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Teacher defends "Santa" remarks (Full, unedited statement)
Lebanon Daily News ^ | 12/23/05 | Theresa R. Farrisi

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 Harper’s 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."

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events; US: Pennsylvania
KEYWORDS: absolutelywackaloon; allaboutme; badsanta; bahhumbug; bundleofjoy; campuscommies; campusradicals; christianity; coalinyoursock; crankymeanie; devilwearsredtoo; elohim; elvesinhell; feminazis; getalife; harridan; hormoneswouldhelp; leadpipes; mentalmidget; miserablewretch; needsagoodscrooge; nogiftsforyou; nutcaketeacher; nutjob; oldnickstnick; piousposer; pontificatrix; publicschools; religion; santa; santamyth; santasatan; satanclaus; scroogette; shrew; sourpuss; teacher; teacherfromhell; toobadkids; waronchristmas; waronpaganism; wheresmymartyrdom; xanthippe; xmastaliban
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To: BibChr
Of all your arguments, this is the one that I think destroys your point...

1. No sane, rational adult truly believes that the figure "Santa Claus," as described in contemporary culture, actually, ontologically, exists. None, zero, not one. NOBODY believes in a figure living in the North Pole, working with elves and flying reindeer, monitoring the works of all children omnisciently, creeping down chimneys each 12/25 to reward the good. Nobody, not one person.

So, I guess the result of all this deception is exactly what it's meant to be: a harmless fantasy that makes millions of children happy every year, and is eventually replaced by reality-- in all cases.

So, what again is your problem with the myth?

When your children first asked where babies came from, did you immediately fill their heads with the complex and wonderful concept that is sex? ...or did you do what the majority of parents do, and simply say that they come from Mommy's tummy?

When trying to make them careful to not talk to strangers, did you immediately launch into a dissertation on the varieties and symptoms of mental illness, sexual deviancy, and social constructs, or did you simply do what the majority of parents do, and simply say that there are "bogeymen" out there?

I don't suppose your children get small coins under their pillows in exchange for a wrapped-up tooth either, do they?

I prefer to allow children to have their fantasies, both positive and, where appropriate, negative until they're better able to handle the real world.

All I ask is that, if someone has a problem with my method of child-raising, they either come to me or keep their mouths shut. I'd prefer they not circumvent me and take it to my kids directly.

It's that simple.

101 posted on 12/26/2005 9:02:18 AM PST by Egon (I don't want edible meat, I want edible animals. - CygnusXI)
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To: MineralMan

The problem was the age of the kids. If they'd been older, fine.

102 posted on 12/26/2005 9:02:39 AM PST by hershey
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To: SittinYonder

"Kids never pay attention to the substitutes."

They rarely pay attention to much in public schools. Check thenational public school reading and math scores against homeschoolers lately?

103 posted on 12/26/2005 9:02:45 AM PST by Conservatrix ("He who stands for nothing will fall for anything.")
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To: MineralMan
To your post, Well said. But I liked this quote:

A lot of conservative Christians oppose the entire Santa Claus myth specifically because it masks the true meaning of Christmas.

I am one of them. When I had my children, I NEVER taught them that nonsense. There was a church I went to where the pastor even taught against telling children about Santa Claus. I believe MANY churches do so your observation that a lot of conservative Christians oppose Santa because of the reason you stated is absolutely true.

So, what do we have here: A bunch of the same people who were decrying the "War on Christmas" slandering a woman who is pointing out that Santa is not a deity, nor is Santa real.

"Twas the Night before Christmas" makes no mention of Jesus' birth. It doesn't mention the reason Christmas is celebrated at all. It's a strictly secular poem. It's about gifts and that sort of thing, and venerates a mythical character that distracts from the real story of Christmas.

I'm an atheist, and don't believe in the divinity of Jesus in the first place, but I'd like to see some consistency from those who do. Santa and this poem are purely secular, as presented here.

You want the "War on Christmas?" The commercial use of Santa Claus is at the heart of it. "The Night before Christmas" has nothing to do with Christianity, nor with the reason Christmas is celebrated.

Never thought I'd find myself agreeing with an atheist but HERE! HERE! And AMEN to that!

104 posted on 12/26/2005 9:04:09 AM PST by Sister_T (Kenneth Blackwell for Governor of Ohio!)
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To: Lurker
This is the deity to which countless public school children today are taught to make supplications

This broad really does take herself WAY too seriously.
In fact, I think she either has a very warped view of the world or is intentionally using hyperbole to strengthen the weakness of her argument.

105 posted on 12/26/2005 9:04:33 AM PST by Bloody Sam Roberts (This is my tagline. There are many like it but this one is mine.)
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To: Chode
This broad needs a nice mug of eggnog and then she needs to get laid. It might lighten her up just a bit.


Coincidence? I THINK NOT!!


106 posted on 12/26/2005 9:04:58 AM PST by Lurker (Let everything that's to be done be done by the herd.)
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To: Conservatrix
It just goes to show that there are people on the Right that are every bit as wacky as those we encounter on the Left. I still believe there are, currently, more on the Left than on the Right but...we do sure have our own doozies.
107 posted on 12/26/2005 9:05:24 AM PST by Reaganesque
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To: abclily

"This substitute teacher is a good example of the undereducated product of our liberal colleges. These young women have earned teaching degrees so they can go into our public schools and tear down American traditions. When they are not eroding American traditions, they are giving our adolescent boys hands-on learning experiences in sexual education."

She does not believe in sex-ed in public schools. She is a conserative, Bible-believing Christian, and a republican. She has two degrees in music, not elementary ed. She is hoping to find a job in a conservative, Bible-believing Christian school so this kind situation does not have to happen again!

