After Keene’s Superintendent censored the word “Christmas” from a flyer announcing a Christmas Tree lighting in Marlborough, NH,  the story is now making the rounds in the press.

Gateways to Better Education is a great resource for parents, students, teachers and school personnel across the United States. Gateways has been helping to educate people who mistakenly believe they must check their religious beliefs at the school’s front door.
Their vision statement:
OUR VISION – We envision public schools as places where students feel the freedom to express their faith and where they gain an academic appreciation for the Bible and Christianity across the whole curriculum as it relates to history, culture, and values. We show educators how to do this legally and appropriately within existing constitutional boundaries and in keeping with current laws and state standards.

Gateways recently sent a letter to the Superintendent in an effort to correct his misunderstanding of the U.S. Constitution as it relates to school districts and censoring the word “Christmas” out of community flyers.

For parents who are concerned about this kind of censorship in the schools, Gateways, Cornerstone Policy Research and Alliance Defending Freedom are all excellent resources.

The letter Gateways to Better Education sent to Superintendent Robert Malay:

Dear Superintendent Malay,
I’m sure your office is getting lots of “heat” over the recent Christmas flyer situation. As an organization clarifying religious rights and the so-called “separation of church and state” I know that many school leaders simply don’t want trouble.

While you are probably being attacked as “anti-Christmas” for your decision to have the word “Christmas” removed I am assuming you just don’t want to offend people.

Distributing the flyer about the annual Christmas tree lighting is merely a gesture of good will for the community. Since the school is not hosting or sponsoring the Christmas tree lighting, merely letting people know about the community event does not sufficiently entangle the school in any religious message that may or may not be involved with the event.

The school could put a disclaimer at the bottom of the flyer so as to clarify that the schools does not endorse, host, or sponsor the event.

When it comes to what is proper for a public schools, calling a tree decorated with ornaments in December a Christmas tree is simply being culturally accurate. And using proper cultural names for things aligns with New Hampshire academic standards. For instance, in grades 3 and 4 New Hampshire academic standards include:
SS:WH:4:5.1: “Describe different ways that societies around the world express their values and beliefs through practices, e.g.,
festivals or dress.”
And for grades 5 and 6 students are to:
SS:WH:6:5.4: “Examine forms of entertainment and leisure time activity, e.g., religious festivals, sporting events, or theater.”

Please let me know if we can be of any assistance. 800) 929-1163 pst
Via : Kim Buehrer

Ann Marie Banfield currently volunteers as the Education Liaison for Cornerstone Action in New Hampshire. She has been researching education reform for over a decade and actively supports parental rights, literacy and academic excellence in k-12 schools. You can reach her at: [email protected]