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what are the laws for Xmas in public schools? - Page 3

post #41 of 101
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Originally Posted by organicfarmerswife View Post
Im sorry- I do mind you asking
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post
Interesting attitude.
What's wrong with that?

I don't see how the situation is much different if we're talking about a Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Athiest, etc, child. A Pagan child may or may not face similar issues in a school like this, as some Christian symbols are Pagan symbols as well.

Yes, some families who aren't Christian enjoy celebrating Christmas as a cultural holiday- and there's nothing wrong with that. But children who don't celebrate Christmas shouldn't be made to feel uncomfortable because of that.

IMO, the decorated evergreens, reindeer, and pictures of a guy with a white beard and mustache in the red and white suit are acceptable. Yes, they're all symbols of Christmas but there's nothing overtly religious about any of them. Any child can walk past those decorations (or even participate in making them) and walk away feeling OK about the holiday season and their friend's celebrations, even if they don't celebrate it themselves. It's certainly not ideal, and it's one of the reasons I'm not comfortable using public schools personally, but it's acceptable for the schools to do.

As for the "winter concert" songs- were they religious songs talking about Jesus' birth, or just general celebration type songs about enjoying the holiday? I'd have a big problem with my Jewish kids singing "Silent Night." I don't have a problem with Jingle Bells, Walking in a Winter Wonderland, or even Rudolph the Reindeer. Yes, it mentions Christmas and Santa but not in a religious way.

A man dressed in a Santa suit, asking everybody what they want for Christmas, is over the line. That's making the assumption that every student celebrates Christmas at home and that the celebration includes gifts.

Plus, as others have mentioned, the bullying needs to be addressed regardless of the focus of the bullying.
post #42 of 101
I think you should definitely speak with the teacher, and the principal if necessary, to get the teasing to stop. Immediately. This is a completely separate issue than how or if Christmas should be noted in the school. Don't let them wrap the two together -- no matter what the laws are on Christmas, they have an absolute responsibility to protect your chid and provide a safe educational environment. They aren't and you need to act on this portion.

I'm not a lawyer, but my (informed by marrying a lawyer) understanding of the 1st ammendment is that they cannot force a child to participate in a religious activity (and they recognize that merely having an activity can be construed as force to a chidl), they can't endorse a religious activity. So if your child's school had a daily prayer, that would be a problem. Ditto with a nativity scene, because that is explicitly religious symbol and that suggests endorsement. However, they can teach about religions. They cannot keep a child from expressing religious beliefs while at school - that would be a free speech issue. But as with all constitutional issues, the "enforcement" mechanism is up to people complaining, so lots of schools do lots of things that they shouldn't until someone calls them on it.

It is true that many people see Santa, reindeer etc. as symbols of a secular American holiday that just happens to share the name of a Christian religious holiday. As a Christian, this is honestly the way I see these symbols. They may once perhaps maybe sorta been associated with true Chistmas in some culture or other. But now they are so far removed from true Christmas as to be part of an entirely different American holiday that has nothing to do with the birth of Christ. I find them annoying as well and I wish they would come up with another name for the greed-fest currently called "Christmas".

Now, you don't seem them that way, and I understand. And because you don't, I think you need to raise the issue with school officials. But I think the arguement you will get is that this is the secular side of the holiday and therefore OK. I'm not sure how far you will get in trying to convince people otherwise, but you can certainly try. And if this is really bothering you and your child, you should try.

Good luck.
post #43 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evan&Anna's_Mom View Post
It is true that many people see Santa, reindeer etc. as symbols of a secular American holiday that just happens to share the name of a Christian religious holiday. As a Christian, this is honestly the way I see these symbols. They may once perhaps maybe sorta been associated with true Chistmas in some culture or other. But now they are so far removed from true Christmas as to be part of an entirely different American holiday that has nothing to do with the birth of Christ. I find them annoying as well and I wish they would come up with another name for the greed-fest currently called "Christmas".

.
You may not like the way that Christmas is celebrated nowadays, but it is nonetheless a Christian holiday. No two ways around that.
post #44 of 101
For the OP - Welcome to MDC. I think you might be a little new.

The boards are huge, but I wanted to point out that there is a Spirituality forum. There are a number of threads there that might be of interest to you, or post if you feel comfortable.

