Despite the efforts of President Donald Trump, there still is a War on Christmas. In recent weeks, a school in Virginia banned choir songs that mention Jesus, while a teacher in Nebraska banned candy canes because their J shape when turned upside down supposedly represents Jesus. Texas has seen its share of these incidents too in recent years, including an attempt by an Austin high school to ban students from singing Christmas carols, and a Killeen ISD employee being asked to take down a Charlie Brown Christmas poster.
Texas has been pushing back on these Christmas crackdowns since 2013 with the Merry Christmas Texas Law. The law, sponsored by Houston State Rep. Dwayne Bohac, essentially protects Texas schools from being sued over Christmas content or expressions. Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, says Bohac had good inspiration for the law. "His son came home and told him Daddy, they won't let me call the tree at school a Christmas tree, they'll only let me call it a holiday tree," says Saenz.
The Merry Christmas Texas Law passed with bipartisan support and was signed by then-Gov. Rick Perry. "This common-sense law provides a solid roadmap for public school officials to follow to appropriately celebrate Christmas, and should help school districts respect First Amendment rights while avoiding costly litigation," says Saenz.
Texas Values, which helped craft and pass the law, has now launched the Merry Christmas Texas project, which helps educate schools about the Merry Christmas Texas Law and their rights and protections under the law. "Christmas has been a federal holiday since 1870, and the U.S. Supreme Court has acknowledged that talking about Christmas and acknowledging Christmas as part of our history is completely permissible," says Saenz. "The main goal of the Merry Christmas Texas project is that we'll have less Texas school districts that are naughty, and more that are nice."