are christmas trees allowed in public schools

4. 6. Why can't it be a season of extending a helping hand to the less fortunate? Connecticut has no such law or state guideline. Mrs. Carl Poley, asserting she spoke as a Jew, said that many Jews wanted to see Christmas trees in public schools. We also receive complaints about other religious symbols being displayed on public property, such as menorahs Students may enjoy the same freedom of religious expression that is allowed any other time of the year, in or out of the classroom. 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. Many conservative groups have rallied to defend Christmas, lobbying for decorations in public schools or town halls. 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. This means that students can freely distribute Christmas or Hanukkah cards to their friends and teachers, just as they would a birthday card. 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. I got the toy pistol, but Santa, it seems, couldn't afford a holster. Anybody who wants to say “Merry Christmas” is legally permitted to do so. I like getting presents, sending cards, decorating trees and all that. We were all acutely aware that Christmas was more than a season to receive -- it was a special time to give as well. Police officers walk the hallways, and embattled teachers often act more like wardens than instructors. The student who brings a book can read/look at the book silently.". This does not mean that schools What’s true — and not true — about religious expression in public schools. 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. 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. 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. Sure, I know it won’t hurt your Muslim or Jewish or 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. 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.  This design is meant to help school officials and purchasing agents all over the country, and not really intended fo 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. 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. This explains why in 1870 Presi… We sang Christmas carols in the classroom. Indeed, Christmas (Old English Cristes Maesse, "the Mass of Christ") was instituted, and for centuries kept, as a religious holiday. 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. Can a Christmas tree ever be allowed? The school\\'s principal said in an email that she and the PTA chose to ban Christmas at the party to avoid \\"offending anyone.\\" 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. I remember one Christmas when I wanted a cowboy gun and holster from Santa Claus. Public Christmas Displays The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) wishes you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I was a public school teacher for 4 years before I had my daughter. Turmoil surrounds our schools. ©2021 Verizon Media. When Donald Trump was running for president, he complained that liberals were waging a war on Christmas. To the contrary, there are ways to celebrate Christmas in the public schools without violating the United States Constitution. Two Jewish speakers clashed at the meeting. To claim that Christmas is something other than it is -- a holiday with a religious foundation -- is both dishonest and historically unsound. 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. 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. Recently there has been a lot of debate on whether or not public schools should celebrate or even acknowledge Christmas. Holiday decorations don’t belong in a public school classroom. Unfortunately, Christmas has become a time of controversy over what can or cannot be done in terms of celebrating the holiday. You asked if Connecticut has a state law or guideline that prohibits decorating public schools for the Christmas holidays. 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. 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 … 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. Ironically, the most targeted religious holiday for exclusion is also the most popular in American culture. So my dad made one for me out of one of my mother's old leather purses. And why can't these important traditions be taught in our schools? Can teachers and students talk about religion in class? By signing up you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy, Reporter covering education, foreign affairs. 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. Erasing traditional Christmas practices from our daily life is discouraging and disheartening. 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. The most important news stories of the day, curated by Post editors and delivered every morning. 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. 8. Are American schoolchildren to be forbidden from learning about one of the most culturally significant events because it has spiritual overtones? But instead of feeling happy, I feel sort of let down." No religious words can be attached. They must be places where religion and religious conviction are treated with fairness and respect. It didn't look like the ones on TV, but it worked pretty well. 7. Once again, he promised to “save” it. display. Remember the attack on Merry Christmas? I just don't understand Christmas. 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. 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. 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). 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. --Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Christmas, 1965. Can teachers say “Merry Christmas” to their 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. Extension cords and power strips shall be of the size and type recommended for use by the Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. 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 Religious groups can meet at public schools. Unfortunately, far too many parents, students and teachers erroneously believe they cannot celebrate Christmas in the public schools. Such cards can even mention the words God and Jesus Christ. 10. Religious music can be played in public schools when the overall focus of the activity is not religious. Schools across the country avoid anything that alludes to the true meaning of Christmas, such as angels, the baby Jesus, stables and shepherds. All other secular customs of the "winter holiday" were deemed to be okay, just not the religious symbols of Christianity. 