Since one of my main points for writing this blog and my other, found at http://aleksandreia.wordpress.com/, is to bring you facts, I always warn readers when there is commentary in a post. I mention my other blog because it seems to be easier to make comments on Wordpress as these blogs get so many responses there and so few here on Blogspot. (Perhaps those having trouble commenting here need to set up a Google or Yahoo account?)
Enough of that. Now for the story. What follows is a true account of what happened to one of my granddaughters, and I have checked the policy with a spokesperson for the school here in Hillsborough County, Florida. But since I am using the word "I" in a "news story" I wanted to be sure and begin by saying although it may be written like a column, the content of this story is factual. I am posting it in hopes many people who have children in public schools across the country will check and see if such policies are in force in their state and let me know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or contacting me through my main site, http://www.pennyfletcher.com.
As many of my regular readers know, I am raising a granddaughter, who I have had since she was seven months old and is now 12. Last week while preparing for the holiday party in her classroom, we were in Walmart and she was carefully reading all the wording on the back of Christmas cards.
Since she was taking a particularly long time to do this (and of course I was in a hurry to continue shopping) I asked what was it she was looking for so I could help.
"I have to be sure there aren't any religious sayings or references in the cards," she told me. "If we take them to school, we could get in trouble."
OK people- I know my Constitution pretty well and it includes freedom of speech and freedom of the press. A card is a free gift; the buyer is "allowed" to purchase it and the recipient is "free" to read it. The written words on the card are protected under our Constitutional rights of freedom of both speech and press.
As for the meaning of the wording on the "holiday" cards: the word Christmas comes from the original meaning of the holiday. It is a shortened version of "Christ's Mass" (meaning Christ-based church service) and is hundreds of years old. The word "holiday" is a shortened version of "holy day" also rooted in a religious meaning.
These are facts. Ask any language arts or English teacher.
Warning: the next section is commentary based on what has just been reported.
The fact that a child in 6th Grade is not permitted to bring a card with reference to a religious meaning to a public school in America, is to me, a serious breach of Constitutional rights. They are also not permitted to wear any religious symbols or wording on jewelry or T-shirts, although the Simpson's crude remarks or skulls or peace symbols or any number of other symbols and wording are permitted and go unquestioned.
This smells of a class-action discrimination lawsuit if I ever heard of one.
The separation of church and state were created to assure that citizens had rights to worship or not worship as they chose- whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Atheist, or whatever.
This is not a religious issue and needs not be handled as such. If the religious right keeps talking about "persecution of Christians" it will continue to lose the Constitutional cause on which this dilemma is really based by making enemies outside its ranks who are also losing their rights but don't realize it yet.
I happen to be a Christian. I am active in my church and speak my mind about it but I have no wish to infringe on your Constitutional rights- which as a journalist, I will continue to defend. I have Jewish friends; a Muslim friend and several atheist friends. In my business I meet all kinds of people- my friends are multi-ethnic; multi-colored and may or may not choose the same type of worship as I do.
This is America and we all deserve each other's respect. Why are we shedding our military's blood on foreign soil for "freedom and democracy" we are losing here on our own ground?
If someone chooses to erect a Christmas tree or a Menorah or draw a Medicine Wheel in front of my City Hall, why is it so important to make an issue of removing them? The atheists I know say this is ridiculous; that as long as someone doesn't try and change what they do, they're fine with what others do. So who is it really behind all this "anti-religion of any kind" philosophy?
I want to know why the $#@! a 12-year-old child is trying so hard to keep from "getting in trouble" over a religious word on a "holiday" card. Don't you?