Politicians love popularly named bills like the PATRIOT Act and DREAM ACT, an art in itself to name the most compelling acronyms and names. Texas Gov. Rick Perry and state Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) therefore can be credited with coming up with the “Merry Christmas Bill” — just try voting against that in Texas. However, the purpose of the bill is far from benign if you are a secularist, atheist, or agnostic. Perry explained the purpose of the bill in a way that put anyone on the other side of a Merry Christmas: “I’m proud we are standing up for religious freedom in our state.” He then added this legal interpretation of the First Amendment: “Freedom of religion doesn’t mean freedom from religion.”
The law says that both students and school officials may use religious greetings like “Merry Christmas” and display various holiday symbols on school grounds. The problem with this approach is that a state law cannot curtail the federal constitution or its interpretation by federal courts.
However, no one has ever said that students and teachers cannot wish each other Merry Christmas. Moreover, the Supreme Court in Good News Club v. Milford Central School voted 6-3 that a religious group had the right under free speech to use of a school’s facilities after hours. Where you cross the line is with the endorsement or entanglement with religion or forcing children to participate in religious events or observations. They are indeed protected “from” such religious doctrine and rituals.
Of course, I somehow doubt that these politicians would be as thrilled by displays celebrating Eid Al-Fitr, Ramadan or Eid Al-Adha.
Source: Houston News