The Johnson County school district in Kentucky has censored a school presentation of “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” along with other festive productions.
A Charlie Brown “Censored” Christmas
Teachers at W.R. Castle Elementary School in Kentucky were instructed to remove the motivational scene of Linus reciting the true meaning of Christmas and a reading from the Gospel of Luke in a school presentation of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” The sequence was removed from the program after just one complaint.
The school district also ordered other schools to remove all religious references from upcoming Christmas theatricals. One school replaced “Silent Night” with a Christmas version of the “Whip/Nae Nae” song.
In response, Baptist preacher Tom Winston formed a picket-line strike outside a local high school in an attempt to prompt the district to reverse its ban on the censored religious material.
The district’s censorship caught the attention of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a law firm which tackles religious freedom issues. In a letter to the district, the ADF wrote:
There is no violation of the so-called ‘separation of church and state’ by allowing children to learn about theater and the origins of Christmas through participating in a stage version of this beloved program that contains the same religious elements as the television version.
Given that courts have consistently held that schools may organize and sponsor Christmas programs and performances that include religious songs and study the historical origins of Christmas, there is no basis for the District’s decision to censor the religious aspects of ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas.’
The letter was signed by two attorneys representing a student who was slated to appear in the play.
Superintendent Thomas Salyer said the move to eliminate religious references was done in order to avoid a potential lawsuit.
“The U.S. Supreme Court and the 6th Circuit are very clear that public school staff may not endorse any religion when acting in their official capacities and during school activities,” Mr. Salyer said in a statement. “However, our district is fully committed to promote the spirit of giving and concern for our fellow citizens that help define the Christmas holiday.”
In addition to the story above, a fake news story has received heavy sharing online which claims that “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was aired on ABC Family with a warning that read, “WARNING: This program contains strong Christian messages and may be offensive to some viewers. Viewer discretion advised.”
That story, however, is completely false. It was posted by the fake news website ThePeoplesCube and apparently picked up by a few other websites that weren’t aware that the story was fiction.