Religion in Society

Santa Banned from Nursery after Muslim Family Complains

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

Christmas has come and gone, but there is still lingering anger in Minnesota after Santa Claus was banned from a children's nursery because a Muslim family complained.

For the past four years, Dennis Jackson dressed as Santa and handed out presents at the St. Peter's Head Start Program. But this year a Somali family complained, and Jackson was told his services would not be needed.

"It kind of burnt me up," Jackson said. He added that officials at the program told him "it was against some people’s wishes" for him to appear as Santa.

Chris Marben, the regional coordinator for the Minnesota Valley Action Council, said, "'We have Somali families in the program. We're respecting the wishes of families in the program. Part of our challenge in Head Start is providing an environment where young children from many different cultures can all feel comfortable."

Marben did not say how many families objected, but that more than one objection would be enough to cancel Santa's visit.

Jackson said he performed for other cultures in the past and there were never any problems. He said it is not fair for just a few people to make decisions for the rest.

"They’re not respecting the majority," he said. "My feeling is [objecting parents] can take their kids out of class for half an hour and let the other kids enjoy it. They should sacrifice, not rule."