full display to go back up.
The Killeen ISD released a statement Friday afternoon:
The Killeen ISD administration has reviewed the decision made in regards to the Christmas door decoration, and supports the actions taken by the Principal in requesting that the reference to the Bible verse be removed. Our employees are free to celebrate the Christmas and Holiday season in the manner of their choosing. However, employees are not permitted to impose their personal beliefs on students. The display in question was a six–‐foot–‐plus tall door decoration in the main hallway of the school building, and included a reference to a Bible verse covering much of the door. Upon review, it is clear that this display was not in keeping with the Merry Christmas Bill (House Bill 308), which requires that a display not encourage adherence to a particular religion.
This article has been updated to reflect new comments.