I recently came across this post by Bristol Palin in which she laments along side Georgia father Darryl Woods over a charter school’s policy for their “Holiday program.” They (Palin and Woods) are outraged because this school will only be singing secular Holiday songs.
“…will begin rehearsing popular American holiday music (such as Jingle Bells, Feliz Navidad and Santa Claus is Coming to Town) during music class. Religious songs will not be included.”
As a Christian mother, my response to such a letter would be as follows:
Yup, that’s it. Great. Well, actually, I might reflect and be grateful for this lovely opportunity for the children to be able to prepare and perform in a holiday program at school. I mean, I might have secretly hoped that they would have included Frosty the Snowman, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t demand that the music teacher cater to my wishes, even if it is my family’s favorite song. Since, after all, there are lots of great winter holiday songs, so I suppose I don’t need to force our views, I mean, our favorite song on everyone.
Oh, wait. I know. But this is Christmas, right? And we all need to sing Christmas songs!
Well, yes, for many it is Christmas and for some it is a purely religious holiday. But this time of year does not mean “Christmas” for every child. From what I read, the school is not planning to include any Hanukkah or Diwali songs either, but that’s besides the point, right?
As the disturbed Georgia father stated, “I’m extremely outraged to be honest,” he said. “My family and I – we’re Christians, we’re believers.” He further went on to expose the “double standard” at this school which just recently celebrated Halloween. “It’s okay to celebrate demons but you can’t celebrate Jesus?”
Well, actually, yes. From what can be gleaned from this article, it is entirely possible that the school chose to celebrate the secular aspects of Halloween, just as they are choosing to celebrate the secular aspects of the winter holidays. (I’m assuming that there were no “All Saints’ Day” or “All Souls’ Day” aspects to this Halloween celebration. Just a speculation, though.)
Double standard? I’m not so sure.
Let us remember that this is a public charter school, which according to their Mission Statement, “embraces and reflects the diversity of the communities it serves”. Bless them for not only teaching our children and caring enough to go the extra mile to put on a holiday program, but also for including all the children in their celebration.
One day, my children will most certainly attend a public school and participate in “Holiday programs” and when they do, I can only hope that either:
A. Songs from all faith and/or secular backgrounds are included so my children are able to experience songs and traditions outside our own. Including Christmas in the program is fine, just as long as Diwali, Hanukkah, Solstice, and others are also offered a place in the program.
(Actually, I really like this option as I think it could be an awesome way to learn about some new religious celebrations; both for the students and the parents. But, this is perhaps a bit of a pipe dream and would, in reality, have it’s share of backlash as well. So, perhaps a more likely option is that…)
B. Religious songs are left out so that no child is made to feel excluded. After all, I understand my Christian faith to be one of inclusion. As such, I would venture to guess that celebrating in a way that does not consider the Jewish child(ren) in the room, the Muslim child(ren) in the room, the Hindu child(ren) in the room, or any child(ren) in the room would not be an example of “[Loving] thy neighbor as thyself” (Mark 12:31).
You see, if I want my children to sing religious songs, then I know our options – we could enroll them in a Christian preschool (currently they attend a Parent’s Day Out at a church), take them to Sunday school (we do), and/or make a habit of gathering them around the piano to sing “Jesus Loves Me” in our home.
Which, you should totally hear them belt it out beside my husband when he plays. It melts my heart every time.
 Georgia School – Baby Jesus not Welcome at Christmas Program, accessed 11.15.13