Bill of the Week: Christmas Edition
Bohac wants some, er, Winter cheer in schools
By Richard Whittaker, 11:50AM, Sun. Dec. 23, 2012
'Twas six days before Christmas,
And all through the Texas House,
Not a lawmaker was stirring,
Except for Dwayne Bohac with a 'Happy Holidays' bill
In keeping with the season, on Dec. 19 Rep. Dwayne Bohac, R-Houston, submitted House Bill 308, "Relating to a school district's recognition of and education regarding traditional winter celebrations."
Yup, it's War on Christmas time. And I quote:
A school district may educate students about the history of traditional winter celebrations, and allow students and district staff to offer traditional greetings regarding the celebrations, including:
(1) "Merry Christmas";
(2) "Happy Hanukkah"; and
(b)Except as provided by Subsection (c), a school district may display on school property scenes or symbols associated with traditional winter celebrations, including a menorah or a Christmas image such as a nativity scene or Christmas tree, if the display includes a scene or symbol of:
(1) more than one religion; or
(2) one religion and at least one secular scene or symbol.
(c) display relating to a traditional winter celebration may not include a message that encourages adherence to a particular religious belief.
Because, as every knows, kids in Texas have a real problem with being exposed to Christmas.
To be fair, Bohac's bill isn't as obviously evangelical as could be proffered up. And he does leave it open for commemorations of other Winter holidays. I for one relish the possibility of Kwanzaa scenes in Highland Park schools, and will raise a glass of egg nog when some ISD mounts an exploration of the real Yule.
Now, not to get all Krampus about what seems to be a reasoned step towards interfaith celebration and communication. But it's the subtext that's so obvious. If we're talking about major global religions, why no mention of the five days of Pancha Ganapati, clumsily referred to by some as the 'Hindu Christmas' (Funny, Zoroastrians don't refer to Christmas as the 'Christian Yalda'). Or any of the other Winter-season holidays.
Considering that the Christian right has polled as runners-up in the post-Sandy Hook "worst possible comments" competition (second only to the NRA), you might think they would lay low on discussions of religious symbolism in schools. After all, the only reason that Mike Huckabee's argument that the massacre took place because "we have systematically removed God from our schools" is not front page news is that NRA exec director Wayne LaPierre was busy blaming video games.
Even if they're coming from the best of intentions, it's just may not tactically be the right time for them to talk about anything that even sniffs around the separation of church and state.
Here's the real kicker. Kids in Texas can already do everything the bill proposes. In 2011, Politifact pretty thoroughly dismantled a claim by Gov. Rick Perry that Texas was playing Scrooge at Christmas.
In order to keep up with the flood of bills filed throughout the legislative session, the News staff is picking one a week to highlight and explain more in-depth, whether it be good, bad, or altogether out of left field. For more Lege coverage, see Legeland.