Oklahoma Lawmakers Set Out To Pass 'Merry Christmas' Bill by Next Year

| by Dominic Kelly

Lawmakers in Oklahoma have set out to make sure that the true meaning of Christmas isn’t lost on students in schools throughout the state by attempting to enact the “Merry Christmas” bill by 2014.

House Bill 2317 calls for the protection of Christmas and the ability to celebrate it properly in schools. Lawmakers behind the bill want to allow schools to use religious greetings and nativity scenes without fear of a lawsuit.

“We are resisting the cleansing of our school houses with religious thought and tradition,” said Republican Representative Ken Walker. “Oklahoma, we declare it is okay in the school houses to say ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy Hanukkah’. [I want] for teachers to have the freedom to discuss the historic and cultural meanings behind these symbols with our children without promoting religion.”

The “Merry Christmas” bill will not only protect Christmas, lawmakers say, but it will also apparently protect the other religious holidays during the winter months.

Others don’t see it that way, however. Brady Henderson of the American Civil Liberties Union says that promoting religious holidays in schools goes against the founding principles of this country. Henderson, along with many others, feels that the new bill will be overridden by the separation of church and state on a federal level, and that in the end, it will only cause financial problems for schools. Henderson feels that it shouldn’t fall on the law to allow people to celebrate the holidays that they want to celebrate.

“[The bill] encourages schools to violate the constitution,” said Henderson. “And by doing so get involved with legal rights and be unsuccessful. This is a way legislators can score political points with the cost being born by school districts. It tells me as a citizen that I need government permission to celebrate it.”

Still, supporters say that it will simply protect a person’s ability to celebrate their religious holiday and allow children in schools to use whatever greeting they want without the threat of a lawsuit should someone be offended. A similar law has already been passed in Texas.