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Santa visiting class in public school - Page 3

post #41 of 150
I don't think anyone said 95% of the population is Christian - but that that many people celebrate Christmas. I'm not sure if it's true, and it wasn't me (an atheist ) who said it. Just claryfying that there is a difference here. Christians celebrate Christmas, right? But that doesn't mean they do the whole Santa thing. Then there are plenty of non-christians who DO do Santa. They aren't one in the same.

And I know I mentioned the mall santa thing as an example about him being in public places, but no, we don't go to the mall and don't plan on taking the kids to sit on his lap (heck, we don't even have a mall in my city).
post #42 of 150
Santa visited my child's school. She was delighted and I was happy for her, but if asked my opinion, I think it's alienating to our apparently multicultural society to persevere with valuing Christian tradition over others, and I think it should stop.
post #43 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by amma_mama View Post
The "big whoop" is that we have separation of Church and State. Our public schools should NOT be incorporating religious aspects into the school day. Santa, "secular" or not, is associated with Christmas and I have a hard time swallowing the idea that Christmas is a secular holiday - it is a celebration of the birth of baby Jesus Christ!
You know, I am not Christian, but I take issue with this approach to separation of church and state. I went to a public school for a few years in the 1970's, and religion was approached as a taboo subject. We did still have a "Christmas" break and and "Easter" break, but whenever a religious subject (especially a Christian subject) we were told that it wasn't allowed in school and the discussion was ended. ETA the rest of the thought, which I apparently deleted: I don't feel that sort of approach served me or any of the other students well. Instead of teaching us how to speak about religion and religious topics in an informed, respectful way, it taught us that those subjects are off-limits because they might offend. That sort of attitude leads to a lot of problems when we all have to live together.

As long as the school is not actively promoting one religion (i.e., telling the children what to believe, rather than just exposing them to others beliefs), I think these sorts of celebrations are not only fun, but also educational and completely in keeping with the separation of church and state. In my son's class, they've spent a day each learning about Hanukkah and Kwanza. They've made Christmas trees as an art project, and are having a holiday party with some traditional Christmas symbols. I see it all as enriching his understanding of the cultures and traditions around him. I'd like to see more. Ramadan and the Eid, Hmong New Year, Diwali - I know time is an issue, but the more the better!

And let's not forget that most of the symbols we associate with Christmas (the Christmas tree, wreaths, mistletoe and holly, and even a mythical bearded man) were all used for pre-Christian celebrations of the solstice. They aren't Christian traditions as much as they are traditions adopted and popularized by Christians.
post #44 of 150
We do Christmas as a totally secular holiday. It is totally unrelated to any religion for us.

As for Christians/christmas/etc, from all the research/polls I found, it said 80% of the US identifies as Christians, but 95% celebrate Christmas.
post #45 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by amma_mama View Post
The "big whoop" is that we have separation of Church and State. Our public schools should NOT be incorporating religious aspects into the school day. Santa, "secular" or not, is associated with Christmas and I have a hard time swallowing the idea that Christmas is a secular holiday - it is a celebration of the birth of baby Jesus Christ! We do not celebrate that particular religious event and do not want it celebrated at a public school. Our DD is now in a Catholic school, so we are OK with her participating in all of it there (otherwise we never would have put her in that school), but I would not find it acceptable at a public school. If there was a lesson on "world religions and cultures" that would be one thing, but the children are being asked to "celebrate" a symbol that is associated with a specific religion. It is not about inclusion or exclusion, it is about what the Constitutional division that we have in this country. We do not have to suck it up here. Again, I do not expect DD to be sheltered from Santa at the Mall, but the mall is not publicly-funded property. I also did not expect my DD to be sheltered from Muslim prayers in school over the past two years in the Middle East because they do not share our Constitution. But here in the US, do not tell me that my choice is to keep my child home from public school (which my child is entitled to attend) or to "suck up" the violation of separation of Church and State. Maybe others need to "suck up" to the fact that we have a Constitution that governs such separation and enjoy Santa outside of the public school system. As you said, there is no shortage of Santas at the mall, etc that you and your family can enjoy.

Ok, I will step down from my soapbox now...
i can nearly guarantee within a shadow of a doubt that Santa at school for christmas has zippo to do with baby jesus in the manger.
post #46 of 150
At my girls school they have a Christmas party tomorrow and last week they had potato pancakes made by a classmate's mom and played dreidel and I am sure that they will end up loving every minute of each celebration even though we don't celebrate hanukkah at home.

Ask any religious leader if they believe Santa is a part of the church's celebration and I doubt a single one will say yes.
post #47 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by TCMoulton View Post
Ask any religious leader if they believe Santa is a part of the church's celebration and I doubt a single one will say yes.
good point. which is why I still think it's not a religion issue - but a santa or no santa/christmas or no christmas thing (again, not saying they go hand in hand).
post #48 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommy2maya View Post
We do Christmas as a totally secular holiday. It is totally unrelated to any religion for us.

