My Article in Today's Paper

Saturday, July 30, 2011
Christy Robbins: Public schools should not fear religion Opinion, Commentary, Editorials, Op-Ed and Letters to the Editor - News for Dallas, Texas - The Dallas Morning News
In 2003, an elementary school student brought pens shaped like candy canes to a Plano ISD classroom to hand out at the annual holiday party. Attached to the pen was a legend about the candy cane, including symbolic biblical reasons for each marking to explain the Christmas story. The school would not allow him to hand these out. Eight years later, this battle is still rolling around the court system as First Amendment rights are evaluated.
Now, I’m a little foggy on whether the candy cane story is a fact-filled legend or just an old tale passed down through generations. All evidence points toward the candy cane legend being written to more clearly explain Christmas. After all, the candy cane is rarely a sermon topic in Christian churches. I’ve yet to come across candy cane references in the Bible.
I have, however, read many legends from various cultures and religious groups within the pages of Texas textbooks written to paint clearer pictures about circumstances and traditions important to cultures. And that’s what people who have taken sides in this fight need to remember: The official Texas curriculum is full of legends, myths and fables that are used to impart a greater truth.
There are no court cases pending regarding the popular library book The Legend of the Bluebonnet. In that book, Native American spirits visit the hills of Texas and fill them with blue flowers because of a little girl’s sacrifice.
If The Legend of the Candy Cane received a Bluebonnet Award, would it be classroom-approved?
Delving deeper into the candy cane case itself and what it represents is the line drawn between education and a student’s right to share his or her religious celebrations. Sharing stories about why Christmas is celebrated falls under the umbrella of facts about a religion celebrated by people who live all over the world. “Multicultural studies,” which encompass religious celebrations, is another Texas standard listed for all students to cover. Many districts set aside time to observe multicultural learning. So why do standards change when Christianity becomes one of the religions under study?
Comments in previous articles about the candy cane case reflect a misconception that Christians are the only ones asking for the right to observe, celebrate and share their customs freely in our schools. Not so. There are many public displays of various religious customs in Texas elementary schools. They look different, but each aligns with the particular group’s customs and beliefs.
Local districts make accommodations for students to pray toward the east during school hours. Places are provided for students to gather when observing Ramadan, allowing these students to forego lunchroom visits. Special dietary needs are met through the district’s meal planning for students with food restrictions based on their religion.
Sharing a religious story attached to a pen, praying before a football game or even using the word “prayer” instead of “moment of silence” is a hotly debated topic when you attach the name of Christ.
If you don’t believe in the power of those prayers, why fear the effects? If Christmas is just a story, why suppress a student from sharing his religious beliefs?
If you want to prevent students from sharing personal beliefs and feelings with each other, we need to go to silent lunches and solitary recess.
There’s just no reason to fear the spread of basic knowledge. After all, having knowledge of why Christmas is celebrated doesn’t make you a Christian. It’s believing Jesus died for your sins and placing your faith in Jesus that makes you a Christian.


Mrs. Kelley Dibble said...

Here! Here! Hear! Hear! GREAT ARTICLE!

Heather said...

Excellent article! So true, and so sad that it even has to be a "controversial issue."

Traci said...

This is spot-on. Tolerance just isn't expected when it comes to being tolerant of Christianity. Great article.

Christy said...

Thanks so much for your support, and sweet comments. It means a lot to be surrouned in life, and on the internet with great people. I know I'm not alone, and it made it easier to take a stand with this sort of support. :O)

Lori said...

Wonderful comments, great way to put it all in prepective.

Mrs David W said...

Well written and I agree whole heartily. Thank you for the courage to stand up and write this!

ELW said...

Great article! Thank you for standing up for common sense.

buggin2stamp said...

Amen! You've put into words exactly how I feel. Thank you for sharing this.

Ella said...

loved it! great article, well written and so, so true!!

tt.scraps said...

Well said, my dear friend!!