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."
"Yes, I don't think she was really concerned about the children. It sounded like she was overly concerned with herself, IMHO."
"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."
Sounds like caring about them a great deal.
SHE chose NOT to follow the teacher's exact instruction...to read the poem..period.
Conclusion: Memo to principal: Strike her name from your substitute list and note that she is officious and unreliable in following instructions.
My point is this. Jesus is not, in fact, a vine. He never has been, and never was. But he said he was a vine; the true vine, in fact.
So why did he say that? Why did he say something that is not, in fact, true?
"Mommy feels very different about "helping Santa" by buying gifts, than she does about Jesus Christ."
For you that is probably true.
Do I think someone should be forced to teach something that they do not believe in? No. But...that is NOT what this story is about. If that was what the story was about...it would have went like this: Substitute Teacher Fired after failing to read Poem.
That was Not the story. The story was about how she decided to turn the teacher's desk into a pulpit and use it to trump the parent's wishes in regards to their child. If you want to get angry about something...get angry at her for stomping on THEIR rights. She had the right to be persecuted by the world (which is what our Lord calls for) by refusing to not read the story. She did not have the right to pontificate and turn the desk into a pulpit. I am an evangelical minister...and even I can see how wrong that was. I have preached in the past to children's camps where the children were at the camp and I preached to them...but they were not there listening to my words without the knowledge of their parents. Now...do you REALLY think the parents had NO RIGHT or no say in this? As a parent...I think they have every right. She was wrong. She was right to not read it if it violated her conscious. IF it cost her her job...then that is the price of Christianity. She gave up her reward when she turned that desk into a pulpit and made a decision for those who could not make it.
She is no Hero.
And on this Christmas season...if you REALLY want to examine things that don't belong in celebration of our Lord's birth...I believe Santa is the least of your worries. The early church had no birthday party for Jesus. If you want to examine Easter traditions you will be sorely disappointed there too. Matter of fact...if you want historica Christianity...and would only want to celebrate Christmas and Easter the way the Apostles and Early church fathers did...Santa is not the only thing you would be missing. So... I say if the lady did anything on December 25th she is a hypocrite because the early church certainly didn't. Be real in all of it...or don't judge others for the little bit of fun they've added.
The teacher didn't have to present "The Night Before Christmas" as factual truth, but merely a beloved holiday poem. Teaching how America celebrates Christmas doesn't have to be a line drawn in the sand and the teacher behind a defensive bunker. If the teacher discussed Kwanza, would she give the complete history and criminal record of the man who started it? In the matter of truth, of course. And let's say her class contained a number of small black children.
"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."
But the golden calf was created and then worshipped by some because those at the base of the mountain had begun to doubt both Moses and (more importantly) God. No one I know tells the story of Santa and joins in the game to show that they doubt God. They do it for fun, not seriousness. You are reading way too much into the Santa game. When we play Monopoly we pretend to be someone most of us are not (wheeling-dealing developers.) When we act in a play we pretend to be someone we are not, as a way to tell a story for entertainment or illustration. Are we liars we do those things? Are we doing them out of doubt of God and seeking a substitute to him? Of course not, it is just entertainment. Sometimes we do things simply for fun, with no deep meaning.
If the teacher discussed Kwanza, would she give the complete history and criminal record of the man who started it? In the matter of truth, of course. And let's say her class contained a number of small black children.
She probably would mention that it was a holiday made up by a man in recent years...
"MineralMan, I am quite aware of that verse, thanks. You are missing my point, which is that Jesus is NOT, in fact, a vine, even though he says he is. So why do you think he did so? Why do you think he said something that is not, in fact, true?"
The problem was that she is a lousy teacher. Leaving subtle hints that the story may not be true is one thing. However, several children went home crying because she convinced them that Santa Clause was dead. She was clearly operating above her pay grade.
"...How does a 6 year old grasp the Resurrection or the Holy Trinity? What do they know of life and death? Santa Claus is our culture's transition point for young minds to appreciate gifts and giving. In my faith, children are ready to make the decision to be baptised at the age of 13. Similarly, in the Jewish faith, young men are Bar Mitzvahed at 13. NOT before. Is there are reason that they wait so long for this? I believe so. But until then, Santa is just fine."
Well put. Teachers should have some understanding of children and their various mental/psycholgical developmental stages. Catholics are confirmed at around the age of 12/13 too. In part, it is seen as a developmental rite of passage.
"The teacher didn't have to present "The Night Before Christmas" as factual truth, but merely a beloved holiday poem."
That is exacltly what she did.
She had NO authority to do what she did.
She should have just read a different story and avoided the "horrible, offensive" material entirely.
She is a rotten person.
"However, several children went home crying because she convinced them that Santa Clause was dead."
She never said Santa was dead. Read the article.
Don't believe everything you read in the Lebanon Daily News.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.