In October, Religious Christmas carols came under attack in Wisconsin. The Marshfield, Wisconsin school district decided to severely limit Christmas carols in school programs because the district and their attorney believed that anything more than one religious song per every five secular songs was "too much" (and that included Christmas carols that are not Santa-based). The townspeople spoke out and the decision was reversed.
In November, the same battle played out in New Jersey. The Bordentown Regional School District had already gone the "super politically correct" route by not using the word "Christmas" on its December events listings. Events scheduled for December include "Winter" and "Holiday" concerts," a "Breakfast with Santa and Santa Workshop," a "Holiday Sweater Contest" for the staff, and "Winter Recess." After two parents complained (out of all of the families in two elementary schools), the district took the ban on Christmas a step farther, banning religious Christmas music from the "Winter" concerts in elementary schools.
According to a letter posted on the District's website, the decision was based on a New Jersey ruling, (Stratechuk v. Board of Education of South Orange-Maplewood School District, 577 F. Supp. 2d. 731 [D.N.J. 2008]), that religious music should not be part of the elementary program(s). Constance J. Bauer, Ed.D., the Superintendent of Schools, finished the statement by saying, "It remains the District’s mission to celebrate the rich and wonderful diversity of our children and community and hope that the joy shared through our numerous winter programs will continue to be a cherished part of your family traditions." One has to wonder how she could consider excluding anything that even uses the word "Christmas" as being "celebrating diversity."
When the Alliance Defending Freedom found out what was going on, they sent a letter to the school district, explaining that "every federal court to examine the issue has determined that including Christmas carols and other religious music in school choir programs fully complies with the First Amendment." As a result, the First Amendment requires that the district "remains neutral towards religion and refrains from demonstrating an unconstitutional hostility toward songs with religious origins." The letter further went on to state, "the cultural and educational merits of Christmas carols and other religious songs are well established." One federal appellate court, for example, "recognized over thirty years ago that there is no constitutional objection to students in public schools learning and performing religious songs 'presented objectively as part of a secular program of education….' Music educators, not administrative officials, should choose which choral pieces--secular or sacred--are best-suited to the occasion…."
Two weeks after the ban was announced, the school district reversed their decision, posting a second letter on the site that said, "In reviewing additional legal considerations and advice on this matter and the expressed sentiments of the community at large, I have reconsidered the decision on the musical selection for the upcoming winter programs so that pieces with traditional and historical religious origins will be permitted. Concurrently, the Board will continue its review of the larger policy implications for the future."