Rep. Justin Harris presented today his bill to allow school districts to erect Nativity scenes and refer to Christmas as Christmas if they choose and display Christian symbols. In the face of opposition, he pulled the bill down.
The bill was written cagily:
It says districts “may educate students about the history of traditional winter celebrations and allow students and school districts to offer traditional greetings regarding the celebrations …”
I’m not aware of any rule that currently prohibits anyone from saying Merry Christmas.
The bill also says religious symbols maybe used as long as more than one religion is included in a display or a secular image is also included.
In short: Have a Nativity scene, but it’s OK if you stick Santa Claus in it.
Harris has another bill about the kinds of messages students can express on T-shirts and elsewhere.
Harris emphasized that his bill was permissive, not a requirement. He said districts are hypersensitive to concerns about religion in public schools.
Rep. Mark Lowery said he was sensitive and sympathetic. But he said he agreed with Rep. John Walker that permissive legislation could be viewed as a mandate. He asked if Harris would endorse a resolution rather than a law. Harris said no.
“I’m making a stand. I’m tired of legislators not taking a stand. We have people dying in taking a stand. And yet we cannot take a a stand. And I’m sick and tired of it when the Constitution covers it.”
He said he would pull down the bill in the face of opposition and “work it to where it “appeases people, But no I will not make it a resolution because it does nothing.”