Here is the Spirituality forum:
http://www.mothering.com/discussions...splay.php?f=13

I think you were wondering specifically about people who don't celebrate Christmas, you might find some helpful perspectives there. There are lots of threads there from Pagans to Jews to "head covering" Christian and Muslim mamas, liberal Christians, catholics, friends, LDS, submissive wives, really quite a diverse group.
post #45 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagine21 View Post

Christmas is a Christain holiday, period. Therefore anything associated with Christmas, becomes a de facto Christain symbol, i.e trees, santa, reindeer, etc... Any argument to the contrary is a rationalization so people can do what they want and not feel bad about offending those who have different religious traditions or no religion at all. I am frankly sick of "compulsory Christianity" in this culture. I feel terrible for those children who are made to feel different in the school where they should be welcomed and treated equally. Too bad most people and those who work in schools can't recognize their own bias. It is at the expense of children.
: : :
post #46 of 101
Welcome to MDC, organicfarmerswife. The issue of religion is always tricky to discuss.

Mamas, please remember not to take direct issue with other members on the thread. If you have an issue with another member, please take it to PM or contact a Moderator. From the UA:

Quote:
Do not post to a thread to take direct issue with a member
post #47 of 101
The elementary school my kids go to does do some Christmas themed activities in the lower grades, but they also cover Hannukah, Kwanza and occasionally Diwali. Of those holidays, the only one where they talk about the religious signifigance is Hannukah.

No Holiday program, although the music program does teach the kids some holiday themed music, but it's generally pretty secular, and not just Christmas music.

I'm not Christian... but my family celebrates Christmas as a cultural holiday... the same way we celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving and the 4th of July. Of course, I don't mind my kids learning about other religions and the holidays of other cultures, so that might have something to do with it.

I remember when my daughter was in kindergarten, she wanted to celebrate Hannukah as well as Christmas.

If you think that dealing with Christmas stuff is bad, just wait until your child (I see you live in CA) hits the 6th grade. My oldest son is currently a 6th grader and the unit they're covering in Social Studies right now is Ancient Israel. Yup, at a public middle school, and how Judaism shaped the region.
post #48 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by WC_hapamama View Post
The elementary school my kids go to does do some Christmas themed activities in the lower grades, but they also cover Hannukah, Kwanza and occasionally Diwali. Of those holidays, the only one where they talk about the religious signifigance is Hannukah.
I always thought it was interesting in my daughter's preschool that the Christmas stuff was all very carefully secular but the Hannuakah songs were much more clearly "religious".

Quote:
The unit they're covering in Social Studies right now is Ancient Israel. Yup, at a public middle school, and how Judaism shaped the region.
But that is a historical fact. I'll bet they covered how religious sentiments drove the pilgrims to America and how the Catholic Church drove European history. There are lots of times when discussion of how religion influenced events and people's actions. I don't know how you could avoid that and teach social studies or history.
post #49 of 101
Quote:
oh really? how can you say that when santa asks "what do you want for xmas little girl?"
I just heard on the bob duco(christian talk radio) show himself say that xmas trees are christian symbols now- they were used for pagan rituals but christians took it over and now use it for their holidays. so I guess it depends on who you talk to.

and by the way- what you are saying is that everything I said is perfectly legal within the laws of seperation of church and state?
Santa is NOT a Christian symbol or related to the religion. Even if you stretch it to Father Christmas, that is not Santa. Yeah they're similarities in the tales, but they're not the same. The term "Christmas" has become secular. Christmas Trees are secular, even if Christians use them. They are still not christian symbols though, in no nativity scene or Christian display do I ever see Christmas trees.
post #50 of 101
I got the following from the Iowa Department of Education website. I live in Iowa so this is what applies to the public schools here. I just thought you may find it interesting and I'm sure your state has something similar in place.

Religious Holiday Celebrations in Public Schools
Public school officials need to be especially conscious at this time of year that the birth of the Christian Savior is not recognized or celebrated by all students and families. Therefore, here is a quick (not meant to be exhaustive) checklist of what public school officials are prohibited from doing and what they are permitted to do.

