Tennessee Sen. Stacey Campfield is pushing for a bill to ensure winter greetings such as “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Hanukkah” are protected, though he can’t cite any instance when the phrases have been threatened.
The Republican senator pre-filed the bill earlier this week, claiming that the new legislation would stop lawsuits concerning the greetings from arising this coming winter, according to the Huffington Post.
"People are terrified nowadays to practically say 'Merry Christmas' to anybody for fear they're going to get sued," said Campfield, according to Wate.com.
Campfield suggested that phrases like “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Hanukkah” would face opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union. But members of the ACLU disagree with his assumption.
"Sen. Campfield is envisioning a problem that does not exist," said Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the Tennessee ACLU. "As Gov. (Bill) Haslam has said, legislators should not be filing legislation just to be wasting paper, and this seems to be one of the things that would be in that category."
The bill would also ensure that schools can teach the history of winter holidays.
"This stops all these silly lawsuits that say you can’t say 'merry Christmas' or 'happy Hanukkah' or have a Christmas tree," Campfield said.
In June, Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a similar bill, from which Campfield got the idea for the Tennessee legislation.
Perry reportedly signed the bill while surrounded by Santa Claus impersonators.