The field trip by the local elementary school to a church to see the Charlie Brown Christmas play, complete with Bible soliloquy, has been cancelled.
This is not a win for the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers.
Why not? Because the church, and not the school, is the entity that blinked. And that’s too bad. We still have a school district that thinks it’s okay to violate the constitutional rights of children, and was ready and willing to defend a religious field trip in court.
In a statement to the press about the cancellation, the church said,
In the wake of some controversy over our Christmas production offered to schools, Agape Church wishes to salute the courageous stand that the Terry Elementary Principal made in not succumbing to the pressure of one complaint voiced to the Arkansas Society of Free Thinkers and media. We applaud the support that the Little Rock School District has shown to Mrs. Register, and agree with their position that attending the matinees was not a constitutional issue. Christmas is a Christian holiday, hence its name, Christmas. Our program addresses its origins with light-hearted songs and theatre. The context of the birth of Christ is broadly described in both Old & New Testament texts.
But because of what this issue has become, as a church, it is not our desire to put hard working, sacrificial teachers and cast members in harm’s way. What we want said is that we love our city, our schools, parents and families. People are at the heart of the matter to us. While we regret the loss of students who will not get this particular opportunity right now, we have taken the school matinees off the table, and welcome parents to bring their children to our public performance schedule, Saturday, December 15 @ 2pm and 6pm, and Sunday, Dec. 16 @ 6pm.
To quote bible verses and song lyrics that apply, they reflect our heart toward the Little Rock School District and everyone involved – Peace on Earth, Good will toward men.
Pastor Happy Caldwell, Agape Church
“Sacrificial teachers”? Please. That is just insulting. And who was in harm’s way? ASF had threatened nothing beyond a possible lawsuit. The hate and threats came from the religious people toward us, not the other way around – unless I just happened to miss the Meetup announcement as to when all my fellow Freethinkers would be out there naked at the church with their picket signs and their evolution and their gay marriage and their roasted babies in covered dishes, all plump and juicy and waiting for the potluck after the looting and pillaging and stuff.
And apparently Pastor Caldwell does not know where the traditions of Christmas, including Charlie Brown’s tree, actually came from.
With the additional performances over the weekend, any family that wants to take their kids can do so. The church may even get an overflow crowd because of all the free publicity we’ve generated for them. We wish them well.
Got a legal question? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m a lawyer, but there’s only a 2% chance I’m licensed in your state. Whether I answer your question or not, sending me an email or reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. I’m on Twitter as @aramink, and you can see my regular blog at www.aramink.com, where I write book reviews, ruminate on Life, the Universe, and Everything, and occasionally – frequently – rant about Stuff.