1. Prohibited Activities

* Displays of religious symbols such as a crèche, an angel, a menorah, or a banner with a religious message ("Gloria in Excelsis Deo," e.g.).
* Display of a Christmas tree with religious symbols such as stars, angels, the Baby Jesus.
* School-wide prayer or Scripture readings.
* A musical concert with exclusively religious music.
* Banning students from offering candy canes or other items with a religious message during noninstructional time (before or after school or during a recess) and NOT done in the classroom. Schools may still prohibit distribution within classrooms.
* Holding a "Christmas party" in the classroom. A "holiday" or "end of semester" or "end of 2004" party is okay.

2. Permissible Activities

* Including religious music selections during public holiday concerts if non-religious music is included.
* Holding holiday concerts at religious sites if the concerts are also held at non-religious sites.
* Displaying a "giving tree," i.e. a tree on which students hang donated items such as mittens, gloves, etc.
* Displays of religious symbols when combined with other symbols of cultural and ethnic heritage such as Kwanzaa symbols, Frosty the Snowman, other festive figures, a "Happy Holidays" banner, etc.
* Displays of symbols representing many religious beliefs, even without non-religious symbols. But, just displaying symbols from Christianity and Judaism is an impermissible endorsement of dual beliefs. The display must present a message of pluralism and freedom to choose one's own beliefs.

post #51 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarrieMF View Post
Santa is NOT a Christian symbol or related to the religion. Even if you stretch it to Father Christmas, that is not Santa. .
This is not true.

See: http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=38
post #52 of 101
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post
Although I think it is a great idea to involve the teacher and let him/her know what is going on, teaching your DD how to deal with others when they tease her is an important life skill.
yes i do and am, she's 6
post #53 of 101
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WC_hapamama View Post
The elementary school my kids go to does do some Christmas themed activities in the lower grades, but they also cover Hannukah, Kwanza and occasionally Diwali. Of those holidays, the only one where they talk about the religious signifigance is Hannukah.

No Holiday program, although the music program does teach the kids some holiday themed music, but it's generally pretty secular, and not just Christmas music.

I'm not Christian... but my family celebrates Christmas as a cultural holiday... the same way we celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving and the 4th of July. Of course, I don't mind my kids learning about other religions and the holidays of other cultures, so that might have something to do with it.

I remember when my daughter was in kindergarten, she wanted to celebrate Hannukah as well as Christmas.

If you think that dealing with Christmas stuff is bad, just wait until your child (I see you live in CA) hits the 6th grade. My oldest son is currently a 6th grader and the unit they're covering in Social Studies right now is Ancient Israel. Yup, at a public middle school, and how Judaism shaped the region.
There is nothing wrong with that, that is part of history. Many parts of history involve religion-how can it be avoided?
I have nothing against her learning about other religions/holidays. Of course not -in fact I encourage that-I think its the only way to foster tolerance-my problem is that christian holidays are the only ones celebrated/acknowledged in this school.
post #54 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by dancingmama View Post

And as far as all the trappings of Christmas not being Christian???? Well, a view that only one in the "majority" could take. I get that the holiday is now celebrated in a much more commercial way. But there would be no Santa (SAINT Nick) if there were no Christmas (CHRIST mas).
You don't believe this? I'm confused. We just aren't Christians. My younger son has no idea who Jesus is, he thinks a cross is a sword, etc.etc. but we do a secular Christmas the same way we do Halloween and 4th of July. I don't really care if the tradition originated as Christian, we just celebrate as cultural tradition.
post #55 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by dancingmama View Post
Ok, but that's not our santa. Our santa lives in the north pole with elves and magical reindeer. He was not a bishop and he wasn't from Greece. Our santa has different orgin story.
post #56 of 101
I apologize that I haven't read the whole thread, but I was wondering something similar myself. It is my understanding that the courts have ruled that xmas trees are secular symbols and can be displayed on govt/public property, so I would imagine that things like trees, santa, etc. would be within the bounds of legal in a school. I've not had an issues with dds' schools in years past having the kids sing a whole host of songs from different religions at holiday concerts even though some of them were bound to be from religions I do not personally subscribe to. It seemed to be equitable at least.

My older dd's holiday concert last night, though, consisted solely of Christian songs, one song from the musical Rent, and songs like Frosty the snowman. The Christian themed songs seemed to step over the bounds of separation of church and state imho -- a song from Handel's Messiah, Child of God, and Silent Night.

eta: I came across this link: http://www.adl.org/religious_freedom...guidelines.asp which may be helpful.
post #57 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruthla View Post
What's wrong with that?