As for Christians/christmas/etc, from all the research/polls I found, it said 80% of the US identifies as Christians, but 95% celebrate Christmas.
Yep, my SIL is an atheist and refuses to let her children be exposed to any aspect of Christianity. They celebrate Christmas though.

As far as the separation of church and state, I wish there WAS some general religious education in school. I think it would be great if my kids could take a class about some of the different religions in the world. While I don't think teachers should be witnessing to students or trying to convince them to be any religion, I don't see why learning about Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc. is any more taboo at school than learning about Greek mythology.
post #49 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by lindberg99 View Post
Yep, my SIL is an atheist and refuses to let her children be exposed to any aspect of Christianity. They celebrate Christmas though.

As far as the separation of church and state, I wish there WAS some general religious education in school. I think it would be great if my kids could take a class about some of the different religions in the world. While I don't think teachers should be witnessing to students or trying to convince them to be any religion, I don't see why learning about Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc. is any more taboo at school than learning about Greek mythology.
I absolutely agree with this, and I think knowledge is the key to acceptance of others. Learning what each religion means is certainly not forcing them to call the religion their own. Of course, it would have to be a balanced curriculum, and include world religions, big and small.

ETA:

I don't think that teaching about religion in schools is the same as bringing religion into schools afa prayers and such.
post #50 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by LuckyMommaToo View Post
But we live in a diverse area where there ARE kids who don't celebrate Cmas. (Jewish and Muslim.) Why make such a big deal out of it?-e
I agree with you. I don't think it's right to bring Santa in to the school. Around here they give kids halloween off for a fall break and they do that mainly because of the religious fanatics that prefer not to have kids in the schools doing parties or anything on halloween. I think it's also unfair to have a Santa in the schools and it shouldn't be allowed since not all families celebrate the holiday season the same. I went to school with several Jehovah's Witnesses and they did not celebrate Cmas so that made it tough for them when kids were exchanging gifts each year since they couldn't participate, even with best friends.

It's best to keep school - school. Let the parents do santa on their own time with their children.
post #51 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by darcytrue View Post
I agree with you. I don't think it's right to bring Santa in to the school. Around here they give kids halloween off for a fall break and they do that mainly because of the religious fanatics that prefer not to have kids in the schools doing parties or anything on halloween. I think it's also unfair to have a Santa in the schools and it shouldn't be allowed since not all families celebrate the holiday season the same. I went to school with several Jehovah's Witnesses and they did not celebrate Cmas so that made it tough for them when kids were exchanging gifts each year since they couldn't participate, even with best friends.

It's best to keep school - school. Let the parents do santa on their own time with their children.
So, since JW don't celebrate birthdays either, we shouldn't have birthday celebrations at school either. And better stop saying the Pledge at school, ENTIRELY, because JW do not participate in that either.

AFA other religious celebrations, should there also not be any mention of dreidls at school? Because our school also teaches about Hannukah during december. How about Quanza? Again, there should be no mention?
post #52 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommy2maya View Post
i can nearly guarantee within a shadow of a doubt that Santa at school for christmas has zippo to do with baby jesus in the manger.
Unfortunately, for better or worse, St. Nick (that's SAINT Nick), has guilt by association.
post #53 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by lindberg99 View Post
As far as the separation of church and state, I wish there WAS some general religious education in school. I think it would be great if my kids could take a class about some of the different religions in the world. While I don't think teachers should be witnessing to students or trying to convince them to be any religion, I don't see why learning about Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc. is any more taboo at school than learning about Greek mythology.
Well, the problem is that religion is such an emotional subject, and because there are no FACTS to base anything on... no real evidence... it's not a topic that can be taught without bias. That's why it should be taught at home, and, later in life, in a university setting where, as adults, we can use our adult brain to rationalize if there is any bias. A child can't do this. We are atheist, and yet, our dd (and this is just from listening to peers, not teachers) at only 7 years of age already has learned about Jesus (not from us) and believes in God (not from us). I think kids have plenty of influence just from peers. There's no need to get it from a respected adult at school such as a teacher.

Santa is a figure of christianity. No other religion has him. Promoting Santa is promoting christianity whether people want to believe it or not. (And we do Santa in spite of our "beliefs".)
post #54 of 150
Thread Starter 
Quote:
So, since JW don't celebrate birthdays either, we shouldn't have birthday celebrations at school either.
OP here. Kinda hilarious, but actually it is NOT allowed to celebrate birthdays at DS's school. Yeah, the same school that has Santa visiting!