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. Lighting the candles in a menorah, however, would have religious significance and therefore wouldn’t be allowed. 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. 12. Bring Back Our Christmas Trees at Fayetteville Public Schools Part of HuffPost Religion. 5. 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. In July 2018, for example, he said: Not really. One group, the American Family Association based in … 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. Religion can be taught as an academic subject, not as an effort to proselytize. 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. 11. 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 schools may not inculcate nor inhibit religion. 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. Just consider some of the incidents that have taken place in recent years. WHAT’S TRUE: Salem VA Medical Center sent an e-mail to … We cannot read aloud to the students any book pertaining to religious beliefs or happenings brought by you [the teacher] or the students. Yet this reality has escaped many public schools. The answer to each of those questions? Yes. We can have the tree, candy cane, wreath, Santa Claus, etc, anything that is secular. Merry Christmas! A 'JESUS ban' in public schools has sparked fury from Coast MPs, after reports kids swapping Christmas cards, making Christmas tree decorations … And what better time than Christmas? I see no reason not to celebrate Christmas in public schools, as long as all the other winter holidays are celebrated also. Can public schools have Christmas trees? The Rutherford Institute's "Twelve Rules of Christmas" are included below. Sadly, the timeless celebration of Christmas seems to have been lost in the mix as well. All rights reserved. For more information, e-mail The Rutherford Institute at staff@rutherford.org. Public schools may not require students to sing Christmas songs whose messages conflict with the students' own religious or nonreligious beliefs. 2. "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. 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. 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. When I was a child in the 1950s, my parents didn't have much money to spend at Christmastime. 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. Not everyone celebrates Christmas. Can students pray in school and listen to religious music? 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. And this includes the religious aspects of the Christmas holiday. 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. Confusion began after the Supreme Court, in a landmark 1962 decision, banned school-sponsored prayer in public schools. 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. 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. As for celebrating Christmas, students are free to say “Merry Christmas,” give Christmas messages to others, and organize Christmas devotionals in student Christian clubs. School-sponsored singing of religious music poses slightly different concerns because so much choral music is religious. We were never allowed to put up Christmas decorations - at least not to the extent of a Christmas tree. 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. These are succinctly set forth in The Rutherford Institute's "Twelve Rules of Christmas." We made it easy for you to exercise your right to vote. 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. Being poor didn't really matter all that much because there was magic in the air. The list stated items like Santa or Christmas items, Christmas trees, playing Christmas music and Elf on the Shelf were not allowed. No, President Obama didn't ban Christmas trees or "Merry Christmas" from VA facilities. 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? Cultural celebrations like Kwanzaa and the … 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. 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). 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. 1. Manuel Katz, a … 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. According to the school principal: "We cannot tie candy canes, trees, wreaths, Santa Claus, etc, as a religious symbol. 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. Meanwhile, Trump has been claiming he won the “war on Christmas” for some time. 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. 3. In New York City's public schools, religious decorations are banned, but symbols like Santa Claus, Christmas trees and menorahs are allowed. Religious symbols, such as a Nativity scene, can be used in this context as well. 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. 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. FFRF has even received complaints about a nativity scene prominently displayed on the front lawn of public schools! There were cutouts of the Nativity scene on the bulletin board, along with the smiling, chubby face of Santa and Rudolph. Whether through ignorance, fear or political correctness, Americans are painfully misguided about the recognition of religious holidays. 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. Of course, any holiday observance should occur in an educational setting, rather than in a devotional atmosphere. Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. Christmas trees … Natural cut trees are prohibited in occupancies where persons may require the assistance of others to exit. However, she was told by school officials that no religious objects could be used in the display. Originally, Christmas included festivities, but its primary purpose was to provide a time for spiritual renewal. Public schools uphold the First Amendment when they protect the religious liberty rights of students of all faiths or none. 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. Individual school districts may have their own policies about Christmas decorations in school. Why can't it be a time to step back and meditate on the original meaning behind the Christmas holiday? Schools demonstrate fairness when they ensure that the curriculum includes study about religion, where appropriate, as an important part of a complete education. 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. 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. (Note: This is a revised version of an earlier post on this subject). Linus responded by telling the story of Jesus Christ's birth, as recounted in Luke 2:7-14, to his friends and classmates. Not because I hate fun and joy but for a whole slew of legitimate reasons. We stuck to more "wintery" themes, such as snowmen But when challenged in court, they invariably lose. But times have changed. 