Texas AG Fights School Over Christmas Displays

KILLEEN, Texas (CN) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton chastised a school district for ordering the removal of a holiday decoration depicting a scene from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” that included a Bible verse.

The Killeen Independent School District directed the removal of a section of a 6-foot-tall door decoration at Patterson Middle School, CBS-affiliate KWTX-TV reported. It shows Linus reciting to shepherds a verse from the Gospel of Luke: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown,” Linus added.

Paxton told the school on Dec. 8 that the decoration is protected by House Bill 308, known as the Merry Christmas bill.

“No school official in Texas can silence a biblical reference to Christmas,” Paxton said in a statement. “This is an attack on religious liberty and a violation of the First Amendment and state law. I am calling on the school board of the Killeen ISD to immediately reverse their unlawful decision.”

H.B. 308, approved in 2013, allows school districts to permit use of “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Hanukkah” by students and staff. It also permits school districts to display “scenes or symbols associated with traditional winter celebrations” such as a menorah or Christmas tree, so long as the display shows more than one religion or one religion with at least one secular scene or symbol.

Paxton said the law was passed “precisely because of this type of discrimination against people of faith.”

Killeen ISD officials disagreed, telling KWTX the law does not protect the decoration because it also states that the display must not include a message encouraging adherence to a particular religion.

“Our employees are free to celebrate the Christmas and holiday season in the manner of their choosing,” school district officials said in a statement Friday. “However, employees are not permitted to impose their personal beliefs on students.”