Published On: Sun, Jan 1st, 2017

Texas AG Ken Paxton has to intercede to force school to put Charlie Brown decoration back up

A Killeen Independent School District (KISD) staff member was ordered by school officials to remove her handmade decoration that depicted a scene from the classic holiday tale “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Dedra Shannon, a nurse’s aide at KISD, was told to remove the handmade six-foot poster on her door that contains a picture of the famous Peanuts comic strip character, Linus, quoting a Bible verse as his interpretation of the true meaning of Christmas.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed suit to have Ms. Shannon’s door decoration restored, arguing the state’s 2013 so-called Merry Christmas law means schools can’t “silence a biblical reference to Christmas.” Paxton’s intervention states that the inclusion of Bible verses or religious messages on student or teacher-sponsored holiday decorations does not violate any law. Paxton also welcomed a decision from Judge Jack Jones who ruled that the display should be put back up with an added line calling it “Ms. Shannon’s Christmas message.”
The principal of KISD’s Patterson Middle School first ordered Ms. Shannon to take down part of a six-foot poster on her door that contains a picture of the famous Peanuts comic strip character, Linus, quoting a Bible verse as his interpretation of the true meaning of Christmas. Then KISD’s school board members voted 6-1 in favor of censoring Shannon’s Charlie Brown Christmas decoration.
Once again, public schools have decided that their commitment to diversity does not extend to Christians,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Neither faculty nor students shed their constitutional rights when they step inside the schoolhouse door. The law in fact encourages school districts to take an inclusive approach to religious and secular celebrations that are both respectful and accepting of different viewpoints. Killeen ISD made a clear legal error when it decided it had to censor staff member Dedra Shannon’s Christmas decoration simply because it incorporated some religious terminology.”
“Liberty Counsel applauds Attorney General Paxton and Judge Jones in their stand for religious freedom for Ms. Shannon,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Teachers and students have the constitutional right to share religious statements and Bible verses on school grounds. School officials cannot silence any biblical reference to Christmas.
Liberty Counsel has launched its fourteenth annual Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign, pledging to be a “Friend” to those who recognize Christmas and a “Foe” to those who censor it. The campaign educates, and if necessary litigates, to make sure that Christmas and Christian themes are not censored. Liberty Counsel provides a memorandum to offer guidance regarding publicly and privately sponsored religious holiday displays, religious holidays in public schools, and the rights of public school students in the context of religious holidays. An updated  Naughty & Nice List is also available, that catalogues retailers that recognize and those that censor Christmas.
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