A Texas school took down a staffer’s wall decoration featuring a Charlie Brown character and a verse from the Bible, and now parents — and even a prominent Texas politician — are outraged.
As KXXV (Waco) reports, a “staffer” at Patterson Middle School in Killeen decorated her door with an image of Linus, the popular Peanuts character. Above Linus’ head is a Bible verse: specifically, Luke 2:11, which you may remember is the passage that Linus recites in A Charlie Brown Christmas, the annual holiday classic that his been airing for over 50 years.
“‘For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior, which is Christ the Lord.’ That’s the true meaning of Christmas, Charlie Brown.”
So much for ‘diversity!’ >Yuletide GRINCHES Show Up in Killeen,Texas Middle School https://t.co/ddkaeZwzJh
— TX Lab Fan (@TheRightLogic) December 9, 2016
You can probably guess where this story is going. The principal got wind of the display, noticed that there’s a verse from the Bible on the staffer’s door display, and realized that the display comes uncomfortably close to the line of promoting a religion in a public school, if not outright crossing that line. She ordered it taken down, officially citing her belief that the display imposes the teacher’s beliefs on the students.
Every year around Christmas, stories like these pop up in the news. Public schools, stuck between the desire to acknowledge and respect the cultural traditions of their students, while at the same time not coming off as promoting any religion, which would violate the Constitution’s requirement that the government does not establish or promote a religion.
Schools walk a fine line when it comes to issues like this, and whatever decision they make, it’s going to upset somebody. If they come down too much on the side of allowing the displays, they’ll likely wind up in court, facing costly legal battles. Rather than risk money they can’t afford on legal battles, schools will usually come down on the side of being too cautions, outraging parents and politicians.
Back in Killeen, parents — and at least one politician — are outraged. And so is KXXV reporter Brittney Verner.
“Now, decorations of a cartoon that’s been around since 1950 are being considered offensive because of the message it spreads about Christmas.”
Actually, Brittney, A Charlie Brown Christmas dates to 1965, but your point is still taken.
Similarly outraged is parent Bill Selby.
“It’s Charlie Brown for goodness sake with a wholesome, wonderful message about the true meaning of Christmas. Growing up, it wasn’t like that when I went to school. I mean we could decorate, talk about Christians, pray, anything. And now it’s like you’re banned if you do or bring up anything.”
Actually, Bill, students in a public school can pray, talk about Christians, or talk about or practice their religion in whatever way they want. The courts have ruled for their rights to do so, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will back them up in court, as they have in the past. It’s school officials who can’t mandate prayer, put up religious displays, or otherwise come off as promoting or favoring a religion.
Selby sees the order to remove the Charlie Brown display as a direct attack on Christianity.
“We talk about a community full of diversity, why can’t we accept Christianity like we do everything else we have to accept.”
Texas’ Attorney General Ken Paxton believes that the order to take down the Charlie Brown display, rather than the display itself, is a violation of Texas law, according to ABC News. Specifically, he says, it violates Texas’ 2013 so-called “Merry Christmas Law,” which, among other things, allows public schools in Texas to mention Christmas in its historical and/or cultural context.
Of course, whether or not Paxton plans to drag Patterson Middle School into court over the Charlie Brown Christmas display remains to be seen.
[Featured Image by catwalker/Shutterstock]