Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Twas the Night Before a Holiday

The city of Mount Pleasant, Michigan, is located in what many would consider the "Bible Belt." But that does not make it immune to controversy around Christmas time. Their annual "Dickens Christmas Festival" has been renamed this year to the "Dickens Holiday Festival."

It seems that the town plans on promoting this in many places, including the public schools. But in an effort to be "inclusive" the schools have banned the word Christmas. According to an Alliance Defense Fund press release, "The Mount Pleasant School District enacted a policy that purportedly bans the use of the words 'Christmas,' 'Santa,' and 'nativity.'  ADF attorneys explained in the letter that such a policy is unconstitutional as applied to the private speech of students, teachers, and members of the community."

Being the simple-minded person that I am, it seems natural to assume that this festival is named in memory of Charles Dickens' story "A Christmas Carol," which one may see on television in a few different productions this time of year. Would the school ban that story as well? Would it ban a book of collected Dickens' writings if the book included the Christmas Carol?

Is it uncomfortable for school officials and teachers to acknowledge that Christmas is part of the history of our country, and that there are a great many traditions that exist because of Christmas? Or is it better to just hide that fact so those of others faiths are not offended? Do we wish to present the U.S. traditions of Christmas as a huge mistake, and a shame of our history, treating Christmas in the same light as slavery? We perhaps have to recognize that Christmas exists (existed?), but we don't have to be proud of it.

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