I don't see how the situation is much different if we're talking about a Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Athiest, etc, child. A Pagan child may or may not face similar issues in a school like this, as some Christian symbols are Pagan symbols as well.
Nothing was "wrong" with that... it's just that it's interesting that the OP has a situation that directly relates to her religion and needs to be dealt with at school, but she doesn't want any advice specific for her religion.

For example, this year, it is the time of the Hajj around Christmas time and the sacrificial celebration for Muslims... perhaps her dd is dealing with kids who are teasing her about sacrificing animals. Those practicing Islam here could help her specifically with her problem.

I just think it's interesting to ask for help and not want to really give relevant details. Many mothers here have probably been there and could give some really good, specific, advice. I think anything anybody here wants to do is just help, not be argumentative.
post #58 of 101
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Originally Posted by supervee View Post
The First Amendment doesn't protect the majority; you don't need a law to protect what everybody wants... it's to protect the minority--that one child.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeliphish View Post
If you don't mind me asking...what is your religion?
I know this is a thread started by a particular person of a particular faith, but it's not really about her faith. I think this is an issue for any family that doesn't happen to be in the majority religion of their local school district. This sometimes even applies to Protestant Christians.
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Originally Posted by pammysue View Post
Christmas, yes. Christian, no.
Notice that Christmas and Christian start with the same root word.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarrieMF View Post
Santa is NOT a Christian symbol or related to the religion. Even if you stretch it to Father Christmas, that is not Santa. Yeah they're similarities in the tales, but they're not the same. The term "Christmas" has become secular. Christmas Trees are secular, even if Christians use them. They are still not christian symbols though, in no nativity scene or Christian display do I ever see Christmas trees.
"Santa" is short for Saint as in Saint Nicholas, and Saint Joseph, Saint Paul. Saints are Christian no matter how many elves you assign to work for them.



Just to put things in perspective for everyone, in the town I live in Protestant Christianity is not the majority religion.
post #59 of 101
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarrieMF View Post
Santa is NOT a Christian symbol or related to the religion. Even if you stretch it to Father Christmas, that is not Santa. Yeah they're similarities in the tales, but they're not the same. The term "Christmas" has become secular. Christmas Trees are secular, even if Christians use them. They are still not christian symbols though, in no nativity scene or Christian display do I ever see Christmas trees.
I agree. I feel, if nothing else, that Santa is actually more anti-Christian because it is swaying the focus of the holiday. It's the same reason we don't celebrate an egg-hiding-bunny on Easter.
post #60 of 101
I guess in reading this thread I just had the thought that this is so much larger than the which-symbols-are-in-school issue.

I agree that the bullying is the core immediate issue.

But I also think there is a whole question here about dominant culture and minority culture. I really feel for the OP's child; I was 'that kid' at some points in my life (notably when my family spent two years as Jehovah's Witness sort-of followers and I went out in the hall for the national anthem). It was hard sometimes, and sometimes it was strengthening.

I do think that school, because it's children and because it's sort-of mandatory (homeschooling aside), is a place that has a responsibility to work hard on inclusiveness, modelling tolerance, and behaving sensitively. I hope, OP, that you and the school can work together on that. It is kind of lousy that it is often the minority voice that has to be raised, but you're already in that situation.

My own personal belief is that while out and out religious ceremonies should be banned (anyone else remember saying the Lord's Prayer every morning? We did in school. I'm not baptised myself, so it was really odd.), trying to "get rid of" ALL mentions of ALL holidays/trappings/etc. is destructive in the long run. It kind of forces a lot of the discussion underground, or people make ignorant assumptions based on lack of information.

I kind of like the model where instead of removing them all, you add as many as possible in. I think it is possible to engage with things in a way that doesn't make them "the only way." I wouldn't want books removed from a library because they mentioned Christmas/Ba'hai/Buddhism/Islam/Judaism and although I think decorations a bit different and need to be treated carefully, I guess I still think it's safer to INCLUDE than EXCLUDE.

So that would be my approach with the school - not questioning whether or not they have the right to put things up, but to ask them why they are the only things up and also, if you don't mind having the conversation, making them aware of how overwhelming it can feel from your perspective. I hope it works out!
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