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."
And to some people healing on the Sabbath was a sin.
"Obviously you have no interest in a defense of the dissenting point of view. What a prideful shame."
I think rather that is the state of most of the opinions on this thread so far.
THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
by Clement Clarke Moore
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."
Looks like Santa should pay her a little visit...lol.
You sound like the kind of person who would have raised his hand at the Last Supper, when Jesus declared "I am the true vine", and said, "Uh, no, Jesus, I must correct you: you are a human being, and you are God, but you are most certainly not a vine."
Jesus is the true vine. I love Him and am not ashamed to call Him my Lord and my God.
No, it sounds like a FANTASY. There's a difference.
She reminds me of the Maureen O'Hara character in "Miracle on 34th Street".
I can however solve your little Satan Claus dillema.
QUIT YOUR JOB AS A PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER!
Then you won't be exposed to all this stuff you find so offensive. You can find a bunch of like minded whackjobs and start your own school.
See how easy that was?
This one's on me honey.
So you're in good company then.
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!
I agree, also!!
Nor am I. But he is most certainly not a "vine". Why do you insist on saying so?
If you say so. To me, it sounds more like folks are upset that she told kids that Santa was a myth.
And to some people healing on the Sabbath was a sin.
And a little but of dancing around the goldne calf was okay until Moses cam down from the mountain!
Big sigh. Santa isn't a god. He's a myth. You said so, yourself.
"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."
Welcome to presstitution, Dear Teacher.
Such misrepresentation and lying by MediaPersons is now the norm in the journalism field, ever since the Columbia University School of Journalism accepted the legitimacy of "advocacy journalism".
Just curious, are you Theresa R. Farrisi?
Either way, I think you (and her, if different persons) are probably well-meaning and a good person/parent. Having lived in that area and attended a conservative Christian church, we may have even met before. The zealousness for Christ and trying to live as pure and honest a life is admirable, but in this case the zeal may have been taken too far, and the wrong battle fought that undermines credibility and the message instead of spreading it.
Big sigh. Santa isn't a god. He's a myth. You said so, yourself.
That is how the teacher taught it, as a myth.
So why is everyone so upset about the truth?
Unless, of course, Santa IS a religious figure...
"gee, maybe these kids weren't as mature as you were.... I am sure that whatever is good for you is good for other people's 6 year olds.... typical bitter, cynical self-righteous a-holes.... "
OK. You've convinced me. Christmas is the story of Santa Claus, who lives at the North Pole. Once a year he brings presents to all boys and girls who have been good. He comes in a sleigh, pulled by flying reindeer.
If you believe in him, and ask him for things, he will bring them to you, but you have to be a good child. No fighting. No other bad behavior, either. Those are sins, and you'll be punished by not getting any toys.
Now I understand the true meaning of Christmas. Thanks for clearing that up for me. All those Santa stories are really true, and should be read as scripture.
So what's all this stuff about Jesus? If Santa's really the reason for Christmas, and the stories about him should be taught to young children, I don't get the Jesus thing. Does Jesus bring presents on Christmas? Does He have a sleigh and flying reindeer? If I send Jesus a list of toys I want, will I get them? No?
Heck, I'll stick with Santa then.
Well, apparently, God has a different message for me than He has for you when I've prayed about this issue.
My faith allows the two to co-exist. In the end, the reality wins out, the fantasy doesn't.
I have no problem with you discussing this with me in this fashion. Nor is problem with you in our differences in faith, it is in your deciding not just to refuse to perpetuate the myth, but in actively undermining my responsibility as a parent and dispelling the myth.
Thank you G.Mason...Merry Christmas to you too!
You might want to check this verse. Seems that Jesus himself said that he was the true vine. It's interesting what you learn when you study the Bible, instead of just listening to preachers or just claiming to be a Christian based on nothing but a few verses:
1 I am the true VINE, and my Father is the husbandman.
Do you also agree, then, that it is appropriate for a substitute teacher to announce to children that their PARENTS have been lying to them?
This is another example of the schools usurping the authority of the parents. It is the responsibility of the parents who tell their children about Santa Claus to decide the appropriate time and place and way to tell their children the truth.
"Educators" are increasingly attempting to replace the role of parents, and this substitute, did the same thing liberal academics have been doing for decades.
1 I am the true VINE, and my Father is the husbandman."
I believe that. My faith in Jesus is based on much more than a "few statements."
BTW what does this have to do with the main point of this thread, Santa Claus and public school?
I have no idea. The topic has strayed, as usual...
I have a six year-old and a ten year-old, and they both love to get excited about Santa coming at Christmas. It's part of the fun. At some deep level, they understand the truth. They can sense that fundamentally, Mommy feels very different about "helping Santa" by buying gifts, than she does about Jesus Christ.
This teacher was completely out of line, she stole something important from both the children and their parents.
btw, I love the keywords on this thread. Bah humbug, indeed.
"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.