A Texas school employee was forced to remove a Charlie Brown-themed Christmas door decoration because the poster cited a quote from the film A Charlie Brown Christmas which contained a verse from the Bible.
On Tuesday, a school board just north of Austin voted six to one to keep the Christmas decoration out of Patterson Middle School, KWTX-TV News reported.
According to the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, the 1.8-metre tall poster covered the front of a door to the nurse’s office and featured Peanuts character Linus and a quote.
“For unto you is born this day in the City of David a savior which is Christ the Lord …That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown,” reads the quote from the film.
Prior to the vote, the Killeen Independent School District Board of Trustees heard from many community members who wanted the poster to remain in the school, KWTX-TV News reported.
“We fought, we died, we bled, we serve, we quit, for that reason, for free speech,” C.J. Grisham was quoted as saying during the open forum. “If people don’t want to see a reference to God, turn around, look the other way.”
Attorney General Ken Paxton urged the school board to reverse its decision to remove the poster, saying the decoration is protected under the so-called Merry Christmas law.
“The Killeen ISD’s attempt to censor the true meaning of Christmas is an attack on religious liberty and a violation of the First Amendment and state law,” Paxton wrote in a Facebook post. “I’ve called on the school board of the Killeen ISD to immediately reverse their unlawful decision. I hope you will stand with me in the defense of the true meaning of Christmas!”
In 2013, Texas passed Bill 308 which essentially allows teachers and students to allow various winter celebrations and greetings.
“A school district may educate students about the history of traditional winter celebrations, and allow students and district staff to offer traditional greetings regarding the celebrations, including: “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hanukkah,” and “happy holidays,” states a portion of Bill 308.
However, according to KWTX-TV News, the Texas school board issued a statement defending its decision and said the poster goes against the so-called Merry Christmas law.
“Our employees are free to celebrate the Christmas and holiday season in the manner of their choosing. However, employees are not permitted to impose their personal beliefs on students,” the news station quoted the statement as saying. “Upon review, it is clear that this display was not in keeping with the Merry Christmas Bill (House Bill 308), which requires that a display not encourage adherence to a particular religion.”
House Bill 308 states: A display relating to a traditional winter celebration may not include a message that encourages adherence to a particular religious belief.