The “Charlie Brown Christmas” special has been a television mainstay for more than 50 years, but its Biblical allusions remain as controversial today as they were when CBS first got a look at the cartoon. As the special celebrated its half-century anniversary last year, producer Lee Mendelson said that network executives initially rejected the scene where Linus recites from the book of Luke.
“We told them we wanted to read a short passage from the Bible,” Mendelson said. “A lot of eyebrows went up about that.”
Mendelson and George Schultz went ahead and included the scene anyway and the rest is television history. If atheists have complained about Linus’s speech, they’ve been drowned out by the overwhelming amount of support American families have shown the special. And, in all likelihood, there are a few grudging atheists among that number.
But while leftists may be powerless to stop Charlie Brown’s from spreading the Good News, they aren’t going to let it creep into their classrooms.
When a school nurse’s aide at Patterson Middle School in Killeen, TX put up a homemade poster featuring Linus and his quote about Christmas – “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior which is Christ the Lord…” – the school’s administrators had a panic attack. The day after Dedra Shannon put the poster up, her principal told her to take it down.
Shannon refused. Instead, she contacted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who issued a statement opposing the school’s removal of the poster. Paxton said it was “an attack on religious liberty” and out of line with existing state law.
Shannon herself hired legal counsel from a Christian-themed non-profit law firm and prepared to defend her Linus poster before the school district. Paxton, too, made sure his voice was heard at the district meeting. He sent a letter to the Killeen Independent School District on December 13, just as the board met to take a vote on the issue.
In the letter, Paxton said what while it was “not surprising” to see the district shy away from this kind of controversy, their stance on the poster was driven by “an incorrect reading of the law.” Paxton insisted that the Supreme Court “has held repeatedly that neither ‘students nor teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.’”
Furthermore, he said, Shannon was protected by the state’s Merry Christmas law, which gives Texas citizens the legal “right to acknowledge traditional winter holidays like Christmas on school grounds” as long as other secular and religious symbols and celebrations are acknowledged as well.
Even so, the district voted 6-1 against Shannon’s display.
“Our employees are free to celebrate the Christmas and holiday season in the manner of their choosing,” the district said in a statement. “However, employees are not permitted to impose their personal beliefs on students.”
This is what the school nurse’s aide was doing? Imposing her personal beliefs? Absurd. Hopefully, Paxton and other Texas conservatives will take up this fight. It’s not so much that we need Linus’s quote in public schools, it’s that we need the liberal insanity out. And fast!