Monday, December 7, 2009

Now that's interesting....

The elementary school that I went to has recently been in their local news after the principal ordered that a Holiday Giving Tree be taken down after two families complained that it was a religious representation inside the school. The organizers of the tree commented that they were surprised, as they had intentionally left the tree devoid of any ornaments that could be considered religious.

In fact, the "Christmas Tree" was originally a pagan symbol used to celebrate new life. The church has adopted the Christmas Tree as a religious symbol, but in 1989, the Supreme Court said, "The Christmas tree, unlike the menorah, is not itself a religious symbol. Although Christmas trees once carried religious connotations, today they typify the secular celebration of Christmas." Furthermore, the Supreme Court and numerous lower courts have held that nativity scenes and menorahs may be displayed on government property without violating the constitution.

So, really, the principal shouldn't have removed the "Holiday Giving Tree" in the first place, even if it had been called a "Christmas Tree". But that's not the point of this post--the thing that's really interesting about the whole situation is that the "secular holiday symbols" the principal is allowing are candy canes, snowflakes, and snowmen.

Here's the funny part--do you know what the historical significance of the candy cane is? The curve symbolizes a shepard's staff, and they were originally given out to children at church services as a way to remember Jesus as The Good Shepard.

I'm sorry...I just think the whole situation is pretty hilarious.


  1. I'm so over the "holiday" and not Christmas PC thing. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ, if you don't like it then you shouldn't be celebrating it to begin with!

  2. ^^ What she said! Ditto for Easter.. The Easter Bunny..? Really?

  3. stuff like this makes me SO MAD!! ugh!! Honestly?!?! We talk about everything BUT Christ in schools...would you please, just let us have our christmas trees and at least secretly enjoy the meaning of the REAL christmas...ugh..

  4. That's tarded. Should've kept the tree up. And that's a-coming from an atheist who feels like this country is not a particularly friendly place for non-believing folk like me.

    Once upon a time, I wrote for The Mast about the secular function of Christmas in American society (aside from unrestrained consumerism). Maybe I'll find it and put it on my blog.

    All that said, Christians, don't get too upset--you still rule the damn country. Those in a position of overwhelming strength can afford to be more humble than those in the minority position.

  5. Seriously? That is maddening, and hilarious, all at the same time.

  6. Seriously, some people really are ridiculous! ;) If you don't believe in celebrating Christ's birth, don't celebrate Christmas, that is, after all, what Christmas is about!

  7. I feel like I need to say that although I'm Christian, I'm actually a pretty firm believer in separation of church and state, so I don't have a problem with public schools being unable to publicly endorse a particular religious holiday.

    But the whole point is that the Supreme Court has ruled time and again that the "Christmas Tree" (even called that) is secular, not religious. I just thought it was funny that the principal wouldn't allow a secular object that is interpreted to be religious, but WOULD allow a blatantly religious object that is interpreted to be secular.

    That said, I don't believe that the separation of church and state means that there can be no religion in school--it just means that a public school cannot endorse one religion over another. Teaching ABOUT religion or studying religious books as historical pieces of literature is an entirely different thing--and it DOES frustrate me that growing up, we were taught about almost every religion aside from Christianity in school.

  8. Yup. What Ethan said. I think he got cornered and didn't think out his response to angry people who wanted a fast reply. That happens alot in education with unhappy or at least contradictory conclusions.

    In my work office, where there are atheists, muslims, buddhists, christians and many more I'm sure, when we asked if we could put up stockings in our cubicles for our "Secret Non-denominational man with a white beard" exchange they said it was okay as long as they weren't red or green. Did the Supreme Court rule on which colors are religious or something? We had a laugh about that office memo.

    But Christmas trees are not allowed. Maybe I'll try the candy canes and see if anyone notices. Thanks for the idea Meredith :)

  9. Haha, way to be seditious, Sara.

  10. Wow, that's pretty silly. I think it's terrible that we cannot display our own beliefs, but for someone who doesn't have any, they think we shouldnt' be able to proudly display our own beliefs. Does that make sense? I just think that if you don't believe, that's fine, but don't look down upon me because I do.


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