December 4, 2014

Public schools can avoid ‘War on Christmas’ tussle in school holiday calendar (COMMENTARY)

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J. Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, joined other religious leaders at the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast on Friday (April 5). RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

J. Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, joined other religious leaders at the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast on Friday (April 5). RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

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(RNS) Refusing to identify the religious reason for the days off does not solve the problem and only invites unfounded criticism of hostility to Christmas and the other religious holidays.

  • Chris LaRosa

    I agree that this paranoia about “endorsing religion” in the public square is completely silly and smacks of political correctness. But that’s really not the problem. There truly is a “war on Christmas”, but it’s not what the right wing nutjobs are whining about every year. How about this? Christmas crap for sale in October, the obsessive Christmas music, the worship of Santa, the season of total indulgence masked by the “season of giving”, the phony images, the consumerism gone completely mad, overeating and gluttony, the nonstop BUYBUYBUY commercials on TV. yes, THIS is the real war on Christmas…and these are all things the fungelicals dive head first into! Is this hypocrisy or just complete blindness? Gimme a break, Fox News.

  • John Doe

    5 USC 6103:
    “(a) The following are legal public holidays:
    New Year’s Day, January 1.
    Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., the third Monday in January.
    Washington’s Birthday, the third Monday in February.
    Memorial Day, the last Monday in May.
    Independence Day, July 4.
    Labor Day, the first Monday in September.
    Columbus Day, the second Monday in October.
    Veterans Day, November 11.
    Thanksgiving Day, the fourth Thursday in November.
    Christmas Day, December 25.”

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/5/6103

  • Mr Manners

    As John Doe stated above, Christmas is a Federally recognized holiday.

    Regardless of your religious affiliation, or lack of, it is still called Christmas. By describing a break of attendance around a legal holiday is by definition appropriate and does not in any way try and shove religion down any one’s throat.

    This should have been similar wording that the school district could have used to persuade their point. The district should have simply allowed time off to the Muslim community, or any other lesser known traditional holidays and did not have to remove a Nationally recognized holiday (Christmas) from the calender.

    In this particular situation, the Muslim community asked to have a few days off to celebrate their own traditions, and it was not a war on Christmas. The school district decided to take the easy way out and just take off ALL potential religious holidays from the calender to avoid any hassles from the protestors that do have a private war going on.

    I believe the school district should have stood their ground that Christmas is a Nationally recognized holiday and in no way endorses any religious beliefs.

  • Paula Wong Reinhardt

    Christmas is indeed a federal holiday (for now), but that does not mean that it is free of religious bias; obviously it isn’t.

    As we inevitably move forward as a society and leave the old Christian superstitions behind, albeit with the inevitable lurches and setbacks along the way, this holiday name might be one of the last pieces to go, and we might never lose the name, but I think we should. I don’t object to the late-in-the-year holiday that generally spans New Years’ too. I think given more time the religious part will just fade to irrelevance and we will just have a long, secular year-end holiday. Hopefully minus the months of marketing and shopping excess leading up to it.

  • Re: “As John Doe stated above, Christmas is a Federally recognized holiday.”

    Aha. The old Bill O’Reilly defense for forcing every American to celebrate Christmas, whether they wish to or not, or even whether or not they’re even Christian. It’s an American federal holiday, for him, therefore all Americans must celebrate it … period, end of discussion.

    That said, that it’s a federal holiday does NOT wipe Christmas clean of its religious nature. Rather, it papers it over with a veneer of government sanction. That veneer is transparent, to be sure, but it’s there nonetheless. To deny it is just ridiculous and cannot fool anybody (except maybe O’Reilly and his legions of “Christmas warriors” who falsely assert that Christmas has been or soon will be outlawed in the US).

  • I still can’t get over the childishness with which this whole thing was originally handled. Let’s back up a bit and consider the scenario:

    1. School district has holidays on its calendar, including some Christian and some Jewish.

    2. Muslims in school district feel left out, so they ask for their own holidays to be added.

    3. School district doesn’t want to add any more holidays, so they say “no.”

    4. In order to prevent any more religious groups asking for their holidays off, school district eradicates any religious identity for the holidays they’re retaining.

    5. School district actually expects this incredibly obvious rationale to make it appear that it’s being “fair” to “all” religions.

    Does anyone else see how utterly ridiculous this whole thing is?

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