Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hillsborough County School Board Restores Religious Holidays

Liberty Counsel provides legal memo regarding Christmas holidays

Tampa, FL - Last night the Hillsborough County School Board restored several religious holidays to next year's school calendar. By a 5-2 vote, the board adopted a calendar that gives children a day off on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, Good Friday and the Monday after Easter. Mathew D. Staver, President and General Counsel of Liberty Counsel, has provided a legal memo to the Hillsborough County School Board regarding the constitutionality of celebrating Christmas during the holiday season.

After 24 people spoke last night, the school board voted in favor of Superintendent Mary Ellen Elia's recommendation to restore religious holidays to the calendar and to further study the issue. The issue gained national attention when Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair criticized the school board on the Fox News channel program, The O'Reilly Factor.

Liberty Counsel's memo is part of its "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign," which the religious liberty organization launched a few weeks ago. Christian Educators Association International has joined Liberty Counsel in the "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign." Its 8,000 members, consisting primarily of public school teachers and administrators, have also received the Christmas memo and are distributing it in their communities. Last week Dr. Jerry Falwell urged tens of thousands of pastors around the country to join Liberty Counsel's "Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign" by placing advertisements in their local newspapers. The advertisements and the Christmas memo are available on our Web site at LC.org.

We are pleased that the religious holidays have been restored by the Hillsborough County School Board. The community senses a sigh of relief. Schools may coordinate days off with religious holidays. It is not only constitutional, but it is common sense to do so. Moreover, during the December holiday season, it is constitutional to celebrate Christmas. It sends a wrong message to either eliminate all holiday celebrations or to eliminate only the religious and Christian components of the holiday season. The Founding Fathers never intended the First Amendment to be used as a weapon against the celebration of Christmas.