Skip to comments.Teacher defends "Santa" remarks (Full, unedited statement)
Posted on 12/26/2005 8:11:14 AM PST by Conservatrix
To the Editor:
"Last week I substituted at a local elementary school in Lebanon County. The lesson plan required me to read the 1882 poem The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore to two classes of students. While I can appreciate the poem for its literary value, the subject matter is offensive to me, and the reading of this poem to the children imposed values upon me which are against my deeply held religious beliefs. I could not in good conscience present the notion of Santa Claus as a truth to the children, and stated so.
No public school teacher should be required to teach a belief, or custom, or religion that he or she believes to be false, or be required to pass those purported falsehoods onto impressionable children, without the right to state a disclaimer. Furthermore, freedom of speech and religion, no matter how unpopular the speech or against cultural norms the religion, are protected rights under the Constitution of the United States. A secular public school should not be propagating any kind of religion. The belief in Santa Claus as a divine, magical, omniscient, powerful, giving, loving father-figure, to which children are taught to make supplications and requests, is a religion indeed-- a distorted substitute for the Judeo-Christian God; a false form of Christianity; a zealously-protected American idol.
In presenting the poem, I gave the children quick historical background about the Santa Claus myth-- its evolution from the historic Nickolaus, Bishop of Myrna in Asia Minor, who died in 343 A.D., to its amalgamation with ancient Western pagan traditions of German, Scandinavian and Dutch origins, to the current manifestation in the secular Christmas culture of today. (Dutch children, for example, would put their wooden shoes out at night for Sante Klaus to fill with candies.)
The current Santa Claus figure was popularized in the late 19th Century by artist Thomas Nast of Harpers Weekly Magazine, who depicted Saint Nick, not as an elf, but a rotund, pipe-smoking man in a red and white suit. This is the deity to which countless public school children today are taught to make supplications, and about whom they sing their many songs at annual public school Christmas programs.
If people are upset about the revelation to children that Santa Claus is a myth-- which all children who are taught this lie find or figure out eventually-- perhaps it is because Santa is that zealously-guarded idol of their own modern religion. Therefore, as a religion, let Santa be kept out of the public school classroom (no more Dear Santa letters to line those school hallways)--or perhaps, in the interest of diversity, make his mythical, oversized personage share equal representation in literature, and song, and Christmas programs, with the other Person of the season: the Lord Jesus Christ, God made flesh, God with us."
"Thank you very much for demonstrating your papers low level of journalistic integrity in todays reporting of the Santa Controversy. I was misquoted in both ofyour articles, and much of what I had to say--including the main points of the interview I agreed to give to your reporter, Mr. Schuler, were omitted entirely. Perhaps these qualities is why your circulation is so low, why free papers show up at my door all the time, as well why I get frequent nuisance calls from your telemarketers wanting me to subscribe to your three-page paper. You really do need to give it away.
I never said in my telephone interviews with Mr. Schuyler that I want everyone to agree with my beliefs about teaching, or not teaching, Santa Claus to children. What I said, as I stated in my letter to the editor and evidently need to clarify further, was that 1) what public school is doing by promoting Santa Claus is promoting a form of religion; that 2) religion should not be promoted in public school; 3) a teacher should not be required to promote a religion in public school; and 4) the lesson plan requiring me to promote Santa Claus was imposing religion on me, not the other way around. I certainly am not responsible for, or interested in, making people believe as I do about anything, for that is definitely not my job.
Leonard Martin, a friend of mine, is without a doubt the gentlest, humblest, meekest man I know, a devout Christian who practices his belief in God with the highest integrity. He does not believe in violence or retribution or revenge. Mr. Martin never used the phrase a form of revenge in speaking to Mr.Schuler, and yet he was represented as saying this or believing in this.
You neglected to include my entire statements about freedom of speech and religion. Dont you like the Constitution? It read: Furthermore, freedom of speech and religion, no matter how unpopular the speech or against cultural norms the religion, are protected rights under the Constitution of the United States. I also said, in full: that belief in Santa is a distorted substitute for the Judeo-Christian God; a false form of Christianity; a zealously-protected American idol. I also said, without edit, If people are upset about the revelation to children that Santa Claus is a myth-- which all children who are taught this lie find or figure out eventually-- perhaps it is because Santa is that zealously-guarded idol of their own modern religion. This statment only makes sense if you include the phrases you omitted.
