A fifth-grader in New Jersey had the word "God" removed from a Thanksgiving poem she authored before it was hung up at school because school officials were fearful of violating rules about religion in the classroom, reports the Newark Star-Ledger.

Kaeley Hay, 10, penned the poem for an assignment at Lincoln-Franklin Elementary School in Garwood. The poem read:

"Leaves are falling out of the air, Piles of leaves everywhere/

Scarecrows standing high up with the corn, Farmers harvest in the early morn/

Pilgrims thank God for what they were given, Everybody say ... happy Thanksgiving!"

Kaeley's classmates liked the work so much they voted to display it in big black letters on the hallway bulletin board just in time for parent-teacher night. But when posting it, someone at the school omitted the word "God."

Only after Kaeley’s mother complained and school officials consulted with their lawyers was the poem restored to its original state. Even the folks at Americans United for Separation of Church and State said the school's initial editing was an overreaction.

Is There Something in the Water in New Jersey?

School officials in Maplewood and South Orange, N.J., have clarified the rules about Christmas music at school concerts during the holidays by saying that even musical scores that have anything to do with religion will not be allowed, reports the Newark Star-Ledger.

The district long since banned choral works with religious references, but the clarification means that even the Columbia High School brass ensemble will be limited in what it will be allowed to play. Even though the religious references are only implied and not sang aloud.

"Rather than try to respond to all the various religions and try to balance them, it's best to stay away from that and simply have a nonreligious tone to them and have more of a seasonal tone," Superintendent Peter P. Horoschak said.

Only songs such as "Frosty the Snowman," "Winter Wonderland" and anything completely devoid of references to religion will be allowed.

Giving Thanks to ...

Capital News Service reports that kids in Maryland public schools are free to give thanks to anyone or anything they want this Thanksgiving — except, of course, God.

And the lessons they learn in the day leading up to the holiday will cover everything from Pilgrims and Native Americans to Mayflower voyages. They might even hold mock feasts and learn about the famous meal that temporarily allied two very different groups.

But what teachers most certainly will not mention when they describe the feast is that the Pilgrims not only thanked the Native Americans for their peaceful three-day indulgence, but repeatedly thanked God.

Editing History

A public schoolteacher in California claims that his attempts to teach about American history by handing out excerpts from the Declaration of Independence and writings by prominent historical figures were thwarted because the school didn’t want any mention of God in his lessons, reports the Oakland Tribune.

Steven Williams, a fifth-grade teacher at Stevens Creek Elementary School, is suing the Cupertino Union School District, claiming that his efforts to teach about the country and its founding fathers — including their references to Christianity — were stymied by officials who insisted on reviewing his teaching material before he used it.

Williams said the problems started last year after he responded to a student who asked why the Pledge of Allegiance includes the phrase "under God," and a parent complained about his response. After that, school officials started demanding to see his lesson plans and handouts.

Williams said he thinks society has become hypersensitive to any reference of Christianity in the public arena, especially schools. He said he has taught students about Ramadan and Kwanzaa and was applauded for those lessons.

"People are like, 'Oh good, that's diversity,'" he said. "As soon as Christianity [is] involved, it's separation of church and state."

The school district had no comment.

Goddess Worship?

City boosters in Roseburg, Ore., are getting some flak about plans to put up a statue of a Greek goddess in town, reports the Oregonian. Apparently, some in town feel the image would foster goddess worship and offend Christians.

The officials want to replace a statue of Hebe, the Greek goddess of youth, which stood in a city park about a century ago. It originally stood with a goblet of nectar in her hand to mark the line between the wet and dry parts of town.

But some in town now say Hebe is a bad example for the youth of Roseburg.

"She is offering an intoxicant to the gods," resident Dick North told the paper. "She doesn't uphold morality. We need to have a better model for the community's youth."

For more doses of politically correct nuttiness, head on over to the TongueTied daily edition.

Mailbag:

Jean B. writes:

As a woman, the Muslim Imam's remarks about the role of women does indeed offend me. However, as an American who believes in and loves the freedom we supposedly have in this country, I completely, without reservation, support his right to state his beliefs in a public forum.

Unlike, apparently, a lot of folks, I have a backbone. My life doesn't come to a screaching halt just because someone says or does something that offends me. This article just goes to show that the PC movement really isn't about tolerance, it's about pushing a specific agenda. This guy didn't offend the folks who are pushing the agenda so they didn't make an issue out of it.

Paul A. writes:

Does the ACLU know that the US military not only provides Chaplains, Rabbis, Imams and leaders of other faiths for service men and women but also provides places for them to worship?

The government is not tasked with protecting us from religion. They are tasked with protecting our right whether to choose a faith or not. Last I checked the Boy Scouts are not a faith. They do, however, teach a holistic approach to the human experience that includes faith.

Chuck G. writes:

As a proud former Eagle Scout who was a member of Boy Scout troops on military bases, as well as an agnostic since I was a Cub Scout, I don't know where everyone gets the idea that you have to believe in God to be a Boy Scout.

It seems to me that the relevance given to the "Reverence" portion of the Boy Scout law in the Boy Scouts was about as important as mouthing "Under God" during the Pledge of Allegiance in grade school, i.e., nil. Perhaps things are different in scout troops formed at churches, but you don't have to join those troops if you don't want to — it's a free country, as the Boy Scouts taught.

Jamie M. writes:

I understand your point, and I agree that sometimes people can become overly concerned, but I wonder how many of your readers would become concerned if military bases were allowed to sponsor groups of young men or women who pledge to do their duty to Satan and their country, to stay mentally strong, physically awake and homosexual? Personally, I don't see why anyone cares, just so long as nobody shoves his/her beliefs down my throat.

Amit K. writes:

Your column is looking less like an objective collection of amusing stories of political correctness run amok and more like a cherry-picked forum from which to pick on persons with genuine grievances — be they racial, religious, or political.

Russ S. writes:

I didn't see anything racist about the Monday night football opening involving Terrell Owens and Nicolette Sheridan. While I agree it was poor judgement on someones part, I didn't see it as racist. What I did see as racist was the way Tony Dungy felt about it. Apparently he has a problem with a black man and a white woman getting together.

Fred O. writes:

Reading your rants about how the poor white Christian man is victimized by the powerful minorities and the plentiful Muslims with such great political power that their will is only months away from becoming laws.

See, the reason you conservatives think there is some sort of double standard against white Christian men is because you control the country. Republican Christian men control this republic. Obviously, it is they who must be kept in check, making sure to separate their version of morality from the rest of this country. It is they who control the future of this country. Not the Muslims, or the blacks or the Jews or the Native Americans, or Latinos. The majority needs to suck it up. When they become the minority, they will be just like every other minority group.

Faux "news" is so pathetic. You guys really are a bunch of limp imbeciles.

Act busy, Jesus is coming!

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