If only more schools could display more nativity scenes and menorahs…

Lilandra is a username from a little known comic book character.  In real life, I named my children after comic book characters, so my geek credentials cannot be questioned.   My husband is a large biker, cyber-viking ape, that opines about religion, and knows his place in a cladogram.
Lilandra is a username from a little known comic book character. In real life, I named my children after comic book characters, so my geek credentials cannot be questioned. My husband is a large biker, cyber-viking ape, that opines about religion, and knows his place in a cladogram.

State Rep. Dwayne Bohac, R-Houston filed a bill in the Texas legislature that is expected to receive bipartisan support to help religious-minded teachers and schools use holiday greetings like “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Hanukkah” and to “display Christmas trees, Nativity scenes, menorahs and other cultural icons of winter celebrations”.


Not a menorah to be found in the Texas Legislature fancy that.
Not a menorah to be found on the Texas House floor. Fancy that!

So technically a Wiccan teacher, could erect a Yule tree (Christmas tree), a straw Yule goat, and eat a Yule Boar (Christmas ham) in honor of the Solstice and the pagan god Odin.  Ironically if there were such a teacher, that person would most likely not do any of those things knowing that it would offend the religious majority of their parents.

My teacher said we made this to placate the harvest god Freyr.
My teacher said we made this to placate the harvest god Freyr.
This ham tastes remarkably pagan.
This ham tastes remarkably pagan.

Sort of the way, Bohac was offended when his son came home telling him that the teacher has erected a holiday tree with holiday ornaments.

“After inquiring with school officials as to why the term ‘Holiday Tree’ was being used, it became apparent that the school was fearful of litigation,” Bohac said. “It was that moment that inspired me to file legislation that would provide students, parents, teachers and administrators a safe harbor for openly celebrating a Federal holiday.”

One has to wonder how offended he would have been if his son’s teacher was a pagan, and they honored Odin during Yule.  Aside from nativity scenes there isn’t one popular Christmas ritual that doesn’t have a pagan origin.

Putting a symbol of fertility on an evergreen tree.  It's pagan!
Putting a symbol of fertility on an evergreen tree. It’s pagan!
Deck the halls with the pagan symbol of the Holly King.  So very pagan!
Deck the halls with the pagan symbol of the Holly King. So very pagan!

I’m sure some of the pagans were a bit miffed too about having their Thor’s Oak replaced by the tradition of a Christmas tree. It’s also curious how Christians erect Christmas trees, given that Jeremiah 10:1-10 expressly forbids this particular pagan practice.  A Christian legend was concocted which attributed the demise of the pagan tree to St. Boniface, an eighth century missionary to Germany.  After just one chop of his holy axe, a mighty wind blew down Thor’s tree. The credulous pagans were impressed and amazed and thereafter they celebrated Christmas, or so the story goes.

Watch where you swing that axe! Now look what you did!
Watch where you swing that axe! Now look what you did! There ought to be a law.

If only they could have filed legislation to protect their cherished religious beliefs from succumbing to the popularity of a new belief. They didn’t really have a say back then because religion was dictated by the state.  Which in a roundabout way is exactly what Bohac is doing with his bill.

Yes he leaves it up to teachers and schools to choose which religious tradition to follow.  Realistically in a majority Christian country, I’m betting on more mangers than menorahs.  The few brave souls celebrating different traditions can either try to buck the majority or just give up and say “Merry Christmas!”

So again Jesus’s birth will be celebrated boldly in Texas public schools funded by taxpayers of different faiths or no faith. The people with the dominant religious belief will determine what holiday is celebrated. The Christian ruling class will be able to promote their religious beliefs and drown out different religious beliefs.  The Jewish students in my classroom, who talked about their traditions when we were reading A Christmas Carol from a secular perspective, will be de facto second class citizens.

Except in a neighborhood where a minority religion like Islam is the most popular.  Imagine the Christian outrage then. Imagine it when they no longer have the numbers to be the ruling class.  Their best hope in that scenario is that the next religious ruling class  keeps their religious beliefs out of government.


*Update.  I posted a link to the post to Rep. Dwayne Bohac’s Facebook page.  Let’s see if he will address the criticism of what he calls “The Merry Christmas Bill”.  Maybe he could at least put Happy Hanukkah in parenthesis next to the name of his bill right?  Just to show this isn’t about promoting Christianity over all other religious traditions of his constituents.

If you like go on over there and give your opinion. My opinion: civil and articulate opinions will accomplish the most.

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  • Strangely, we don’t see any wannabe St. Bonifaces running up to “Holiday” trees taking a single holy swipe with an ax to convert us all to Christianity.

  • Spirula

    display… Nativity scene,

    Hmmm…methinks this violates the second commandment, no?

    • John Kruger

      I think you mean the First Amendment, unless the nativity scene involves handguns . . .


      • Methinks the 2nd commandment and and the 2nd amendment are different things, yes?

      • 2nd Commandment: No “graven” images. Meaning no “earthly” representations of god. And since Jesus is supposed to be god incarnate…oopsie.

        Of course, the Catholics dispensed with that one a while back. They split up the “coveting” part in order to get back o 10.

    • This is the reasoning to get around the 1st Amendment…

      Bohac on Wednesday filed a bill that he hopes will free public schools from concerns that displays of Christmas cheer could land them in a county court. The measure would specifically allow teachers and other public school staff to use holiday greetings like “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Hanukkah” and to display Christmas trees, Nativity scenes, menorahs and other cultural icons of winter celebrations. While allowing such overtly religious holiday displays, the bill also prohibits schools from using language that promotes adherence to a specific religion.

      Bohac said Christmas has been an official federal holiday since 1870 and that U.S. Supreme Court decisions have made it clear that government entities can recognize the holiday for “historical and cultural purposes.”


  • Jay

    I am Jewish, and yes, I always did feel like a second class citizen when Christmas came around.

    Regardless, I would hate to see either an antiseptic schoolyard devoid of acknowledgement or even honoring of any religion, and devoid of acknowledgement or even honoring of any of the cultures that make up society.

    And yes again, I would prefer to leave that in the hands of the local school than as some legislation crafted far away and monitored.

    By experience with local schools is that in 2012 they are remarkably understanding and encouraging of diversity, and I would prefer to leave it in their hands along with the PTA and accepting the occasional error, than place it in the hands of bureaucrats that will definitely error in favor of lawyer approved watered down pablum.

    Being a second class citizen at Christmas really wasn’t that big of a deal. I do appreciate your looking out for me.

    I still keep kosher, I still am very Jewish, and I still love to see Christmas lights.

    • I was raised a Christian, and born after prayer was removed from schools in the 1970s. Despite that I still remember singing a song thanking god for my school lunch, and Christmas celebrations. I did not experience them from the point of view of someone who celebrated something different. However, schools have become more secular, and I have taught Jewish students, who are more emboldened by that, to talk about what they celebrate at that time. Secularism is a good thing Despite that here in Texas I have been in public schools that have proclamations about Jesus at the front desk during Christmas time. The school I taught at had a sizable and vocal Jewish community, so something like that would be called out. Children from religious minority traditions or nonreligious children in majority Christian schools are not always that lucky.

  • Chris B.

    The nativity is actually a pagan symbol as well. Mary and the baby Jesus were preceded by Isis and the infant Horus, which is a motif found throughout ancient Egyptian artwork.

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