108 posted on 12/26/2005 9:05:32 AM PST by Conservatrix ("He who stands for nothing will fall for anything.")
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To: Conservatrix
Why not teach them about Jesus who is the REAL person who is all-knowing, all-seeing, and rewards their good deeds?

I have no idea if you have children or not. If so, make sure you never take them to watch a magician or, to a puppet show. To a child a penny vanishing from a person's hand is real. A puppet on strings dancing on a stage is real. How awful is that? My children believed in Santa, magic, tooth fairys and puppets. And best of all, they enjoyed every minute of it.

They still believe in Jesus.

109 posted on 12/26/2005 9:05:37 AM PST by Cagey (Some men are Baptists, others Catholics, my father was an Oldsmobile man.)
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To: Conservatrix

I believe this teacher when she says it would go against her conscience to present the lesson as given. Too bad she couldn't express her reservations to her superiors first, and ask for opportunity to present a different lesson or ask to be relieved.

One does not need to be so anal about teaching the difference between imagination and reality, especially with young children. To take a well-known poem rooted in history and fantasy and attempt to seriously relate (or interpret) it for six-year-olds is to treat them as adults.

Meanwhile I'm curious as to how speaking positively about abortion to six year-olds relates to a simple reading of "The Night Before Christmas." Pangs of conscience over reading an imaginary poem to six-year-olds? Give me a break!

110 posted on 12/26/2005 9:05:42 AM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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To: Conservatrix

You're picking a fight where there's no enemy. We were discussing Santa as a myth, not a god.

111 posted on 12/26/2005 9:06:13 AM PST by hershey
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To: Conservatrix
Pathetic. If you are a Christian, why do you want you children to believe in a falsehood? Why not teach them about Jesus who is the REAL person who is all-knowing, all-seeing, and rewards their good deeds?

It's unfortunate that you lack the imagination to encompass both the fantasy and the reality-- especially as they have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

My child believes in both. In the end, he will only believe in the important one. In the meantime, he may be slightly happier than your children.

...unless you and Mr. Martin have your way.

112 posted on 12/26/2005 9:07:08 AM PST by Egon (I don't want edible meat, I want edible animals. - CygnusXI)
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To: Conservatrix

It is obvious that you have a wire crossed somewhere. Santa is not being written as a "God like" figure, but rather as a giver of joy and happiness in a child's mind. If anything, Santa is seen by children as a melting pot of kind, gentle folks (like Grandpas, Old Uncles, and nice men in a child's mind) who have made the child's life a little bit better. Ever notice that when you smile at a child they will usually stop what they are doing and wave at you or smile back? That is Santa, my friend, and nothing else.

113 posted on 12/26/2005 9:08:35 AM PST by geezerwheezer (get up boys, we're burnin' daylight!!!)
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To: Egon

If you are speaking about me personally, I do not have a tooth fairy and I did teach my children about sex in a way that young ones understand. They don't have an Easter Bunny either but they do know about a resurrected Jesus on the day of Resurrection.

God or Santa?
God or Jesus?
God or the tooth fairy?
God or the Easter Bunny?

Many to you these are small thing that aren't important but to some who love Jesus with their whole hearts, an idol is an idol, not matter how accepted culturally.

114 posted on 12/26/2005 9:08:43 AM PST by Conservatrix ("He who stands for nothing will fall for anything.")
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To: Conservatrix

We dont use Santa as a God. Did I say that Jesus and Santa were the same person, or that they are friends? And for your information, I read my bible quite often.

Have you seen the verse that says "For ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" That includes you! "ALL" is very specific...isn't it!

Did you know that once you have accepted the Sacrifice that Jesus paid for your sins, all your sins...past, present and future... are forgiven - washed away by his blood on the cross at calvary.

115 posted on 12/26/2005 9:08:56 AM PST by trussell (Work for God...the retirement benefits are great!)
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To: Borges
The teacher in question is a looney tune who shouldn't be anywhere near public school children, let alone being permitted to actually speak to them.

If she's got such firm religious convictions she shouldn't even be working for a public school.

She's also got a tremendously inflated sense of her own self importance.


116 posted on 12/26/2005 9:09:22 AM PST by Lurker (Let everything that's to be done be done by the herd.)
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To: Conservatrix
Read the letters. Someone is being asked to promote YOUR belief, not the other way around.

I did. A very simple solution was available to this teacher, but the busy-body declined to take the truly principled stand. She should have declined to read the poem and done something else instead.

I was a substitute teacher for many years and routinely had to change up the lesson plans for various reasons, as all subs do on occasions. This teacher is using this cause to be a martyr, IMO. She passed on the sensible soloution and has found herself neck deep in a controversy that she alone created.

117 posted on 12/26/2005 9:09:42 AM PST by demkicker
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Comment #118 Removed by Moderator

To: Sister_T
Some of these same folks, when confronted with the hypothetical you offered about abortion would applaud a substitute teacher for refusing to teach that abortion is okay, according to the "lesson plan" but Santa...

I would have lauded her if she would have refused to "teach" the "lesson plan". She didn't. She taught the exact opposite.

That's what we're all upset about.

119 posted on 12/26/2005 9:10:03 AM PST by Egon (I don't want edible meat, I want edible animals. - CygnusXI)
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To: Conservatrix
Santa is being taught as a God substitute.

That is such laughable paranoia. Santa is being brought up as an innocent fun tradition, there is no secret intent on the school's part to replace God with Santa. BTW, are the stories with the fictional characters in 'Veggie Tales' similarly promoting a form of idolatry?

Maybe it would be wise to reread what Jesus said about the Pharasees. Playing the Santa game with kids equates to lying similarly to the way healing on the Sabbath equates to breaking commandments.

120 posted on 12/26/2005 9:10:35 AM PST by Diddle E. Squat (Thou shalt not snipe hunt)
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