Christmas in the Lone Star state has no greater defender than Attorney General Ken Paxton. So when he read my column about a middle school in Killeen that tried to censor the true meaning of Christmas, he decided it was time to jingle somebody’s bells.
First, a quick refresher on the back story:
A staffer at Patterson Middle School was told she had to remove a poster depicting a scene from the cherished holiday classic, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
The door-length poster featured Linus, a scrawny tree and that beautiful recitation of the true meaning of Christmas.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior which is Christ the Lord. That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown,” Linus said.
Dedra Shannon’s poster was well-received among the staff and students – but a few days later she was told by the principal that she should either have to remove the religious references or remove the entire poster.
Linus could stay but the Baby Jesus had to go.
“She said my poster is an issue of separation of church and state,” Ms. Shannon told me. “She said the poster had to come down because it might offend kids from other religions or those who do not have a religion.”
Ms. Shannon refused to compromise her religious beliefs and ultimately removed the poster.
“I wasn’t going to leave Linus and the Christmas tree without having the dialogue. That’s the whole point of why it was put up.”
The incident proves that public school tolerance can only be achieved by being intolerant towards Christians.
But it turns out the principal may have inadvertently broken the 2013 “Merry Christmas” law. That law stipulates no school official in Texas can silence a Biblical reference to Christmas.
“I am proud to have voted for the Merry Christmas law in 2013, when I was a member of the legislature,” Paxton said. “We passed that law precisely because of this type of discrimination against people of faith.”
Paxton minced no words in describing what happened in that hallway at Patterson Middle School.
“This is an attack on religious liberty and a violation of the First Amendment and state law,” he said. “I am calling on the school board of the Killeen ISD to immediately reverse their unlawful decision.”
For the past several days I’ve been reaching out to the school district – but so far the superintendent has not returned my messages.
The school board has a long history of standing up for religious liberty.
Terry Delano, president of the school district’s board of trustees, told me they voted to change the name of “Winter Break” to “Christmas Break.” And last year they defied the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s demand to cease praying before meetings.
The school district also ignored the Department of Education’s demand that they open all bathrooms to the opposite gender.
“These strong stances for Christianity and morality often go unreported and unnoticed, but they represent important victories in a time when our culture seems to be rotting in a cesspool,” Mr. Delano wrote to me.
It sounds as if the good people of Killeen are being well-served by the school board and I’m certain they will resolve this incident at the middle school – whether it was intentional or a misunderstanding.
Either way, Attorney General Paxton dropped a great big Yuletide truth bomb on the Killeen Independent School District: Don’t mess with Texas and don’t mess with Christmas. Otherwise, you might just find your tinsel in a twist.