I spoke in trust with Mr. Schuler, who told me the article was to be a front-page story showing Leonard Martins sign, and that the inclusion of my involvement at the school was to be a small part of that story. It was under those terms that I agreed to be interviewed. Instead, your editors put me on the front page- rather negatively, in fact-- and Mr. Martins sign, small and off to the bottom, on page five. I would never have agreed to speak to this reporter at all, had I known that your paper would distort both my words and its intentions about the use of my words. Evidently a lame front-page contoversy beats stating quotations and sentiments accurately and without bias. Is this how you think you will sell a few more papers?
I would wish you to print this letter in its entirety, but based on todays experience, I highly doubt all my words will appear as I intend them to appear, which means all of my words, none deleted, without your editing. It might even make your paper bigger."
If she really was offended by the lesson plan, she should have walked out and not taught it.
And she was reading to 6 year old kids, right?
If this woman is so deeply offended by Santa Claus (and other subjects of faith and spirituality the children's PARENTS might have told their children)...and she sees it as her personal right and responsibility to disabuse small children of their belief in the magic of fairy tales (and other things unseen but felt by faith)....then what the he## is she doing teaching in elementary school?
She doesn't belong near impressionable children.
The First Law of Holes: When you're in over your head, stop digging.
Oh please... And Kwanza?
10 to 1 she has no problem with this.
I teach younger children, and Santa is part of their culture. How insipid to say this shouldn't be taught.
She sounds like the Grinch to me.
I wish people would read both of these statements before making responses. It seems like people like to spout without allowing divergent point of views to be considered. Conservatives ought to be able to do this.
Oh, so she knows this guy:
What a bunch of partypoopers!
Scripted by the ACLU...
"And she was reading to 6 year old kids, right?
Six year olds? How many six year olds do you suppose still believe that Santa Claus is a real figure? I gave that nonsense up at age 4, for pete's sake.
Santa is a nice symbolic figure, with roots in Christianity. This teacher taught those roots to these kids. She's not anti-Christian at all, as far as I can tell.
Santa Claus is a mythological figure. Santa does not really exist. It is the idea of Santa Claus that is attractive. At age six, this will not be the first time these kids will have been exposed to the fact that Santa is not real. Other kids will have disabused them of that fact already, I guarantee.
"then what the he## is she doing teaching in elementary school?"
Why the ***% is Santa being taught in public school as a religion?
She doesn't belong near the human race.
Her duty as a substitute teacher is to follow the lesson plans given.
I dare say she won't be getting any job anytime soon, once other Districs see what she has done.
Talk about cutting your nose to spite your face.
"Scripted by the ACLU..."
No, scripted from the heart and conscience of someone willing to live by what they believe to be true.
"It seems like people like to spout without allowing divergent point of views to be considered. Conservatives ought to be able to do this."
Why did she feel the necessity to ruin an aspect for Christmas for these students? I read both statements and I still don't see the case. I would expect an educator to make the case with much simpler words. Of course, if the case is so hard to make, many words might be necessary.
Out of the mouths of babes.
Anyone, over the age of twelve, that is unaware of the connection to reporters [?] and distortion is not only naive, buy they no doubt are still suffering from the malady that struck the day they found out Santa wasn't the one eating the milk and cookies Mom left out Christmas Eve.
I guess that doesn't apply to atheism....or to evolution, which is preached with all the passion of religion.
Reading a traditional Santa Claus poem is not teaching or preaching a "religion" - it's holiday entertainment.
Where does the "Night Before Christmas" get religious? Rather a classic poem, isn't it? Ever read a poem that contained elements of fantasy or faith that you don't believe in, just for literary value??
It is very sad that this woman did not allow children to have that magical wonderful adventure of Santa Claus. If she can not separate Santa from Christ; then she has no business speaking about it. Fairy tales are not something you lump into reality. Life is hard; but when you are a child; you should be a child with all of the magical things that happen as a child. There is time enough for being adults and reality.
Whew these liberals must eat nails 24/7.
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