(Compiled by attorneys for The Rutherford Institute)
Over the years, The Rutherford Institute has been contacted by parents and teachers alike concerned about schools changing their Christmas concerts to “winter holiday programs” and renaming Christmas “winter festival” or cancelling holiday celebrations altogether to avoid offending those who do not celebrate the various holidays. Hoping to alleviate ongoing confusion arising from political correctness over the do’s and don’ts of celebrating Christmas in schools, workplaces and elsewhere, The Rutherford Institute has issued its “Twelve Rules of Christmas” guidelines.
In issuing the guidelines, Institute attorneys cited incidents in which, for example, a public school 6th-grade class was asked to make “holiday cards” to send to the troops but were told they could not use the words “Merry Christmas” on their cards. Similarly, nativity displays, Christmas carols, Christmas trees, wreaths, candy canes and even the colors red and green have been banned as part of the effort to avoid any reference to Christmas, Christ or God.
In order to clear up much of the misunderstanding over what can or cannot be done in terms of celebrating the holiday, the following twelve rules are offered:
For more information, email The Rutherford Institute at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To request assistance, complete our online form or contact our Legal Department at (434) 978-3888.
(i) Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Sch. Dist., 393 U.S. 503 (1969); Nixon v. Northern Local Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ., 383 F. Supp. 2d 965 (S.D. Ohio 2005).
[ii] See Tinker, 393 U.S. at 506 (“It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate”). See also Tucker v. California Dep’t of Ed., 97 F.3d 1204 (9th Cir. 1996) and Nichol v. Arin Intermediate Unit 28, 268 F. Supp. 2d 536 (W.D. Pa. 2003).
[iii] See Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39, 42 (1980); Grove v. Mead Sch. Dist., 753 F.2d 1528, 1534 (9th Cir. 1985).
[iv] See Pickering v. Bd. of Ed., 391 U.S. 563 (1968); Wigg v. Sioux Falls Sch. Dist. 49-5, 382 F.3d 807, 814 (8th Cir. 2004).
[v] Bauchman v. West High School, 132 F.3d 542, 554 (10th Cir. 1997); Florey v. Sioux Falls School Dist., 619 F.2d 1311 (8th Cir. 1980); Sechler v. State College Area Sch. Dist., 121 F.Supp. 2d. 439 (M.D. Penn. 2000).
[vi] Id. at 557.
[vii] Hedges v. Wauconda Comm. Unit Sch. Dist. No. 118, 9 F.3d 1295, 1297-98 (7th Cir. 1993). See “Secretary of Education’s Statement on Religious Expression,” http://www.ed.gov/Speeches/08-1995/religion.html, site visited Oct. 21, 2005.
[viii] See Capital Square Review and Advisory Board v. Pinette, 515 U.S. 753 (1995); Kreisner v. City of San Diego, 1 F.3d 775 (9th Cir. 1993); McCreary v. Stone, 739 F.2d 716 (2d Cir. 1984); Snowden v. Town of Bay Harbor Islands, 358 F. Supp. 2d 1178 (S.D. Fla. 2004).
[ix] See County of Allegheny v. American Civil Liberties Union, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter, 492 U.S. 573 (1989); Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668 (1984); ACLU v. Schundler, 168 F.3d 92 (3rd Cir. 1999); Amancio v. Town of Somerset, 28 F.Supp. 2d 677 (D.C. Mass. 1998).
[x] § 42 U.S.C. 2000(e)(j); Warnock v. Archer, 380 F.3d 1076, 1082 (8th Cir. 2004); Tucker v. California Dep’t of Ed., 97 F.3d 1204 (9th Cir. 1996); Brown v. Polk County, 61 F.3d 650, 659 (8th Cir. 1995).
[xi] Pielech v. Massasoit Greyhound, Inc., 668 N.E. 2d 1298 (Mass. 1996).
[xii] Ganulin v. United States, 71 F.Supp. 2d 824 (S.D. OH 1999), aff’d 2000 U.S. App. Lexis 33889 (6th Cir. 2000). See also Bridenbaugh v. O’Bannon, 185 F.3d 796 (7th Cir. 2000); Koenick v. Felton, 190 F.3d 259 (4th Cir. 1999).