Santa scored big in Texas schools this week. Free speech, meanwhile, ruled it a tie. And religion paced the sidelines waiting to be put in the game. The Lone Star state's "Merry Christmas Law" guarantees the freedom for students, teachers and administrators to wish each other Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah. They can wear sweaters with St. Nick on them to class Christmas parties and hand out dreidel pencils and reindeer antlers. As I said earlier this week, the law was effective this past summer.
Never mind that they could, by law, do all these things before. Now it's duplicated, so it really must be OK!
The Christian and Jewish holidays lawmakers unanimously voted in June to verbally and visually protect in schools were represented by the most familiar and commercial symbol at a press conference this week: Santa Claus.
Not Mary, Joseph and the infant Christ, along with all the nativity trappings.
Not the menorah or a scroll containing a blessing.
Santa was the main focus of a press conference given to remind Texans that they didn't have to be politically correct and dance around the words Christmas or Hanukkah in public school settings.
I get it: The political conservatives felt Christmas was being threatened because of lawsuits and general dissent in some districts. No one wants to go on the record as being anti-Christmas. So let's propose a bill, send it through committee and pass it without dissent so that everyone knows we're all on the record as being OK with people exchanging holiday greetings and decorating in schools.
The trouble is that those lawsuits had religion at their core. In 2001, two students were forbidden by school officials to hand out candy cane pencils and tags with Bible verses that correlated with the color and design of the candy and how those correlated with the birth of Jesus. This law would have to address students being able to hand out religious-themed literature or discuss the Bible in a classroom setting with their peers in order to address the issue that was raised 12 years ago and has been disputed since.
As you can see, there's a lot to be said on both sides of issue and on many sides of the discussion over the law. I discussed some of that with host Todd Wilken on this week's Crossroads. We also talked about Christian adoption and a post I wrote last month during National Adoption Month about a New York Times piece that really gave me story envy.
Have a listen? Weigh in on the issues at hand and their treatment in the press? Wear an ugly Christmas sweater, even, if you like.