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Texas gov. signs 'Merry Christmas' law; says religious freedom is not freedom from religion

Christmas may be six-plus months away, but it's already on the minds of Gov. Rick Perry and many in the Texas Legislature.

Perry signed a bipartisan bill into law Thursday that removing any legal risks for anyone who says "Merry Christmas" in a Texas public school. He said "religious freedom does not mean freedom from religion."

Traditional holiday symbols such as a menorah or nativity scene also are protected, as long as more than one religion and a secular symbol are also reflected.

The measure's sponsor, Houston Republican Rep. Dwayne Bohac, says it will provide schools cover from "ridiculous" lawsuits sparked by excessive political correctness.

Bohac's bill sailed through both chambers to Perry's desk.

About 10 Santa Claus impersonators rang sleigh bells as he signed it.