December is here and my favorite time of year is quickly approaching. You can guess what that is…Christmas! I love the lights, decorated trees, beautiful music, and the excitement of Christmas.
I remember as a child hearing my family talk about seeing the word “Christmas” spelled as “Xmas”. Do you remember that? People used to say that using the “X” took the word Christ out of Christmas. Whether that belief was factual or not isn’t the purpose of my comments but I can’t help but wonder if that was the start to what we are seeing today. I would never have guessed that many years later people throughout our culture are not only trying to take the Christ out of Christmas but are also trying to take away the entire celebration of Christmas as most of us know it.
The Washington Post reported that several public school districts recently tried to remove the playing of religious music at Christmas school events.
In the Wausau School District in Wisconsin, a school board committee voted to limit the amount of religious music that could be played at concerts. The choir director became so upset over the decision that he cancelled the school concert. This created such uproar that the committee reversed their decision.
In another case, School Superintendent Constance J. Bauer of the Bordentown Regional School District in Bordentown, N.J., issued a statement banning all religious music from the elementary school’s December winter programs. This decision also created uproar and Superintendent Bauer reversed her decision.
Charles Haynes, a First Amendment scholar and director of the Religious Freedom Education Project at the Newseum, wrote in depth about the legalities of allowing Christmas music in our public schools discussing in detail First Amendment rights and the Establishment Clause. After a very detailed analysis Haynes wrote this line that I think brings it all together.
… But millions of Americans celebrate Christmas in December, and for schools to pretend that Christmas either doesn’t exist or is entirely secular is just plain silly….
What can we learn from all this? First, in each of these examples, the community simply didn’t allow these public school decisions to stand without challenging them. As a result, both of the school systems changed their original positions. So, don’t be afraid to challenge poor decisions that are in violation of the First Amendment and violate our religious freedom.
Second, as time goes on, followers of Christ will be challenged and pushed hard by those who oppose scriptural truths. It is already happening. The challenges are here and will continue to confront us. We need to be prepared and just as serious about confronting First Amendment violations of our religious freedom as the culture is about trying to shut down these very beliefs we hold dear.
So, go put on your favorite Christmas music, be strong and courageous, take a stand, and have a Merry Christmas!