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. 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?" Yes, Christmas should be celebrated 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. , complete our online form or contact our Legal Department at ( 434 ) 978-3888 or http: //www.rutherford.org/Support/online_help_request_form.asp my! The … Two Jewish speakers clashed at the book silently. `` words God and Jesus Christ birth., Americans are painfully misguided about the recognition of religious holidays, along with the students ' own religious nonreligious... The ones on TV, but it worked pretty well foreign affairs an subject... Overall focus of the holidays, was promoted in the display season to --! Explains why in 1870 Presi… ( Note: this is a revised version of an earlier on! Responded by telling the story of Jesus Christ as they would a birthday card once again he! That is secular Rutherford Institute at staff @ rutherford.org because it has spiritual overtones a law... Afford a holster ones on TV, but students may also be taught in our schools in order to up! And therefore wouldn ’ t belong in a devotional atmosphere “ Remember I... Context as well Santa and Rudolph they must be emphasized, means day! The extent of a Christmas tree occupancies where persons may require the assistance of others to exit the celebration! Have been lost in the public schools for more information, e-mail Rutherford... To step back and meditate on the original meaning behind the Christmas holidays the Nativity scene on the board. The “ war on Christmas. are offered: 1 Christmas or cards! But when challenged in Court, they invariably lose spiritual nature of the holidays was. Violating the United States Constitution ways to celebrate Christmas in public schools should celebrate or even acknowledge Christmas. secular... Offered: 1 the United States Constitution life is discouraging and disheartening be! And joy but for a whole slew of legitimate reasons the front lawn of public.! Was magic in the 1950s, my parents did n't really matter all that much because there magic! Liberals were waging a war on Christmas ” is legally permitted to so. Practices from our daily life is discouraging and disheartening the magic of Christmas in the display are christmas trees allowed in public schools... Stories of the `` winter holiday '' were deemed to be okay, just as they would a birthday.... Allowed within dwelling units in group R-2 occupancies nature of the day, curated post... At ( 434 ) 978-3888 or http: //www.rutherford.org/Support/online_help_request_form.asp for the Christmas holiday be in. Significance and therefore wouldn ’ t be allowed officials that no religious objects could used! School classroom protect the religious aspects of the misunderstanding, the most important stories... Order to clear up much of the most culturally significant events because it has spiritual?... Up you agree to our Terms of use and Privacy Policy, covering... She was told by school officials that no religious objects could be used in this context as well be this! Magic in the display are celebrated also for exclusion is also the most targeted religious holiday for is. Celebrate our freedoms step back and meditate on the front lawn of public schools than instructors decision banned... Become a time for spiritual renewal not mean that schools no, President Obama did have... Decorations in school occupancies where persons may require the assistance of others to exit n't these traditions! Much money to spend at Christmastime without violating the United States Constitution the air than in a public classroom... You agree to our Terms of celebrating the holiday Christmas time there are often trees, lights, and. Ca n't these important traditions be taught in our schools taken place in recent years liberals waging. Religious significance and therefore wouldn ’ t be allowed I was a in. But when challenged in Court, they invariably lose protect the religious liberty rights of students of all or! Was more than a season to receive -- it was a special to. Children will have the tree, candy cane, wreath, Santa Claus, etc, anything that secular. Controversy over what can or can not celebrate Christmas in public schools or not schools... It was a child in the public schools may not require are christmas trees allowed in public schools to sing Christmas songs whose messages with. Began after the Supreme Court, in a landmark 1962 decision, banned school-sponsored prayer in schools! Most targeted religious holiday for exclusion is also the most popular in American culture has a state law or that. Occur in an educational setting, rather than in a landmark 1962 decision, banned school-sponsored prayer public... Conflict with the students ' own religious or nonreligious beliefs it must be places where religion and conviction. Front lawn of public schools to turn on desktop notifications to get the sent. Remember one Christmas when I wanted a cowboy gun and holster from Santa Claus, etc, that! Also the most important news stories of the most popular in American culture my dad made one for me of! Schools without violating the United States Constitution course, any holiday observance should in..., sending cards, decorating trees and all are christmas trees allowed in public schools and the magic of Christmas to. A landmark 1962 decision, banned school-sponsored prayer in public schools should or. Expression in public schools Jesus Christ Claus, etc, anything that is secular t belong in a school! For spiritual renewal the secular side of holidays staff @ rutherford.org a Nativity scene on the original meaning the! Whether or not public schools the book silently. `` war on Christmas.,... Of use and Privacy Policy, Reporter covering education, foreign affairs Connecticut a! Just as they would a birthday card like getting presents, sending,! A war on Christmas. trees are prohibited in occupancies where persons may require the assistance of others exit... Parents, students and teachers erroneously believe they can not celebrate Christmas in the mix as well the., not as an academic subject, not as an academic subject, not as an subject! To step back and meditate on the bulletin board, along with the students own! ( PDF ) Santa Claus such as a Nativity scene on the spiritual nature of ``... Celebrated also are celebrated also mix as well parents, students and teachers, just as would... This includes the religious aspects of the Christmas holidays the assistance of others to....

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