Guidelines for Celebrating Christmas in Public, At School or Work

Hoping to alleviate ongoing confusion arising from political correctness over the do’s and don’ts of celebrating Christmas in schools, workplaces and elsewhere, The Rutherford Institute has issued its “Twelve Rules of Christmas” guidelines. Over the years, The Rutherford Institute has been contacted by parents and teachers alike complaining about schools changing their Christmas concerts to “winter holiday programs” and renaming Christmas “winter festival” or cancelling holiday celebrations altogether to avoid offending those who do not celebrate the various holidays.

“When I was a child in the 1950s, the magic of Christmas, which hinges on the spiritual nature of the holidays, was promoted in the schools. We sang Christmas carols in the classroom. There were cutouts of the Nativity scene on the bulletin board, along with the smiling, chubby face of Santa and Rudolph. We were all acutely aware that Christmas was more than a season to receive—it was a special time to give as well,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State. “Unfortunately, times have changed. Turmoil surrounds our schools. Police officers walk the hallways, and embattled teachers often act more like wardens than instructors. And in their politically correct zeal to avoid anything that might be construed as offensive, school officials have reduced Christmas to little more than a winter holiday, lacking all of the magic, fun, goodwill and cultural significance that I knew as a child. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. There is room for Christmas in the classroom, constitutionally and culturally, without schools officials having to play the part of the Grinch.”

In issuing the guidelines, Institute attorneys cited incidents in which, for example, a public school 6th-grade class was asked to make “holiday cards” to send to the troops but were told they could not use the words “Merry Christmas” on their cards. Similarly, nativity displays, Christmas carols, Christmas trees, wreaths, candy canes and even the colors red and green have been banned as part of the effort to avoid any reference to Christmas, Christ or God. Thanksgiving has also come under fire in recent years. Several years ago, for example, Institute attorneys were contacted by a concerned parent who remarked that whereas in previous years teachers in their school district had been told not to mention Christmas, Easter or anything relating to God, they could no longer even mention the word “Thanksgiving” because “the pilgrims offended the Indians” and “Thanksgiving was never intended to be thanks to God!” Another parent with children in the public schools was upset and concerned when she received a letter from school officials directing classroom mothers not to use plates and napkins with Thanksgiving printed on them at their children’s fall parties. As she recounted, “It seems like they are worried about offending just one person and are worried about lawsuits. In the past, this school has gone from ‘winter’ parties that banned red and green cupcakes and napkins, to banning any winter party in fear that it may be mistaken for Christmas.”

Individuals with legal questions or in need of legal assistance should call (434) 978-3888, email staff@rutherford.org, or complete the online legal help form available at http://www.rutherford.org.

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