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Happy holidays? Not for some Christians
Newark Star Ledger ^ | 12.24.02

Posted on 12/24/2004 8:35:00 PM PST by Coleus

They are Christmas and Chanukah rites in their own cheerless ways, those annual December disputes over what to sing, what to say, and what religious symbols to display in public space.

The Maplewood-South Orange school district had its own controversy this month, as its ban on religious songs -- even instrumental versions -- at Columbia High School drew national ridicule, and a federal lawsuit.

And in Oklahoma, voters angry at a superintendent who removed a Nativity scene from a school show organized to defeat an $11 million school bond measure.

The people objecting are those who feel religion is being driven out of holiday displays, speech and celebrations, said John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, which defends rights of religious expression and practice.

The American Center for Law and Justice, said that school or government authorities, wary of lawsuits, often instinctively side against including any religious displays or music.

Protesters, led by Bogota, NJ,  Mayor Steve Lonegan, a GOP gubernatorial candidate, gathered outside the school to sing religious songs.

The Thomas More Law Center,    "dedicated to defense and promotion of the religious freedom of Christians," filed a lawsuit for Michael Stratechuk, contending the ban was hostile to religion and violated the constitutional rights of his two sons in the school district.

The Supreme Court has not ruled on school holiday music, said Robert Boston, spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State. An oft-cited federal appellate decision from 1980 let a South Dakota school include religious songs in holiday concerts, but schools also can choose to ban them, he said.

The Alliance Defense Fund says it has contacted thousands of school districts around the country with related tips, saying they can call holiday breaks "Christmas vacations" and that "it's okay to say 'Merry Christmas.'"

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Extended News; Government; Politics/Elections; US: Arizona; US: Florida; US: Michigan; US: New Jersey; US: New York; US: North Carolina; US: Oklahoma
KEYWORDS: aclj; alliancedefensefund; antichristmas; christmas; happyholidays; merrychristmas; nativityscene; newjersey; nj; pc; rutherfordinstitute; thomasmore; waronchristmas

1 posted on 12/24/2004 8:35:00 PM PST by Coleus
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