“Merry Christmas” Project Educates About First Amendment Rights
Every year we see efforts by government or hostile groups that participate in a “war on Christmas” to limit or ban references to Christmas in public schools and on public property. Many stories and questions regarding such restrictions reach the desk of Texas Values team members during the Christmas season.
Jonathan Saenz, President and attorney for Texas Values, had this to say:
“We hope this year that less school districts are naughty and more are nice. Texas protects anyone who wants to celebrate Christmas without fear of political correctness. The Merry Christmas Texas Project ensures public school students and parents are knowledgeable about the common-sense safeguards in Texas law that protect their First Amendment rights.”
Texas Values has announced the launch of its annual “Merry Christmas Texas Project,” a statewide effort to educate and protect the acknowledgment of Christmas in public schools. The Merry Christmas Texas Law (HB308) authored by State Representative Dwayne Bohac, which passed with bipartisan support in the Texas Legislature and was signed into law in 2013, protects the religious liberty of children, parents, teachers, and school staff to acknowledge Christmas on school grounds without fear of censorship, persecution or litigation. The Texas Values legal and policy team helped draft the law.
At MerryChristmasTexas.com, Texans can educate themselves about their rights under the Merry Christmas Law and learn more about the issue by downloading a summary of the law and sharing with their school district. They can also sign a petition in support of the effort, and report potential violations of the law.
Texas Values is also promoting an audio clip about the Merry Christmas Texas Law. You can listen to the clip here and we encourage media outlets to use this clip.
Christmas has been recognized as a federal holiday by the United States since the 1870s. Landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases have made it clear that such expressions and displays are permissible. Since the passage of the Merry Christmas Law, Texas Values has helped defeat efforts across the state to attack Christmas, including an attempt in Austin ISD to ban high-school students from singing Christmas carols and attempts in Frisco ISD to ban any “reference to Christmas” or “red/green Christmas trees” in elementary schools. Other Texas school districts have seen long and costly court cases over Christmas expressions, including the famous “Candy Cane Case” from Plano ISD.
Most notably, in 2016, Texas Values successfully defended the Charlie Brown Christmas poster in court on behalf of Killeen ISD public school employee Dedra Shannon. The school district initially ordered that she take the poster down because of the “separation of church and state” but the school allowed other holiday decorations to remain in place. Attorney General Ken Paxton’s team also defended the poster in court on the same case. In 2018, attacks continued on Christmas as a school in Virginia banned choir songs that mention Jesus.
Also, in 2021, the Texas Legislature passed a new law (SB 581) that prohibits Home Owners Associations (HOAs) from making rules that restrict homeowners from having religious displays on their own property.