Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

June 19, 2013

House of Burgess: War on Christmas, summer edition

Texas enacts so-called "Merry Christmas" bill.

In the ever-darkening days at the end of each year — when Christmas songs begin to fill the air — a simple thought never fails to amuse me. It’s the idea of the musicians behind those noises, and the conditions under which the songs were produced.

Christmas music isn’t generally recorded at Christmas. It just can’t be. It wouldn’t work. It has to be ready ahead of time. That has to mean while the band or artist in question is plugging away at, say, “Jingle Bell Rock” inside the recording studio, just outside their front door temperatures could easily be reaching triple digits. I was reminded of this personal joke a few days ago when I read about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s signing of the so-called “Merry Christmas” bill into law.

“Surrounded by sleigh bell-ringing Santa Claus impersonators, Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday signed a law protecting Christmas and other holiday celebrations in Texas public schools from legal challenges — but also stressed that freedom of religion is not the same thing as freedom from religion,” reported Will Weissert of the Associated Press on Friday.

After I heard about this, I went and read the actual legislation, also known as House Bill 308. It’s short, but dumbfounding reading.

“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: ‘Merry Christmas,’ ‘Happy Hanukkah’ and ‘happy holidays,’” reads the bill. “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 more than one religion, or one religion and at least one secular scene or symbol.”

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