Initiative Would Require Public Schools To Offer Religious Christmas Music


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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, December 11, 2009
A teacher wants California public schools to have the option to teach and perform Christmas carols that include religious lyrics. 
 
But, critics say that’s a violation of separation of church and state and they’re vowing to fight the so-called “Christmas Music Initiative” if it makes it to next year’s ballot. 

Capital Public Radio's Steve Shadley reports...
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Currently carols with Christian themes like this one are banned from public schools in California...
 
(Music) “Joy To the World” “Joy to the world, the Lord is Come. Let Earth receive her king...”
 
Merry Susan Hyatt:   “I like them all: “Joy To The World”, “Silent Night” and “Little Town of Bethlehem...”
 
That’s Merry Susan Hyatt, whose first name incidentally is Merry just like in Merry Christmas. 

She’s a substitute teacher in Redding and she’s frustrated that public school kids aren’t allowed to hear Christmas carols in the classroom that mention Jesus or God...
 
Hyatt:   “Having Christmas parties without doing it correctly is not right. You wouldn’t have a birthday party for your friend and then not invite him to the party. It’s wrong...”
 
Hyatt is gathering signatures to get an initiative on next November’s ballot that would allow ALL Christmas carols to be performed in public schools statewide. 

She says getting religion into the classroom will improve student academic performance and reduce school violence...
 
Hyatt:  “I think if we want God and Jesus to help us with our schools we need to include them rather than kick them out...”
 
Barry Lynn is Executive Director of the Washington D-C-based group “Americans United for Separation of Church and State.” He’s been writing blogs in opposition to California’s “Christmas Music Initiative”...
 
Lynn:   “Anybody who thinks singing Away in a manger is going to make violent students into I dunno little peaceful lambs I think needs to do a lot more research on social science. And, a lot more use of common sense...”
  
Lynn says to provide religious music in public schools violates the concept of government neutrality. 

But, Merry Susan Hyatt and other supporters say the measure requires teachers to give parents three weeks notice that Christmas carols will be offered in school.  

The initiative says students who don’t want to listen can attend study hall instead.  

Proponents have until the end of March to gather more than 430-thousand signatures to get the proposal before voters next year.