By Angela Kaye Mason, Contributor
War on Religion Nothing New, But Texas says it’s ok to say “Merry Christmas” at School
The war on religion is nothing new to mankind. For centuries, man has fought man over something as simple as what he believes in. While it would seem that over time, mankind would learn to be tolerant of the beliefs of others, this becomes more and more impossible as intolerance grows from mild dislike, to a willingness to kill another person simply because their beliefs do not coincide. That said, it may seem that something as simple as the right to say, “Merry Christmas” is too insignificant to worry over. It is with these simple liberties that the theft of freedom often begins. If one can take out the smallest of liberties, then brick by brick, they can tear down the whole wall of freedom that protects the religious rights of everyone.
Controversy for Christmas
Perhaps one of the most controversial religious holidays in the United States is Christmas. While there are many who speak out against Halloween, so far the war has not gone so far as the fight over what to call the holiday (those opposed to Halloween often just simply choose not to participate in the celebration of it.) The controversy over how to celebrate Christmas has spread in America so deeply that by just vocally wishing someone well on this day, you can highly offend them by your choice in what name you give it. Do you dare say “Christmas?” In doing so you will offend those who are so deeply opposed to Christianity that they cannot even tolerate someone else believing in it. (Yet many of those people still choose to celebrate Christmas, which can be confusing.)
The controversy over how to celebrate Christmas and how to acknowledge the holiday season to others has spread into American government, advertising, media, retail, schools, and almost every aspect of life. Where it used to be normal for schools to have Christmas plays and programs, it is now frowned upon and viewed as forcing the Christian religion onto students who do not believe in it. At one time, the controversy surrounding Christmas was limited to manger scenes, Christian themed hymns, and stories of Baby Jesus. Now, even Santa Claus, Christmas trees, and giving gifts can be offensive. And in almost any setting, it has become frowned upon to say, “Merry Christmas.” Americans are being brainwashed into believing that it is best to be politically correct at all times in order to avoid controversy. During Christmas, this means that the proper greeting would be “Happy Holidays.” Texans, however, have never really been known for conforming to brainwashing techniques.
Governor Rick Perry Signs ‘Merry Christmas’ Bill Into Law
On June 14, 2013, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law a bill which would protect those who exercise their freedom of speech and freedom of religion with the simple act of wishing others a “Merry Christmas. This law states that:
(a) A school district may educate students about the history of traditional winter celebrations, and allow students and district staff to offer traditional greetings regarding the celebrations, including:
(1) “Merry Christmas”;
(2) “Happy Hanukkah”; and
(3) “happy holidays.”
(b) Except as provided by Subsection C
(c), a school district may display on school property scenes or symbols associated with traditional winter celebrations, including a menorah or a Christmas image such as a nativity scene or Christmas tree, if the display includes a scene or symbol of:
(1) more than one religion; or
(2) one religion and at least one secular scene or symbol.
(3) A display relating to a traditional winter celebration may not include a message that encourages adherence to a particular religious belief.
The bill was, of course, criticized by Victor Cornell of the Civil Liberties Union, who claims that the Supreme Court has made it illegal for a school to endorse any religious practice unless it has a “secular instructional purpose.”
What Does This Bill Do Exactly?
The Merry Christmas bill passed through the Texas House and Senate and was subsequently approved by Governor Rick Perry. Although the law’s nickname shares that it protects anyone in Texas schools, etc from any legal risk for greeting others with the term “Merry Christmas,” it also protect the rights of those who wish to display traditional holiday symbols and décor. It does not discriminate, but make it legal for anyone or any school to have a manger scene as well as a menorah. The only rule is that there must be more than one religion represented.
When the governor signed the bill, he explained, “I realize it’s only June. But it’s a good June and the holidays are coming early this year. It’s a shame that a bill like this one I’m signing today is even required, but I’m glad that we’re standing up for religious freedom in this state. Religious freedom does not mean freedom from religion.”
Who Started This?
The Merry Christmas bill was drafted by Republican Rep Dwayne Bohac from Houston Texas. His inspiration? His son’s school put up a “Holiday Tree,” in December because the school feared lawsuits if the word “Christmas” was mentioned. After his bill was given national attention, Bohac stated, “We hope that this is a fire that will take off and become laws in the other 49 states.”
Bohac also spoke out on Governor Perry, saying, “This is not a governor that shirks away from the tough issues. And this should not be a tough issue, which is what’s even amazing about all this. But this is just political correctness that’s run a-muck and our brains have been completely fallen out as a result.”
Does it Really Matter?
According to statistics, most Americans may not realize the significance of standing up for their rights, no matter how simple. According to the Pew Research Center, “Last December, the Pew Research Center asked Americans whether they prefer stores and businesses to greet their customers by saying “Merry Christmas,” or “less religious terms such as ‘Happy Holidays’ and ‘Season’s Greetings.’” The survey asked the question in two different ways to two different groups:
• A random half of respondents were asked to choose a preference between “Merry Christmas” and the less religious terms.
• The other half were asked a version that included those two options, then added “or doesn’t it matter to you?” at the end.
When the question is presented as a choice between “Merry Christmas” and the less religious terms, 57% pick “Merry Christmas” and 27% select the less religious terms. (In this instance, even without “it doesn’t matter” presented as an option, 15% volunteer that they don’t have a preference.)
But when “it doesn’t matter” is added as an option, it draws roughly the same amount of support as “Merry Christmas”; 42% say they prefer “Merry Christmas,” 12% prefer the less religious terms and 46% say it doesn’t matter. There has been almost no change since 2005, when we asked the same question.”
But Texans understand that this is not just about Christ, or Christianity, or Christmas. It is about freedom being stripped away one verbiage at a time.
Lawmakers Reminding Texans of The Merry Christmas Law
A report from Fox News in Austin shares, “A Lone-star Santa joined State Representatives Dwayne Bohac and Richard Raymond in an effort to raise awareness about the Texas Merry Christmas Law. The legislation, which was signed by Governor Rick Perry in 2013, bans the censorship of traditional winter holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah by school districts. The state law not only allows students and teachers to say “Merry Christmas,” it also allows schools to display Christmas trees, nativity scenes and menorahs.”
The law is not put in place to force anyone to believe in Santa, or Jesus, or Christmas. It is simply to protect the rights of those who do. Representative Bohac explained, “We can restore fun and magic to the Christmas and Hanukkah season, we can do this together, we can all get along, and have fun doing it. And we are not trying to make you believe in Christmas or Hanukkah, you don’t have to, that’s not what this is. What this is saying is its OK if you do, that’s all.”
Fox News http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/06/14/perry-signs-merry-christmas-bill-into-law/
Pew Research Center http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/12/12/merry-christmas-or-happy-holidays/
Fox News Austin http://www.myfoxaustin.com/story/27577526/lawmakers-remind-the-public-about-texas-merry-christmas-law