Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton intervened in a recent lawsuit after a North Texas school district asked a teacher to remove her classroom holiday decorations that displayed a Christian message.
Killeen Independent School District Board of Trustees voted to remove the decoration of a Charlie Brown poster that read, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior.”
Paxton’s office immediately intervened calling it a violation of the teacher’s first amendment right.
“This was our opportunity to step in and say no, in Texas you are going to be able to express your first amendment rights,” Paxton said, “whatever they are.”
Paxton demanded that the school reverse their “unlawful decision”. He’s hoping this sends a message for the future.
“It does seem like there is this sort of war on Christmas,” Paxton said. “There’s this sometimes war on Christianity. You can bring up any other religion, and look we want other religions to have their ability to speak out, but we don’t think that Christian beliefs should necessarily be pushed aside like it seemed like it was happening in this case.”
The American Civil Liberties Union has cautioned against bringing religious celebrations into schools in fear that children may feel left out because of their religion. They said that they are not against Christmas, rather they are against the government blurring the line between the separation of church and state.
This is not the first time lawmakers have intervened during the Christmas holidays. Three days before Christmas last year, Governor Greg Abbott asked the State Preservation Board to remove a display at the Texas capitol that he says urged the separation of church and state.
The year before, the Texas Capitol unveiled a nativity scene display funded by a private group but supported by the Governor’s office. The project spokesperson at the time said he hoped the display would ignite peace, not war, during the holiday season.
“It is really important for us to step up and let people know what the law is first and tell them we are willing to step in and defend if we are asked,” Paxton said.
Texas lawmakers passed the Merry Christmas Law in 2013. The law states that school districts in Texas can put up decorations such as nativity scenes and Christmas trees on school property.
Governor Rick Perry signed the bill into law saying, “religious freedom does not mean freedom from religion.”