I appreciate the thoughtful discussion. And I think I agree with a PP (drummer's wife?) that this comes down to: what does Santa represent? It's interesting to me to hear the different viewpoints.
post #55 of 150
I wouldn't mind. I'd also like it if other mythical characters came to the school to visit for other family type holidays, not just the ones we're used to celebrating in this country.
post #56 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by Owen'nZoe View Post
You know, I am not Christian, but I take issue with this approach to separation of church and state. I went to a public school for a few years in the 1970's, and religion was approached as a taboo subject. We did still have a "Christmas" break and and "Easter" break, but whenever a religious subject (especially a Christian subject) we were told that it wasn't allowed in school and the discussion was ended. ETA the rest of the thought, which I apparently deleted: I don't feel that sort of approach served me or any of the other students well. Instead of teaching us how to speak about religion and religious topics in an informed, respectful way, it taught us that those subjects are off-limits because they might offend. That sort of attitude leads to a lot of problems when we all have to live together.

As long as the school is not actively promoting one religion (i.e., telling the children what to believe, rather than just exposing them to others beliefs), I think these sorts of celebrations are not only fun, but also educational and completely in keeping with the separation of church and state. In my son's class, they've spent a day each learning about Hanukkah and Kwanza. They've made Christmas trees as an art project, and are having a holiday party with some traditional Christmas symbols. I see it all as enriching his understanding of the cultures and traditions around him. I'd like to see more. Ramadan and the Eid, Hmong New Year, Diwali - I know time is an issue, but the more the better!

And let's not forget that most of the symbols we associate with Christmas (the Christmas tree, wreaths, mistletoe and holly, and even a mythical bearded man) were all used for pre-Christian celebrations of the solstice. They aren't Christian traditions as much as they are traditions adopted and popularized by Christians.
Word.


My son recited a Hanukkah poem at school at the holiday concert today. We're not Jewish (if it matters, we attend UU but I was raised Catholic and practiced Christian through young adulthood). I still thought it was cool that he got assigned the Hanukkah poem, and he did too - I didn't feel like religion was being foisted on him or he was being shown that ther's something wrong with him because he's not Jewish. He's learned about various religious and cultural celebrations of the season at school, and I'm glad - we also talk about them at home. I personally think that the answer isn't to eliminate this stuff entirely, but to *include* it ALL. Now, if there was mention of *JUST* Christmas and Santa, then I'd have a problem. But if various religious and cultural celebrations are being taught and celebrated, I see no problem at all. Just because my kid doesn't believe in or participate in something doesn't mean that he can't learn about it and observe it. : "Some people believe..." is a GREAT conversation starter in our household. IMO, talkign about, learning about, and even briefly sharing in religious and cultural traditions other than yours doesn't take away from your own familial traditions or diminish them, it just deepens connections and understanding of others.
post #57 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by The4OfUs View Post
Word.


My son recited a Hanukkah poem at school at the holiday concert today. We're not Jewish. I still thought it was cool that he got assigned the Hanukkah poem, and he did too - I didn't feel like religion was being foisted on him or he was being shown that ther's something wrong with him because he's not Jewish. He's learned about various religious and cultural celebrations of the season at school, and I'm glad - we also talk about them at home. I personally think that the answer isn't to eliminate this stuff entirely, but to *include* it ALL. Now, if there was mention of *JUST* Christmas and Santa, then I'd have a problem. But if various religious and cultural celebrations are being taught and celebrated, I see no problem at all. Just because my kid doesn't believe in or participate in something doesn't mean that he can't learn about it and observe it. : "Some people believe..." is a GREAT conversation starter in our household.
Exactly! How can we respect our differences if we know nothing about them.
post #58 of 150
Interesting.

Many of the homeschooling Christians around here do not 'do' Greek and Roman mythology. My husband is a classicist so I do hear about this.

Our public school does not do Halloween opting instead for a harvest festival without costumes. They are however putting on a Christmas Program including what I pconsider to be religious songs during the school day before Winter Break. No other religions get a nod of any sort.

I would appreciate a broader education concerning the various religions but I fear it would be a talk about funny other people.
post #59 of 150
Quote:
Originally Posted by TCMoulton View Post
Ask any religious leader if they believe Santa is a part of the church's celebration and I doubt a single one will say yes.
True, Christian schools celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus, not as Santa coming down the chimney giving presents to children. Santa has nothing to do with the story of the Jesus' birth. Santa is a secularized mythical figure, but yes, he is associated with the "Christmas" holiday.
post #60 of 150
There's a huge difference between objecting to Saint Nickolas coming to school and never ever mentioning or learning about anyones beliefs.

For starters, I'm pretty sure that the Santa is going to be presented to the children as the genuine Santa. The teacher is probably not going to stand up in front of the class and say:

"This is a guy wearing a red suit. Children from mainstream American Christian religions believe he is a Saint that listens to there wishes and brings them toys. People from other religions think he's Larry the principals husband who glued on a fake beard."

Can you imagine how many people would be upset by that.

Reading a story like T'was the Night Before Christmas is on a completely different level. Baking gingerbread men and talking about how special foods became associated with Christmas b/c spices such as ginger were very expensive in the past and couldn't be used all year. I certainly don't object to the occasional mention of menorahs or playing with dreidels, but if the school having a seder at passover and inviting some one to dress up as Elias and come to drink the extra cup of wine left out.
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